Listener Supported Radio – Who is Guilty of Not Supporting?

I’m a music guy. I don’t play it. I can’t read it, but shuuuute do I like listening to it. I like music so much that I listen to it all day long at my desk. Although I bolster a digital music collection of over 30 gigs, I still get tired of my own stuff. As a result, when I’m listening to music at work I tune into a great little radio station out of Seattle, Wa — KEXP. Yes, the internet is amazing — I live in Boston, but will only listen to a Seattle radio station.

KEXP is an independent radio station hosted by a couple of great personalities and backed by the coolest music from all over the world. You like alternative rock? You like the classics? You dig hip-hop? You have the patience for Bjork? It doesn’t matter, you have come to the right place and people are figuring it out. Over 22K people visited KEXP.org last month — with the majority of those users listening in a city that does not sport the Space Needle.

The beauty of KEXP is that they play what they feel like playing. They have no corporate sponsors to please and they have no relationship with Clear Channel. However, this freedom comes at a cost"¦ They rely almost solely on listener donations to support the station. To raise money every six months they have "Drive Week" where they ask listeners to "join KEXP" from $5-$500. People from all over the nation donate and as a result they keep the tunes playing. The only downer about KEXP’s system is that people like me, who listen religiously to the station, can’t stand drive week. The DJs keep squawking about donating, they cut playlists short to beg for money and when they aren’t asking for donations they are thinking of how to ask for donations. I’m not complaining — it’s a necessary evil of their great station — but I admit that I’m forced to stop listening for the week. Which is the real purpose of this post"¦. How many people stop listening during Drive Week?

Unfortunately I don’t have the answer YET. Drive week was just last week, so I need the data to come rolling in. I’m going to update this post in a few weeks to trend the volume of listeners, so we know how many are faithful enough to fight through the squawking and how many people are like me and bail. (I would like to note that I did not donate during the drive, because I donated independently on a non-Drive Week.).

If you check KEXP.org while reading this and do not like it you should check out live365.com – a radio search portal of sorts. Over half a million people use live365.com each month to find the best radio stations on the web. However, if I were in charge of live365 I would have one link and one link only and it would go to straight to kexp.org without passing GO"¦ but, that’s just me.

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