Jack Brown, longtime g.m. of Northstate Public Radio and the man who transitioned the Chico, Calif., station from a student-run enterprise to the NPR affiliate for northeast California, died in Chico Sept. 15. He was 68.
Born in Louisville, Ky., Brown played college football at Western Kentucky University and served in the U.S. Navy in the Vietnam War before his broadcast career. California State University, Chico, hired him in 1981 to turn the school’s student-run radio station, KCHO, into a full-fledged NPR affiliate, which he achieved in 1983. Brown served as KCHO’s g.m. for 26 years, until his retirement in 2007. He had a lung transplant in 2009, which had recently begun to show signs of rejection.
Brown worked to qualify the rural station for CPB Community Service Grants, and also expanded its footprint in 1995 with the addition of Redding’s KFPR. The two stations rebranded as Northstate Public Radio, though a dispute over KFPR’s ownership with nearby network Jefferson Public Radio simmered in FCC case files for more than a decade.
“Jack was very committed to serving rural listeners, and we still enjoy the benefit of his vision,” Brian Terhorst, Brown’s replacement at Northstate Public Radio, told Current.
In addition, Brown was a founding member of California Public Radio, a loose association of the state’s NPR affiliates, and served three terms as its president, 1988-91 and back-to-back terms 1997-2001.
He is survived by his wife Kathryn Barrett-Brown and children Sean and Meghan Brown. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to CSU Chico’s Jack Brown Memorial Scholarship Fund.