|Broadcast area||Seattle metropolitan area|
|Frequency||88.5 MHz (HD Radio)|
|Owner||Pacific Public Media|
First air date
|November 16, 1966|
Former call signs
Call sign meaning
|HAAT||707 meters (2,320 ft)|
|Translator(s)||See § Translators|
Public license information
|Webcast|| AAC+ |
Jazz24 Webstream (HD2)
KNKX (88.5 MHz) is a public radio station that serves Seattle, Tacoma and all of Western Washington. A member of National Public Radio (NPR), it airs a jazz and news format. The station is owned by Pacific Public Media, a community-based non-profit organization. It operates from studios in downtown Seattle and downtown Tacoma. KNKX broadcasts from West Tiger Mountain in the Issaquah Alps with a power of 68,000 watts.
The station originally debuted in 1966 as KPLU-FM, owned by Parkland-based Pacific Lutheran University (PLU). It became a community licensee in 2016 after a proposed sale to the University of Washington, owner of fellow NPR station KUOW-FM in Seattle, resulted in opposition from station listeners.
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.
KNKX was the brainchild of Chris Knudzen, a regent of PLU from Burlington who, in 1951, donated the then-under construction Eastvold Chapel (now the Karen Hille Phillips Center for the Performing Arts) with a radio studio to the university under the desire of having it host a radio station. While the studio was used extensively, it took 15 years for the station to debut; the station formally signed on the air as KPLU-FM on November 16, 1966, with the inaugural broadcast featuring a short speech from President Robert Mortvedt and interviews with local community leaders. 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. 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, allowing it to challenge established NPR member KUOW. For listeners outside the Tacoma-Seattle area, it set up eleven translators and simulcast stations.
On November 12, 2015, Pacific Lutheran University announced its intention to sell the station to the University of Washington, owner of KUOW. 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. 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. By May 26, 2016, some 20,000 supporters met the goal. Friends of 88.5 began negotiating with PLU to purchase the station.
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. In October 2018, it was announced that KNKX would move their Tacoma studio to downtown Tacoma, at 930 Broadway. 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. KNKX subsequently announced its plan to relocate its Seattle studio to the Madore Building, part of Pike Place Market, in March 2022.
KNKX is also carried on the following satellite and broadcast translator stations to improve reception of the station:
|Call sign||Frequency||City of license||Facility ID||Class||ERP
|KPLI||90.1 FM||Olympia, Washington||91212||A||100||−17 m (−56 ft)|
|KVIX||89.3 AM||Port Angeles, Washington||91468||A||600||149 m (489 ft)|
|KPLK||88.9 FM||Sedro-Woolley, Washington||173038||A||730||47 m (154 ft)|
|City of license||Facility
|K265DP||100.9||Aberdeen, Washington||51200||FCC LMS|
|K204BI||88.7||Bellingham, Washington||51195||FCC LMS|
|K211AP||90.1||Centralia, Washington||51201||FCC LMS|
|K284BM||104.7||Longview, Washington||38908||FCC LMS|
|K288GG||105.5||Mount Vernon, Washington||51198||FCC LMS|
|K214FI||90.7||Raymond, Washington||51196||FCC LMS|
|K221FR||92.1||West Seattle, Washington||51202||FCC LMS|
|K244EV||96.7||Woodland, Washington||142359||FCC LMS|
The West Seattle translator serves portions of Seattle that are shielded by hilly terrain from the main KNKX signal.
- Ponnekanti, Rosemary (January 24, 2014). "Britten opera at PLU". Go. The News Tribune. p. 12 – via Newspapers.com.
- "PLU to Go On the Air On KPLU-FM". The News Tribune. November 13, 1996. p. A-5 – via Newspapers.com.
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1977 page C-227
- "PLU Says It Intends To Sell KPLU 88.5 FM To KUOW Public Radio". KUOW. November 12, 2015. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
- Kiley, Brendan (November 23, 2015). "'A kick in the teeth': KPLU advisory board opposes sale to KUOW". The Seattle Times. Retrieved November 24, 2015.
- Sailor, Craig (May 26, 2016). "Supporters of Tacoma-based KPLU reach $7 million mark in bid to buy station". The Olympian. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
- Kiley, Brendan (August 12, 2016). "KPLU renamed KNKX (pronounced 'connects')". The Seattle Times. Retrieved June 21, 2022.
- Connelly, Joel (August 12, 2016). "Listener-rescued KPLU public radio dons new call letters—KNKX". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved August 31, 2016.
- Kiley, Brendan (August 31, 2016). "KPLU officially begins broadcasting as KNKX". The Seattle Times. Retrieved August 31, 2016.
- Sailor, Craig (October 6, 2018). "Public radio station KNKX announces move to downtown Tacoma". The News Tribune. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
- 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.
- "KNKX unveils plan to relocate its Seattle studios" (Press release). KNKX. March 15, 2022. Retrieved June 21, 2022.