Photo courtesy KCRW
Photo courtesy KCRW

SMC — KCRW is coming up for air.

The local public radio station has been operating out of the basement of Santa Monica College for more than 30 years but broke ground last week on its new 35,000-square-foot building, which will be located above ground.

The building, which will also be on the SMC campus, is expected to be complete next year and will likely be home to broadcasts by 2016.

The subterranean digs made sense 30 years ago when the radio station had only 14 employees. Now there are 110.

The new space will include a 1,400-square-foot performance studio and viewing gallery, allowing guests to watch live performances at the station.

“For the first time in our 75-year history we will be able to bring the community into our home and share the incredible performances and discussions that take place on a daily basis,” said Jennifer Ferro, KCRW president and general manager.

KCRW will also have access to host events at the 18,000-square-foot Wallis Annenberg Plaza Courtyard and Outdoor Stage and a 180-seat auditorium on the SMC Entertainment & Technology campus.

“KCRW’s innovative programs and live events inspire the imagination and bring communities together,” said Wallis Annenberg, president and CEO of The Annenberg Foundation, KCRW’s largest private donor. “They provide an invaluable public service to Southern Californians and listeners worldwide. We are thrilled to be a part of this illustrious endeavor.”

KCWR has raised $33 million of the necessary $48 million for its capital campaign goal. A majority of the money raised, $28 million, comes from SMC, which funded the contribution through the 2008 Bond Measure AA.

“We share a unique synergy with KCRW, and look forward to creating a dynamic learning environment for our students who are passionate about journalism, media, and radio,” said SMC President Chui L. Tsang.

The new center is designed by Clive Wilkinson Architects and will meet LEED Silver environmental standards. The project has been in the works as a part of SMC’s expansion plan since 2006. That expansion also includes a newly remodeled 50,000-square-foot teaching facility and a 430-space parking garage.

Singer-songwriter Ben Harper performed live at last week’s groundbreaking for a crowd of sponsors and dedicated friends of the radio station.


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