After it became public Wednesday that he is considering a run for the U.S. Senate, Jeff Golden on Thursday morning abruptly quit his job with an on-air announcement in the final minutes of his popular "Jefferson Exchange" news-talk show on Jefferson Public Radio.

After it became public Wednesday that he is considering a run for the U.S. Senate, Jeff Golden on Thursday morning abruptly quit his job with an on-air announcement in the final minutes of his popular "Jefferson Exchange" news-talk show on Jefferson Public Radio.

In a talk with JPR Executive Director Ron Kramer after the show, the two agreed "it was the right choice," said Kramer. "He's indicated he's considering running for office, so there was no way, even though Jeff has always been fair and impartial, that he could maintain that appearance. It would have been unfair to our listeners."

Golden could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

The show will continue, said Kramer, with interim hosts Geoffrey Riley of KDRV Channel 12 and Paul Steinle, Southern Oregon University associate provost and former president of United Press International. Others will contribute until JPR figures out the long-term picture, Kramer said.

An author of several politically-oriented books, Golden has made no declaration of candidacy for the seat, now held by Republican Gordon Smith. But he said he's thinking about it and has been approached by Democratic Party officials to run.

Golden, 57, a former Jackson County commissioner who has anchored the show for 10 years, made the announcement when, with three minutes left in his show, a new transmitter failed and prevented the normal hand-off to the California segment of the show. With "dead air" to fill, said Kramer, Golden gave his farewell.

Golden told his audience, "I think JPR owes it to its listeners and members to avoid giving advantages of any kind to possible political candidates, and four hours of airtime every day is plainly an advantage.

"In addition, the Jefferson Exchange host has to be free to go wherever the conversation leads without concern about a perceived conflict of interest. After recent stories about my potential candidacy appeared in print, I noticed I was editing my on-air comments to stay within professional standards. That just won't work."

The announcement of Golden's departure was quickly put on JPR's Web site, www.ijpr.org, with the note that it was a "mutual decision."

If Golden were to have remained on the air, it would have triggered section 315 of the Federal Communications Act, requiring the station to give equal time to all candidates for that office "and you would lose control of your programming," said Kramer.

Kramer added that a broadcaster may be under obligation to keep employees on the payroll, if they become candidates, but has "absolutely" no obligation to allow them to remain on the air.

Golden operated on a year-to-year contract, which coincidentally expires today, the last day of the fiscal year.

"It was a very difficult decision for Jeff and I didn't know what he was going to say at 9:57 this morning," said Kramer. "However, JPR is fully committed that the airtime be used in non-partisan ways "¦ and it was Jeff who proposed he go off the air."

Jefferson Exchange is broadcast on AM 1230 for three hours each weekday morning, reaching tens of thousands of listeners on eight stations in Oregon and California.

Late Wednesday, before making his decision, Golden said the only way he could remain on the air "is to renounce the race and I'm not willing to do that. I am interested (in running)."

Golden has talked with political insiders but has not begun the arduous money chase needed to run for the Senate, he said, adding that if he ran, he would look to smaller contributions.

Another prominent Southern Oregonian, Democratic Sen. Alan Bates of Ashland, has also indicated interest in the race.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.