KALW, SFUSD’s Community Broadcast Service, Wins Murrow and Gracie Awards
San Francisco (May 21, 2020) - The San Francisco Unified School District and community broadcast service KALW, a pioneer in public broadcasting since 1941, are pleased to announce recent honors for work produced in its newsroom and through partnership with independent producers and podcasters in the Bay Area.
On May 12, the station received a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Best News Series in the large market radio category. The win goes to Education Reporter Lee Romney's series, Learning While Black: The Fight for Equity in San Francisco Schools.
Ms. Romney set out to explore the systemic inequities that have hampered African American students in a changing city. Learning While Black also showcases the resilience and power of black youth and their families, and the efforts of educators and community advocates to help them thrive.
This award is one of many received by Ms. Romney for this series. In January the Northern California Branch of the International Dyslexia Association recognized her for her outstanding role in education and social justice. In 2019, the Excellence in Journalism award for Best Ongoing Series from the Society of Professional Journalists of Northern California was awarded to this series. Ms. Romney shares that award with her collaborators in the KALW newsroom: Lisa Morehouse, editor, and engineers Tarek Fouda and James Rowlands.
The Learning While Black series sparked a community forum at the African American Cultural Center in San Francisco with 200 attendees including SFUSD administrators, parents, special education advocates, and community leaders. It also led to Lee and one of the subjects of her stories, Darryl Lester, being invited to the 2019 fall convention of the California Association of School Psychologists.
A second award recently went to a KALW production from the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation (AWMF). Inflection Point with Lauren Schiller, a podcast about how women rise up, and produced in partnership with KALW, was honored with a Gracie Award for best feature interview. The winning episode was recorded live at the Commonwealth Club and featured playwright, activist, and performer Eve Ensler speaking about her best selling book, The Apology.
The Gracies, now in their 45th year, recognize exemplary programming created by, for and about women in radio, television, and interactive media. The list of honorees included Michelle Williams, Amy Poehler, Natasha Lyonne, Tamron Hall, Naomi Watts, Angela Yee, Norah O’Donnell, Niecy Nash, Stephanie Beatriz, and Soledad O’Brien.
About Lee Romney
Lee Romney is a longtime journalist who spent 23 years at the Los Angeles Times, where she developed a focus on vulnerable communities. She now covers education for KALW-FM’s news program Crosscurrents. Her radio work has also aired on Radiolab, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, KQED’s The California Report Magazine, Making Contact and NPR’s Here & Now. You can follow her at @leeromney.
About Lauren Schiller
Lauren Schiller is the host and creator of Inflection Point, a podcast and nationally syndicated public radio show about how women rise up. Launched in 2015, and produced in partnership with KALW and PRX, Inflection Point was one of the first radio shows and podcasts in the country to exclusively feature conversations with women about how they build power and lead change. Lauren is an award-winning producer, was the Executive Producer of Audio for Salon Media, where she is a regular contributor and is also a speaker and moderator at live events including INFORUM at The Commonwealth Club, Bay Area Book Festival, the JCCSF Arts and Ideas Series, and Cal Performances.
KALW was put on the air by SFUSD teachers and students in September of 1941, making it the first FM station West of the Mississippi. KALW was an early NPR affiliate and served as the West Coast station of record for the BBC World Service.
In the early 21st century, at a time when most broadcasters were cutting back on local production, KALW made investments and built partnerships that launched a range of new shows, including "Your Call," "Philosophy Talk," "Revolutions Per Minute," "Music From Other Minds," and "Explorations in Music." In 2005, KALW began to develop its local news department from scratch, which culminated in the launch of the daily local news show "Crosscurrents" in 2008.
Today, the station serves as a leading broadcast outlet for the Bay Area's diverse arts and music scenes. It has developed an award-winning local newsroom with training and talent development at its core. Thanks to partnerships with community institutions and independent producers, the station is an engine for distinctive original productions, including the ground-breaking podcasts "99% Invisible" and "Radio Ambulante.”
SFUSD and KALW
After demonstrating its experimental "frequency modulation" radio technology at the 1939-40 San Francisco International Exposition on Treasure Island, RCA sold its equipment and transmitter to the San Francisco Unified School District. SFUSD applied to the FCC for a license to broadcast, which the FCC granted in March of 1941. Over the summer, teachers and students built the radio facility at Gompers High School, and on September 1st, regular broadcasts began, making KALW the West's original FM station.
SFUSD continues to hold KALW's license and operates the station as its community broadcast service. KALW serves the Bay Area as a source of local and global news and information, including broadcasting the SF Board of Education meetings, announcing the school lunch menu and amplifying the voices of SFUSD students and other youth. The station broadcasts from studios located on the campus of Philip & Sala Burton High School.