The rare Classical format on commercial is becoming even more rare. KING-FM Seattle announced that it will stop playing commercials and become a listener-supported public radio station come July 1st. It will, however, continue to be Classical, as it has been for 62 years.
“This is the next logical step in our evolution as a great classical station,” Christopher Bayley, President of the board of Beethoven, which owns the station, said in a note posted on the station’s website. “KING’s founder Dorothy Bullitt built a legacy of great classical programming and innovation at KING-FM. Then her daughters, Harriet Bullitt and Patsy Collins, gave the station to the community, endowing us with their vision that the station would not only be part of Seattle’s arts and culture framework forever, but that through advertising it would also generate financial support to the symphony, opera, and smaller classical performing groups. That vision worked well for a time, but the handwriting is on the wall. With all the changes in media in the United States, commercial advertising is no longer a fit for KING,” Bayley said.
“In recent years, it has become increasingly difficult to find advertising support for Classical KING that is compatible with the format. Commercial messages must be selective and respect our listeners’ taste,” said Harriet Bullitt in a lengthy note supporting the board decision. She added that her late sister would agree if she were still alive.
“While we always saw KING-FM as a community treasure, the ways in which the community could interact with the station were limited. In this new partnership, the listener relationship can really drive the station, and the station can be more richly engaged in supporting the whole classical music fabric of the community. I am pleased to hear that Classical KING-FM will include as part of their mission a classical music education element. This will help allow younger listeners to learn and appreciate the great music that we have enjoyed for years,” Bullitt concluded.
Beethoven is already a non-profit corporation. The announcement of the plan to go non-commercial noted that KING-FM has provided nearly $7 million since 1995 to the arts organizations which own it, the Seattle Symphony, Seattle Opera, and the Arts Fund.
Fisher Communications, which has handled ad sales for KING-FM, said it also supports the move to make the Classical station non-commercial.