Tuesday, June 18, 2019

KING FM and Seattle Opera under one roof

KING FM announcers, Lisa Bergman host of Explore Music, and Mike Brooks, host of Musical Chairs, pose in front of their future work space — The Opera Center, Seattle Opera's civic home. Both opera company and classical music radio station will remain separate organizations while sharing the same building. Shane Welch photo

KING FM 98.1 leases 4,000-square-feet in Seattle Opera’s new civic home 

In a time when many arts organizations are struggling to stay afloat, two companies dedicated to classical music have found a way not only to survive, but to thrive. Beginning in early 2020, Seattle Opera and KING FM 98.1 will be housed under one roof: the opera’s civic home on the Seattle Center campus. While the Opera Center was completed in December 2018, the second-floor office has remained intentionally vacant. Seattle Opera General Director Aidan Lang said the company was looking for an organization to rent the space who shared a similar vision and mission. With a long history of working together, (such as broadcasts of McCaw Hall performances), KING FM was the ideal match, Lang said. This fall, a new radio broadcast facility will be constructed on the opera’s second floor.
“We have worked closely with Seattle Opera for years, and look forward to finding more opportunities to collaborate once we are only a floor apart,” said KING FM CEO Brenda Barnes. “We are thrilled to be moving into this beautiful space, and to be in such close proximity to one of our most important partners.”

One example of a future collaboration will include live, Friday-night broadcasts from one of the opera’s rehearsal studios.

Through this new agreement, Seattle Opera is helping to secure its future through rental income that will fund the ongoing costs of operating its $60 million building.

The opera is providing higher quality space than KING FM could construct on its own, helping KING continue to build audience for the art form.

With no need to purchase a ticket, figure out what to wear, travel to the performance venue, or worry about when to clap, classical radio stations are the easiest way for people to give classical music a try. (In fact, only 15 percent of the KING FM audience has ever attended a classical concert). Additionally, the station includes 46,000 listeners under 35 and 7,600 listeners under 11. People of Color also make up a significant demographic of who tunes in each week. (For example, KING FM could fill McCaw Hall seven times over with listeners who identify as African-American and Latinx). In terms of socioeconomic diversity, 30,000 listeners are people with annual incomes under $35,000.

“Seattle Opera and KING FM believe that stronger collaboration is critical to the success and sustainability of the major arts institutions in Seattle,” Lang said. “With this agreement, we are creating a more viable future for performance, music, and civic engagement in this community.”