KCRW (89.9 FM) general manager Ruth Seymour announced Wednesday that she's retiring after 32 years running the public station out of Santa Monica College.

She said she'll leave in February. Meanwhile, the college has already begun a search for a replacement.

Seymour grew the basement-based broadcaster from a blip on the local radar to National Public Radio's flagship. While her cultural and talk programming have won accolades, KCRW's biggest footprint has arguably been realized through its music programming.

Seymour recognized early on that commercial radio wasn't meeting the needs of local audiences, and she also saw that edgier and “eclectic” tunes would draw in the kinds of young, hip, affluent Westsiders and entertainment industry types the outlet could count on for the contributions that make up most of its budget.

She usually handpicked her DJs, some of whom have gone on to become Hollywood and music industry powerhouses (Chris Douridas, Jason Bentley) in their own rights. But that didn't mean they were off the hook when the pledge drives came around. Nearly all of the music hosts had to justify their shows' existence by raising money on-air.

Seymour has had the vision to expand the station's reach through Southern California with transmitters and relays that reach to Palm Springs and parts of Ventura, San Diego, San Bernardino, Kern and Santa Barbara counties.

She pushed a fund-raising effort to digitize the outlet's music collection, and now its library is available at the push of a button. Perhaps most importantly, she recognized the importance of online and put KCRW on the internet in a big way. The expansion has led to global influence, particularly for its music, and regular KCRW showcases in New York.

Spotted at LAObserved.

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