While some people try to provide a broader context/perspective for the imminent changes at WLUW [“Picking Up Its Marbles” by Deanna Isaacs, July 27], and I can appreciate the “wait and see” attitude, the truth is that Kois and Campbell facilitated huge improvements in the management and programming of WLUW, in the past 15 and particularly past 10 years. These improvements continued and even thrived under the partnership with WBEZ. Perhaps the need to be financially self-sustainable was a catalyst to increase the community building that the station already had been doing.
When I began volunteering as a cohost of “Live from the Heartland” ten years ago, there was a solid community programming component, but I rarely listened to the station because the majority of its programming was geared toward the Chicago house music scene and was an alternative to B96. While I can appreciate the local house music scene, I was thrilled as the music programming diversified, featuring more independent and local music of a variety of genres. We participated in and were thrilled at the evolution of the station, as it became more than community-based but really a tool for organizing and building community. And it became an important outlet for all kinds of alternative media, from news such as “Democracy Now” and the long-running “Labor Express” to arts media like “Wordslingers” and “Open Books” and “Think Pink.”
This is not to say that it is all going away, but the evolution of the station really was the vision and brilliant work of Craig Kois, who has always had a strong vision for community and savvy for community building, as well as Shawn Campbell, who excels at building and managing an enormous volunteer network as well as organizing events. Without the facilitation, stewardship, dedication, and vision of these two people, I become enormously concerned about the station’s future.
Hopefully the university will have the vision and foresight to recruit equally brilliant, creative, dedicated people to manage the station so that it can continue to grow. But given the history of the Loyola’s management, I am not optimistic.
However, I am excited to see the fire going in new directions for more community-based media. Our city needs it. I will not simply sit by and “wait and see” but will be getting off my butt to ensure that Chicago has valuable, independent, creative community-based media outlets.