On the same day, two public radio stations — KEXP and KPLU — met their fundraising goals.
Two local public-radio stations have met major fundraising goals almost simultaneously.
KPLU’s fundraising campaign — to buy itself out of a secretive sale from Pacific Lutheran University to the University of Washington — hit its $7 million target just hours before KEXP announced billionaire Paul Allen had given the station a $500,000 gift, ending its yearslong capital campaign to build a new broadcasting station at Seattle Center.
KEXP publicly launched its $15 million campaign in January 2013.
“We’re just thrilled,” said KEXP station director Tom Mara. “We’ve been barreling down the road with 8,000 donors from musicians to philanthropists to music lovers of all ages.”
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Those donations, he said, ranged from $1 to $1 million, but the donation from Microsoft co-founder Allen, estimated by Forbes to be worth $17.7 billion, put KEXP across the finish line.
KEXP got its start in 1972 as KCMU, run by University of Washington students. But 16 years ago, Mara said, Allen offered the station a 10-year lease for $1 a year in one of the South Lake Union properties owned by Allen’s company Vulcan. South Lake Union proved to be a profitable real-estate investment and is now home to Amazon.com headquarters and high-rise, luxury condos. (KEXP’s new home, at Seattle Center, is technically a public park.)
Mara said discussions about the new KEXP home centered on three things: allowing more people to watch live sessions by bands playing on the air (around 75 people at a time can watch a show), secure storage for bands on tour (it has lockers) and hygiene.
“Clean socks!” Mara said. “They’re the first thing to go on the road. So we have a washer and dryer in the studio for visiting bands, plus a shower. We’ve heard of so many artists having to duck into venues, into the bathroom before a show, and doing ‘birdbaths.’ ”
Mara thinks the fundraising successes of KEXP and KPLU demonstrate “that this community is extraordinary in the way it supports public media. Lots of cities don’t have the combination of KPLU, KEXP, KUOW, KBCS, KNHC, the nationally acclaimed high-school radio station.”
Seattle, he said, is “an innovative town, a curious town, a town that thrives on experiences, a town that thrives on discovery. You couple that with a community’s generosity and you’ve got something cooking.”