Lots of talk and kudos today for Ruth Seymour, who announced to her staff last night (see her note) that she will retire as head of KCRW. Larry Mantle opened his show on rival KPCC this morning with more than a minute of praise, calling her announcement "a historic day in public radio." Seymour's news also got the final segment on Mantle's "Airtalk." "Ruth Seymour is a giant in public radio," Mantle said. "A truly unique figure in public radio, and worthy of a great deal of credit for the contributions she has made to the growth of public radio."
Tonight on KCRW's own "Which Way, L.A.?", Warren Olney said "she's been a pioneer in public radio" and talked with guests about her creation of the eclectic format (mixing a range of music with news and commentary) and enduring programs such as "Politics of Culture" and "Left, Right & Center." "Ruth saved Weekend Edition," said former music director Tom Schnabel, describing how she raised money and lobbied in Washington for NPR to keep that show. "She breaks all the rules of public radio and succeeds." Ira Glass also described her role in supporting his "This American Life."
Seymour told Sharon Waxman of The Wrap that "I just felt it’s time. There comes a moment where you say, 'It’s time to leave. You’ve been here more than 30 years. You’re in your 70s.'
"Media is in the process of tremendous change. More and more we don’t really know where it’s going to end up. I think it can benefit from new leadership."
Seymour also said she hears less comments about her distinctive New York voice than in the past: "I became an acquired taste. At the beginning, people like me never got near a microphone. Now regional accents are quite common....But I’ve lived here since the early '60s."
From this morning on LA Observed: Full text of Seymour's letters to staff and KCRW listeners and the station news release.
Photo by Marc Goldstein