KNKX Is Moving Its South Sound Studios To Downtown Tacoma | KNKX

KNKX Is Moving Its South Sound Studios To Downtown Tacoma

Oct 10, 2018

KNKX Public Radio is moving its South Sound studios to the heart of Tacoma's Theater District.

The station, which broadcasts local news, jazz, blues, and NPR programming, has launched a campaign to raise $6 million to renovate a space in downtown Tacoma. The funds will also be used to expand the station's presence in Seattle, where most of its newsroom is based.

KNKX, formerly known as KPLU, has until the end of June to move its South Sound studios from the campus of Pacific Lutheran University. The station faced the prospect of closure in 2015, when the university moved to sell the station's broadcasting license to public radio station KUOW.

But supporters organized a "Save KPLU" campaign and raised $8 million in a matter of months to buy the station's independence. Renamed KNKX, the station is now governed by the nonprofit Pacific Public Media.

KNKX general manager Joey Cohn said the station's leaders faced a choice: whether to maintain a presence in the Tacoma area or consolidate offices in Seattle.

KNKX general manager Joey Cohn at an event unveiling the station's soon-to-be Tacoma studios on Oct. 10, 2018
Credit Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

"For me what it all came down to is after a 50-year history in Tacoma, it didn't feel right to leave," Cohn said.

"Certainly, it was the emotional connection that listeners had with us that saved the station," he added. "So for us to leave Tacoma, that just didn't feel right to me, personally."

The move to downtown Tacoma will allow the station to increase news coverage of the South Sound region, as well as collaborations with arts and music organizations, Cohn said.

The C.N. Gardner building in downtown Tacoma
Credit Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

The building selected to house the station's Tacoma studios and offices is located on Broadway, across from Tacoma's Broadway Center for the Performing Arts and close to the Tacoma School of the Arts.

Known as the C.N. Gardner Building, it was home to a newspaper called The Ledger in the 1800's. In the early 1900's, it housed a music conservatory.

KNKX invited members of the community to tour the building Wednesday.

"It's a very large space with very, very high ceilings," said KNKX director of content Matt Martinez. "The reason I was drawn to that was because a big part of our mission is to invite people in, is to make people feel like this radio station is, in some ways, a home."