Public Radio Media Hub Forming in California

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There’s a little station in Pasadena, CA, that is not so little anymore. KPCC has watched its audience triple over the past decade, blithely ignoring any trials and tribulations undergone by other broadcasters. It has been no slouch at accruing awards either, garnering over 200 journalistic honors including three Distinguished Radio Journalist awards from the Greater L.A. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the 2008 top honor for Breaking News from the L.A. Press Club

Operated by Southern California Public Radio, KPCC is preparing to become a veritable hub of public radio in the Southern California area . [SCPR is the nonprofit company that operates KPCC (89.3 FM), as well as KUOR-FM (89.1) and KPCV-FM (90.3).] This Saturday, they will debut the tools needed to live up to that status:  a $24.5-million broadcast facility that contains 13 studios and control rooms. For contrast, since 1993, their facilities were in the library of Pasadena City College and had only one primary studio.

We’ve even got confirmation on one piece of original programming that will be coming down the pipe. Madeleine Brand, former co-host of the NPR  newsmagazine Day to Day, will be hosting a new local newsmagazine which will debut this Spring. It will be nice to hear her voice again since Day to Day was cancelled a year ago as a result of economic factors.

Steve Carney at The Los Angeles Times writes:

KPCC has thrived by tapping a board willing to write big checks and hit up their rich friends for contributions. Taking the lead are Gordon Crawford, managing director of the Capital Group, the Los Angeles investment fund manager, and Jarl Mohn, who built E! Entertainment Television.

Crawford, chairman of KPCC’s board, and Mohn, vice chairman, contributed about $4 million each to the five-year capital campaign for the new headquarters. They are also champions of a consolidation plan that has already put two additional stations under the umbrella of Southern California Public Radio[…]

“Using these public airwaves for a public service that’s devoted to discussing the issues of the day is kind of critical to our democracy,” Crawford said. “Hopefully, the more we learn about each other, the better we’ll get along.”

The approach seems effective so far. Between the brilliant new production facilities and having three stations to work with, the growth is obvious.  I am curious about the further evolution as well as its sustainability in the face of a possible opinion backlash. Consolidation is often viewed with suspicion, especially where media is concerned.

Image: tandemracer / CC BY 2.0
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