Radio program

Longtime West Marin radio program director to step down

  • Lyons Filmer, KWMR’s program director, prepares to air Monday in the radio station’s broadcast booth at Point Reyes Station. Filming will soon be retiring after many years at the station. (Alan Dep / Marin Independent Journal)

  • Lyons Filmer, KWMR’s program director, leaves the broadcast booth to pick up a CD before going on air at Point Reyes Station on Monday. Filming will be retiring soon after many years at the station. (Alan Dep / Marin Independent Journal)

  • Lyons Filmer, KWMR’s program director, prepares to air Monday in the radio station’s broadcast booth at Point Reyes Station. Filming will be retiring soon after many years at the station. (Alan Dep / Marin Independent Journal)

Lyons Filmer may be stepping down from her job as West Marin’s KWMR radio program manager next week after 19 years at the station, but Monday was pretty much like any other day for her.

From 10 am to 11 am, as host of “Turning Pages: At Nature’s Pace”, Filmer read Leigh Calvez’s book, “The Hidden Lives of Owls”. Throughout the day, she periodically read an on-air advisory about an imminent threat of sneaker waves and rip currents on local beaches.

“We read this now at the start of every hour until later in the day when we switch to every half hour,” Filmer said. “We are the only station reporting on what is happening in West Marin. “

Founded in 1995, KWMR broadcast on a local cable television network until obtaining its FM broadcast license in 1999. With its modest 235 watt transmitter on Mount Vision, its signal can reach southern parts of Sonoma County and the surrounding areas. western neighborhoods of San Francisco. .

The station’s offices were in a barn until November 2001, when it moved to its three-room space in a former dairy. The station has a budget of around $ 400,000 and only one of its six employees – its underwriting and development coordinator – works full time.

KWMR relies on around 95 adult volunteer programmers to run the station, and around 20 junior high and high school students serve as guest deejays. In addition to managing all the volunteers and deciding which of their ideas will get airtime, Filmer organizes several shows itself. In addition to “At Nature’s Pace”, on which she usually reads aloud non-fiction books having to do with the natural world, Filmer hosts a Celtic music show and “Epicenter”, an interview program about the natural world. news.

Prior to becoming KWMR’s Program Director in April 2001, Filmer was a volunteer programmer for KPFA in Berkeley for 10 years. Filming, however, did not bring KPFA’s “barricade” style of advocacy to her new job in West Marin.

“It was important for KWMR to be as neutral as possible,” Filmer said. “We broadcast in small communities where there is almost no anonymity. There is a wide range of opinions and values. We didn’t want to set it up so that people from the same political angle felt that there was no room for them on the station.

At KPFA, Filmer created a program which she titled “Sense and Sensuality: Eating for Pleasure”. The program featured short readings mixed with music and generally had a seasonal theme.

“I make a really good steamed persimmon pudding,” Filmer said. “It was the heart of the show in November or December, when persimmons are in season.”

It was during her time at KPFA that Filmer met Muriel Murch, one of the founders of KWMR and its original program director. Murch encouraged Filmer to start programming on KWMR.

“She was natural to join our programmers with her love of literature and music,” Murch said. “More than anyone, she understood the needs, requirements and scope of the role of program director. We were all blessed and grateful that she was there, ready and able to take us to where KWMR is today.

Filmer said the atmosphere at KPFA, where she and Murch both worked in the drama and literature department, was “rougher”.

“It’s more crowded and unfortunately over time there has been quite a bit of internal wrangling,” she said. “I’m not saying that to criticize the KPFA; it is an amazing and precious resource. It was just an atmosphere that I found more difficult to be in.

“I’m more comfortable with anyone who can say what they have to say rather than sticking to one end of the spectrum,” Filmer said. “My personal preference is for civil and civic conversations. We have to be able to talk to each other or nothing is going to happen. Even as careful as we try to be, someone is usually offended about something, so we take care of it. “

It is also Filmer’s job to train KWMR’s volunteer programmers.

“They have to understand the Federal Communications Commission rules on various things, including language. George Carlin’s Famous Seven Words, ”she said. “Any listener can file a complaint with the FCC, and it’s not uncommon for a station to have someone complain about it. “

Filmer said she was resigning now because she felt it was time for someone younger to take over.

“I have a very extroverted side to my personality and a very introverted side and as I get older I become more and more introverted,” she said. “This will give me a chance to garden more alone with my hands in the ground.”

Although she is retiring as Station Manager, Filmer will continue to host all three of her programs as a volunteer.

“If I wasn’t, I would be in bad shape,” she said. “You create a little world in your show where you invite the listener to join you. It is an exacerbated reality. When the mic opens, your body knows it and the adrenaline starts to rise.

Jeff Manson, who has hosted a rock’n’roll music show on KWMR since 2012, has been selected to take over as Program Director. Manson, 39, is a keyboardist who lives in Bolinas and works at Larner Seeds.

“Lyon is a great person to compete with all these different programmers,” Manson said. “She always makes people feel welcome, important and useful at the station, which I think is really lovely.”

Manson, who also works as a volunteer for the Bolinas Hearsay News, said he intends to maintain KWMR’s apolitical stance.

“I really like this idea of ​​these institutions not having a particular political point of view,” he said, “but rather being a voice of the community.”


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