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88.5 KNKX-FM (Tacoma - Seattle).png
CityTacoma, Washington
Broadcast areaSeattle metropolitan area
Frequency88.5 MHz (HD Radio)
Branding88.5 KNKX
SloganYour Connection To Jazz, Blues and NPR News
FormatJazz/NPR News
OwnerFriends of 88.5 FM
Former call signs
KPLU-FM (1966–2016)
Call sign meaning
Pronounced like "Connects"
Technical information
Facility ID51199
ERP68,000 watts
HAAT707 meters (2,320 ft)
Translator(s)(see article)
Webcast[1] AAC+
Jazz24 Webstream (HD2)

KNKX (88.5 MHz) is a public radio station in Tacoma, Washington. A member of National Public Radio, it airs a jazz and news format for the Seattle metropolitan area. The station is owned by Friends of 88.5 FM, a community-based non-profit group. KNKX was established in 1966 as KPLU-FM by Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) before becoming an independent, community-licensed station in 2016. It is one of three full NPR member stations in the Seattle area, the others being KUOW-FM and KVTI, an outlet of Northwest Public Radio (though KVTI only provides grade B coverage of Seattle and can't be heard at all in most of Snohomish County because of interference from KSER).

KNKX broadcasts in HD.[1]

KNKX broadcasts from West Tiger Mountain in the Issaquah Alps with a power of 68,000 watts. Its main studio is located on Broadway in Downtown, Tacoma, Washington, with a satellite studio on Fourth Avenue in Seattle. KNKX runs jazz programs middays, evenings and overnight, and carries a variety of NPR programs in other dayparts, including All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! and Fresh Air. The locally-produced BirdNote airs every morning. Those who listen online or using an HD radio can choose either the regular station feed, or listen to "Jazz24," a 24/7 free online jazz station.


The station was founded on November 16, 1966 as KPLU-FM.[2] It was primarily run by university students and played jazz, blues and other music not usually heard on commercial radio stations. Originally, it broadcast from a tower on campus that was only 140 feet tall, effectively limiting its coverage area to Tacoma and adjacent suburbs.[3] Over time, the station added news programs from NPR to its schedule. It improved its coverage area, both by increasing its power and relocating to a tower that is 2320 feet (707 meters) Height Above Average Terrain, giving it a coverage area roughly comparable to that of KUOW. For listeners outside the Tacoma-Seattle area, it set up eight translators and simulcast stations.

Logo prior to August 31, 2016

On November 12, 2015, Pacific Lutheran University announced its intention to sell the station to the University of Washington, owner of KUOW.[4] The planned sale to UW triggered "public outcry" from KPLU's listener base, who feared KPLU's unique programming would be sacrificed if it became a sister station to KUOW. On November 23, the KPLU advisory board voted unanimously to oppose the sale.[5] The board sought to negotiate with a community-based non-profit group, Friends of 88.5, to raise $7,000,000 to buy the radio station and its network of translators and rebroadcasters from the university, keeping it independent.[6] By May 26, 2016, some 17,000 supporters met the goal. Friends of 88.5 began negotiating with PLU to purchase the station.[6]

On August 12, 2016, it was announced that the station would adopt the new call letters KNKX, pronounced like "Connects", which was chosen among several other choices by the station's listening audience. The new call sign went into effect when the station officially changed hands from PLU to Friends of 88.5 on August 30, 2016; the change was made as the station could not keep the KPLU callsign (as it was university property) during the sale negotiations.[7][8][9] In October 2018, it was announced that KNKX would move their Tacoma studio to downtown Tacoma, at 930 Broadway.[10] On August 29, 2019, the first live broadcast from their new home was aired by Dick Stein. The station hosted a grand opening celebration on September 7, 2019.[11]

On August 5, 2020, KNKX management ended the weekly segment of weather commentator Cliff Mass when he wrote a blog criticizing violent protests in Seattle. This resulted in substantial media coverage[12] and accusations that the station followed a cancel-culture approach inconsistent with freedom of speech and diversity of viewpoints.


KNKX is also carried on the following satellite and broadcast translator stations to improve reception of the station:

The West Seattle translator serves portions of Seattle that are shielded by hilly terrain from the main KNKX signal.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Falk, Tyler (May 9, 2016). "Future of KPLU's popular jazz stream hinges on fundraising campaign". Current. Retrieved August 31, 2016.
  2. ^ "Radio KPLU To Begin Broadcasting". Morning Mast. XLIV (7). Pacific Lutheran University. November 11, 1966. p. 1. Retrieved August 31, 2016.
  3. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 1977 page C-227
  4. ^ KUOW Staff. "PLU Says It Intends To Sell KPLU 88.5 FM To KUOW Public Radio". KUOW. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  5. ^ Kiley, Brendan (November 23, 2015). "'A kick in the teeth': KPLU advisory board opposes sale to KUOW". The Seattle Times. Retrieved November 24, 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Supporters of Tacoma-based KPLU reach $7 million mark in bid to buy station". The Olympian. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
  7. ^ Kiley, Brendan (August 12, 2016). "KPLU renamed KNKX (pronounced 'connects')". Seattle Times. Retrieved January 27, 2020.
  8. ^ Connelly, Joel (August 12, 2016). "Listener-rescued KPLU public radio dons new call letters—KNKX". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved August 31, 2016.
  9. ^ Kiley, Brendan (August 31, 2016). "KPLU officially begins broadcasting as KNKX". The Seattle Times. Retrieved August 31, 2016.
  10. ^ Sailor, Craig (October 6, 2018). "Public radio station KNKX announces move to downtown Tacoma". The News Tribune. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  11. ^ Lida, Kate (September 3, 2019). "Public radio station KNKX goes from the brink of doom to new downtown Tacoma digs". The News Tribune. Retrieved September 12, 2019.
  12. ^ Kruse, Brandi (August 15, 2020). "Cliff Mass on being hit by cancel culture". Q13 FOX. Retrieved January 31, 2021.

External links[edit]

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