Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ruth Seymour's letter to KCRW members

November 2009

Dear KCRW Supporter,

After 32 years of leading KCRW, I am writing to let you know that I will be retiring as KCRW’s General Manager at the end of February.

What a long and exciting journey it’s been. I’ve had the opportunity to head a station that was once considered one of the most underdeveloped in the country. When you’re that poor and weak, there’s no place to go but up or out.

KCRW went up.

It became a leader and a trendsetter. Today the audience for the unique programs the station originates has spread to listeners across the country, and indeed, across the world.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have overseen the transformation of KCRW from a worn-out facility in a middle school playground into the internet powerhouse that it has become.

No one builds a KCRW alone. When you’re so taken up with the here and now, you don’t really spend a great deal of time reflecting on the past. Therefore, I’ve asked my longtime colleague Will Lewis, who has been an invaluable companion on this radio adventure, to document the years we’ve spent shaping and growing the station. His overview is included with my letter.

I want to thank our licensee, Santa Monica College, which allowed us the freedom to experiment and cheered us on. I have served under four Presidents and countless College Boards, and throughout they have been steadfast in their support and encouragement. That is no small thing and I wish every public station as exemplary a licensee as KCRW enjoys.

The KCRW Foundation was created in 1980 to safeguard the station in a precarious time. Over the years it has allowed us to undertake some of our most ambitious programs, to expand our facilities and to enter the internet age. The KCRW you know would not exist without the support of the KCRW Foundation.

Many public stations of our size and importance have long since given up using volunteers. We cherish ours. They bring the world into our basement studios. They come from all walks of life; they range from young students to seniors. They’re excited by coming down to the station and answering phones, taking pledges, working in the music library, assisting the deejays. Each year they save the station hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Over the years we discovered and attracted an impressive number of gifted individuals who poured their passion for music, the arts and political drama into dynamic and original radio. They made our reputation.

They were supported by a loyal and devoted staff, committed and inspired by the ideas and the ideals that characterize KCRW.

The media world is now in the process of dynamic change. KCRW is at the forefront, experimenting with the technical advances that are changing the ways in which we communicate.

I am confident that the station will welcome new opportunities as they arise, ever mindful that it’s still all about the programming.

I will leave a station that is strong in its identity, a station that is like no other in the country. The words I like to use to describe KCRW (you’ve seen them in my countless fundraising letters over the years) are singular, idiosyncratic, daring, independent, smart and compelling.

I believe that’s why you value the station, why we’ve been able to forge a remarkable bond with you, one of trust and affection. You have made it possible for us to become the station we are today.

You will make it possible for KCRW to continue to flourish.

It’s been an extraordinary privilege to serve as KCRW’s General Manager -- a joy and a source of great pride. That’s a pretty good note on which to say goodbye.


Ruth Seymour