When I first arrived at KUOW three years ago, there was electricity in the air, that anticipatory excitement about yet-to-be-defined change. All around, there was a desire to try new things, an appetite to be bold, and a devotion to occupy a more central place in the lives of the people who call the Puget Sound home. All of us — KUOW’s board, leadership, our staff — agreed: Now was the time. And we began asking, what kind of company do we want to be? Who do we need to be?
It was clear even then, before a presidential election year that would ask us to evaluate our purpose and promise, that we needed to become a different kind of media enterprise. Let’s own it: None of us has truly reaped the rewards of digital media’s promise to elevate understanding and empathy in ways that bring us closer together. In many ways, having access to a whole universe of information (and misinformation) has led many to self curate, to stick closer to our tribes, falsely assured by the familiar voices and perspectives in the echo chambers of our own creation.
We can’t let this become the norm. We in the media have a responsibility inherent in our calling. Journalism can and should hold the fabric of society together, not push us further apart. So as we thought about what kind of company we needed to be, we were energized by the idea that KUOW has not just the opportunity but an obligation to turn the tide away from anger and isolation — to uphold and celebrate empathy, connection, and understanding. We realized that we can be a light that leads people towards different points of view and helps them see the bigger picture. We can speak truth to power and promote civility as an essential value. We decided the consequences of standing still are far scarier than going for it: thinking big, reaching higher, going bold. And now is the time.
We think it starts with bringing people together around story. If we can get you to sit with us for a while, to listen to someone else’s triumphs and tribulations, that’s powerful. Yet our work isn’t done simply if people are listening. Are we moving your heart, challenging your thinking, broadening your field of vision? That’s what KUOW aims to do. And we’re going for it with a new mindset, a new approach, and a new attitude.
In the end, this is all about you — our listeners, our donors, and our community — and KUOW’s relationship with all of you will fortify our success over the long haul. We promise exciting things on the horizon from KUOW in 2017, including in-depth reporting on some of the most crucial questions facing our region, more community engagement events, a year-long celebration of KUOW’s 65th anniversary, and a new brand identity and look for the station. Thank you for being with us and for supporting our steadfast commitment to bold storytelling and to the tenets and ethics of the highest quality journalism. This is our commitment to you. Thank you.