By Chris Cunningham
Jon Thompson's career at Coast Broadcasting (KCST and KCFM) runs almost parallel to the history of radio in Florence, Ore., with both commencing about 28 years ago.
Thompson learned about a job opening for a sportscaster and account representative at the community's then new radio station, while attending Lane Community College in 1985.
Just like his father and grandfather, he had worked in the timber industry in nearby Mapleton. And while the wages were quite good, he says he wanted a different work life.
As mills across Oregon began closing, Thompson had enrolled in the college's first class in the Dislocated Workers Program—now called Workforce Development—at the LCC campus in Florence.
He calls the program, through which he learned the fundamentals of searching for employment, conducting interviews and assessing his skills, "a pioneer in figuring out how to train people for the workforce."
Thompson, whose son Joe will graduate from LCC this fall, adds, "Lane has always been a forward-looking organization."
Using the job search skills he acquired in the program, Thompson called the radio station. "I told them that a future client thought I'd be perfect for the position."
Now, 28 years later, Thompson is general manager and owner of what became Coast Radio, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
"I found a career that fit me really well," he says.
Along the way, he has endured changes in ownership and FCC licensing requirements, competition from other media, potential threats from technologies that have reduced listenership elsewhere, and destructive coastal storms resulting in power outages.
But in Florence, he says, because "many people do listen to radio and subscribe to the newspaper" for local sports, weather and daily newscasts, the station has thrived.
"I really do love the work," he says. "And I am grateful for the role that LCC played in launching my career."
For more information about Workforce Development at Lane, go online at www.lanecc.edu/wdd.