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County approves new satellite location for Arlington Independent Media in Green Valley

Arlington Independent Media staff at work (via Arlington County)

Clarendon-based Arlington Independent Media (AIM) is expanding to a second location in Green Valley.

The community media organization will be taking over three underused audio-visual production studios at the Arlington Arts’ 3700 S. Four Mile Run Drive location, according to a county press release.

AIM, which has a 40-year history in Arlington, produces video, audio, web and digital content for locals and operates the radio station WERA 96.7 FM.

On Saturday, the Arlington County Board unanimously approved a lease agreement for AIM to occupy the studio, office and storage space at 3700 S. Four Mile Run Drive. This space was constructed as a Pepsi-Cola bottling plant in the mid-1940s and later served as WETA’s radio broadcast facility, per the press release.

For the next five years, with the option to extend the lease for another 25 years, AIM will occupy up to roughly 1,071 square feet, comprised of three vacant offices, two storage spaces and three studio spaces, according to the county. AIM will maintain its primary broadcast functions in Clarendon at 2701 Wilson Blvd.

Arlington acquired the facility in the early 2000s to house the Theatre on the Run black box venue, rehearsal spaces, dance studios, offices and gallery space. The studios AIM will now occupy were since used for both county and independent projects, such as the recording of a solo album by local bluegrass fiddler Roy “Speedy” Tolliver (1918-2017).

According to a county report, the new satellite location will increase collaboration between the county’s Cultural Affairs Division and AIM on audio-visual production and broadcasting projects.

“I am extremely proud and humbled to lead AIM as we expand into secondary space in South Arlington. As a longtime resident of Arlington, I respect and appreciate the rich history of the County, specifically Green Valley,” says AIM CEO Whytni Kernodle. “Team AIM is excited to bring community media to South Arlington, we look forward to connecting with the local community, meeting residents and business owners, and more.”

During the Saturday County Board meeting, Board Chair Katie Cristol said the expansion is “a long time in coming” for the “powerhouse” in media education and training, and independent art, news and entertainment.

“This unique collaboration will expand arts education and access to the wider Arlington community and provide the opportunity to share knowledge and resources,” Cristol later said in a statement. “The partnership also further the goals and vision for a thriving ‘arts and industry’ in the Four Mile Run Valley Area Plan by bringing community broadcast services as well as audio visual educational programming to the area.”

Arlington began using the “Four Mile Run Valley” name interchangeably with Green Valley — to the chagrin of some residents, who say it erases the historically Black community — in connection with a planning study that proposed an “arts and industry district” in the area.

The county is taking other steps to infuse the area with more arts programming and community facilities. Last year, Arlington acquired the former location of Inner Ear Recording Studios, once the epicenter of D.C.’s punk scene, and has plans to demolish the famed recording studio in a bid, it says, to make arts more accessible in south Arlington.

It now has ideas for a temporary outdoor arts space where the recording studio once stood (2700 S. Nelson Street). Locals can now share feedback on the future creative open space through Monday, Nov. 21.

The county says that AIM’s satellite location will “help to advance the County’s equity goals by offering the opportunity for community broadcast services and education in south Arlington and aligning with AIM’s mission to increase diverse and inclusive access to established and emerging public media for all members of our community.”

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