Davis Media Access, A History

Located in Davis, CA, Davis Media Access (DMA) is an award-winning 501(c)(3) nonprofit  community media and technology center that provides media education and local platforms to engage the community in dialogue and showcase creative expression. It is home to DCTV Public Access Channel 15, DJUSD Educational Access Channel 17 and Low-power community radio station KDRT 95.7 FM.

DMA partners with and provides support to a broad range of other local nonprofits, public sector entities and community-based groups. During the pandemic, DMA has been a resource for technical production assistance, event coverage and local news, playing an important role in connecting our community and documenting our shared history. Local election coverage, youth media, and capacity building are hallmarks of our community engagement work.

Borne out of a movement that sought to democratize what was then the new and exciting medium of cable television, DMA was originally incorporated as public access channel Davis Community Television (DCTV) in 1988. DCTV was launched with resources left over from the dissolution of the short-lived but innovative Davis Community Cable Co-op. DCTV’s Founding Executive Director was Kari Peterson. 

In 1992, DCTV moved from a trailer on Second Street to its current location at 1623 Fifth Street. For many years, DCTV operated a single channel and provided a range of community services centered on one-to-one training, group workshops, and college internships.

In 1997, the Davis Joint Unified School District sought to activate an educational access channel in Davis, and for the next decade, DCTV served as a contractor towards that end. 

On Sept. 24, 2004, DCTV successfully launched Low-Power FM radio station KDRT (K-Davis  Radio & Television) at 101.5 FM. A legal battle to retain our position on the dial in the face of commercial encroachment occurred in 2006. Although we were ultimately successful, it did result in a move to our frequency at 95.7 FM. 

In 2007, realizing that our growing scope of services had outpaced our name, we rebranded to Davis Media Access. In that year, DMA also assumed management of the educational access resources for DJUSD TV, and Autumn Labbe-Renault became Executive Director. 

In 2011, the DMA facility did a wholesale transition from analog to digital, including a complete remodel of our television studio. DMA maintains a television studio, radio studio, two digital edit suites, digital field cameras and related equipment. DMA also maintains the equipment located at the DHS Brunelle Theater, and consults with the DJUSD on a variety of media services. 

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. 

As of fall 2022, DMA is poised for another significant remodel, one that will increase access to the facility and also result in the buildout of a community media lab. This effort is supported by the City of Davis and Indigo Architects.