Saturday, June 04, 2016

I think KUOW is better off not spending all that money to buy KPLU

KPLU Radio, in Tacoma, is to remain independent from Seattle's KUOW. I'm glad to see this. Not because I listen to KPLU, but because I listen to KUOW.

KUOW was planning to buy KPLU, but Friends of KPLU was able to raise enough money to buy the station on its own. All along, I was thinking, why would KUOW want to buy KPLU? Why spend $7 dollars that could be better used? I like KUOW and feared that if it spent all that money to buy KPLU, it could weaken KUOW. $7 is a lot of money to go into debt for.

I know, the long range plan was to use KPLU's revenue stream to pay back the debt; like when corporations merge, but why do this? KUOW is a good station, but did it really need to buy out another NPR station, in Puget Sound area, just to become more of a "super conglomerate?"

KUOW does a good job focusing on news and information while KPLU specializes in the music of jazz. Personally, I don't find jazz that interesting. The plan was for KUOW to run both stations, one for news talk and the other for jazz. KPLU would have dropped some of its own news programming, which was seen as redundant to KUOW.

Local translators for both stations serve far flung communities, such as Bellingham. The translators would have been shuffled a bit for less redundancy. Maybe the two stations can still work together on how they cover Puget Sound anyway; without KUOW having to own it all.

A few weeks ago, KUOW HD2 dropped it's information programming to pick up a jazz service for (I assume) KUOW's organization to get practice running a jazz station in anticipation of the merger. Deterioration of the focus on information? I was worried that we would loose KUOW2, here in Bellingham, which we don't have to use an HD radio to get. We have a translator that broadcasts that programming on 90.7 FM. Luckily, KUOW was smart enough to keep the information programming of KUOW's second feed on our translator. It just translates KUOW3 where the information programming now resides. In Seattle, KUOW2 HD is jazz and KUOW3 is information. There's even a KUOW4 HD, I guess; BBC and so forth.

I'm happy that friends of KPLU have been able to raise enough money to buy the station, not because I listen to KPLU, but because I listen to KUOW. KUOW may be stronger sticking to its focus of news and information, rather than spreading out to run a jazz station also.

Also remember that parts of this region is served by yet another NPR type station; Northwest Public Radio. It happens to be based in my home town of Pullman, Washington; east of the mountains. NWPR serves parts of this region via it's own network of translators. Much of NWPR features classical music. As far as I know, it wasn't involved in any of this merger talk. NWPR also runs a large station in Tacoma which serves much of the Seattle, Tacoma area.

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