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KALW's Commitment to Racial Equity

Members of the KALW crew
Peter Belanger
Members of the KALW crew

January 1, 2023

As a public media organization, KALW is responsible for representing the diversity of the Bay Area in who we are, what we create, and the stories we tell. We also have the responsibility to tell the truth about the racial injustices that underlie our society and work to repair them.

KALW Public Media’s studios are in Ohlone territory, and we broadcast on unceded Ohlone and Miwok lands.

The field of journalism and media in the United States — including public media — has failed historically and through today to provide equitable representation and opportunities for people of color. Media often contributes to systemic inequities by propagating harmful and racist narratives. Discriminatory workplaces and socioeconomic barriers limit the opportunities for people of color to thrive in media. These same barriers often lead to biased journalism that doesn’t reflect the communities it’s meant to serve. It’s part of KALW’s mission to change that.

KALW has worked towards greater racial diversity for decades, with people of color leading on air and behind the scenes. We are committed to exposing racial inequities in the Bay Area through our programming, and to highlighting solutions that can improve racial equity. We are also committed to training underrepresented populations in our training programs: the Audio Academy, Summer Fellowship, high school programs, and the Uncuffed training program for people in the carceral system.

We believe public radio must reflect the community it serves. We find and nurture programming and programmers that look and sound like the Bay Area, and we prioritize partnering with organizations led by and/or serving people of color.

Still, we know we have further to go. In 2020, we were one of the first stations to sign onto the Public Media for All campaign for racial equity in newsrooms. We’re committed to pursuing racial equity in the station’s internal practices, external communication, and content. Simultaneously, our goal is for KALW’s on-air voices, staff, board, volunteers, trainees, and audience to fully reflect the diversity of the Bay Area.

As signatories to the Public Media for All Campaign, we are implementing action items which establish racially equitable practices and diversity goals for every facet of the organization.

Our Public Media For All goals include: incorporating justice, equity, and inclusion goals into the annual/quarterly goals of any staff person who supervises staff or participates in hiring; creating space for staff of color to heal, re-energize, and be empowered; using census data to help us understand the racial makeup of the communities that we operate in and set diversity goals based on equitable representation.

KALW’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion staff work group meets biweekly to help meet our commitments in the Public Media For All campaign and ensure a culture of belonging at KALW. The group also receives progress reports from KALW’s Executive Director, offers an equity perspective for any major decision facing the organization, and responds to other equity-related needs.

We’re committed to this work, knowing that it will be ongoing, and that we must continue to assess, reflect, and do better. Through this effort, we can better achieve our mission to serve, inform, and connect the diverse communities of the Bay Area.

- Signed,

Ben Trefny
KALW Public Media Interim Executive Director

Laura Saponara
KALW Public Media Board Chair

KALW Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Working Group