Pardon Our Dust, It's a Remodel

By Autumn Labbe-Renault
, Executive Director

This column was originally published in The Davis Enterprise

It not only feels like I’ve been writing about the pending remodel at Davis Media Access (DMA) for years, I have actually been writing about it for years. My board and staff have heard me say “0/10  - I don’t recommended trying to start a remodel at the start of a global pandemic.” It’s been complicated, to say the least.

But today (May 1, 2024) as I write, Joe Albertazzi and his crew at Albertazzi Construction have begun demolition work at the media center at 1623 Fifth St. In my book, this is cause for celebration.

How did we get here, and what does it have to do with noncommercial community media?

I first approached the City in 2016 with a proposal to use some of the restricted capital monies from the final Comcast franchise in Davis towards the buildout of a media lab at DMA. This money was restricted to capital funding for public, education and government access projects, and lacking a proposal, it had sat unused. I argued that a media lab was a missing component in DMA’s operations, and that it would greatly enhance and expand the range of options we could provide to the community.

The City Council and staff supported the proposal, and we were off! Or so we thought. It turns out that money from the City was subject to prevailing wage, and it proved incredibly difficult to find an architect and then a contractor willing to jump through the extra hoops that entails for what is essentially a small commercial project.

In 2019, Bruce Playle at Indigo Architects finally agreed to work with us, and then Joe Albertazzi agreed to do the construction—deep gratitude to them both. We scheduled for April 2020 and…you see where this is going, right?

Since then it’s been a game of Whack-a-Mole featuring a global pandemic, supply chain issues, a 30 percent increase in the cost of goods and services—which drove the need for a construction loan—contractor unavailability, and more. I know it’s been incredibly frustrating for DMA and KDRT volunteers, our board and staff alike. It’s added to our workload in ways and I can’t even begin to describe, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention DMA’s Director of Operations Darrick Servis heavy lift as the lead for this project.

So today feels like a small miracle to me.

Construction is expected to last many months, and the end result will be a media lab for after-school workshops and a nascent civic information project; a “plug and play”space for streaming meetings and small events; revised work areas for staff, editing suites, studio control rooms and KDRT; a small kitchen, and some energy efficiencies. Along with the work done on our parking lot last year, many of these changes also improve accessibility.

As we have during the pandemic and since, we remain “open” and doing the work of connecting our community using the tools of community media, though we will be physically closed for at least the demolition phase these next few weeks.

I’m looking forward to that moment when we can throw a big open house to  celebrate the changes and the good things to come. Stay tuned!

Autumn Labbe-Renault has served as DMA’s executive director since 2007, where she writes about media, nonprofits, arts and culture and their intersection. Learn more at, email, or call 530-757-2419.