Words

On the Air

KMRE broadcaster receives citizen journalism award

Hear

What: 4th annual Paul deArmond Citizen Journalism Award Dinner

When: 5 pm Fri., Feb. 10

Where: Soy House, 401 W. Holly Street

Cost: $35 covers dinner. Seating is limited, so please RSVP .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Info: http://www.nwcitizen.com

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Stephanie Kountouros is on the air! And—full confession here—so am I, riding shotgun along with Dave Willingham on “Cascadia News Now,” a weekly public affairs radio show airing on KMRE 102.3 FM. This isn’t our first gig together, but it might be our best, with all the technical support of the Bellingham Radio Museum.

Stephanie’s radio résumé is as long as her commitment to the form—working as a news reporter or the local host of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” with similar roles at KISM FM, KVOS Television, and the CBC Radio Drama Department. Most recently, she hosted the “Hour of the Wolf” on KVWV 94.9 FM, where she brought on a constellation of community advocates, policy experts and local celebrities to discuss public affairs. Always, she brings to the mic a deep background from years of professional and volunteer work on issues of social justice.

Next month, Stephanie will receive the Paul deArmond Citizen Journalism Award to honor both her work, and the unique (and endangered) form of public radio in the portfolio of local media.

“Before I got involved in community radio, I was involved several years ago in National Public Radio stations and I loved them,” she said. “I went a different route in Bellingham and became involved in social work and social justice, but I always had that love for radio.

“I did work in commercial radio briefly, but I found it wasn’t for me. There seemed to be something missing. Radio at the time was beginning to coalesce around a few major voices—and there were voices and opinions that were not being equally represented.

“There were alternative media forms out there—Cascadia Weekly, Whatcom Watch, the Betty Pages—but what I felt was missing was people having the opportunity to hear each other in a dialogue, and I think that is something community radio does very well. As opposed to merely presenting information, it is more about living and breathing.”

Cascadia Weekly: A town hall—

Stephanie Kountouros: Yes, we don’t have a town commons anymore, a marketplace where people can meet one another and discourse about issues.
People talk about this often, that media is both becoming more polarized and is polarizing more people—commercial mainstream media. We tend to lean toward the media that says what we want to hear and affirms the truth that we believe. But what we are losing is discourse and conversation. We’re losing the ability to hear each other and perspectives from one another.

CW: The criticism has been made that radio, like newspapers, are a dying form. But micropower stations like KMRE seem to be giving radio renewed life.

SK: Radio is dying. I am the first to admit that. But when I say that, I’m talking about mainstream media. It was once an extremely dynamic form. I recall growing up listening to a San Francisco rock station and Robin Williams would drop by the set every now and then and do comedy for half an hour. You never knew what to expect. Those days are vanished.

Now, you’re going to hear from some central station in New Jersey, there’s a couple of famous jocks here and there. But it is that streamlining of content and commodification that is killing radio.

Commercial radio is in a vicious spiral—fewer listeners, fewer advertisers, less revenue creates a push for packaged content.

I listen to streaming online, commercial free! Why would I listen to a radio station, right?

What’s not dying is something called “hyperlocalization.”

Some time back, the FCC released a number of low-power station licenses, which means a broadcast radius of around 10 miles or so. These were taken up mostly by churches. People complained that they were not hearing from a larger segment of their community. In 2014, the FCC released another batch.

Seattle got 14 LPFMs. Bellingham got one more. There’s one in Van Zandt, another in Deming. There’s one in Skagit Valley that reaches the San Juans. We now have the ability to grow an entirely different kind of radio that is a venue and a hub for people to connect with each other, an exchange of ideas that is like nothing else in our community.

CW: Tell me about your new venture, Cascadia News Now.

SK:  This is media qua media; you are my co-host!

I became involved as program director for KMRE, feeling that we have a lot of good shows but what was missing is public affairs.

There are several outlets for local public affairs, but—again—not that sort of living, breathing conversation that radio brings.

This is a volunteer venture for us. You bring the avocation of attending the meetings, following the outcomes, reading the legal opinions and trying to connect stories into a larger frame. Dave is an excellent data analyst, involved in elections and election tracking in Bellingham, and brings that analytical perspective. My job, I think, is to ask the stupid questions, and keep things a little more down to earth when subjects get too technical or heady. And I think I ask them really well! And so we are able to have that dialogue.

I can course-correct like, “Tim, what did you just say and what does that mean?” And you have the opportunity to get outside of the restrictions of writing to a largely invisible audience, and receiving some direct feedback. And we have guests, and more guests! And hopefully listeners are learning things about their community they really can’t get anywhere else.

CW: You’re about to receive an award for citizen journalism. What does citizen journalism mean to you?

SK: There are a lot of phrases bandied around—there’s corporate media and social media. Then there’s community media, and citizen journalism.

Citizen journalism makes me think about public education, it makes me think of Paulo Freire, who challenged what we think of as the banking system of education in this country. He was Brazilian, and he came up with an alternative way of looking at education. But the foundation of Friere’s philosophy was that everybody has some perspective on wisdom. Anyone who is alive has lived through something and learned something.

And I think that is at the heart of citizen journalism, that whoever you are your perspective is valid and worthwhile.

Any person who is at a protest, who is marching in reaction to something, or witnessing a police incident or an event on campus, every person is in a sense a citizen reporter.

Cascadia News Now airs at 5:30pm Wednesdays on KMRE 102.3 FM. The show also streams on http://www.kmre.org/

The Paul deArmond Award encourages citizen journalism by recognizing outstanding volunteer effort to connect the community to the issues around them. It is not intended as competition but in gratitude for people reporting on events through a variety of media forms. For more infomation on the award, http://www.nwcitizen.com/entry/stephanie-kountouros-to-receive-paul-dearmond-citizen-journalism-award

newsletter banner
More Words...
A Fire Story
Burning down the house

A recent report by the U.S. Climate Prediction Center and the National Interagency Fire Center calling for this year’s wildfire potential to be “above normal” in the Pacific Northwest may have Whatcom County residents already thinking about the threat of local fires and another summer…

more »
Elegant Aviary
Birds of the West

“On the whole, birds appear to be the most aesthetic of all animals, excepting of course man, and they have nearly the same taste for the beautiful we have,” observed Charles Darwin in The Descent of Man.

This quote, included in the opening of Molly Hashimoto’s Birds of the West: An…

more »
Unforgettable
Beauty is a wound

There are times when you happen upon a book and are completely blown away by its scope, craft and story. Eka Kurniawan’s Beauty is a Wound is just such a novel—sweeping, epic, with a vast but unforgettable cast of characters.

It’s reminiscent of One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel…

more »
Events
Today
Upper Skagit Library Photo Contest

12:00pm

Plover Ferry Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

The Hobbit

7:00pm|Judson Auditorium

Matilda the Musical

7:00pm|Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth

Birch Bay Kite Festival

10:00am|Birch Bay Beach Park

Birch Bay Book Sale

10:00am|Birch Bay Beach Park

Lummi Island Artists' Studio Tour

10:00am|Lummi Island

Plover Ferry Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Solace on the slopes

7:00am

Ski to Sea Race

7:30am|Mt. Baker to Marine Park

Rabbit Ride

8:30am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Ski to Sea Seconds Sale

10:00am|Good Earth Pottery

Historic Fairhaven Festival

10:00am|Historic Fairhaven

Paper Voodoo Workshop

10:00am|Blaine Harbor Center

Langar in Lynden

11:00am| Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

Bellingham Handmade Market

11:00am|Goods Nursery and Produce

Plover Ferry Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Public Sails

12:00pm|Squalicum Harbor

History Tour

12:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

History Tour

12:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

La Conner Live!

1:00pm|Gilkey Square

Audubon at the Museum

1:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Art of Jazz

4:00pm|BAAY Theater

Oceans Flamenco with Savannah Fuentes

7:30pm|Tha Outlet

Kids Guide 2019
Tomorrow
Upper Skagit Library Photo Contest

12:00pm

Plover Ferry Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Plover Ferry Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Public Sails

12:00pm|Squalicum Harbor

Oceans Flamenco with Savannah Fuentes

7:30pm|Tha Outlet

Plant Diagnostic Clinics

4:30pm|Bellingham Public Library

Swing Dancing Classes

5:00pm|Presence Studio

Open Mic Night

7:00pm|Village Books

Salish Sea Early Music Festival

7:00pm|St. Paul's Episcopal Church

Poetrynight

7:00pm|Alternative Library

Guffawingham

9:00pm|Firefly Lounge

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Village Books
Tuesday
Upper Skagit Library Photo Contest

12:00pm

Plover Ferry Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Mapping Mars

4:00pm|Wilson Library

Artist Workshop

6:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Bellingham Reads

6:30pm|Bellingham Public Library

Books & Brews

7:00pm|Village Books

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

Punch Up Comedy Showcase and Open Mic

7:30pm|The Shakedown

Spring Choral Concert

8:00pm|Performing Arts Center Concert Hall

see our complete calendar »

Kids Guide 2019 Trove Web Village Books Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1