KPLU Announces Intent to Sell to KUOW

Pacific Lutheran University announced its intent today to sell its broadcasting assets to the University of Washington for $8 million. This would combine the two regional NPR broadcasters into a single organization. According to a statement on the KUOW website, 88.5 (KPLU) will become an all jazz station if approved in 2016. The media landscape in this region has changed a lot over the last ten years. We've worked with both KPLU and KUOW over this time. RIP KPLU. 

More information and a survey asking what you'd like to see on at 88.5 FM can be found at:

The following is an email sent by PLU's President:

Dear Friends:

PLU and the University of Washington will today announce their intent to consolidate the public radio resources of the greater Puget Sound region.  Although a formal agreement has not been finalized, PLU is expecting to sell its broadcasting rights and facilities associated with KPLU to KUOW, pending a vote of the UW Board of Regents this afternoon.  This will form a larger unified radio, streaming and online destination which will provide greater resources, including two stations: one for National Public Radio and Northwest news at KUOW 94.9 FM, and one for full-time jazz music at 88.5 FM.  

We believe it makes sense for these two stations – that have long shared a common mission and a common region – to come together for the good of the community and the listening public.  KPLU’s jazz listeners will have a full-time jazz station and its news listeners will still have the NPR programming they love, better signal reach across the greater Puget Sound region on KUOW, and more resources for local news programming.

The Seattle/Tacoma market is one of the few metropolitan areas that continue to have competing public radio stations, and KPLU is one of only a remaining few public radio stations nationwide that maintain a split format between news and music.  Bringing the resources of these two stations together will enable listeners to have dedicated stations, which is a structure that is being adopted across the public broadcasting landscape nationwide.

With public broadcasters facing ever-leaner budgets, it also makes sense for the two stations to pursue a shared vision for developing and funding independently produced content about the issues that matter to our region. Bringing these two stations together formalizes a collaboration that the two stations have shared for many years through the Northwest News Network, and through other collaborative fundraising and community events.  It also continues a long tradition of sharing between PLU and UW, from a steady stream of PLU undergraduates who go on to attend the UW’s graduate and professional programs – notably the Medical School – and, to Lutes who teach and work at UW, and UW graduates who teach and work at PLU.

In addition to the financial terms outlined in the following news release, we will also retain The Neeb Center and intend to evaluate its use as an academic center.  The proceeds of this sale will go to the university’s endowment, which currently stands at more than $85 million.

We are aiming to finalize a definitive agreement by the end of December, and then it must go before the Federal Communications Commission for approval prior to the actual closing of the transaction.  We are expecting the FCC review may take four to six months, perhaps longer.  During that time, KPLU will continue to operate independently, and we do not anticipate any immediate employee layoffs.  Meanwhile, KUOW management has assured us that they will give careful consideration to all KPLU applicants.

KPLU has been a valued asset of PLU for nearly 50 years, and we look forward to continuing cherished traditions, such as the Jazz Under the Stars summer concert series and the annual Christmas Jam.  I feel confident that the high quality and comprehensive programming for which KPLU has become known will continue to serve our community.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out with additional questions.


Thomas W. Krise, Ph.D.
President and Professor of English


Pacific Lutheran University Signals Intent to Sell KPLU 88.5 FM to UW’s KUOW

Pacific Lutheran University and the University of Washington announced today PLU’s intent to sell its broadcasting rights and facilities associated with KPLU to KUOW. Although not finalized, the agreement calls for two stations: one for NPR and Northwest news at 94.9 FM, and one for jazz music at 88.5 FM. The sale will bring together two stations that have collaborated for many years through the Northwest News Network, and through other fundraising and community events.

“We believe that in KUOW’s capable hands, this important asset will continue to serve and celebrate the greater Puget Sound community, as well as national and international audiences,” said PLU President Thomas W. Krise. “This is a natural union between two university-sponsored public radio stations that, for many years, have shared a common mission to inform, educate and entertain our region. We expect that the combined entity will have greater focus and resources to continue this shared mission through stories and music that move, inspire and expand horizons.”

“The Seattle-Tacoma market is one of the world’s leading and most dynamic jazz regions, with a rich tradition in jazz music education, festivals and clubs, and it deserves its own dedicated jazz music station,” said Caryn G. Mathes, President and General Manager, KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio. “For generations, KPLU has provided expertly curated jazz music available free to millions and has infused the jazz experience into the daily lives of local, national and international audiences. KUOW is fully prepared to assume guardianship of the high quality and comprehensive jazz programming for which KPLU has become known.”

The purchase price for the station and its assets is $8 million, comprising $7 million in cash and $1 million of underwriting announcements over 10 years.

KUOW is licensed to the University of Washington, which is assisted in its operation and management by Puget Sound Public Radio, a non-profit corporation governed by an independent board. The UW and PLU expect to close the transaction early in 2016, subject to the approval of the Federal Communications Commission. The PLU Board of Regents, the Puget Sound Public Radio board, and the UW Board of Regents have approved the acquisition.

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Without All Blues there is no reason for KPLU to exist.

November 12, 2015 at 1:55 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Peter Bennett

Surely, the Puget Sound region is large enough for two public radio stations.  Is this going to be another situation like the sale of the UPS law school to the University of Seattle when in several years time we end up trying to recreate an entity that we previously possessed?

Rather than sell KPLU to UW perhaps the KPLU membership (as their funders) could pressure PLU to give KPLU to WSU’s Northwest Public Radio and allow them to properly expand into this area?

November 12, 2015 at 3:58 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Pity. I enjoy listening to KPLU for a part of nearly every day. All Blues is great, but the station is more than that. I appreciate its regular cast of local characters and familiar programming.

KUOW delivers like Wal-Mart.

KPLU also has regional repeaters. Signal is loud and clear down at the ocean coast. It’s one of the few decent stations to listen to down there.

At least, it was….

November 12, 2015 at 5:53 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Daniel Luechtefeld

....and that’s the end of being able to hear Cliff Mass every Friday.  I can’t imagine he’ll go back to KUOW.

What happens to BirdNote?

November 12, 2015 at 7:06 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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