An era in local radio is coming to an end. Ruth Seymour, General Manager of Santa Monica public radio station KCRW-FM (89.9), is retiring at the end of February, 2010.
During Seymour’s 30-plus years as both General Manager and Program Director, KCRW rose from a local college station to a flagship public radio station and web cast outlet known for its broad spectrum of political coverage and innovative arts and music programming. Some of the programs that became well-known during Seymour’s tenure included the morning music show “Morning Becomes Eclectic,” currently hosted by Jason Bentley, the political forum “Left, Right, and Center,” and the political interview show “Which Way LA?”
In an interview with The Santa Monica Mirror, Seymour reflected on her years with the station.
She came to KCRW in 1977 after a long stint working at another public radio outlet, KPFK-FM, where she had been the Drama and Literature Director and later the Program Director. She joined KCRW as a consultant and after two months, became General Manager.
“We only had a budget for five people, including me, so I was also the Program Director. Programming is one of my great strengths so I remained Program Director throughout my management career.”
The station was located in those days in a two-room bungalow on the campus of John Adams Middle School.
“We fought to stay in that bungalow!” Seymour recalled. “When we finally went over to the college, we were afraid we’d lose our independence.” She regretted having to leave the small building because “we had infused it with so much life.”
The station, relocated to the basement of a building on the Santa Monica College campus, retained its identity, while enjoying a slightly larger workspace.
“It’s wonderful to be in a basement. You know why? Because you never get a swelled head. You may be heard all over the world and you may have audiences nationally and internationally. But you go down to a basement every morning.”
(Next year KCRW is moving to new headquarters at the Academy of Entertainment and Technology).
In regard to the highlights of her career at KCRW, Seymour said the list is still being compiled. Off hand, she can list such highlights as “the work that we did in Human Rights, beginning in the late ‘70s, with martial law in Poland, Prisoners Consciousness Campaign for Amnesty International, and then the coverage of the Russian coup and the end of the Soviet Empire, and in 1992, our rolling coverage of the L.A. riots, using the audio from three local television stations, for four straight days. And the rise of “Morning Becomes Eclectic” to be a must-listen for music executives.”
As for what she plans to do in the future, Seymour said: “I don’t know–I’ll travel, read more, take a cooking class. I’m in my 70s, after all. I’ve worked since I was 15. When you’re so focused as I have been, on what you’re doing, you don’t have a lot of time to focus internally. There comes a time when you want to spend more time in reflection.”