Did You Know: The KEXP Transmitter

To the sky: the KEXP transmitter
photo by Gregory A. Perez

The KEXP that you know and love was founded in 1972 as KCMU, a 10-watt station at the University of Washington. KCMU was originally located at 90.5 FM on the dial, with its transmitter mounted on top of a campus dorm.

The station’s true origins can be traced back to April 13th, 1971, when University of Washington students Jon Kean, Cliff Noonan, and Victoria Fiedler submitted a proposal to the School of Communications at the university for a student run radio station. This proposal stated that the purpose of a student run radio station was to provide the “best education programming possible,” and listed in order of importance:

A) News
B) Performing Arts
C) General Education
D) Public Affairs
E) Light Entertainment
The proposal was approved and soon KCMU, named after the campus abbreviation CMU for the Communications Building, was cranking out the news, public affairs, and a healthy dose of what we now call classic rock.


In 1975, the station increased its wattage to 182-watts, spreading its reach beyond the University District. Over the next decade the programming turned towards more music and grew in popularity by students and local residents within the signal range.

Check back here for more posts on the station’s history and visit our website to find out how you can Own A Piece of KEXP. [NOTE: THIS AUCTION IS OVER]

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