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February, 2004

Think Globally, Listen Locally!
By Jeanette Pontacq

Do you listen to Radio West Marin, aka KWMR 90.5 Point Reyes and 89.3 Bolinas? This feisty, independent local station epitomizes the definition of Community Radio? Judy Borello (next door on this page) last month waxed eloquent on her first exposure of being "on the air," reminiscing about what West Marin was like before most of the rest of us even got here (a first for listeners!).

Too often, only the loudest or most strident voices are heard around here, but KWMR is the equalizer... offering air time to a diverse array of residents. It is a small miracle that West Marin has its own radio station.

In an era when Public Radio is under intense pressure to conform to the corporate world view, it is a miracle that KWMR exists here. Its only agenda is to provide a forum for the diversity of the community. Before its arrival, we could only communicate among ourselves via the letters-to-the-editor of the Point Reyes Light. If you didn't agree with the editorial stance or perceived majority view, you risked being "rebutted" by the editor or maybe even left out. Just as happens nationally, local print media can frame the questions and then answer them. We need the Light, the CP and KWMR for a balanced platform in West Marin.

The radio station was a dream of several long-time residents of West Marin-Donna Sheehan, James Stark, John Goldthorpe, Muriel Murch and Richard Dillman were all part of the original group that had a vision they were willing to put some muscle behind. It wasn't easy. It took tons of time out of already-busy lives and pleading for money, but one day there was a celebration at the Red Barn in PRS as the power was turned on and KWMR happened at 90.5 Point Reyes. Charlie Morgan announced that the station was "on the dial." More effort and money went into putting up the receiver in Bolinas, at 89.3.

There are over 100 volunteer programmers from all over West Marin, producing a wide variety of programs. Three full-time staff members keep it running: Station Manager and Music Director Kay Clements, Program Director Lyons Filmer and Underwriting-Development Director Adrienne Pfeiffer... formidable and talented ladies who work long hours and longer days with faint remuneration. Obviously, acts of love. Kay Clements in particular has become a star at squeezing every drop from every penny contributed. Nothing is wasted, believe me. The station is run on a shoe-string... a shoe-string that is reused, recycled and community-based.

As with anything, use it or lose it! At a time when the world seems to be going crazy around us, becoming more and more programmed and "spun," we have in our midst our very own vehicle of community communication: Radio West Marin. We need to massage it and support it. As more and more of the media in America is taken over by corporate interests with their own agendas and spin, KWMRs existence allows all of us, no matter what our political persuasion or proclivity, to open up communication with our neighbors. That has never, ever existed before in West Marin and needs to be supported and protected.

If you don't find any programs on KWMR that interest you, why not create one yourself and put it on the air? If you think you can help the station become even better, call 'em! They want to hear from you (663-8068). In the meantime, tune in to Jonathan Rowe's program, American Off-Line, at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays: a high-quality interview program on national issues. Or experience the targeted intellect of Ellen Shehadeh on Saturday mornings at 11. Snap your fingers with Jerry Lunsford's with-it Hippie From Olema show on 6:30 p.m. Mondays or Charlie Morgan's dj program on Tuesday evenings, same time (Charlie should really have been a dj rather than a handy-man... he is that good at his program). Susan Deixler will introduce you to classical music on Thursdays and you can go bilingual and bicultural with Gus Conde on Friday mornings. Golly, the choices and possibilities are almost endless. You can even get financial advice at 5:30pm with Richard Cohn (alternate Thursdays). The schedule is available in town or on the web at www.kwmr.org. (PS: STUDIO LINE IS 663-8492 IN CASE YOU WANT TO CALL IN DURING A SHOW AND BE ON THE AIR.)

Use it or lose it! Pledge drive is coming up in February... pledge what you can. Or don't wait for the official pledge dates and just send money to Box 1262, Point Reyes 94956 or drop by 11431 State Route One, #8, Point Reyes 94956 (next to the Point Reyes Light newsroom). Whatever you can afford will be appreciated... even miracles need cash.

 

 

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