88.5 FM Update: June 30

KPLU general manager Joey Cohn (right) and Stephen Tan (left)

KPLU general manager Joey Cohn (right) and Stephen Tan (left) , chairman of Friends of 88.5 FM address media and supporters on May 26 after announcing that the Save KPLU campaign had hit its fundraising goal. (Justin Steyer/KPLU)

Dear Friends,

You raised your voice and shouted, “Save KPLU!” And we did it.

Thanks to more than 24,000 donations from over 18,000 people, and over 80 community events and meetings, we were able to raise $7 million in four and a half months and secure an agreement to ensure the survival of 88.5.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You have preserved a 16-member newsroom, a professional jazz and blues staff, and all the programming you love on 88.5.


The Asset Purchase Agreement is the binding legal document detailing the transaction. The full document will become public once it is filed with the FCC. Until then, here are the broad outlines of the deal.

The purchase price for the station and its assets is $8 million: $7 million in cash plus $1 million of in-kind underwriting announcements to be provided to PLU over 10 years. As part of the agreement, Friends of 88.5 FM will use broadcast and office space in the Martin J. Neeb Center on the PLU campus and KPLU’s broadcast equipment in Seattle and Tacoma, at no cost, through June of 2019. It will also take ownership of all KPLU translators and transmitters.

While we have reached an agreement to buy the station, the sale is not complete until we get FCC approval. The next step is to file for an assignment of license with the FCC. That approval process can take several months and we expect to assume ownership of the station sometime this fall. At that time 88.5 will take new call letters and become an independent public radio station, governed by a volunteer, community-based board of directors.


There have been many questions about whether 88.5 will be able to operate independently without the support of a major institution like PLU. The answer to all of those questions is a simple: YES. Many public radio stations have made this sort of transition. One of the biggest and most successful was WNYC in New York, which was owned by the city of New York. Locally, KEXP is an incredible success story. Once owned by the University of Washington, it transitioned into an independently-owned powerhouse.

So what about us? How are we going to make the transition?

We have prepared a detailed explanation of 88.5’s transition budget. You can download it here.

Two of the most-asked questions are: Do you still need support? And will you have a fund drive in the fall?

The answers are, again, YES and YES. Your support of Friends of 88.5 will help fund the transition to an independent station.

Become a Sustaining Member of Friends by clicking here.

There will definitely be a fall fund drive, and it will be a celebration of our independence. We will communicate more as we get closer.


We are excited to announce that Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland has joined the board of directors of Friends of 88.5 FM. The Board of Directors is responsible for all governance, including fiscal oversight, compliance with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and policy decisions for 88.5.

You can read more about Mayor Strickland’s appointment here.

Friends of 88.5 FM recently welcomed two other prominent members of the Northwest business community to its board of directors: Seattle-based developer and real estate investor John Teutsch; and David Veterane, a Chartered Financial Analyst and founding partner of Rainier Investment Management. The board is chaired by Stephen Tan, a partner at Cascadia Law Group and former president of KPLU’s Community Advisory Council.  A list of all members of the Board of Directors can be found by clicking here.


Next month, Friends of 88.5 will kick off a series of free summer and fall events to thank you for helping make 88.5 YOUR newly-independent community station. We hope you can join us for a Listener Appreciation Party and Open House at 88.5’s downtown Seattle studios on Thursday July 14 from 5 to 7 p.m.  Meet staff and fellow 88.5 fans, take a self-guided tour of the studios, enjoy great food and drink, and listen to live music from the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra (SRJO) Quartet. It’s gonna be a fun time!  More information is on the calendar. And we’ll soon have details about our next party in Tacoma. Stay tuned.

Thank you for all your support. None of this could have happened without you. This is YOUR public radio station.
— Friends of 88.5 FM