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Local radio stations air on the side of service

Spend a few minutes with Jim Paluzzi (pictured above) and you can’t help but getexcited about the future of journalism, jazz and classical music.

“We’re not in the radio business,” explains the general manager of National Public Radio’s KJZZ and KBAQ. “We’re in the community-building business.”

That business is growing. A recent membership drive netted classical music station KBAQ its most money yet.

“Our listeners are smart,” says Paluzzi. “They’re smart enough to know you don’t have to give. So, when a smart person knows they don’t have to give why do they give? They’ve got a good reason.”

Thanks to listeners’ support, KBAQ’s sister station KJZZ will add to its menu of news, interviews and jazz. While many media outlets are closing and slashing staff, KJZZ will invest in more journalists producing high quality stories.

“The challenge is continuing to garner support for public service radio,” says Paluzzi. “We’re committed to not hunkering down. Of course, we want to be good stewards, but good stewardship doesn’t mean cutting content when we need it more than ever.”

Paluzzi believes a solid public media news operation is as vital to the community as public libraries. That’s why KJZZ will build an investigative unit and create a news desk focused on our changing demographics. Digging up stories and reporting the various layers involved is expensive, but Paluzzi is dedicated and, perhaps equally important, he thinks the community is, too.

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– Written by Christina Estes. This story originally appeared in the February 2010 issue of IMPACT Magazine.