An email obtained by Current reveals that leaders at Seattle’s KUOW were already inclined to discontinue Jazz24, the streaming music service operated by KPLU, as early as last fall.
The future of Jazz24 is in question as KPLU in Tacoma, Wash., aims to raise $7 million to buy its independence and avert a sale to KUOW. The University of Washington, KUOW’s licensee, announced in November that it intended to buy KPLU from Pacific Lutheran University. But PLU later agreed to give the station a chance to match the University of Washington’s offer.
Meanwhile, KUOW has moved ahead with developing its own jazz programming, raising questions about why it wouldn’t plan on using KPLU’s Jazz24 instead. But KUOW was considering the fate of Jazz24 even before the KPLU sale was announced.
“It’s almost assured that we won’t continue Jazz24 syndication, post-acquisition,” wrote KUOW General Manager Caryn Mathes in a Nov. 6 email to David Marriott, the station’s public relations representative.
Mathes said Jazz24 lacked a “sound business vision.” “I’m unimpressed by the money — they’re upside-down on what they spend to make the service,” she wrote. Mathes also questioned the musical selection of Jazz24: “I agree with … some listeners to Jazz24 that it’s kind of an uncompelling ‘shuffle play,” she wrote.
In an email sent the same day, Donna Gibbs, Pacific Lutheran University’s v.p. of marketing and communications, had touted Jazz24’s successes, including its monthly cume of nearly 300,000 listeners, 400,000 followers on TuneIn, and about $120,000 in annual revenue from fund drives and affiliates.
“As traditional media consumption platforms continue to go through radical change, KPLU has been working hard to build a digital strategy, and I think they’ve made some very good headway with Jazz24,” Gibbs wrote.
But Mathes appeared unconvinced, asking her staffers if they saw “anything here that would make it worth the back-breaking lift” to continue Jazz24 while also taking over KPLU.
The email was obtained through a public records request by a source who provided it to Current.
A KUOW spokesperson told Current that KUOW will continue Jazz24 for at least 90 days if the acquisition of KPLU goes through. “No decision about the future of the service beyond that has been made,” the spokesperson said.
Read the email:
Related stories from Current:
- Future of KPLU’s popular jazz stream hinges on fundraising campaign
- Community group cites value of reduced staff costs in bid for KPLU
- KPLU launches $7 million campaign to survive as independent station