KPLU finds success by focusing on local jazz scene

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The Kareem Kandi Band is now performing in the #kplu studio. Tune in now to 88.5 to listen.

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Seattle jazz, blues and NPR news station KPLU has been finding success of late as it puts its focus back on the city’s jazz scene, according to a Sunday Seattle Times feature.

KPLU has stepped up efforts to court jazz fans in Seattle and around the world under a new initiative spearheaded by General Manager Joey Cohn. But since taking over as g.m. last year, Cohn has increased local jazz on the station, most notably by bumping KPLU’s Studio Sessions from a monthly to a weekly schedule.

On its website, KPLU, a service of Pacific Lutheran University, touts jazz first among its offerings: “We pride ourselves as being the region’s leading source of jazz, blues, and in-depth local and national news, 24 hours a day.”

And the Times reports that the jazz-centric approach seems to be paying off for the station:

KPLU had its most successful year in history from June 2014 to June 2015, with income of $7 million, said Cohn — a 20 percent increase over the previous year. And while Nielsen ratings still show KPLU bested by local NPR competitor KUOW for weekly share of radio listeners (4.1 to 2.7), the stations were just about neck and neck in 2014 for weekly listenership, with KPLU at 301,000 and KUOW at 306,000.