Where KEXP Matters to Local Music

Robb Benson (photo by John Conner)

Robb Benson (photo by John Conner)

by Leigh Bezezekoff

For the last year and a half I have gotten the chance to write about local music and artists for one of the most prestigious music blogs in the country. When I think about it, it’s a bit intimidating but on the other hand, it is just another way I get to talk about the music I love.

I’m not alone in this. Many KEXP listeners do the same at KEXP events, when they come by the station for tours, and with emails they send to the DJs which help keep them inspired during their shows. And we hear about it a lot as we ask for our listeners’ support during our Fall Membership Drive (going on now!).

I recently celebrated an anniversary with my boyfriend (who I met at a KEXP event), and took a moment to reflect on the multitude of amazing and passionate people I’ve met as a volunteer with the station from the DJs and other KEXP staffers, to fellow listeners and volunteers, and even the artists themselves. I had no idea that donating a bit of my time would open up so many doors for me and the effect it would have on my life.

And I know it’s not just me. Whenever I talk to local artists they are always so quick to tell me how amazing it was the first time they heard their song on the radio-what they were doing, who played their song, which song it was, etc. It got me to thinking about the impact KEXP has on our local music community so I reached out to some folks who are a part it to hear in their own words what KEXP means to them…

folks like singer/songwriter Robb Benson (Dept of Energy, Dear John Letters, Nevada Bachelors), who went so far as to record an audio clip of him talking about early experiences as a young artist who received some phenomenal support from KEXP: “KEXP was the station that was willing to put their name on the line to support us.”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Other local musicians had plenty to say about how KEXP has been important in their lives:

Dave Einmo (Head Like a Kite)
“KEXP’s support has been huge for us. It’s amazing to see how far reaching the station is. I remember the first time we played in Boston , shortly after the debut album came out in 2006, and people came up to us after the show and said how much they liked the new album. I asked them how they heard about it, expecting them to cite their local radio station, and instead they said KEXP! It’s pretty cool to see how Seattle ’s community radio station is making a difference nationally. Frequently, while traveling to other cities on tour, we meet people who reference KEXP as the way they discover new music. (They will also ask lots of questions like, “Did Kevin Cole really sell his hair during a pledge drive?”) While KEXP is certainly Seattle’s best friend, it’s cool to see KEXP being shared by listeners globally as well, and watching the impact our city’s station is having on the national music scene. Go KEXP!”
Kerry Zettel (See Me River/Aviation Records):
“KEXP has been an enormous part of our success. Without the continuing support from KEXP we undoubtedly would not be where we’re at today.”
Brent Amaker (Brent Amaker & the Rodeo):
“I’m so glad we have KEXP in Seattle. My band, Brent Amaker and the Rodeo has toured Europe, Canada, and much of the US. In my travels I have not found a station that does more to support independent music. Other cities would kill to have a voice for their own local music scene. Whether through live appearances on Audioasis, or worldwide exposure through airplay, KEXP brings the Seattle music community together. Thanks KEXP!”
Trent Moorman (Head Like a Kite, the Saturday Knights, Shawn Smith, Graig Markel, Daniel G. Harmann, Earth Wind & Fire):
“If you are in a band, and KEXP plays that band on the air, or puts you on a podcast, it is gold. Airplay means everything. KEXP is a legitimizer. If you are in a band and you’re just starting out here, having a station like KEXP around means there’s a real chance that band can get played on the air. And that’s no small thing. KEXP doesn’t just play music, KEXP feeds music. The first Seattle band I was in sent in a demo. John Richards played it. We heard it and freaked. We were all in a car together and it was like we had won the Super Bowl. For three minutes, I felt like I was flying, through the Land of Dairy Queen. Knowing someone had actually played us on the radio inspired us to practice and work really hard at becoming better.”
Phil (the drummer of The Ironclads):
“It is impossible to overstate the impact that KEXP has had on The Ironclads during the past calendar year. We recorded our album during the summer/fall of 2008 in a friend’s basement (who happens to be in the Hands, another great northwest act supported by KEXP). Soon after we finished recording, we played a decent amount of shows, but we were still having trouble drawing new faces on a consistent basis. This all changed once “Step to the Sea” and other songs started receiving regular airplay on KEXP in early March. When we first started getting radio airwave love, people would text my phone saying they could hear Ironclads songs on the radio. That in itself is a weird experience, but there aren’t many things weirder than hearing your own songs on a legit radio station. First time I heard “Step to the Sea” I was at work at my old deli job and I almost gave myself some serious soup burn while scurrying from the front of the house to the kitchen. It’s pretty surreal. Thanks to KEXP playing our songs people besides our significant others would come to our shows and in some cases, actually buy our album… online! Shocking I know. On a personal note, I’m from the east coast where it’s not easy to find a well respected independent radio station that will play your music. It’s even harder to find a station that has such a big influence on what music people support locally, whether it’s here in Seattle and other parts of the Pacific Northwest. People, don’t take 90.3 for granted. You have no idea how good you have it. As musicians, we know how good we’ve got it. The good folks at KEXP make us feel like rockstars of the highest order, even if it isn’t deserved. Believe me, the people at KEXP will go to the guillotine for you. Give thanks and praise to them in any way you can. Give money to their pledge drives. Put KEXP bumper stickers on your car. Enshrine all KEXP paraphernalia and propaganda. Forsake the love of of your life in order to give more of yourself to KEXP. So here’s to you 90.3! Thanks for letting us tell our mom’s and dad’s that our band is on the radio! Thanks for giving us the opportunity to get super fucking nervous before we had an on-air session at your lovely studio! Thanks for the coffee before the aforementioned anxiousness! The Ironclads love you!”
Jason Milne (The Purrs):
“I grew up with my mom always playing tons of records at home. I owe my personal music obsession to my mom, for which I’m truly grateful. Over the years, she slowly started to listen less to music, lost track of her favorite bands, and wasn’t discovering new music. Listening to commercial radio sure wasn’t doing her any favors. In 2001, I wanted her to learn how to use a computer — send email, use the internet. I showed her how she could listen to KEXP online. Well, it didn’t take long for her obsession for music to explode again. Since then, almost every time I talk to my mom, she’s so excited to talk about her new favorite bands — ‘…have you heard Telefon Tel Aviv!?’ ‘…oh, the new Antony and the Johnstons is so amazing!’ ‘…you have to listen to Soulsavers!!’ — No other radio station could have given her this kind of exposure to so many artists. Listening to KEXP enriches her life in so many ways that I never thought possible; and has also given her a rediscovered joy in living. Thanks KEXP!!”
Billy Joe (The Dusty 45’s):
“Thank you KEXP. My love affair started with you in March of 1989. You called yourself KCMU, and folks just called me Bill. Ahh… we’ve been through a lot together. I was a naive farmboy from the midwest, and you showed me the way. You taught me about an independent music culture that existed in Seattle, and opened my mind to diverse sounds around the globe. One fall afternoon in 1991, I heard a brilliant song on 90.3 FM. The DJ tipped me off that the band was doing a live CD release in store at Peaches Records! I raced up 45th and caught a rocking show! I bought the CD called ‘Nevermind”. Three months later my college roommate from Chicago called me and said… “Dude, you gotta get this new CD!”
Snow Keim (The Blakes, BEADS):
“Without KEXP, I could very well be still delivering The Stranger. Thank you KEXP.”

Thanks to everyone who keeps making great music for us at KEXP to play, write about, and of course listen to! Please consider giving a gift of support during our Fall Membership Drive so KEXP can keep supporting local music!

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One Comment

  1. Banner
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    I like Trent flying through the land of Dairy Queen. I want to do that.

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