Cy Musiker, the award-winning news reporter, anchor, and host of KQED’s weekly arts show The Do List, has left the building. His final show as host of The Do List airs Friday, May 11.
As the host of The Do List, Cy highlighted the best local shows and artists, told interesting backstories on the performers, and reminded listeners about the cultural vitality of the Bay Area. Cy's enthusiasm, energy and pride in his work are evident in the genuine connections he made with countless artists and organizations throughout the Bay Area.
In May, Cy hands the mic to KQED Arts Senior Editor Gabe Meline. Working with a roster of co-hosts from around the Bay, Gabe will continue Cy’s tradition of interviewing a diverse array of guest cohosts and artists, and spotlighting unique local events, performances and shows throughout the region.
Before he leaves, we got some parting thoughts from Cy about his life and work.
When did you start working at KQED?
I moved to California in 1978 to work in the wine business, and spent some very happy years working in Napa Valley. I then followed an old passion for the news into the Journalism School at UC Berkeley, and then into a life as a freelance reporter for KPFA, NPR, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the British Broadcasting Corporation. I joined KQED 23 years ago as Senior Editor for KQED News, and then Senior Producer for the California Report under the late Raul Ramirez. During my time as reporter, I did edits from phone booths in the Central Valley, filed on the Loma Prieta Earthquake by sending tape and tracks via alligator clips over the phone from a bank in the Mission District, and then filed via a “new technology” called a cellular phone from the scene of the collapsed Nimitz Freeway as cranes pulled smashed cars from the debris.
Tell us about The Do List and covering Bay Area arts.
The Do List began in October of 2008, thanks to the vision of Jo Anne Wallace, and the hard work of the San Francisco Chronicle’s David Wiegand, KQED producers Suzie Racho and Nina Thorsen, and engineer Ceil Mueller. I’m ever so grateful for their friendship and the work we shared. We stumbled into something great together, a show that won the hearts of many artists and the loyalty of our listeners.
Originally, the goal was to inform our audiences about the incredible music, art, and culture in the Bay Area. But the show has grown into so much more, with artist interviews, discussion of why art matters in our lives, and how important it is to our collective and civil discourse.
Any advice for future journalists and storytellers?
My J-School professor Jim Spaulding always said a good story should answer the question, "Why does it matter?" And Raul Ramirez always left for the day with the admonition, "Serve the people." Those are still the words I try to live by in my work.
What will you miss about your time here at KQED and/or as a journalist?
It’s been the greatest honor of my life to work at KQED and be one of its voices in the Bay Area. It’s hard to leave now, when the newsroom, arts and science groups are telling such important stories, and when our work is so critical to protecting our democracy. I’m going to miss it (after I take a nice break).
What’s next for Cy Musiker?
First, I’m not retiring — but I’ve moved to Grass Valley, and I hate long commutes. KQED comes in really clearly in my new home. I still love terrestrial radio, that 100-year-old medium. So I’ll be listening. I aspire now to the life of a country bumpkin. I'm mastering a Husqvarna chain saw, and bringing cattle into my yard for rotational grazing. Beyond that, I have no idea what comes next!
We wish Cy good luck as he starts his new adventures in Grass Valley!
For arts stories you won’t read anywhere else, come to KQED’s Arts and Culture desk.