Borne out of a movement that sought to democratize what was then the relatively new and exciting medium of cable television, DMA was originally incorporated as public access channel Davis Community Television (DCTV) in 1988. For many years, DCTV operated a single channel and provided a range of services centered on one-to-one training, group workshops, and college internships.
In 1997 DCTV was awarded management of Davis Joint Unified School District’s educational access channel and resources. In 2004, we were the first public access center in the nation to launch a Low- Power FM (LPFM) radio station, and in 2007, we rebranded to better reflect our growing media options.
Both public and educational access television have long histories of serving their communities. Through these projects, DMA records school-based performing arts and graduation ceremonies; airs and archives public meetings; amplifies the work of other nonprofits; and provides free nonpartisan election coverage to candidates throughout Yolo County. We offer high-school internships, and provide critically needed job skills training. Interviews conducted by staff and volunteers help populate a video archive with more than 14,000 local programs.
The addition of LPFM radio station KDRT in 2004 fundamentally changed DMA. A special class of non-commercial educational radio—stations of 100 watts or less—LPFM was created to fill the void in local content left when corporate media companies consolidated under ever-larger umbrellas.
On KDRT, teens interview environmental activists, community members share their music collections and knowledge, community members talk about local sports, businesses, and arts and culture, and independent musicians get valuable exposure. A little station with big impact due to 24/7 airplay and streaming, KDRT has listeners in more than 30 countries around the globe. In 2006, KDRT successfully fended off signal encroachment from a commercial station and although we did have to change our frequency in the process, our experience and our advocacy literally saw the Federal Communications Commission rewrite its rule making around LPFM.
In 2021, KDRT was awarded a national Overall Excellence for Small Radio Stations by the Alliance for Community Media. Our Executive Director, Autumn Labbe-Renault, was also named as a Woman of the Year for the 3rd Congressional District, recognized by Congressman John Garamendi specifically for using KDRT to report on pandemic impacts throughout Yolo County.
In 2022, Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa) named DMA his Yolo County Nonprofit of the Year, and Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor honored DMA as the final recipient of his annual Soup’s On fundraiser to highlight the work of outstanding nonprofits.
In 2023, the League of Women Voters of Woodland chose DMA as a recipient of its “Democracy Works” to honor our long-running nonpartisan local election coverage, and Congressman Mike Thompson (D-4) also recognized our election work.
Our mission is to enrich and strengthen the community by providing alternatives to commercial media for local voices, opinions and creative endeavors. DMA carries out that mission by partnering with and providing support to a broad range of other local nonprofits, public-sector entities and community-based groups. Local election coverage, youth media, and capacity building are hallmarks of our community engagement work. DMA is committed to strengthening localism through media and is proud to support platforms for local expression.
Major funding for the media center comes from franchise fees paid by the cable operator to the City of Davis. The City uses these to partially fund channels 15 and 17, and fully fund City Government Channel 16 (separately operated). As technologies have changed and cable revenue is in decline, DMA has greatly increased its revenue generation through a series of strategic partnerships countywide. Additionally, we vigorously fundraise to support KDRT, our local election work, and a variety of youth media projects.