Let’s Talk: the first call-in radio forum for West Marin


When Donna Sheehan first had the idea of starting a radio station in West Marin, she envisioned a creative forum for all viewpoints, a place where everyone could have their say and air their talents. What arose from that early vision, thanks to the tireless efforts of many people, was KWMR: community radio for West Marin. The station is a great success, but there is always the question of how to draw more local participation from loyal listeners.

While it is possible to track how many people listen online at KWMR.org, listenership over the airwaves is pretty much immeasurable. Donna believed a call-in show dedicated to hearing the opinions of listeners would encourage greater input and  instill in locals a more enthusiastic sense of ownership in the station.

Thanks to the persistence of Bernie Stephan and the flexibility of station management, that dream is about to come true. Today, Aug. 20th at 11 a.m., the first episode of “Let’s Talk” went on the air. It is KWMR’s first show dedicated to hearing the opinions of West Marin at large, no matter what they might be. It will be an open forum, where all views—expressed without profanity—will be heard and respected. 

Airing diverse opinions helps us all better formulate our own decisions and frame our own views. With regular open discourse on some of the critical issues of our time, “Let’s Talk” offers greater community openness and discussion of opposing viewpoints while avoiding vitriol and insults. It is a weekly show, hosted by the three of us—Raven Gray, Paul Reffell and Bernie Stephan—with the spirit of Donna Sheehan hovering in the background.

Raven Gray, from Inverness, has held a long-term passion for transitioning our culture to a more regenerative, localized and fulfilling way of life, one that is in balance with nature. She is the founder of Transition US, a national nonprofit that supports the emergence of resilient communities that can thrive in the face of today’s pressing environmental and social challenges. Raven has been a voice for transition, both nationally and internationally, on television, radio and in print. 

Paul Reffell, from Marshall, was the partner of the late Donna Sheehan and continues the work on which they collaborated: on relationships, the environment and other “Cultural Potholes” that affect us all. He was one of the first programmers on West Marin Community Radio, when it transmitted from the broom closet in the Green Barn, and is happy to play a bigger role with KWMR.

Bernie Stephan, from Inverness, has long enjoyed talk radio on KGO, KQED and KPFA and  listening to other people’s opinions and realities.  For six years, he co-hosted Post Carbon Radio on KWMR with Bing Gong, focusing on guests who were experts in fields relating to climate, energy, world collapse and species extinction. As Bernie became ever more radical in his views, he often found himself at odds with the guests about the adequacy of their proposed “solutions.” 

Last year he proposed a daily call-in format for KWMR where listeners become the guests and express their views freely. Station manager Amanda Eichstaedt and program manager Lyons Filmer granted a once-a-week trial to see how it goes. The starter trio of co-hosts hopes that the community will regularly engage in a local, call-in show where many points of view can be expressed and heard. 

The premiere show on August 20th was about end-of-life options and whether we should have the legal right to die at the time of our choosing, with medical assistance openly provided.

On Aug. 27 we will discuss frustration about the global predicaments we find ourselves in.  How we can live with the knowledge that we have unleashed climate chaos, that our children and grandchildren will witness unprecedented economic collapse and the continuation of near-term human extinction. Does the frustration and grief strain relationships, cause substance abuse, feelings of hopelessness, resignation and loss of control?

On Sept. 3 the show will focus on how today’s technology shapes our lives, our health, and our relationships. Have modern technologies such as the iPhone, computers, wireless, the Internet and social media improved the quality of our lives, or has it had the opposite effect?


Tune in 90.5 FM in Point Reyes Station, 89.9 FM in Bolinas, 92.3 FM in San Geronimo Valley or www.kwmr.org at 11 a.m. on Thursdays and join the discussion at (415) 663-8492. Your voice matters. Let’s talk!