KEXP-FM (90.3 MHz) is a public radio station in Seattle, Washington, specializing in alternative and indie rock programmed by its disc jockeys. Its broadcasting license is owned by Friends of KEXP, an independent 501(c)(3) organization. KEXP hosts weekly programs dedicated to other musical genres such as rockabilly, blues, world music, hip hop, electronica, punk, and alternative country. Live, in-studio performances by artists are also regularly scheduled.
|Frequency||90.3 MHz FM (HD Radio)|
|Affiliations||National Public Radio|
|Owner||Friends of KEXP|
First air date
Former call signs
|90.5 MHz (1972-1986)|
Call sign meaning
|EXPeriment or EXPerience|
|HAAT||211 metres (692 ft)|
KEXP's studios are located at Seattle Center.
This article possibly contains original research. (October 2013)
Early years as KCMUEdit
The groundwork for the station that would eventually become KEXP began in 1971, started by University of Washington undergraduates John Kean, Cliff Noonan, Victoria ("Tory") Fiedler, and Brent Wilcox. The university owns NPR affiliate 94.9 KUOW-FM, but that station is staffed mostly by professional announcers and newscasters. The four students convinced the Communications Department to provide space and funding for a student-run station. They assembled the turntables and operating equipment, built their own console cabinets, successfully petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a frequency and a license, and ultimately raised their own antenna. The 10-watt signal "barely reached the Ave" (the commercial heart of Seattle's University District).
In 1972, the station started operations as KCMU. It aired mostly progressive rock and new wave music, with UW students serving as staff members and disc jockeys (DJs), broadcasting at 90.5 MHz. The "CMU" in the call sign referred to the campus's Communications Building, where its studios and offices were located.
In 1981, under the direction of Jon Kertzer, KCMU began soliciting donations from listeners due to limited funding from the university. Throughout the late 1980s, the station tapped into Seattle's burgeoning music scene. Members of local bands Soundgarden and Mudhoney worked as volunteer DJs, as did both Jonathan Poneman and Bruce Pavitt, the founders of Sub Pop. During these years, Billboard Magazine called KCMU "one of the most influential commercial-free stations in the country."
In 1982, the station's power increased to 182 watts, allowing it to be heard outside the University District. From 1983 to 1985, Kerry Loewen became KCMU's station manager. Loewen had previously managed KFJC, at Foothill College, in Los Altos Hills, California.
In late 1985, Chris Knab, who co-founded the record label 415 Records and was a former owner of Aquarius Records in San Francisco, sold his interest in 415 Records and became KCMU's station manager. Knab moved the station away from mostly rock programming, adding jazz, hip hop, world music, and other genres to its lineup.
In 1986, KCMU switched frequencies to 90.3 MHz and increased its transmitter power to 400 watts, improving its broadcast radius to 15 miles.
Protest over programmingEdit
In 1992, KCMU dropped many of its volunteer DJs and elected to run syndicated programming. Some listeners and DJs considered this a betrayal of KCMU's mission and formed a group called "CURSE" (Censorship Undermines Radio Station Ethics). A program called World Cafe, from WXPN Philadelphia, was one of the syndicated shows that had replaced local programming.
CURSE encouraged local KCMU supporters to stop donating money to the station in protest. Volunteer DJs who criticized the station's policies were fired. However, a lawsuit from CURSE resulted in a US Federal Court striking down that policy. KCMU dropped World Cafe from its lineup in 1993, but none of the fired volunteer staff returned to the station.
KCMU hired its three full-time paid DJs in 1996. In 2000, KCMU started streaming 128 kilobits per second mp3 compressed audio over the Internet 24 hours a day, seven days a week. KCMU was the first station in the world to offer online audio of this quality. KCMU then moved from its long-time home in the Communications Building (CMU) to Kane Hall at the University of Washington.
KEXP and KXOTEdit
In 2001, Paul Allen's Experience Music Project (EMP) and KCMU formed a partnership that provided the station with significant funding through 2005. The station changed its call letters to KEXP. It moved to new studios near Downtown Seattle which were provided rent-free by EMP. KEXP increased its power to 720 watts.
The kexp.org website was nominated for two Webby Awards in 2003, Best Radio Website and the People's Voice Award.
In 2004, KEXP began simulcasting on 91.7 FM in Tacoma, which extended the station's broadcast range to Tacoma, Olympia, and the South Puget Sound region. That station was renamed KXOT (now KYFQ). Before then, KXOT was known as KBTC, owned by Bates Technical College, and featuring a classic rock format. Bates sold the station to Public Radio Capital, a Washington-based non-profit radio organization. The cost was $5 million, with PRC leasing it to KEXP.
KEXP began podcasting live, in-studio performances, starting with Seattle hip hop trio Boom Bap Project, on July 21, 2005. On November 3, 2005, KEXP announced it was terminating the operation of KXOT 91.7 FM at the end of the calendar year. The agreement with EMP in 2001 was set to expire, so KEXP had to prepare for increased operating costs with a smaller budget.
Joint venture with WNYE New YorkEdit
In August 2007, New York City's government-owned radio station, 91.5 WNYE, part of NYC Media, approached KEXP to begin a joint venture. Management was planning to overhaul WNYE's programming, moving to an all-music format. The plans, detailed in a February 11, 2008, press release, included simulcasting KEXP's music format several hours a day, to be branded as "Radio Liberation."
On March 24, 2008, KEXP DJ John Richards, or John in the Morning, was heard on both KEXP and 91.5 FM in New York City for the first time, as part of Radio Liberation. Radio Liberation was a collaboration between KEXP and Radio New York (91.5 FM) to introduce New York listeners to more independent music. The collaboration aimed to simulcast one part of KEXP's original broadcasting and three originally-produced programs. John Richards' morning show was the only program to be heard simultaneously in both Seattle and NYC. The other programs (Wake Up, Music That Matters, and Mo'Glo) would be produced specifically for Radio New York but not heard in Seattle. WNYE's signal reaches 14 million listeners in the New York metropolitan area. The plan was for KEXP to broadcast live from New York several times a year. Richards began splitting his time between live broadcasts in both New York and Seattle in June 2008. Richards, who frequently creates playlists based on themes, opened the first Radio Liberation broadcast with "Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf)" from the Pixies, his favorite band, "Pike St./Park Slope" from Harvey Danger, a Seattle band singing about Seattle and Brooklyn, and "Marching Bands of Manhattan" by Death Cab for Cutie containing an NYC reference.
KEXP's website has dynamic playlists, live streaming audio, an archive of programs from the last two weeks, and a collection of previous on-air live performances. The performers include artists such as Patti Smith, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and They Might Be Giants and local Pacific Northwest artists such as Harvey Danger, The Long Winters, and Maktub.
- "About KEXP". kexp.org. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
- Lyngsat, Galaxy 18 at 123.0°W, station listing
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-07-22. Retrieved 2015-05-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) HD Radio Guide for Seattle-Tacoma
- Christian Nelson, Strong Signals Archived 2014-03-07 at the Wayback Machine, Columns (UW alumni magazine), March 2007, p. 54.
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1993 page B-382
- "History". kexp.org. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
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- Aldrich v. Knab, 858 F. Supp. 1480 (W.D. Wash. 1994).
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-12-18. Retrieved 2014-09-23.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Bill Virgin, KEXP-FM will end KXOT simulcast, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, November 4, 2005. Accessed online 25 March 2007.
- "KEXP-FM technical data". FM Query. U.S. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
- "KEXP to handle in-arena music for Seattle's new NHL team". The Seattle Times. 2018-12-18. Retrieved 2018-12-19.
- "NYC.gov - NYC.gov Mission Statement". www.nyc.gov. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
- Jazz Chill. "KEXP COMING TO 91.5 FM IN NY". Jazzchill.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2018-05-27.
- "KEXP and Radio New York liberate listeners from the norm" (Press release). Pyramid Communications. 2008-02-11. Archived from the original on 2008-02-14. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-03-26. Retrieved 2008-03-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "NYC Media". www.nyc.gov. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
- "Kexp/Wnye - Q & A". Archived from the original on 14 February 2008. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-12-07. Retrieved 2005-12-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "KEXP Radio Online - The Webby Awards". Retrieved 27 May 2018.
- Julia Kingrey, Radio-free UW: KCMU moves off campus, University of Washington Daily, July 15, 1998
- Jeff DeRoche, Radio Ga-Ga: With Paul Allen's Money at Its Disposal, Does KCMU — Wai...KEXP Really Need Any More of Your Money? The Stranger, Apr 12–Apr 18, 2001
- Gene Johnson, Radio Station Bucks Trends, Finds Listeners, Associated Press, October 16, 2005
- Reid Davis, KEXP Seattle – What Music Radio Could Be, Paste Magazine online, undated, appears to date from 2002, accessed 12 Dec 2005
- Nina Shapiro, The Expensive Expansion of KEXP: It's globally popular and flush with donations, but Seattle's seminal eclectic-music radio station is under financial strain that is affecting morale Seattle Weekly, December 7–13, 2005.
- Ernest A. Jasmin, Flow of Tunes from KEXP Finally Stops in Tacoma, The News Tribune, February 3, 2006.
- Laura Foy & Tina Wood, Touring KEXP, Internet Radio Super Station, 10, March 13, 2006.
- Dana Bos & Liz Riley, Live Show Review: KEXP Audioasis Showcase: Thee Emergency, New Fangs, Sera Cahoone, the Fading Collection, and Daylight Basement, Three Imaginary Girls, May 2006.
- Dave Segal, Fired KEXP DJ Clears the Air, The Stranger, July 28, 2006. Interview with DJ Greg Jaspan.
- David T. Atkinson, CD Review, Live At KEXP Vol II, Glide Magazine, July 31, 2006.
- Best of Seattle 2006: Readers' Picks, Seattle Weekly, August 2, 2006.
- Rachel Shimp, Best of Seattle 2006: Critics' Picks, Seattle Weekly, August 2, 2006.
- Kyle O'Brien, Discovering Local Gems, The Oregonian, August 4, 2006.
- Rachel Shimp, Music Make U Lose Control, Seattle Weekly, August 8, 2006.
- Keenan Bowen, Audacity Limits, The Stranger, August 10–16, 2006.
- Audrey Hendrickson, Ghostland, Observed, Seattlest, August 14, 2006.
- Jennifer Kelly, Various Artists: Live at KEXP, Vol. 2, Popmatters, August 22, 2006.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to KEXP-FM.|
- Official website
- KEXP in the FCC FM station database
- KEXP on Radio-Locator
- KEXP in Nielsen Audio's FM station database