Nov 18, 2009

Ruth Seymour to step down at KCRW*

A major shift is coming to KCRW. Ruth Seymour informed employees last night that she plans to step down as the station's general manager at the end of February. Seymour has headed the station since 1977. Under stewardship KCRW developed into a major public radio radio voice.

Here's her email to staff:
Dear Staff,

I want to give you a heads-up on some dramatic news.

I’ve made the decision to retire as General Manager at the end of February. I will be speaking personally to many of you in the coming weeks but I wanted to make sure that you heard this from me before it becomes more public.

For almost all of you, I am the only manager you’ve known. Some of you go back with me to John Adams Jr. High. We have a lot of history together.

We have created a family of sorts down in the basement. We have laughed and cried together, quarreled and made up. We’ve welcomed new wives and husbands and lots of babies, some of whom plan to run the station themselves someday.

The College is required to engage in certain procedures to choose a new manager and they have embarked on the process. I will be here to hand off the station to my successor.

Nothing is harder than to announce that you’re leaving and then try to manage for the next few months. So I hope you’ll make it easy for me.

I’m attaching a letter which will be sent to the membership. Please read it.

I’m sure I’ll get a chance to talk individually to everyone of you in the days to come.

With love and gratitude – Ruth
A copy of Seymour's letter to KCRW members is here.

Warren Olney discussed Seymour's announcement on tonight's "Which Way, LA?"

*UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times has a good story today about the timing of Seymour's resignation. Here's an excerpt:
Her departure comes at a time when the station is seen to be in transition. Despite its reputation for superlative programming -- including its signature music and public affairs shows, such as "Morning Becomes Eclectic," "Which Way, L.A.?" and "To the Point" -- KCRW lags behind other public radio stations in local-area ratings.

In October, the month in which the most recent ratings are available, KCRW placed 30th in the Los Angeles-Orange County market, with 1% of the total audience ages 6 and older. Classical station KUSC-FM (91.5) was 19th at 2.3%, while KPCC placed 24th at 1.8%.

But KCRW officials have challenged the ratings system, which they say undercounts the station's true audience.

KCRW is looking to broaden its appeal nationally through digital initiatives such as streaming and podcasting. Seymour felt that having someone else in the general manager role might help the station more quickly realize that goal.

"It's going to be a new era," she said. "Time to begin without me."
Also, I assumed it goes without saying that I work at KCRW as a producer for "Which Way, LA?" and "To The Point." However, assuming is never a good thing to do.

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