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|Broadcast area||Seattle-Tacoma - Puget Sound area|
|Frequency||98.1 MHz (HD Radio)|
|Format||FM/HD1: Classical music|
HD2: Evergreen Channel
|Owner||Beethoven, a Nonprofit Corporation |
(Classic Radio, Inc.)
First air date
Call sign meaning
68,000 with beam tilt
|HAAT||707 meters (2320 ft)|
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. The studios and offices are on Harrison Street in Seattle. 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. 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.
The station that today is KING-FM first signed on the air in December 1947, originally at FM 94.9. It was owned by King Broadcasting, whose co-owner and president was Dorothy Bullitt. The year before, Bullitt had purchased AM 1090 KEVR and changed it to KING (now KFNQ). (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. 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. The three stations, KING-AM-FM-TV, had their studios and offices at 320 Aurora Avenue North in Seattle.
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, a format that has continued to be broadcast on the station since.
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.
Sale to Non-Profit Group
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. 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.
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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. KING-FM also began broadcasting its programming online, becoming one of the first internet radio stations.
Switch to Public Radio
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. 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.
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).
- "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
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1949 page 315
- Duncan, Don (August 22, 1990). "Pioneers In Broadcasting". The Seattle Times. Retrieved October 13, 2013.
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1950 page 314
- Broadcasting & Cable Yearbook 1994 page B-399
- "Classic-music KING FM to rely on listeners". Puget Sound Business Journal. American City Business Journals. March 23, 2010. Retrieved March 23, 2010.
- Rolph, Amy (April 7, 2011). "KING FM will become listener-supported sooner than thought". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved April 9, 2011.
- Official website
- KING in the FCC's FM station database
- KING on Radio-Locator
- KING in Nielsen Audio's FM station database