After 18 years as the voice - and face - of KSUT public radio, Beth Warren is ready for a change.
"It's the first new opportunity that's come my way in years, and I figure it's now or never," Warren said Wednesday, explaining her decision to leave the familiarity of Ignacio for KNAU, the university station in Flagstaff, Ariz., where she'll spend six months as the station's interim development director to helping out her friend John Stark.
The move is one of those full-circle things.
Warren was first hired at KSUT in 1992 as development director, the person in charge of raising funds to keep the
station on the air - or better. At the time, her children were 1Â½ and 5 years old, so for nearly the next two
decades, changing jobs wasn't and easy choice. But now her youngest, Christopher, is a sophomore at the University of
Colorado in Boulder and daughter, Katherine, is the lone reporter at the Telluride Daily Planet, leaving Warren free
to finally explore other ventures.
"But Durango's still home. It's a temporary assignment, and I'll be back in January looking for work," she said.
In 2000, Warren was named executive director of the station and became a common sight in the community whenever or
wherever crowds gathered.
"Beth is the epitome of a strong leader in Southwest Colorado," said Executive Director of Music in the Mountains
Susan Lander, who for the last 14 years has worked with Warren with organizations including Rural Philanthropy Days, El Pomar and others.
"I wish her well in her future endeavors, and there will be a huge void to fill with her absence. Plus, she is the
one of the most interesting people I know to have a glass of wine with as she is honest and forthright with her time
and opinions, ever ready for a good discussion."
Perhaps as much as any of the on-air memories, Warren is most proud of the role she played in transforming KSUT from
a small, rural station into a regional community hub.
The station has grown significantly in each of the towns it reaches - from 10 watts in Pagosa Springs to 1,000, from
10 to 250 in downtown Durango and to 4,500 in Farmington. She even put a transmitter in her Durango garage so the
signal could reach Silverton, albeit at a cost of about $50 per resident.
"KSUT has created a community on the air, and I'm extra-honored to be part of that community. It's a tribute to the
dedicated, hard-working and innovative staff where everybody can do everyone else's job and does," Warren said.
KSUT board member Eddie Box, who was among those who made the decision to hire Warren in 1992, agreed.
"She's very likeable and got along with everybody. It was always her wish for the station to be in the spotlight in
this area, and that's exactly what happened," Box said.
There were, to be sure, plenty of on-air memories as well.
From an early, impromptu interview with Arlo Guthrie, who stopped at the station on his way to Farmington, Warren has
rubbed elbows, dined and partied with a slew of bigwigs in the music industry. It's one of the perks of radio and
explains why Carole King, the Indigo Girls, Emmylou Harris, Cokie Roberts, Bruce Hornsby and many others are still in
her phone book.
"This job has opened hundreds of doors without ever leaving KSUT, but I can't wait to be able to ride my bike to work
after commuting to Ignacio every day for 18 years," she said.
But other memories were not fun but left an indelible mark on her.
She was in the studio during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Missionary Ridge Fire in 2002, and for a
heart-wrenching on-air tribute to her predecessor, Carlos Sena, who died in 2009 in New Mexico.
"I've had a front-row seat to things big and small, exciting and mundane, fun and sad," Warren said.
Warren's last day at KSUT will be June 16. The station will host a going-away party for her June 4 at the Rochester
In the weeks before her departure, many will wish her well.
"We love her," said Liz Mora, the executive director at the Women's Resource Center., "She'll be missed at KSUT, but
I look forward to hearing about her next adventure because with her energy anyone would be happy to have her."
Mora says the center is asking Warren back to come back to Durango in September specifically to emcee emcee the
group's annual "Girls Night Out" event.
After a board decision several months ago, KSUT's management was restructured into a four-person management team.
Three of those members - Stasia Lanier, Bruce Campbell and Amy Johnston - will remain, and the future management
structure will likely be announced after the board meets June 8.
By the time that decision's made, Warren will already be planning her move to northern Arizona with the blessings of
Box and KSUT listeners.
"She served the station to the very best of her ability, and I wish her the best of everything life has to offer in
her upcoming journey," Box said. "She's a woman with great knowledge, and we thank her for everything."