Fans of Seattle’s KEXP can show their support for the station in a unique way: using a station-branded debit card designed to look like a cassette tape.
The station teamed up with the Boeing Employees’ Credit Union, a longtime sponsor, to offer the card. For each purchase made with the card, BECU donates one cent to KEXP.
“The cassette-tape design of the debit card has become a conversation starter at checkout lines and venues, as well as a friendly connection when cardholders see other cardholders using the card,” said Deane Sienega, KEXP’s associate director of sponsor engagement and partnerships.
According to Sienega, KEXP has received $748,000 through the debit card program from March 2020, when it launched, to December 2022. Of those donations, over $400,000 were made in 2022 alone. BECU gives the money to KEXP in twice-yearly payments.
More than 167,000 members of BECU have signed up to use the KEXP card, which was created at no cost to the station.
The station and BECU have a long relationship. The credit union became a KEXP sponsor two decades ago and went on to support station events. It brought the idea of a debit card to KEXP and assigned a partnership manager to oversee the program.
Residents of Washington and parts of Idaho and Oregon are eligible for a BECU membership to set up their KEXP debit card and do not have to be prior donors to the station to be eligible. KEXP supporters across the country can also get the cards through a BECU membership.
According to Sienega, BECU and KEXP emphasize promoting the card through the station’s live in-studio performances. The two organizations recently promoted the card through the release of Live at KEXP Volume 10: Limited Vinyl Release, a 19-track double album released on Bandcamp that also celebrated the station’s 50th anniversary.
KEXP is the only media outlet BECU has worked with to create such a debit card program. For its part, KEXP is unaware of any other public media organizations that have pursued a debit card partnership.
It’s rare for a station and a potential partner on a debit card to have aligned missions and sufficient trust, Sienega said. “But if the same authenticity and alignment is cultivated between other banks and media, then it may be something to explore,” she said.