CMD and KCRW Officially Open its Doors

After years of planning, the day has finally arrived. On Saturday, December 2, Santa Monica College hosted the grand opening of the newly-created Center for Media and Design campus, located on Stewart Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. The event commemorated the development of a new building for the KCRW radio station.

The gates opened at 9:45 a.m., allowing attendees to see the newly designed building. The official event started at 10:15 a.m. with the opening ceremony including Madeleine Brand, Master of Ceremonies, who gave out a warm welcome to the audience, most of whom were from the Santa Monica and Malibu communities. The attendees consists of the 5800 private donors that took part in donating to a new campus worth a reported $115 million.

The opening ceremony lasted for about an hour, as every speaker from Brand to Warren Olney, longtime host of KCRW, spoke about the importance of this event and what it meant to them. Following the speakers, SMC Superintendent/President, Dr. Kathryn Jeffery, along with the other speakers of the opening ceremony, performed a special ribbon cutting to officially commemorate the campus's grand opening. 

This was followed by a special musical performance by Ethan Gruska, along with small performances from the SMC Cheer Club, and the Santa Monica High School marching band. Once the ceremony was concluded, the crowd dispersed to tour different parts of the campus.

The tour included a first look inside the nearly completed, three-storied KCRW building, where attendees got a look of different rooms, two sets of kitchens, and an open set of the studio. One attendee, Jan Richter, who has been a donor for KCRW for 25 years, was very impressed. 

"KCRW was my companion for 25 years driving back and forth to work in the morning and afternoon," Richter said. "The teaching, all of the equipment they had for the media on the other side was unbelievable. I think it's a great idea. I think it's great the community is supporting this kind of activity."

The tour lasted the entire day, and the event had concessions along with music produced by members of KCRW. Dr. Jeffery thought the commemoration was quite successful. "The event today was fantastic," Jeffery said. "A ribbon cutting represents a lot of things, but specifically for me it means the end of this project which has been a long time in the making. We're finally at this point where we can say we're open and ready for business, even though we were offering courses here back in August, but this makes it official what we did today."

On this new campus, it will serve as a new home to students who are taking classes for film, media, digital media, and journalism majors. It will also include a visual interaction program, which is a new 4-year program designed to help students earn a bachelor's degree at SMC.

Since it's incarnation, KCRW has served as a local radio station of Santa Monica College for almost a century, operating in a basement under the Cayton Center for over three decades.

Jennifer Ferro, President of KCRW, gives us an explanation of how this project came to fruition, which she stated took 10 years to do. "It started with a bond measure that the college put on the ballot, and asked the Santa Monica and Malibu voters to support," Ferro said. "They put this big bond measure out there and KCRW assisted it in any way it could to get people to help support that bond measure, and that was in 2008 which was a huge financial crises for the it's just a testament to the college just sticking to it and then KCRW was able to raise a lot of money to help us build out what we do because we're totally supported by ourselves."

Ferro also desribes what this moment was like for her, and the radio station. "This is a really exciting moment for us because we've been planning this building ten years, and we've done a lot with you know with small resources and now we're gonna finally see what it's like to do stuff with the windows and light and space for the community to come in."

Frank Dawson, Interim Dean of Career Technical Education programs at Santa Monica College, explains how this new campus will benefit students in the long run. 

"First of all, one of the greatest benefits is because of the evolution of the role of community colleges that now include also job placements and really deep dive relationships with employers in industry," Dawson said. "What this campus says to industry and from source that we've done already, is that Santa Monica College has made a major commitment to the future as far as utilizing technology and new ideas in media, entertainment, design, and all of those areas. The closer the relationships that we can have with industry, the better off our students are gonna go, better prepared they're gonna be, and the better opportunities there's gonna be for our students once they move on from us."