Did You Know:The Origins of KEXP

The KEXP Pledgeroom

Did you know that KEXP has been listener powered for over 25 years? Since 1982, a majority of the station’s funding has been provided by listeners. As a student station, KCMU was originally supported and run by the University of Washington School of Communications through much of the 1970s, but due to budget shortages the radio station was to play its swan song on Friday, August 21st, 1981.

A group of students dedicated to preserving the radio station’s unique spirit and programming organized a committee to protect the future of KCMU. With only months before the station was to go off the air, the students presented a proposal to university to become a public radio station and continue broadcasting with support from the community. The school approved the proposal and the station moved ahead with plans to raise support through events, benefit shows and on-air membership drives.


Jon Kertzer, current host of Best Ambiance on KEXP Monday nights from 6pm to 9pm, became the station manager of KCMU right before the station held its first membership drive and by his recollection “our first fundraiser was in the spring of 1982 … [I] don’t remember the exact goal, but is must have been under $50,000.” The station reached its goal and thanks to listener support KEXP has been able to continue its mission of sharing great music and programming for over 25 years.


If you would like to find out more about how you can help support KEXP, visit the support section at KEXP.org or phone the KEXP Membership Office at 1-866-903-5397.

Check back here for more posts on the station’s history and visit KEXP.org to find out how you can Own A Piece of KEXP, including the pledge room, as part of KEXP’s online auction.

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  1. PJ
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    What a great picture of Jon Kertzer!! He looks so sweet and young!

  2. Mike Larson
    Posted August 19, 2007 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Crazy. I was a DJ at kcmu at the time (must have been 82 – 85). I literally walked in and was offered a graveyard slot Saturday night. The best thing about KCMU at the very beginning was the completely free format (which ended up getting restricted over time).

    I’m really glad to see that KEXP (KCMU) has kept the flame alive–not that all was perfect about the station, but there were loads of folks that cared about the music and were willing to volunteer to see that the station was kept alive.

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