KEXP – Powering Up at Seattle Center

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I am proud to say that “I power KEXP.”

KEXP taught me that Fleet Foxes are not indigenous to Discovery Park and Built to Spill is not a code violation. Great music truly does build great community. That’s why it’s so exciting that this listener-powered radio station, which started out in UW’s MacMahon Hall almost 30 years ago, might soon find a new home on Seattle Center’s campus.

You may recall that in December of 2010, I joined Mayor McGinn and Seattle Center Director Robert Nellams in announcing the plan for KEXP to have a new studio at Seattle Center.  Over the last nine months, KEXP and Seattle Center have worked to negotiate a mutually agreeable lease. At yesterday’s special meeting of the Parks & Seattle Center Committee, Seattle Center and Council Central Staff led an initial briefing and discussion of the proposed lease agreement legislation.

If the agreement is approved, KEXP will enter into a 30 year lease with Seattle Center. The initial lease term is for 10 years with four possible 5-year renewal options. Construction will begin sometime after The Next Fifty celebration ends in November 2012.

The new facility, to be built within the existing Northwest Rooms space, will house the station’s studios, broadcast equipment and administrative offices. As an addition, a new outdoor stage will be constructed adjacent to the project to offer year-round performances in the courtyard. The new stage will be used by Seattle Center for major festivals like Bumbershoot and Folklife.

KEXP will raise all the capital funds necessary to redevelop the facilities and, once occupied, KEXP bears all operational and most maintenance responsibilities for the new space.

Public benefits include free public access to live music – over 400 live performances a year – and free tours of its broadcast studios. KEXP has also committed to partnerships with Seattle Public Schools, Seattle Public Library, the Vera Project, the University of Washington, Seattle Channel, EMP, and more.

In addition, the installation of KEXP will augment the adjacent Vera Project and the soon-to-open SIFF Film Center to complete the arts & music row provided along August Wilson Way on the campus. Thus, adding to the vibrant arts and culture activity that already exists at Seattle Center.

The Parks & Seattle Center Committee will reconvene on September 22nd for another special committee meeting. The lease legislation is up for further discussion and a possible vote.

We’ll soon see if Council powers KEXP.