KPLU Advisory Council Unanimously Opposes Sale to KUOW

We were disappointed to hear of the planned sale of KPLU to KUOW, primarily because the announced plans of the Seattle-based station to turn its new acquisition into an all jazz format - eliminating the news component of what KPLU currently does.

Apparently we weren't alone in our disappointment. The Seattle P.I. reports that on Monday a packed house of dozens of commenters told the KPLU advisory council they didn't want to see the deal go through. The council agreed, and unanimously voted to express its disapproval to the PLU Board of Regents. Unfortunately, as an advisory body, that's about as far as its power goes.

The loss of news programming from KPLU would mean one less voice for news in the Tacoma area, meaning less coverage of the things affecting the lives of Tacoma area residents. The P.I. quotes KPLU council member Jeanne Juneau expressing concern for the loss of KPLU news coverage:

“KPLU has a very broad geographical base and the nature of its programming is not confined to the Seattle mindset.” 

The Seattle station will take over news functions, and KUOW messaging assures us that "KPLU’s ... news listeners will still have the NPR programming they love ..., and more resources for local news programming." KUOW promises to develop content about "issues that matter to our region," but to serve the entire region, the Seattle-centric station is going to have to go beyond current "regional" content, which might be described as "Seattle and its adoring onlookers."

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Robin Echtle

“Seattle and its adoring onlookers”—yes, that is often the unfortunate truth.  Additionally, I am concerned about the complete lack of acknowledgement of their Blues programming.  It is the one show we never miss.  There is no messaging that is reassuring so far from the players.  I assume that this is by design; no promises, means no promises to break later.

November 25, 2015 at 9:58 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Concerned Listener

I’ve read in other articles, that PLU did not enter into this sale because of the money. If that is the case, I am hoping that they will provide a more detailed explanation of their decision. Apparently they aren’t conducting listener surveys or performing analytics on how many listeners they really have. And what’s going to happen to their beautiful new $5 million building that they opened in 2009? It was designed specifically to support their broadcasting needs and provided much-needed upgrades including on-air studios, production rooms, small performance spaces and offices. KUOW has its own problems, including retaining staff (two current KPLU employees were fired from KUOW) and lack of listeners. And the UW announced that KPLU employees “could apply for jobs at KUOW”. Really? I for one will truly miss listening to KPLU and their Sunday night Jazz.

November 25, 2015 at 11:42 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Luca Rivera

The grey-haired liberal listeners are lighted up because their “non-profit” left-wing propaganda platform is peregrinating to uber-liberal land Seattle. No more screeds on global warming, social injustice and self-admonitory pontification on the intellectual superiority of their self righteous indignation and ethereal world view.

November 26, 2015 at 11:24 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Friendly Reminder

Remember kids, it’s only propaganda when you disagree with it.

November 27, 2015 at 9:32 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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altered chords

more jazz and less talk.  What’s not to like about that?  My only concern is potential changes to the music venue.  Some ding dong who doesn’t think John Coltrane is cool but thinks Kenny G. is where it’s at.  Or some fanatic who doesn’t think John Kessler’s blues show belongs on a jazz station.

November 28, 2015 at 9:15 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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It is shocking, I say shocking, that in the aloof, placid world of “non-profit” business, we see such outrageous predatory actions as this: the hostile takeover of KPLU by KUOW. Wanton job destruction, aggressive cost cutting, callus disregard for the community served and opportunistic market exploitation by greedy “non-profit” corporate boards. We need legislative action that mandates “non-non-profit” businesses.

November 29, 2015 at 10:19 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Cliff Mass Writes...

One might be willing to consider this sale if KUOW had a good track record in providing good local coverage or was dedicated to informing the region about important issues.  If it had a history of honesty and interest in listener needs.  Unfortunately, it does not.  One would also feel better about the deal if KUOW was committed to greatly increasing its local news and regional programming and in the process hiring most of the KPLU news staff.  But it is clear that they have no such intention.

Consider what has been happening at KUOW the past few years.

(1) KUOW has reduced local programming from 5 hours to one hour (including ending Steve Scher’s popular morning show, Weekday).

(2) KUOW has eliminated long-form programming where issues could be dealt with in depth.  Program director Jeff Hansen believes that folks only will listen to short segments (no longer than 5 minutes), which is not a little insulting to the highly educated KUOW audience.  He told me this in person and is widely quoted expressing this opinion.

(3) KUOW has filled its schedule with repetitious syndicated material (like The Takeaway)

(4) KUOW has extended the pledge break periods to several weeks, in contrast to KPLU that keeps them short (one week or less).

(5)  KUOW has gone corporate, with often multiple advertisements per show.

“This program is sponsored by John’s Auto Repair, which specializes in Mercedes, BMW, and Audi vehicles, and which is having a special this month for tune ups.  Get more information at or call 206 718-3829”.

Or they use commercial approaches like:  the next program can only be found on KUOW.  And they constantly advertise upcoming segments to keep folks tuned in.

KUOW claims to be non-commercial radio. LOL.

(6)  KUOW pleads poverty while banking a surplus of 1-2 million dollars per year.  Check out their annual statement (buried on their web page).  Here are some of the numbers I found.  The 2014 surplus was 1.15 million dollars

At the very least, they are being deceptive with their listeners.  And using this secret stash of funds to buy out the competition is SURELY not why KUOW contributors were given their hard-earned cash. Imagine if this money was used instead to improve and expand KUOW’s local news coverage?  Or improve the salaries of underpaid KUOW staff?

(7)  KUOW, the radio station of the University of Washington, has nearly NO UW content.  Where are rebroadcasts of the wonderful public lectures, interviews with top UW faculty, and tapping of the intellectual powerhouse next store?  You won’t find it at KUOW, the UW’s radio station.

November 29, 2015 at 11:54 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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If it were not for All Blues I would not miss KPLU.

I had an expensive antenna installed on our home just to get great reception for All Blues.  The rest of what KPLU has to offer I can’t stand to listen to.

November 29, 2015 at 4:56 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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