AIMing for a Brighter Future

AIMing for a Brighter Future

Nestled in the heart of Arlington lies an integral part of our community. Arlington Independent Media (AIM) is a community media center that focuses on local news and provides facilities to the youth of Arlington, teaching them to create their own programs. Currently, AIM is working to stay afloat as they face numerous challenges acquiring funding.

Founded in 1982, AIM worked with Comcast to create a local news station for Arlington. However, when the Covid-19 pandemic swept the nation in 2020, they were forced to close their doors for over a year.

Upon their return in 2021, AIM brought new management. They had the goal of reviving locally-focused news and giving a voice to the underrepresented populations of Arlington. Paving the way for this was AIM CEO Whytni Kernodle.

“The whole point of community media is for it to be accessible to almost everybody,” Kernodle said.

The first change Kernodle implemented was hiring a new team to run AIM. She continues her message of diversity through hiring people from vastly different backgrounds. AIM’s focus going forward is on historically marginalized and oppressed groups, such as immigrants, people of color and economically-insecure families.

The nonprofit takes its first step forward by cutting the price of membership down to a one time payment of $25. This membership grants access to all of the AIM faculties and equipment. Members can use the space for personal projects, or programs for AIM’s radio and news stations.

These policies come from the unique stance Kernodle has as the CEO; she has no prior experience with journalism.
“I’m a human rights attorney. I was only interested in the media as a mechanism for dismantling systemic oppression and uplifting the voices in the lives of people who have been oppressed,” Kernodle said.

There are still obstacles in the way for AIM, though. For most of their existence, Comcast gave them close to $1 million each year. However, in 2016 Comcast cut their funding substantially and forced AIM to turn to the county for additional funding. This started an uphill battle to save the nonprofit. By 2021, AIM was only receiving roughly $300,000 and no funding for office space. In March 2023, Kernodle released a memo to the county after their funding had been cut.

“The county cannot clip our wings then question why we cannot fly,” Kernodle said.

The budget cut effects were amplified by AIM’s recent struggle with their landlord. AIM shares a building with a cannabis dispensary that desperately wants AIM out. Kernodle claims the dispensary is actively sabotaging AIM to achieve its goal.

“They refuse to put any lights on this building. If you drive by at night, it’s pitch dark,” Kernodle said.

The dispensary has taken all of AIM’s parking spots, forcing employees to park a block away. They have refused to repaint the building and repair the broken lights. These hindrances have forced AIM to relocate to a new location in Green Valley.

Students and community members can help AIM by participating in the production of their radio and news programs. AIM is looking to expand programming in a number of languages. They are also kickstarting a resident artist program soon and are looking for young local artists to be a part of it.

“We want people to be able to be trained to create media, to raise our voices in various ways and ultimately to have fun and just show the vibrancy of how cool Arlington can actually be,” Kernodle said.

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About the Contributors
Lily Dezfulian, Illustrator
Lily Šekarić Dezfulian is a junior entering her second year on staff. Besides playing for the Yorktown Ultimate Frisbee team, Lily rock climbs and plays volleyball and basketball outside of school. She continues her epic battle against the Montenegrin language and its seven cases. Her favorite book is I Who Have Never Known Men and she enjoys sketching strangers.
Jackson Weber, Reporter
Jackson Weber is a sophomore beginning his first year on The Yorktown Sentry. Jackson is looking forward to keeping the students of Yorktown informed and entertained. He loves being a part of the Yorktown community, especially the robotics team. When he's not hanging out with friends he enjoys spending his time at the rock climbing gym honing his skills.

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