As of early Wednesday, after a 10-month struggle, public-radio station KPLU is independent and is broadcasting as KNKX (pronounced “connects”).
The saga began in November, when KPLU discovered Pacific Lutheran University had been in secret negotiations with the University of Washington to fold the station into KUOW, the UW’s station.
When news of the impending sale broke, there was public backlash and a fast and furious campaign to raise $7 million so a new nonprofit called Friends of 88.5 could buy the station out of the deal between the universities. The station says more than 18,000 donors contributed.
As KNKX, the station will continue KPLU’s split format of playing jazz and blues, as well as syndicated National Public Radio programs and offering original news reporting about the Puget Sound region.
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Picking the new call letters KNKX wasn’t easy, said station manager Joey Cohn. As part of the negotiations with PLU, the station couldn’t keep its old call sign. Listeners offered options, he said, but most of them were registered with the Federal Communications Commission.
Nevertheless, the station’s first day sounded exuberant.
“We’re all just over the moon today,” Dick Stein, host of KNKX’s “Midday Jazz” show, said on the air, “and looking forward to a bright future with KNKX.”
His playlist early Wednesday reflected that mood with Norah Jones’ “Come Rain or Shine” and Brad Mehldau’s version of “My Favorite Things.”