4 thoughts on “Ruth Seymour, KCRW manager who shaped the sound of public radio from Santa Monica, dies at 88

  1. God bless her. ‘ll never forget one particular evening. December 12, 2000. Bush v Gore transcripts began spitting in spurts from Reuters. I ripped and ran to make copies, returning immediately to master control where I was substitute board-op for KCRW’s great Cindi Burkey. Ruth rushed in, waving the Supreme’s verdict in the air. I felt that unique feeling of radio’s awesomeness —being here as history happens! The famous PD stood behind me with her captains wondering: what is to be done? ”Let’s read the opinions!” I opined. I’d play the male justices (7) and Ruth could read the females (2)j. I told Ruth, KCRW’d capture the zeitgeist like no other station in America!

    She told me to switch the pot to CNN.

    • Holy crap, I just saw this article and it’s great. Thanks Hank I remember you so well in those sunny 1990’s Santa Monica days.

      What I remember is that sometimes during the pledge drives people would not be calling. Engineering the drives were complicated and involved so many audio components, so we had a lot of production people in the control room and in nearby studios. But sometimes things would just get quiet and people weren’t calling …. and Ruth would kind of gradually get wound up and say, Hey yall, You pay almost 4 bucks for a latte every day … and you can’t spend a dollar a day even to support what we all are doing here? !!!

      And we had these lights in the studio where if one light was on, it meant just one person was calling and pledging. So there would be one light on sometimes and then she would really start saying her ‘show me the money for crying out loud’ thing … and I swear those lights would go up one by one …..and we would really start cracking up laughing because the guilt trip was appropriate and it totally worked. It was kind of awesome..

  2. Thank you for that outstanding obit, Mr. Kalish. WoW–what a broadcast visionary!
    I‘ll never forget my one radio moment with her. It was December 12, 2000. The Bush v Gore decision had begun spitting up from Reuters. I ripped and ran, and made copies. As luck would have it, I was board-op that evening, subbing for the great Cindi Burkey in KCRW’s Master Control. When I swiveled in the sleek, state-of-the-art studio swivel chair as Ruth rushed in, waving the pages I had printed, I felt that awesome thrill of radio’s unique power—being here now as history happens! :What is to be done? I suddenly remembered tuning in back in ’91 to hear Ruth read antiwar columns by Anthony Lewis during Bush the Previous’s reign. (No station ever did THAT.)
    Inspired by her pioneer spirit, I said, “Let’s read the transcripts!” Ruth could do the female justices (2), and I’d play the male parts (7). “The opinions themselves,” I opined, “what an education for listeners!” KCRW, I told her, would have captured the zeitgeist again, like no other station in the nation!

    She told me to switch the pot to CNN.

    God speed!

  3. Ruth was a titan, an original. We frequently served together on committees and conferred by phone on other topics, in particular in connection with NPR’s 1983 near bankruptcy. She offered to marshal support from the major market stations to save NPR and I agreed to get a friendly congressional aide to walk the necessary waiver of the FCC Rules (which we secured in 24 hours) through all the Commissioners’ offices for approval. As often as not, Ruth and I were in disagreement over various topics but she was incredibly bright, intuitive, formidable and along with her other passions, public radio burned hot in her heart. Her contributions cannot be overestimated.

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