In her last job, Tammy Terwelp was asked if she could bring her own desk.
Back in Pittsburgh, National Public Radio-member station 90.5 WESA had been owned by Duquesne University for decades until it was sold in 2011. When Terwelp was hired as director of content and programming, the station was transitioning to a new format, and juggling new hires and veteran staff members. The station was also in a new location that needed some interior design help.
"It's not like we could like stop the station and figure it out and start it again," she says. "You have to keep going. So it was sort of like building a car while you're driving down the road at 90 miles an hour."
Terwelp, 44, says she's glad that her new gig as the general manager of Colorado College's 91.5 KRCC-FM won't be as tricky. The NPR-affiliated station is in good shape, financially and otherwise, she says. Plus, it has a well-formed identity and a strong connection to the community and region.
Terwelp, who starts Oct. 12, is replacing longtime station manager Delaney Utterback, who took a different position at KRCC early this year, before leaving the station completely over the summer. KRCC hired Tom Livingston to serve as interim general manager and to conduct the search for a permanent replacement. Livingston owns Livingston Associates, a search firm that works for public radio and television stations.
Terwelp has over 20 years' experience in public broadcasting, including seven-plus years at Chicago's famous WBEZ 91.5 FM, and Livingston says he was impressed with Terwelp's knowledge of the systems that help public radio stations operate. He notes that she actually had to set up all of these systems at WESA.
But Livingston adds that KRCC should also be well served by Terwelp's knowledge of and enthusiasm for podcasts, which are slowly transforming radio. "She understands that we're still largely in the broadcast business," he says, "but her enthusiasm for new media ... is going to be a strength."
Because people can now bypass their local station to listen a radio show, Telwerp explains, it's more important than ever for a station to actually generate programming — which KRCC already does, to a degree. "It's going to be harder for stations that don't produce their own content," she notes, "because then what are you selling? ... All of broadcast is trying to figure this out."
KRCC has undergone a few other changes recently, most notably switching out the independently syndicated news program Democracy Now! with Public Radio International's The World. Colorado College spokesperson Leslie Weddell says she expects more shifts at KRCC — new leadership always brings change. But Terwelp says she wants to get to know the station, CC, the staff and the community before she proposes anything radical.
And for now, Terwelp is plenty busy moving to Colorado — the state where she says she's always wanted to live.
She's bringing along her fiancé, her yellow lab and her Subaru. The desk, this time, comes gratis.