In 1972, four students at the University of Washington in Seattle had an idea. The university -- and the city -- needed a radio station where students could learn the art of broadcasting and listeners could discover music. From that idea, KCMU was born. With an initial signal of only 10 watts, the station was small but mighty. With the support of the UW, a roster of DJs and hosts rotated through the station -- some in advance of long careers in journalism and broadcasting -- and the ethos of KCMU began to form. DJs should be in charge of programming their shows according to their idea of what should be on the air, not according to some playlist. Loving music isn’t about narrowing the scope of what you think sounds good, but rather about expanding it, and seeking out new sounds and new musical ideas with intention and purpose. Music is about connection.
Now, 50 years later, our call letters may have changed, and our audience may be a bit larger and more geographically dispersed, but we still hold on to the central truth that music matters. We work every day to build a community of music lovers and music makers, all focused on celebrating and championing the role that music plays in our lives. For over 50 years, we’ve done things our way by elevating artists from all backgrounds, by encouraging DJs to be their true selves, by speaking up when others go quiet, and by making KEXP a place you gather at not just something you listen to. Now we’re a thriving global community of individuals made stronger by our differences. We embrace uniqueness, allow time for discomfort, and constantly challnge our beliefs, all so we continue evolving together. That’s what drives us forward, as individuals, as a station, as a community.
As we celebrate this milestone, we’ll spend some time looking back, but we’ll also be looking forward. It’s going to be a lot of fun! Join us here for updates and new features throughout the year. Thank you for powering KEXP for 50 years.
It’s KEXP’s 50th anniversary, and to celebrate we’re taking an in-depth look at each year of our history – from 1972 to 2022. All year long we’ll be bouncing around the timeline, pulling out the best music from a different year each week – both the songs we all know and love and music we might’ve missed the first time around. Tune in to hear spotlight features every Wednesday, and highlights from each year throughout the week. Listen live wherever you tune in.
Made possible in part by TomboyX, ACLU of Washington, Pagliacci Pizza, Alaska Airlines, and Bloodworks NW.