Live and Local - KALW

Excerpted from article by JoAnn Mar of KALW-FM San Francisco:

Twenty years ago, some public radio consultants from Washington came to the Bay Area and proposed to have KALW consolidated into one of three big media conglomerates operating in California through a local management agreement. But the San Francisco school board rejected the offer. KALW was allowed to remain independent and was able to thrive for many years thereafter, despite the consultants’ characterization of KALW as a “failed” station.

And now as it approaches its 80th anniversary, KALW finds itself at another crossroads. Can it continue to be successful as a scrappy, independent community public radio station? Or will KALW follow in the footsteps of those other small public radio stations and become another homogenized, robotic, automated station, relying mostly on syndicated network programs and outside consultants with minimal live, local, original content and few human beings on-site?

The key to success is to build on what has proven successful: harnessing the talents of senior staff members who have deep connections with the local community and collaborating with them. There are years of collective wisdom and a deep well of experience that could be tapped.

Place the focus on increasing live, original, local programming that can’t be replicated online. Recruit younger talent from the community to help out and carry on the spirit of community-based public radio. That remains the heart and soul of staying connected with local communities and truly serving the public interest.