Summer 2004

Spotlight: Dirk Koning
by anonymous

Dirk Koning
Dirk Koning has served as Executive Director of the Grand Rapids Community Media Center (GRCMC) since 1981. GRCMC incorporates a wide variety of affiliate organizations and programs: Grand Rapids Cable Access Center, GRTV, WYCE-FM radio, GrandNet, and the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy. The success of the Community Media Center is, in no small amount, attributable to Dirk's dedication and hard work. Under his leadership, the organization has grown from a $50,000 a year public access cable television station to a two million dollar per year operation including two television stations, a radio station, a computer center, civic network, media archive center, and research institute. Dirk recently guided the Community Media Center in a three million dollar relocation project to a rehabilitated building in the heart of the West Side, the oldest neighborhood in Grand Rapids. He lectures extensively on community media issues, serves on several national boards and edits the Community Media Review. Here is Dirk's summary overview:

General Work

I manage the multi-media center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I'm President of the Washington, DC-based legal defense fund, the Alliance for Communications Democracy, and chair the editorial board of the Community Media Review magazine. I'm currently involved on the state level with e-Citizenship and broadband committees.

Current Work in Technology

I'm now exploring social and economic development applications of WiFi. We've just completed a wireless LAN connecting eight nonprofit organizations to the CMC for wireless broadband access. We're also helping to establish a fiber optic urban loop for Internet2 access in Grand Rapids for hospitals, colleges, libraries, and our media center


Social development specialists don't often think of technology based solutions. We have to "sell the dream" and solidify the outcomes to get folks to understand. We use best practices and common analogies to help people see the future.

Advice for Other Practitioners

Stay focused on outcome-based development. What solutions are you seeking with what technological application? Let people experience the technology in a fun and non-threatening way whenever possible.

Opportunities for Growth

This is the future. The ubiquitous blending of voice, video, and data into a wireless bit stream for cheap and easy access most anywhere will revolutionize many things we do. We non-profit technologists/social servants need to keep abreast of trends and policies to insure equal access and distribution for all!

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