KPLU crowdsources search for new call letters

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KPLU in Tacoma, Wash., is going back to the community that helped save it for help coming up with new call letters.

As part of its agreement with Pacific Lutheran University, which owns KPLU and is transferring it to a community group pending FCC approval, the station must change its call letters. Jazz host Dick Stein suggested going to listeners for ideas, according to Joey Cohn, g.m.

Crowdsourcing the new name was “very much in line with the entire theme of the campaign, in that it was about the community becoming personally involved to Save KPLU,” Cohn said.

In a campaign unprecedented in public radio, KPLU raised $7 million in five months, a month before its deadline, to gain its independence from PLU. More than 18,000 donors contributed.

The station started the campaign for call letter suggestions last week and has already received more than 1,200 ideas. The person who submits the winning entry will be the first to read the new name on the air. It will accept entries until Sunday.

By turning to listeners, “we already have some very creative possibilities that we would not have thought of inside KPLU,” Cohn said.

But the ultimate decision about the name will fall to KPLU management.

“We don’t want to put it up for a vote because of recent naming episodes that went awry, including Boaty McBoatface,” Cohn said, referring to a ship that the British government sought to name by online voting.

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