WKSU’s Folk Alley to operate under new organization

Lauren Sasala

Correction: In the original article, it said WKSU began operating in 2003. WKSU began operating in 1950 and Folk Alley joined WKSU in 2003. The article has been changed.

Folk Alley, a music streaming service currently run by WKSU, will transition to operate under a new organization.

The Board of Trustees approved the transfer of Folk Alley’s trademark rights and domain name to the Freshgrass Foundation, a non-profit focused on music.

Since 2003, Folk Alley provided folk, roots and Americana music to listeners.

Wendy Turner, the general manager for WKSU, said during that time there was an equal focus on the organization as a news and music service.

However, in 2013, WKSU shifted to become a more journalism-focused organization for Northeast Ohio. Turner said this caused difficulty for Folk Alley to have access to resources.

In the proposal, Mark Polatajko — the senior vice president for finance and administration — said by transitioning to the Freshgrass Foundation, there is an opportunity to channel the resources used for Folk Alley into the core mission of WKSU as a news-based organization.

“We were basically just looking for a way to keep Folk Alley flourishing and we thought the way to do that is to align it with an organization that is 100 percent about a music mission,” Turner said.

Based in San Francisco, the Freshgrass Foundation is an organization dedicated to grassroots music. The foundation also publishes “No Depression,” a quarterly journal about roots music. Each year, it hosts a music festival in Massachusetts and provides grants and commissions for performers and writers.

“It made perfect sense to find a home for Folk Alley where it can be a key part of the music mission instead of being … a little bit on the sidelines,” Turner said.

Folk Alley will not change from a listener’s standpoint during the transition. The website, app and continuous streaming will remain available. The difference is that WKSU will no longer have the operating costs of Folk Alley.

Turner said it will take a few months to complete the transition.

“We will be working with Freshgrass during the transition to make sure that the listeners experience is uninterrupted,” Turner said.


Lauren Sasala covers administration. Contact her at [email protected].