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SMC’s Center for Media and Design Opens with a Bang

Santa Monica College (SMC) hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 2, marking the grand opening of SMC’s Center for Media and Design (CMD).

SMC President Jeffery welcomes the crowd.

“We are over the moon,” proclaimed SMC President Kathryn Jeffery in her introductory remarks.

The Center for Media and Design (CMD), located on 1600 Stewart Street in Santa Monica (a block north of Olympic), boasts a student radio station, video production facilities, a student newspaper office (The Corsair), computer labs, an art studio, music studios and a 180-seat auditorium.

KCRW’s new building — no longer below ground. Photo credit: Gina Clyne Photography.

Every square inch of the campus is brand spanking new.  Student ambassadors, armed with huge and equally shiny smiles, proudly led visitors on tours.

Kathy Pho, student ambassador. Pho is studying politics, economics and public policy.

SMC now offers a four-year college major, a B.S. in Interaction Design (IxD), which pulls together graphic arts, computer programming, video and animation into a coherent whole that will always be evolving as the nature of modern-day digital media advances.
AR/VR, mobile apps, self-driving cars, wearable technology – anything is fair game when it comes to IxD.  A brochure for the new degree describes the major as “designing the future.”

Frank Dawson, who heads up the career center at the Center for Media and Design.

The campus offers a “wonderful setting for ideation and collaboration,” said Frank Dawson, Interim Dean of Career Education.  The first IxD degrees will be awarded in June of 2018, he added.

It was noted by several speakers that SMC’s new campus is right in the heart of Silicon Beach – and that the Center for Media and Design was the right idea at the right time in the right place.

Student editors at work.

The new campus was made possible by a bond passed by Santa Monica and Malibu voters and 5,800 private donations, including some very big ones.  Cinny Kennard, executive director of the Annenberg Foundation, said NPR’s Los Angeles operation helped establish the West Coast as an important media center.

Jennifer Ferro, president of KCRW.

Ever-popular public radio station KCRW – which used to operate out of a “dungeon” below SMC’s main campus – is now located at this $115 million, state-of-the-art campus.  KCRW is an NPR station (89.9 FM).

KCRW’s Madeleine Brand (PressPlay), Jason Bentley (Morning Becomes Eclectic), President Jennifer Ferro, Warren Olney (host for many years of Which Way LA and now who now hosts the podcast To the Point), early KCRW pioneer and visionary Ruth Seymour, news producer Jennifer Wolfe and several KCRW DJs were on hand to welcome the crowd.

KCRW President Jennifer Ferro, who was widely credited by several speakers as being a driving force behind the new KCRW building, said “people here take action.”

Jeff Hall, editor and publisher of the Brentwood News, recalls being interviewed on-air by KCRW’s Warren Olney years ago. Olney, right, now hosts a podcast called To the Point.

Warren Olney, who spent several years in television and radio news before joining KCRW, said nothing was as satisfying as his years at KCRW, where people blend “integrity, public service — and having a good time.”

KCRW also hosts Left, Right & Center, which features Josh Barro (center), Katrina venden Heuvel (left) and Rich Lowry (right).

Left, Right & Center, heard coast to coast, is a political talk show that employs intelligence and civility, forcing listeners to get out of their “self-contained thought bubbles.”

Sarah Spitz, former radio producer at KCRW, and Mariana De La Garza, outreach and recruitment counselor at SMC.

Sarah Spitz, long-time producer at Left, Right & Center, was at Saturday’s opening.

AppleOne, a hiring agency, has an office on the CMD campus.  SMC is a big proponent of making its students job-ready.  AppleOne helps place SMC graduates into jobs in entertainment and digital media.

IxD (Interaction Design) student Kaitlin Jetviroj, with professor of design technology Nicole Chan.

The CMD campus, designed by architect Clive Wilkinson, is built in a ring that encircles a fountain and an open-air performance center.  The ribbon-cutting ceremony was held outdoors under a hot but very welcoming sun.

After all, this IS Silicon Beach we’re talking about, right?

These are exciting times in Silicon Beach, home to Snapchat, SpaceX, Hyper Loop One and Tom’s Shoes.  Microsoft, Google, Facebook, YouTube and Buzzfeed all have outposts here.

See more photos, below.

Volunteers staffing the SMC Foundation booth: Spring Aspers of Sony Music and Mark Ivener, local immigration attorney.
California State Senator Ben Allen, Genevieve Riutort of the Westside Food Bank and Gary Avrech of GoGraphics.us.
SMC cheerleader sets the tone.
Santa Monica Mayor Ted Winterer.
A student works on her video editing project.
Ruth Seymour led KCRW for years and laid the foundation for today’s new station center.
KCRW DJs look like they enjoy their work. Anne Litt is on the right.
Gil Garcetti of Brentwood.
Ethan Lauren of the student newspaper, the Corsair.
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