KUOW plans new jazz service in advance of possible KPLU purchase

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Seattle’s KUOW announced Monday that it is piloting a new 24/7 jazz service to prepare for its potential purchase of KPLU.

KUOW will unveil a preview of the new service, Planet Jazz, Monday at kuow.org and on an HD Radio channel. Steve Williams, previously program director at WBGO in Newark, N.J., designed the new service.

In a press release, Williams described Planet Jazz as “a comprehensive expression of the art form, covering all of the bases from the instantly recognizable trumpet of Louis Armstrong to the groundbreaking fusion of Esperanza Spalding, and everything in between.”

KUOW is launching the service as KPLU tries to raise $7 million to buy its independence from Pacific Lutheran University, which announced plans in November to sell the station to the University of Washington, KUOW’s licensee. A community group has raised $3.67 million and has until June 30 to reach its goal.

“It is KUOW’s responsibility to the many thousands of radio listeners in the region to be immediately ready to deliver the highest quality service possible,” KUOW’s press release said. “The preview of Planet Jazz is intended to generate feedback from an interested community of jazz and blues music lovers and is not intended to overshadow the efforts of the community group.”

A spokesperson for KUOW told Current that the station has not determined whether the new jazz service will go forward if the community group ultimately buys the license for KPLU.

KUOW will no longer broadcast BBC World Service and World Radio Network on its HD channels and is shutting down one HD channel to provide extra bandwidth for the new jazz service.

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