There’s no scenario where selling KPLU to KUOW would ever be welcomed by many listeners. And the secrecy and clear lack of understanding or respect for KPLU and its listeners have made matters worse. But it might have been possible to structure a combination in a way that objections would have been minimal.
KUOW could have earned the trust of KPLU’s 350,000 broadcast listeners (and 90,000 streaming listeners) by:
- apologizing for the initial secrecy and announced that from this day forward there would be a public voice in the fate of the programming on the 88.5 signal
- collaborating with leaders at KPLU and committing to creating a combined vision for the combined stations
- pledging to bring as many of KPLU’s on-air staff as were willing to come to the new combined stations — by taking advantage of the loophole that allows UW to acquire research labs & teams in their entirety and bring them to UW
- pledging to create a combined and expanded newsroom, bigger than what KUOW currently has, and use the additional reporters to create more in-depth reports, more sound-rich series, more local content and more diverse content
- working to combine the best of KUOW and the best of KPLU — meaning that they would understand and learn from KPLU’s successes
- pledging to maintain the jazz programs in their current format for at least two years (if not longer) and to engage with listeners before making substantive changes
- pledging to maintain All Blues on Saturday and Sunday evenings
- pledging to bring the amazing Saturday morning show “Sound Effect” (which captures the flavor of the Northwest in a way that represents the best of public radio, in the tradition of “This American Life” and “RadioLab”) from KPLU to KUOW intact — which would be a great addition to KUOW’s weekend line-up
These small steps alone would have muted a lot of criticism — and given some actual substance (and truth) to the empty claims by KUOW and PLU that the sale would lead to improvements for public radio listeners.
These steps also would make it more likely that KPLU listeners would bring their financial support to KUOW.