KEXP: your civic duty calls, people.
That's right, KEXP.
Why should you donate? Well, corporate radio sucks. On your typical commercial radio station, the DJs don't program their own music--they get a playlist that's dictated by advertisers and record labels. (And DON'T EVEN get me started on this "Jack FM" format--there are no DJs, just a playlist on "shuffle", and they're taking over stations all across the country. Now Seattle is lucky enough to have its very own Jack station.) What happens if you call in a request to these commercial stations? If it's not on their pre-approved list, it doesn't get played. I was listening to KEXP this morning, and some guy wrote in and wanted to hear a The The song. The next thing you know, it's playing. I still remember the first song I requested from KEXP (over email from my cubicle in Belmont, MA). It was Califone's "Bottles and Bones (Shade & Sympathy)," and Stevie Zoom emailed me back and played the song within 15 minutes.
Most commercial radio stations have playlists of a few hundred songs (if that). KEXP has a music library with zillions of CDs and vinyl records (an exact measurement is actually over 24,000)--that's right, they still play vinyl. In the span of an hour this morning, they played the Wrens, A Tribe Called Quest, Calexico, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, and Camper Van Beethoven. Where else can that happen? (Besides your [my] iPod?)
Okay, they play lots of different kinds of music--so what? Well, they also support local bands (they play local music every day, and the Audioasis show on Saturday nights exclusively plays local music). They support bands on independent labels that never have a chance of being played on a big commercial station. And, as a result, they support the independent record labels (because people buy the bands' CDs) and small concert venues (because that's where the bands are playing). There's also a different artist performing a live in-studio 4 to 5 times per week.
Like I said, I used to listen to KEXP from my cubicle in MA. That's one of the greatest things about this station--they have a live online stream (with real-time playlist!) 24 hours a day. This means that people from all over the world are able to listen, but it also costs money. All those servers and technical people to do the programming--they're not free. And now they're getting into podcasting!
I've loved KEXP for years, but now that I actually live in Seattle, I realize what an awesome station it is and how it really does contribute a ton to this city.
Anyway, you can pledge online, but you can also call in to donate (206-903-KEXP or 866-903-KEXP). And if you call tomorrow or Friday between 6 am and 2 pm PST, ask for me and I'll take your pledge! I LOVE answering the phones during the pledge drive. Free donuts and cupcakes and the chance to meet my favorite DJ (swoon). And it's pretty awesome to talk to all of the people who call to donate. Two pledge drives ago I spoke with Ron Reagan Jr's wife!
I know there are more important causes out there, but I think KEXP rocks. And I think you should too.