Michael Schwarz founded Kikim Media in 1996 after working for many years in public television as an independent producer and then as part of the senior management team at KQED, the PBS affiliate in San Francisco. Schwarz’s work has been honored with some of the most prestigious awards in broadcasting—three national Emmy Awards, two George Foster Peabody Awards, the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Journalism Award for Investigative Journalism, the Investigative Reporters and Editors Award, Red and Blue Ribbons from the American Film Festival, four awards for Excellence in Local Broadcasting from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Grand Prize in the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards for Coverage of the Disadvantaged, and numerous Ciné Golden Eagles and local Emmys.
Schwarz’s programs for public television include In Defense of Food (2015) and The Botany of Desire (2009) based on Michael Pollan’s best-selling books; My Father, My Brother and Me, a chronicle of Parkinson’s disease, for FRONTLINE (2009), and Hunting the Hidden Dimension, the story of fractal geometry, for NOVA (2008). He also produced and directed Ending AIDS: The Search for a Vaccine (2005), widely praised as a compelling chronicle of one of the world’s greatest biomedical research challenges, as well as the groundbreaking Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet (2002), honored with a Special Jury Award from Ciné Golden Eagle and a Bronze World Medal from the International Film and Video Festival of New York. Schwarz’s other programs for public television include The Next Big Thing?; Stopwatch; Naked to the Bone; and In Search of Law and Order. Kikim Media also produced and directed a series of short videos about social entrepreneurs for the Skoll Foundation, a series about diabetes for the University of California, San Francisco Diabetes Center and the Diabetic Youth Foundation, and the special features for HBO’s DVD release of Deadwood.
After starting his career as a writer and editor of print publications, Schwarz joined England’s Granada Television, where he was assigned to World in Action, the top-rated public affairs series that inspired the creation of 60 Minutes. His work for Granada included several co-productions with PBS and took him all over Europe; a documentary he researched won the coveted George Foster Peabody Award for Broadcast Journalism.
Schwarz returned to America to co-produce and write Abortion Clinic, a landmark documentary that was widely praised for its sensitive handling of an explosive issue. The film was shown as part of FRONTLINE’s inaugural season and earned the series its first Emmy award. The following year Schwarz co-produced Living Below the Line for FRONTLINE, which was honored with two more Emmy Awards as well as the Grand Prize in the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards.
After spending two years on a Fulbright Fellowship teaching broadcast journalism in Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, Schwarz joined PBS member station KQED as Senior Producer in 1988. Schwarz became Director of News and Current Affairs in 1990 and served as KQED’s Senior Executive Producer from 1991 until 1996, when he left to start Kikim Media. While at KQED, he executive produced Paul Ehrlich and the Population Bomb, which was broadcast nationally on PBS in April 1996, and brought to the station (and to national broadcast on AMERICAN PLAYHOUSE) Channel Four’s Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, for which he served as KQED’s executive producer and which won another George Foster Peabody Award. Schwarz also served as executive producer for The Smart Parent’s Guide to TV Violence, a one-hour special with First Lady Hillary Clinton about how parents can deal with the effects of televised violence on their children, which was broadcast on PBS stations in the fall of 1996.