A major change is coming to the Seattle/Tacoma noncom radio dial: NPR News is leaving KPLU. In 2016 KPLU will emerge as a 24/7 jazz station with new, yet to be determined, call letters. KUOW will become the market’s only NPR News stations, ending years of robust competition between the two stations.
|A KPLU COFFEE MUG THAT WILL BECOME A COLLECTABLE|
KUOW agreed to pay Pacifica Lutheran University, the licensee of KPLU $8 million -- $7 million in cash and $1 million of underwriting for Pacific Lutheran over 10 years. It is anticipated the purchase will be final in 2016 when the FCC gives formal approval.
Pacific Lutheran said in a press release that proceeds of the sale will go to the university’s endowment, which currently stands at more than $85 million. The Seattle Times reported KUOW is using $4.5 million from the station’s reserves and a $2.5 million loan from the University of Washington to pay the cash portion of the deal.
It is unknown whether most or all of KPLU news people will be let go but new jazz jobs will be coming. KUOW has been mum on its plans.
MIXED REACTION TO THE CHANGES
Some observers lament the loss of KLPU’s news approach. The SeattlePi.com news site said [link] about the transaction:
The sale, and change of formats, will deprive the Puget Sound area of a first-rate news operation. KPLU has distinguished itself…with imaginative coverage…as well as in-depth features…
KUOW tried to put lipstick on the new all-music format and elimination of KPLU’s news division, conveniently overlooking recent cutbacks of its own local news talk programs.
Whatever its sugar coating, this marks the second gut punch this year to public affairs programming on public broadcasting outlets in the Seattle area.
In the early spring, KCTS-TV fired virtually its entire local production staff including camera operators who had been with the station nearly 40 years, and producers of acclaimed local programming. The purge came less than seven months after the public TV station had inaugurated a new weekly public affairs program.
The Stranger, a weekly Seattle newspaper commented:
KUOW Plans to Purchase KPLU and Make It an All Jazz Station. What Happens to Their Reporters?
There were once two dueling newspapers in Seattle. But in 2009, the left-leaning Seattle Post-Intelligencer shut down, leaving us with the Seattle Times, which employs some excellent journalists but is owned and published by old, conservative farts.
Still, we had two National Public Radio (NPR) affiliates in town—88.5 KPLU and 94.9 KUOW—each with their own team of reporters covering the city and state.
KUOW posted more information and a survey for suggestions from jazz fans at [link].
KUOW and KPLU both service substantial audiences according to the most recent PPM ratings data for October from Nielsen Audio: