The Progressive Decline and Politicization Of Public Radio Station KNKX

The Progressive Decline and Politicization Of Public Radio Station KNKX

During the previous decade there are few issues that I’m extra pleased with than the function I performed in saving public radio station KNKX.

And there are few issues that I discover extra disturbing and disappointing than the failure of the station to satisfy its promise to the neighborhood, its declining listenership, and the more and more partisan tone of its information protection and station administration.  And sure, the actual fact they ended my climate phase due to the anti-violence stance in one in all my weblog posts.

This weblog describes the progressive decline of the station, its embrace of cancel tradition, and its fast lack of listeners.  And I ask your assist in persuading station administration to vary path.

The Real Story of How KNKX Was Saved

In November 2015,  Joey Cohn, station supervisor of public radio station KPLU, instructed his workers that they need to discover different jobs.  That the station was completed.  Pacific Lutheran University (PLU), proprietor of the station’s license, had secretly made an association to promote KPLU to the University of Washington (PLU was in monetary bother and wanted to lift money).  KPLU could be terminated, and its viewers and useful transmitters could be subsumed by KUOW, the general public radio station owned by the UW.

There had been a number of of us who discovered this backroom deal very disturbing.   The KUOW program supervisor felt in-depth protection was pointless, listener call-in exhibits needs to be ended, and killed the favored Weekday morning program hosted by Steve Scher.  KUOW needed a neighborhood monopoly on public radio available in the market, which would cut back the already plummeting variety of information shops within the Seattle space.

I went to Joey Cohn and instructed him that we must always attempt to save the station by constructing public help for an unbiased public radio station. That individuals needed variety of viewpoint.  He doubted something might be completed, however allowed me (and others) to attempt.

So a bunch of us began a movement– together with Keith Seinfeld and Stephen Tan– placing up an online web page and organizing neighborhood conferences.   But the important thing was the University of Washington and the important particular person was University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce.  Could the UW be persuaded to provide KPLU an opportunity to lift the funds and “buy” its independence from PLU?

The Progressive Decline and Politicization Of Public Radio Station KNKXUW President Ana Mari Cauce Decided to Give KPLU a Chance

I used to be pleasant with President Cauce and emailed her concerning the problem.  She agreed to fulfill me on the U. Village Starbucks to speak it by means of.  

And after about an hour of dialogue, a miracle occurred:  she agreed to provide KPLU a chance to lift the cash.   

Ana Mari Cauce is somebody who understands the significance of variety of knowledge within the public sphere.  She was uncertain whether or not KPLU might elevate the large quantity wanted (about eight million)–but she gave KPLU six months to attempt.

During these six months many people labored exhausting to lift the funds.  You might keep in mind I had a number of blogs about KPLU, and I used to be the speaker for a big fundraiser at Kane Hall.  And amazingly, we succeeded.  KPLU turned KNKX and an unbiased public radio station was born.

Why did so many individuals need to save KPLU?  It wasn’t the jazz–KUOW had already established a jazz outlet and was able to broaden its jazz choices.  The key cause the neighborhood acted so powerfully was to guard variety within the western Washington information market, which had hollowed out throughout the previous decade (e.g., the efficient lack of the PI, discount in information workers on the Seattle Times, and extra).

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So by summer time 2016, the brand new KNKX was on the prime of the world. 

Many public radio listeners had been sad with KUOW, and KNKX listenership had virtually caught as much as KUOW.  KNKX station administration had a chance serve the neighborhood in an vital approach, offering an aural city sq. for the area.  

And they threw the chance away.

1613690258 892 The Progressive Decline and Politicization Of Public Radio Station KNKX
I and others urged to station administration {that a} new morning information/public affairs present be added throughout weekdays, whereas sustaining sturdy jazz programming. KNKX has an skilled  and savvy information director (Erin Hennessey) and a few good news/particular characteristic workers (corresponding to environmental reporter Bellamy Pailthorp).  But the brand new weekday programming by no means occurred.  
And then one thing worse occurred:  the politicization of the station’s information protection and the transfer to partisanship and energetic identify-politics advocacy.
Slowly the fabric offered over the air modified and this transition accelerated when a brand new information director was appointed in September 2019.  
The director of content material employed on the finish of 2015, Matt Martinez, had sturdy views that may enormously affect the path of KNKX.  In a shocking interview this 12 months, he described the “uncomfortable truths” concerning the racial make-up of the KNKX workers, announcers, and “very white” viewers.   There is a time period for being uncomfortable about a person due to their race.  Needless to say, such an angle is inappropriate for a pacesetter of a public radio station.
The on-line content material, in addition to on-air materials, drifted away from information and evaluation to social justice and fairness points, whereas on the identical time KUOW doubled down on information protection.  To present one illustration, listed here are photographs of the KNKX and KUOW internet pages on the identical day (throughout the previous month).  One headlines variety points, the opposite the pandemic.  I might present you a dozen extra like this.
1613690258 93 The Progressive Decline and Politicization Of Public Radio Station KNKX

1613690258 699 The Progressive Decline and Politicization Of Public Radio Station KNKX
Listeners to the station observed the political drift and complained on-line, for instance, here’s a latest touch upon Yelp:
1613690258 602 The Progressive Decline and Politicization Of Public Radio Station KNKX
Or these on Facebook (eliminated the names)
1613690259 377 The Progressive Decline and Politicization Of Public Radio Station KNKX
1613690259 28 The Progressive Decline and Politicization Of Public Radio Station KNKX
1613690259 95 The Progressive Decline and Politicization Of Public Radio Station KNKX
From my viewpoint from inside KNKX, the modifications within the attitudes of station administration had been apparent.  In 2019, Joey Cohn invited me to lunch. He instructed me that he had gotten flack about my opposition to I-1631, the carbon payment initiative, notably from some well-off monetary supporters of the station (be aware: I used to be a robust supporter of the earlier carbon initiative-I-732, however thought I-1631 was extremely regressive, hurting low-income individuals and was poorly designed). 
He requested me to clear with him my participation with such initiatives sooner or later.

But issues had been to worsen for me.  Some of the uber “progressive” supporters of the station had been sad with my communication of peer-reviewed science on my weblog and my occasional dialogue of local weather points with Bellamy Pailthrop.  They had been pushing to get my phase cancelled.  To censor the knowledge obtainable to KNKX listeners.  Some of those “local weather advocates” had been on the KNKX advisory board and accused me of taking cash from “massive oil.”  I requested them what science I received unsuitable….no reply.

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Then a bunch of Seattle social/local weather activists (Seattle350), began a petition to get me faraway from KNKX.  KNKX station administration, to placate the mob, determined to fee an evaluation of my on-air and OFF-AIR writings, and gave the duty to a MEMBER OF SEATTLE350.  Unbelievable.  And they spent donor cash to have my phase evaluated by the previous ombudsperson of NPR.  

Not surprisingly, I used to be “cleared”  by each reviews, however the entire exercise was designed to fulfill the “cancel tradition” mob that didn’t need truthful statements on local weather and climate to be aired.  KNKX administration couldn’t, wouldn’t, stand as much as the activist mob.

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Then in July, I did a weblog concerning the destructiveness to democracy of political violence in Seattle, together with the destruction of property, intimidation of politicians and our chief of police, and the hurting of people.  It was not well-liked among the many activist crowd, who demanded that I be punished for it: from termination on KNKX to my expulsion from the UW.
KNKX administration, below strain from the mob, instantly terminated my climate phase.  They gave in to cancel tradition,  which is completely inappropriate for a public radio station.
The Collapse of KNKX Listenership and Web Interest
As KNKX progressively retreated away from information in direction of social activism, its listenership declined quickly.  To illustrate, listed here are the “cume” numbers (from the Nielsen rankings firm) that illustrate the listenership of each KUOW and KNKX over the previous few years. KUOW listenership has remained practically fixed within the low 400,000 vary.  KNKX has misplaced a 3rd of its listenership, from roughly 310,000 to roughly 200,000 right now.

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The collapse of curiosity in KNKX will be confirmed in different methods.  Consider the web searches for each KNKX and KUOW in 2016, 2018, and 2020 (obtainable from the Googletrends web site).   In 2016, KNKX searches totaled about 75% of these of KUOW.  But by 2018 it had dropped to round 45% and by 2020 solely about 30%.  Huge decline.
1613690259 8 The Progressive Decline and Politicization Of Public Radio Station KNKXA key side of this collapse was that people had been not going to KNKX for on-line information, which isn’t stunning take into account the dearth of stories protection on the KNKX web site.  This is straightforward to show.
Below are the net search numbers for KNKX and KUOW throughout the previous 12 months.  KNKX searches are usually lower than KUOW and declining over the interval, whereas there’s a slight rising development for KUOW.  
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But there’s something extra vital….the ups and downs of the searches.  When there are massive information tales, KUOW searches go up sharply (for instance, the large surge in March throughout the COVID disaster).  But there was little change for KNKX–folks don’t see it as a spot to go for information.  
There IS one main spike for KNKX, the place it briefly exceeded KUOW.  That corresponds to the interval after I wrote a weblog on my firing from KNKX.  In truth, as confirmed by the Alexa rankings web site, my blogs on KNKX and cancel tradition have pushed searches relating to KNKX.  Not the eye I believe KNKX administration is searching for.
Perhaps most devastating evaluation is a comparability of Seattle market share for KUOW and KNKX throughout the previous 12 months (see under)… from the interval the place COVID turned information to the election (once more from the Nielsen rankings firm).  Right within the center they ended my phase.  
A catastrophe for KNKX   In April, KUOW was solely about one p.c forward of KNKX, however by November, KUOW quadrupled its result in practically 5 p.c, with the hole accelerating after my climate phase was ended.
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What now?
I can not let you know how many individuals have instructed me to surrender on KNKX. 
That they don’t seem to be price it, contemplating their gorgeous ranges of ingratitude, give up to woke considering, and lack of concern for his or her listenership.  Let them fade out.
But I’m not going to surrender on the station…and also you should not both.  Listeners and monetary supporters have quite a lot of clout that they will and will use to show issues round.
KNKX is now the poster baby for cancel tradition in public radio….and this could not stand.   KNKX administration has undermined the popularity of the station.
KNKX was saved to advertise viewpoint and media variety in our neighborhood, and that variety remains to be wanted.
Cancel tradition is all about energy: these with energy considering they will silence these with differing viewpoints.  Let’s present them that they can’t succeed.1613690259 426 The Progressive Decline and Politicization Of Public Radio Station KNKX
So let me ask your assist to deal with the state of affairs:
1.   Money talks, notably in public radio.  One of the explanations that KNKX has tilted to activism and cancel tradition is the left-leaning attitudes and strain of their main donors.  Trust me, I do know these individuals and have interacted with them for a number of years.
If you’re a KNKX donor, pause your contributions with a be aware to the station telling them what you count on:  an finish of biased and restricted information reporting, no extra canceling of numerous voices, the restoration of the climate phase, and new programming that fosters dialogue of regional points. 
2.  Email station administration and the KNKX Board, expressing your issues about poor on-line and on-air content material and their “canceling” of segments based mostly on political strain.  Tell them freedom of speech is vital, as is respect for viewpoint variety of their workers and contributors.  Tell them that racially inflammatory statements amongst senior administration will not be acceptable.
3.  Email main company donors (view right here), asking for support in making the station an vital venue for the numerous voices and that differing viewpoints needs to be heard.

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Let me finish by noting an vital assertion of Dr. Martin Luther King:
“History should report that the best tragedy of this era of social transition was not the strident clamor of the dangerous individuals, however the appalling silence of the nice individuals” Martin Luther King_____________________________________________
KNKX Contact Information

If you need to assist,  please contact KNKX administration and ask that they reverse their determination:

Station Manager: Joey Cohn, jcohn@knkx.orgProgram Director: Matt Martinez,  mmartinez@knkx.orgChair of KNKX Board, Claire Grace, ship to information@knkx.orgListener help: information@knkx.orgMary Dunaway, Director of Development, mdunaway@knkx.orgKNKX Board of Directors: Advisory Council:
Station cellphone quantity: 1-877-677-5659
Public Radio Station KNKX and Cancel Culture

If you have an interest in studying extra about public radio station KNKX and cancel tradition, take a look at my new weblog/web site on the problem:


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