University Station Alliance

Linking public broadcasting stations and their university partners since 2001

Caryn Mathes — 2021

This award reflects the U:SA’s Mission to strengthen the public media system through improving the relationship between broadcasters and their university licensees. In seeking candidates, U:SA looks for forward-thinking media professionals and institutional leaders. The Award recognizes one individual’s attempts to make a greater impact in their communities, the public media system, and their profession as a public media professional.

Since serving in her first GM role in 1984, Caryn Mathes has led through many changes. As a former member of the NPR Board, she saw changes happening within the media landscape and came to her current station prepared to help the station pivot into new areas including expanding its digital and community engagement efforts, engaging donors and helping to cultivate some phenomenal, transformational gifts for the station.

She worked with other public media licensees in the region to enlist a member of the station’s congressional delegation to lead efforts to expand the SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) eligibility to university licensees who had originally been excluded. Her efforts, coordinated through NPR with other colleague leaders opened the door to allow university licensed stations to receive over $34,000,000 in PPP funding.

Under her leadership, the station not only created extensive DEIA programs with expert external training for all staff and Board members along with the creation of a Racial Equity Team comprised of staffers accepting extra responsibility, the station also produced a Hiring Managers’ Toolkit which garnered enough excitement at the CPB GM Strategy Meeting DEI Working Group session, that CPB requested the toolkit be made available to the entire public media system (600 grantees) and supplied $25,000 to support continued DEI efforts at KUOW.

Caryn’s leadership during the opening days of the pandemic was helpful to many other stations who also had to employ new technologies and ways of doing business in service of their audience and communities.

For these and many other contributions to the growth, health and vitality of the public media system, the University Station Alliance presents the Madison Hodges Innovator Award for Public Media Advancement to Caryn G. Mathes, President and General Manager of KUOW, Pugent Sound Public Radio, Seattle.

[Presented by Virginia Dambach, Executive Director of the University:Station Alliance April 10, 2022 at the Public Radio Regional Organizations “Super Regional” Conference in Denver, CO.]