Dear Friends

  • Maria Schell


Farewell, Radio HCN

We’re writing today with both sadness and gratitude. We’re sad because, after years of hard work, we have decided to end our weekly radio program, Radio High Country News. But we’re grateful to you, our dedicated readers, because you believed enough to contribute to the Spreading the News Campaign, which allowed us to put out a wonderful radio show that informed and inspired thousands of public radio listeners across the West.

The decision comes in the face of some stark financial realities at High Country News. Producing the radio show has cost $125,000 a year, and we have not been able to make ends meet. We have generated some money for the show through underwriting, and radio stations have pitched in what they could, but foundation dollars are increasingly difficult to come by, and we felt it unfair to saddle our readers with further expenses.

Shutting down the radio show does not mean that High Country News has given up on spreading its journalism to a broader audience than the 30,000 or so people who read the newspaper. The Web site, Writers on the Range and our news syndication project, which are also funded in part by Spreading the News, are still going strong, thanks to your support.

If we can come up with the funding, we may someday revive Radio High Country News, perhaps in the form of an occasional hour-long special. In the meantime, as a living legacy of the radio program, we’ve made all of the nearly 200 shows a permanent part of our archives on the Web. Currently, about half of the shows can be downloaded as audio files, and all of them can be ordered on CDs. We printed an appreciation of the radio show, and of the many people who have made it possible.

Farewell, radio heads

With the radio show go the staffers, who have put a tremendous amount of time and effort into producing Radio High Country News. We bid a sad farewell to the show’s host and executive producer, Adam Burke, who spent four years here, though he put in probably eight years’ worth of work. He plans to work on his own radio projects, and also, we hope, to write for the newspaper.

Also leaving is Krissy Clark, the show’s associate producer (who has acted as executive producer for the final four shows). Krissy says she’ll split her time between Arkansas and her hometown of San Francisco. “I’ll be doing more radio,” she says, including plenty of the on-the-ground reporting she’s so good at, but had little time for at Radio HCN.

Finally, we’re losing a staffer we hadn’t even had a chance to introduce. Maria Schell came to Radio HCN as an assistant producer just three months ago. She says she had no radio experience whatsoever, until she muscled her way into an internship at This American Life, a Chicago-based public radio program. The show initially turned her away, but, undaunted, she bought some recording equipment and went to work. Her first attempts at radio were disasters, she says, but they got her in the door, and she later interned with the Kitchen Sisters, who produce Lost and Found Sound.

Now that the show is over, Maria says she’ll head home to San Francisco and resume what she’d been doing before HCN: Editing a book written by a prisoner named “Frenchy,” practicing the martial art of aikido, and possibly co-writing a book with her father about the six generations of her family that have lived in California.

Maria says she came to Paonia looking for a “radio boot camp.” Did she find what she was looking for? “Yeah, I learned a lot,” she says. “I felt like I was just starting to get my sea legs.”

We wish Adam, Krissy and Maria well. They’ve worked miracles — and we’ll miss them.

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