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Aftermath of Art Bell’s death prompts backlash

Just weeks after the death of her close friend Art Bell on Friday, April 13 2018, KNYE 95.1 FM station owner Karen Jackson said she will continue to provide the local programming and information her listeners have come to expect within the Pahrump community for the better part of a decade.

As of late, Jackson is keenly focused on maintaining the day-to-day operations at the radio station, all the while handling additional duties, much of which pertains to this year’s midterm elections.

“It’s the same basic routine every day, but I love it,” Jackson said. “Due to it being political season right now, I get a lot of candidates reaching out for advertising, and so it’s an ongoing effort. I will say that political season is a real good revenue generator, but it does get a little hectic. I’ve just been staying very busy as of late.”

A brand new venture

“Very busy,” is indeed a term which accurately describes Jackson’s entire career, dating back to her time in the commercial banking industry for more than 20 years in Southern California.

Her duties included a senior vice president position with Southwest Bank, along with more than a decade of experience in marketing and advertising.

As such, when Jackson actually purchased Bell’s Pahrump radio station roughly 10 years ago, she said it was her passion to build upon what Bell began when he chose Jackson to manage the facility just two years prior.

Consequently, segments such as “Commercial Trivia” and “Who Does That Song?” became quite popular among her legions of loyal listeners throughout the valley.

Jackson also brought about the beloved “loyal listeners’ club” enjoyed by thousands of listeners, since early 2008.

The station also streams around the world 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

She spoke about additional changes she’s made after acquiring the station from Bell.

“When I first bought the station, it had over 1,283 songs in the library, but we now have over 12,000 songs in the library,” she said. “I was the only radio station here for such a long time and I wanted to give a little bit of something to every listener. I have a show that runs on Sundays which features music from the 40’s and 50’s for our local seniors. That show runs from 3 to 6 p.m. I will never change that because it’s been on for more than 13 years. To this day, I still get a call after the show from someone who said they really enjoyed the show on Sunday. That will never change as far as I’m concerned.”

The spirit of radio

For those who favor live programming, Jackson opens her microphone at least three days a week.

“I go live every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoon,” she said. “Lately, I’ve been inconsistent because I’ve been a little bit under the weather. The community news portion has become very popular. I started that segment years ago.”

In relation to various events around town, Jackson said she tries to bring as much information to the community when and wherever it exists.

“If there’s fundraiser or a particular event coming up, they need to call me a few days ahead of the event,” she advised. “If I can get that information a week before the event is scheduled, I am more than happy to put it in community news, but I’m not at the station 24/7. It’s much better for me if they email the information to me.”

Providing support, giving thanks

Music and chatting aside, Jackson’s station is a mainstay for community events throughout the year, with fundraisers, food drives, and the ever-popular community Christmas tree, which was actually purchased by Jackson several years ago.

“I have to credit the community for all of the support they have given me for our regular events and the other things that we do here,” she said. “It makes such a difference in our community, but without their support, I certainly couldn’t do it.”

As a way of showing her gratitude, Jackson said she is making plans for a special observance coming up later this year.

“Our 20-year anniversary is coming up in December and I’m planning on having another barbecue for the community,” she said. “I always love to hear from my listeners and I do hear from them all of the time. I just want to thank all of the listeners for listening to me over all of these years here in the valley.”

Modulation modifications

In terms of any major changes to the radio station, Jackson said she’s not averse to altering a few elements, if necessary.

“I would have to say that it’s entirely possible,” she said. “I’m always trying to look for ways to improve, so you just never know. There’s no real competition for me here in town because the other station has not impacted me at all. My boyfriend, Engineer Joe, is a world-famous radio engineer, so he’s always tweaking things here at the station. We have some plans for the future but we’re not exactly sure when to implement them.”

Jackson also noted that she appreciated all of the respectful thoughts and condolences she received from the community after Bell passed away on Friday, April 13, 2018.

“I was just overwhelmed with the phone calls and emails that I received,” she said. “I’m still trying to answer them all, but I’m way behind. With Art’s passing, I have both good days and bad days and so does his family. Right now, that’s kind of my focus. If they are having a bad day I am going to be there for them.”

Angry reaction

In relation to Bell’s death, Jackson said she was incensed with local authorities about the timing of the announcement of Bell’s death.

She alleges that officials made the announcement before Bell’s family was even notified.

In fact, she made her feelings known to the community during one of her recent live afternoon broadcasts, where she invited sheriff’s office officials to speak to the community about the issue.

“I think that show went well,” she said. “I invited both Sheriff Sharon Wehrly and Lieutenant David Boruchowitz, to call in several times, but they didn’t. To this day, I still haven’t heard from them. I was very disappointed. Sheriff’s candidate Tony DeMeo did call into the show, which I plan to eventually post that show on my website, knye.com”

In regard to Jackson’s claim, Nye County Public Information Officer Arnold Knightly issued the following response.

“Sheriff Wehrly, nor command staff received any requests from the family not to do a press release relating to the death prior to our release,” the statement read. “The release was made approximately 12 hours after his death to allow his family members time to do any additional notifications prior to the release. The release was made, once public conversation and requests started coming in. Lt. David Boruchowitz spoke with the supervisor who was on scene at the death and he said no family member requested that they not do a press release.”

In January 2006, Bell chose Jackson to manage and operate the radio station he founded years earlier.

His search for a successor included applicants from across the country.

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

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