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KING-FM Logo.png
CitySeattle, Washington
Broadcast areaSeattle-Tacoma - Puget Sound area
BrandingClassical KING-FM
Frequency98.1 MHz (also on HD Radio)
First air dateDecember 1947
FormatFM/HD1: Classical music
HD2: Evergreen Channel
HD3: Seattle Symphony Channel
ERP66,000 watts
68,000 with beam tilt
HAAT707 meters (2320 ft)
Facility ID11755
Callsign meaningKing County
OwnerBeethoven, a Nonprofit Corporation
(Classic Radio, Inc.)
WebcastListen Live

KING-FM (98.1 MHz; "Classical King FM") is a non-commercial classical music radio station in Seattle, Washington. It is owned by Classic Radio, a nonprofit organization.[1] The studios and offices are on Harrison Street in Seattle.[2] KING-FM holds periodic on-air fundraisers to help support the station through listener contributions.

KING-FM's transmitter is located in Issaquah on Tiger Mountain.[3] Its effective radiated power (ERP) is 66,000 watts (68,000 with beam tilt). KING-FM broadcasts in the HD Radio format, using two subchannels for alternate classical programming.[4]


Early Years[edit]

The station that today is KING-FM first signed on the air in December 1947, originally at FM 94.9.[5] It was owned by King Broadcasting, whose co-owner and president was a woman, Dorothy Bullitt. The year before, Bullitt had purchased AM 1090 KEVR and changed it to KING (now KFNQ).[6][7] (Seattle is located in King County, for which its call letters were chosen.)

In 1949, King Broadcasting bought 98.1 KRSC-FM, which had gone on the air in February 1947 under different ownership.[6] KING-FM moved from 94.9 to 98.1 MHz in 1958, replacing KRSC-FM. The 94.9 transmitter was donated to Edison Vocational School, which used it to broadcast educational programming on that frequency. 94.9 eventually became KUOW-FM, owned by the University of Washington, and now a public news-talk station affiliated with NPR.

Also in 1949, King Broadcasting bought Channel 5 KRSC-TV, which had signed on the previous year. The call letters were changed to KING-TV.[8] The three stations, KING-AM-FM-TV, had their studios and offices at 320 Aurora Avenue North in Seattle.

Classical KING-FM[edit]

At first, KING-FM simulcast its AM counterpart. But over time, it began airing classical programs separate from the AM station, and by the late 1960s, it was exclusively a classical outlet.

During the late 1970s, KING-FM carried syndicated concert broadcasts by the Philadelphia Orchestra, usually under direction of Eugene Ormandy, the New York Philharmonic, and the Boston Symphony. Many of the syndicated concert programs featured well-known instrumentalists and conductors performing works which they never recorded commercially - e.g. Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic in a highly memorable 1976 reading of Bruckner's Sixth Symphony in A major.

In the mid-1970s, KING-FM's schedule also included specialized programs showcasing Quadraphonic LP recordings and historical recordings. In 1983, KING-FM was the first station in the Seattle area to utilize compact disc (CD) technology for its recordings.[citation needed]

Sale to Non-Profit Group[edit]

In 1992, King Broadcasting was acquired by the parent company of The Providence Journal, a Rhode Island publishing and broadcasting company. While the new owner wanted the TV station, the radio stations were sold to Classic Radio for $9.75 million.[9] The AM station was, in turn, sold to EZ Communications. KING-FM was run by a non-profit partnership, consisting of the Seattle Opera, Seattle Symphony, and the Arts Fund. Although KING-FM was owned by a non-profit entity, the station continued to operate for a time on a commercial basis, selling advertising as before. Even after the sale, the radio station was co-located with KING-TV Channel 5 for several more years. KING-FM moved to an office building several blocks away in 1999.

In 1993, KING-FM relocated its transmitter from Seattle's Queen Anne Hill to Tiger Mountain in Issaquah. This higher-elevation transmitter location provided a significant improvement in KING-FM's reception quality throughout the Seattle-Tacoma radio market, and sections of Puget Sound and the Cascade Mountains.[citation needed] KING-FM also began broadcasting its programming online, becoming one of the first internet radio stations.[citation needed]

Switch to Public Radio[edit]

On March 23, 2010, KING-FM announced that it would transition to a non-commercial, listener-supported public radio station in July 2011, citing reduced advertising revenue.[10] Several other commercial classical radio stations have made similar transitions to public radio status, including WQXR-FM New York City, WCRB Boston and KDFC San Francisco. Successful fundraising efforts led KING-FM to announce on April 7, 2011, that the transition would instead take place on May 2, two months ahead of schedule.[11]

In 2011, Classical KING FM 98.1 made the successful transition from a commercial to a non-commercial public radio station. As a listener-supported station, Classical KING FM 98.1 has added new programming and added two additional channels of classical music using HD Radio technology. KING-FM is one a handful of non-commercial FM radio stations to broadcast outside the standard band for FM stations of its type (88-92 MHz).


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-07-22. Retrieved 2015-05-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) HD Radio Guide for Seattle-Tacoma
  5. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 1949 page 315
  6. ^ Duncan, Don (August 22, 1990). "Pioneers In Broadcasting". The Seattle Times. Retrieved October 13, 2013.
  7. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 1950 page 314
  8. ^ Broadcasting & Cable Yearbook 1994 page B-399
  9. ^ "Classic-music KING FM to rely on listeners". Puget Sound Business Journal. American City Business Journals. March 23, 2010. Retrieved March 23, 2010.
  10. ^ Rolph, Amy (April 7, 2011). "KING FM will become listener-supported sooner than thought". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved April 9, 2011.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 47°30′14″N 121°58′34″W / 47.504°N 121.976°W / 47.504; -121.976