Tom Skerritt on TheFilmSchool’s growth and new home

With lips sunburned from a recent fly fishing trip in Jackson Hole and a baseball cap on his head, Tom Skerritt looked every bit the unassuming Seattleite sipping tea from his Starbucks mug last week.

And as he began talking and his enthusiasm grew, it was not to promote his own movie star projects, but to share the latest progress made by TheFilmSchool.

“TheFilmSchool has had a really great year,” Skerritt said.

I met Skerritt at the Madison Park Starbucks to catch up on

TheFilmSchool, the screenwriting program Skerritt helped found six years ago. I’ve kept in touch with Skerritt since attending TheFilmSchool several years ago to learn about script writing, and I’m always eager to hear about the school’s progress.

By Skerrit’s account, TheFilmSchool has never been stronger. Applicant numbers have been rising each year, and the school now has 350 graduates. TheFilmSchool will for the first time offer three separate three-week intensive sessions this year, up from two in years past. In addition, this summer marked the inaugural Prodigy Camp, a week-long summer program on Whidbey Island for teens.

Each of the adult sessions attracted 20 to 30 students, and Prodigy Camp hosted 15 kids. TheFilmSchool drew applicants from around the world, including Australia, Estonia, and the United Kingdom. Students receive instruction from Skerritt and fellow school founders Warren Etheredge, John Jacobsen, Rick Stevenson, and Stewart Stern.

TheFilmSchool is also gearing up for next year’s move into its own space. The school teamed up with the Seattle International Film Festival to lobby for city matching funds to renovate the Seattle Center’s Alki Room.

Construction will begin in October and wrap up next July. SIFF and TheFilmSchool will share office and classroom space and a film screening theater. Right now, SIFF has offices in South Lake Union and TheFilmSchool uses rooms in the Seattle Center’s Northwest Rooms and Center House.

Skerritt believes TheFilmSchool’s new shared space and partnership with SIFF will strengthen the local film community. SIFF’s mission to showcase quality films fits right with TheFilmSchool’s aims, Skerritt said.

“We can work together to legitimize the Seattle film community,” Skerritt said.

Skerritt and the school’s other founders started TheFilmSchool because they wanted to teach students how to become better story tellers, and produce the kind of scripts worth turning into films. At the time, Hollywood was bypassing Seattle as a filming venue for cheaper locations in Canada. If Seattle couldn’t attract movie projects, Skerritt and the rest of the team figured, the city needed to create its own.

Skerritt continues to make TheFilmSchool his priority, even though his life is hectic. He also juggles continued onscreen roles and his own screenwriting projects. Right now, Skerritt is trying to find funding to turn one of his screenplays into a feature film. The story surrounds a wounded World War II veteran passing on life knowledge to a young man.

In addition, Skerritt spends much of his time being a father to three-year-old Emiko. Skerritt, who also has grown children from his first marriage, adopted Emiko with his wife, Julie. Their quiet family life suits Skerritt well.

“I never thought I’d do fatherhood again, but here I am, and I absolutely love it,” Skerritt said.

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What I Read: Tom Skerritt

When I arranged an afternoon coffee session with actor, screenwriter, and TheFilmSchool teacher and founder Tom Skerritt, my main objective was finding out about progress and growth at the school. I realized, though, that I could also tap Skerritt for our weekly “What I Read” column. I wondered if Skerritt, who is part of the older generation yet remains in contact with young Hollywood, had embraced social media or any of the newer sources of information.

The answer is decidedly no. Skerritt doesn’t pay much attention to Facebook and Twitter, doesn’t spend much time online, and still prefers news delivery in old fashioned mediums. For this actor, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal are still the place to go.

What are your favorite local news outlets? Why?
PBS, Jim Lehrer, straight forward news. No local news outlet preference….

What do you consider “must reads” every day? Must watch? Must hear?
Try to read both NY Times and Wall Street Journal for balance and fuller reference on points of view….. Listening confined mostly to NPR, 88.5

Do you consume news through: print, television, radio, laptop, smart phone, ipad, podcasts, other?
Very little cyberspace interaction regarding news….

Do you use Facebook, LinkedIn, and/or Twitter for news and information?
I do not use any of these mediums, nor anything that requires my info.

What online news sites or aggregators do you visit regularly?
None.

Do you regularly visit any individual blogs for news, analysis and opinion?
No

Have your news consumption habits changed in the last few years? If so, how?
News consumption habits are unchanged, but the style of news broadcasting has.  Too much bullshit focus.

Do you read for fun? If so, what? Last novel you read? Non-fiction book?
I write too much to have draw to read.  Last book I read is Michael Lewis’ THE BIG SHORT.  With few exceptions, love non-fiction.

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Seattle developers release new open source tool to combat ballot fatigue

Image licensed under Creative Commons obtained on flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/demibrooke/2550349404/

A recent poll says that WA residents may be experiencing initiative overload. Here are two tools you can use to make better sense of your ballot, considering we have near record number of initiatives printed on it this year.

The first is a new website unveiled this week at Seattle City Club’s recent lunch event. It’s called the Living Voters Guide, and it’s funded by the National Science Foundation. Not only is the idea really cool with an easy to understand layout, it is also a multi-pronged tool that can be used to serve numerous roles.

1. To help educate voters on ballot initiatives, including Pros/Cons (you can fill in and share your own!), as well as your stance compared to others.

2. To grab valuable data on the initiative process itself.

The team behind the Living Voters Guide includes researchers at the Center for Communication and Civic Engagement at the University of Washington. I can’t say for certain what they will do with all this great data they are collecting (not just people’s opinions, but how long they spend forming those opinions) but I’m sure it can potentially reveal some key insights on how functional and democratic the initiative process is, (or perhaps isn’t).

3. To influence voters who would otherwise be undecided, and possibly recruit voters who would otherwise skip the initiative, feeling like they don’t know enough to make an informed decision.

I am also giving bonus thumbs up because The Living Voter Guide is built on an open source platform. Something new called ConsiderIt that apparently enables the creation of crowd interactive pro/con lists.

On top of that, a bonus bonus toes up because they have an easy to understand Privacy and Data collection policy that anonymizes the users IP address and Geolocation (through one way hash tag encryption), thus allowing people to contribute their opinions without worrying about retaliation for saying something controversial.

NEAT PROJECT! BEST OF LUCK FELLAS!

A second website to try is called BallotPedia.

It’s built with the same exact technology as the ever lovable Wikipedia, and functions just about the same.
Definitely worth an exploration.

Let us know about your experiences with these tools in the comments or over at our Community. I’m anxious to see how they are being adopted.

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David Gregory visits the “Other Washington”

David Gregory, Moderator, Meet The PressSomeone (probably a journalist) once said: “Journalists make the best company.”

David Gregory, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press” and longtime NBC White House correspondent, certainly was “good company” when he spoke to about 500 people at Seattle’s Town Hall on Sept. 21, at an event sponsored by CityClub.

(Full Disclosure: The Washington News Council was a co-presenter of the event, so I got in free, had an information table in the lobby, and handed out invitations to our annual Gridiron West Dinner. Was I co-opted? You decide.)

Gregory was charming, funny, engaging, informal, low-key, down-to-earth, sometimes provocative and occasionally enlightening. Just the kind of guy you’d like to have over for dinner — or at least have a glass of wine or a beer with.

Before a crowd of fairly friendly fans, being “interviewed” onstage by Jean Enersen, KING5’s iconic anchorwoman (who asked mostly softball questions), Gregory seemed to relax and enjoy himself.

Known as “the firebrand in the front row” when he was covering President
George W. Bush as part of the White House press corps, Gregory is now staking his claim as the likable-tough-guy successor to Tim Russert on “Meet the Press.” Like Russert, Gregory regular nails his guests with embarrassing quotes and clips from their past, demanding that they explain themselves on the air before a national audience.

But I sometimes wonder whether Gregory – or any journalist, for that matter – could stand up to the same kind of tough questioning about their own job performance. How solid were their decisions under pressure? What mistakes did they make? What biases influence their work? Do they confess when they are wrong and apologize? Do they ever show humility? Journalists love to hold others publicly accountable, but who holds them publicly accountable?

Enersen’s first question set the tone for the evening. Noting that Gregory was “so tall” (he’s 6’5”), she asked: “Why not the NBA? Why politics?

Gregory quipped: “I could have played baseball, but I just fell a little short.” (Laughter.) “My career in journalism started out with a love for the news….I wanted to cover the world and was really drawn to the big stories.”

Enersen asked if he “missed being the firebrand in the front row?” Modestly, Gregory said: “No. I did it for a long time.” Then he declared: “This [Meet the Press] is the ultimate front row. This is the ultimate job….We try to set the agenda. We try to move the story forward. We try to make news – and we do.”

In response to Enersen’s pretty bland questions, Gregory had some pretty bland answers:

On the economy: “This is not just a downturn…. There’s a deep psychological wound…. It may be a generational change….I think there’s a lot of people who are angry….People are just really uncertain….There’s a lack of optimism, a fear of the future.” (Anybody disagree?)

On the Tea Party: It’s a “populist, conservative, small-government, anti-Washington [D.C.] movement,” upset with “bailouts” and “too much deficit spending.” Also: “And a real antipathy toward Obama that in some cases is racism.” (Easy to say. Any clear evidence?)

On Barack Obama: “Certainly President Obama is not as popular as he would like to be – or as he was expected to be.” Gregory said Rahm Emanuel told Obama that he “had to get close to Bill Clinton,” and Obama did that. “President Obama is not going to be big enough to call on President Bush all that often.” (The guy he blames for everything?)

On political “polarization”: “We’ve always been polarized,” and that is “compounded by a media culture that has become increasingly polarized….I just don’t feel like constructive engagement with the other side is something that’s celebrated anymore….There’s a big political center in this country but we tend to write them off.” (This from the “firebrand in the front row” whose current show delights in conflict?)

On the media’s role: Meet the Press’s mission is “accountability, relevance, constructive engagement, thoughtful discussion. It’s a place to ‘put it all together.’” But, he lamented: “There ought to be more outlets where we’re really listening to each other, not waiting to pounce. We don’t have enough intellectual spontaneity. I like to see people really wrestling with issues.” (But what would that do to the ratings?)

On the “other Washington”: “I think that the farther you get from Washington [D.C.], the more things get clearer….There’s a game in Washington [D.C.] – it’s a company town: the lawyers, the journalists, the lobbyists, and the politicians….People outside Washington [D.C.] say, ‘That’s clearly not working.’” (Aren’t they right?)

On his work/family life: “I do have a certain amount of flexibility, because as my wife says, ‘You only work one hour a week.’ I like to point out that there’s at least three or four hours more that go into that.” (Actually, the guy probably does work pretty hard.)

On the Blogosphere: “I like to see what the Zeitgeist is in that community, but even with millions of people it’s a limited community. It can be an echo chamber. It can be partisan in one way or another….Is there some good reporting that goes on? Of course. But there’s also a whole lot of crap. It’s not a monolith.” (He’s right about that.)

On being well-informed: “We are in an information age where there’s so much information out there to be an informed citizen….There’s still a lot of good journalism that is helping us to be well-informed.” (Absolutely right about that.)

The Q-and-A session, when people lined up at a microphone to query Gregory, had some interesting moments.

On Jon Stewart’s upcoming “Rally to Restore Sanity”: “He’s a comedian, but he’s also got a point of view. I think what they do is serious. It’s not a joke.” However, “They are part of the media polarization.” As for Stewart: “He asks tough questions. He does a great job. I admire him a lot.” (Would he say the same of Glenn Beck?)

On former Associated Press (CORRECTION: Thomas worked for United Press International, and then for Hearst Newspapers) writer Helen Thomas: “I think Helen lost her way. I don’t know when that happened….I thought she was miscast as the ‘dean of the press corps.’ She was a polemicist. Her views in the press corps were well known.” (Oh, really? Then why weren’t they reported somewhere? Shouldn’t journalists “watchdog” each other, especially if one is anti-Semitic?)

On the “gotcha” tapes that he uses on the show: “I really don’t see those as ‘gotcha.’” (Oh, come on, David! That why people love the show!)

On Afghanistan: “American prestige is on the line” along with “the fate of radical Islam….If you allow Afghanistan to become a failed state again, all kinds of bad things could happen. The question is, at what cost are we going to keep pursuing it? We have a long history in that part of the world, but we have been incredibly short-sighted. We’re going to have a big combat presence there for a long time.” (Give him extra points for candor.)

On his personal politics: “I’m a registered Independent.” (And that settles that.)

On being in Seattle: “An evening like this for me is really constructive….The common sense outside of Washington [D.C.] is real.” He said people often ask him, “Aren’t you embarrassed that you’re working in a town where so little is accomplished?” (No.)

Will Gregory take any lessons back to the “other Washington”? Who knows? Once they’re inside the Beltway, journalists tend to fall into the same predictable patterns, conventional storylines, easy stereotypes, gross oversimplifications, crass sensationalism, and incessant scandal-mongering that have made many people angry…at the press.

Maybe D.C. journalists should get out more often. Meet the People, for a change.

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Real Change flooded with high caliber applicants for editor job

The last time Real Change hired an editor, their best candidate was an ambitious young journalist fresh out of college.

What a difference a decade makes. This time around, Real Change executive director Tim Harris has been flooded with applications from writers and editors with over 10 years of experience at daily newspapers. Thanks to one of the toughest job markets for Seattle journalists ever – not to mention Real Change’s own growth – Harris has no shortage of candidates to lead editorial operations at the paper. It seems many local journalists are eager to join an activist publication sold on the street by Seattle’s homeless population.

“This environment is bad for journalists but good for us,” Harris said. “The applicants we are attracting represent an opportunity for us to take the newspaper to the next level of professionalism.”

Harris is in the midst of the final round of interviews and plans to make a hiring decision soon. The new Real Change editor will replace Adam Hyla, who is leaving the paper after a decade to take a job as communications director at the Children’s Alliance.

The editor will join Real Change as the newspaper continues to grow, both in circulation and physical space. The newspaper moved from Belltown to larger digs in Pioneer Square in May.

Real Change needed to move because the office in Belltown could no longer accommodate 15 staff members and the increasing number of vendors, who now number about 350 each month. The vendors pay 35 cents a copy for the newspaper and then earn money by selling it for $1 apiece. Harris wanted quarters that would separate vendor services from newspaper production, and give everyone a bit of breathing room. A computer lab will allow for classes and training for vendors.

“The move was long overdue,” Harris said. “We no longer have the tension that comes from too many people in a packed space.”

The move proved more complicated than Harris had anticipated, as Pioneer Square community activists protested Real Change’s arrival. They asked the city to deny Real Change needed permits because they felt the neighborhood already played host to too many human service organizations. Harris pointed out that Real Change does not provide human services and never received complaints in Belltown.

In the end, law firm Davis Wright Tremaine took on Real Change’s case on a pro bono basis and convinced the Pioneer Square Community Association to drop the appeal. The matter finally reached resolution this month.

“The fight is very much done,” Harris said. “We’re moving on.”

Harris believes the new location and editor will help Real Change position itself as it continues to grow. The paper’s annual budget is now at $850,000, which comes largely from donations. Circulation has been rising by an average of 18 percent each year for the last four years, and is now at 18,000 a week.

Harris hopes to continue to grow Real Change’s reach by increasing online efforts. All of the top editor candidates bring web experience. Harris would like to see the paper add more audio, interviews, vendor blogging, and multimedia links to the web site.

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Frank Blethen promotes “openness, transparency, accountability”

Frank Blethen

Frank Blethen

Frank Blethen and The Seattle Times were awarded the 2010 James Madison Award by the Washington Coalition for Open Government at a breakfast Sept. 17 at The Conference Center in downtown Seattle.

The coalition is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to “promoting and defending the public’s right to know in matters of public interest and in the conduct of the public’s business.”

(Full disclosure: I am a member of the WCOG’s Advisory Council and was editorial writer and associate editorial-page editor at The Seattle Times from 1977-1990, when Frank Blethen was publisher.)

Frank’s acceptance speech was pretty interesting. The entire speech is worth reading and will be posted on The Seattle Times’ website soon.

For now, here are a few highlights:

“Good journalism, including the pursuit of all aspects of openness and transparency, is hard and often lonely work.”

“When the powerful and wealthy are permitted to operate without scrutiny and without accountability we become a nation whose government and economy are run by secretive elites.”

“For many reasons these are dangerous days for our nation. One of the root reasons is that we have lost our popular independent press.”

“[W]e have come under the control of monolithic corporate ownership. For the most part, they have turned our Watchdog into their Lapdog, leaving us in a dangerous vacuum of too many untold stories, too little scrutiny, and too little transparency.”

“Without openness, transparency and accountability, otherwise principled and moral people can succumb to illegal and immoral behavior.”

I was especially pleased to hear the words transparency, accountability and openness so many times, because I believe those are vital for news media organizations as well as government, business and other institutions.

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What I Read: Slade Gorton

Slade GortonThis week we asked Slade Gorton, former U.S. Senator and member of the 9/11 Commission, now an attorney with K&L Gates, what he’s reading these days. This is the third installment of a regular series in which we’re surveying prominent people around Seattle — authors, journalists, politicians, actors, chefs, and business leaders — to find out how their media consumption habits have evolved in recent years. Here are Gorton’s responses to our questions:

What are your favorite local and national news outlets?

The Seattle Times; KING5 TV; The Weekly Standard; Commentary; Claremont Review; word of mouth.

What do you consider “must reads” every day? Must watch? Must hear?

The Seattle Times and The Wall Street Journal. No TV every day. Also: WSJ, The Washington Post, Politico — all on line.

Do you consume news through: print, television, radio, laptop, smart phone, ipad, podcasts, other?

Print, TV, and desktop.

Do you use Facebook, LinkedIn, and/or Twitter for news and information?

No.

What online news sites or aggregators do you visit regularly?

The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Politico.

Do you regularly visit any individual blogs for news, analysis and opinion?

No.

Have your news-consumption habits changed in the last few years? If so, how?

Change from The New York Times to The Wall Street Journal.

Do you read for fun? If so, what? Last novel you read? Non-fiction book?

Several books at a time: spy and historical novels, history. Right now I’m reading Henry Clay: The Essential American by David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler; The Gettysburg Companion by Mark Adkin; The History of the Medieval World by Susan Bauer; and The Defector by Daniel Silva.

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Hanging with the journalists of tomorrow

On Thursday, fellow Seattle reporter Kirsten Grind and I led a session on blogging at the University of Washington Journalism Day.

The annual daylong seminar, sponsored by the Washington Journalism Education Association, draws high school journalism students from around the state. The 800 participating teens could opt to attend sessions on everything from opinion writing to media ethics to news reporting.

In our classroom, Kirsten and I wanted to share with students how to write a blog, how to draw readers to a blog, and how to get paid to blog. Both of us blog professionally – I for the Washington News Council and running publications, and Kirsten for the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Before the class arrived, we commented to each other how such a session would not have existed when we were in high school. Even though we are both still relatively young in the professional world (age 31), the word blog hadn’t even been invented when we graduated from high school in 1997. I remember a class at my alma mater, Shorewood High School, called “What Is the Internet?”

Not so with the high school students we faced. Kirsten and I opened the session by asking where they found their news. The first response was Twitter and the second Facebook. NPR online, National Geographic online, and The New York Times online came later. Few students said they picked up a print newspaper. I immediately thought that if I asked a room of individuals my father’s age the same question, Twitter and Facebook would not likely appear at the top of the responses, if at all.

Kirsten and I also found many of the students were already immersed in the world of blogs, but more for personal reasons than news consumption. Most reported reading blogs written by their friends and acquaintances, or as one student put it, “blog stalking.” When they venture into blogs created by strangers, the sites most likely revolve around food, fashion, or music. The students saw blog reading as something fun to satisfy their own interests and curiosities.

While few students now read or produce news blogs, discussion indicated this may be soon coming. Just one group of students, from Roosevelt High School, currently produces a blog for their school newspaper. They said they regularly post short news updates, quirky features, multimedia clips, and other content that wouldn’t fit well in the print edition.

While the Roosevelt group were the only ones already news blogging, a number of other students said their high school newspaper staffs were beginning to discuss starting a blog. They expressed interest in learning about how to write an effective blog and how to maximize page views.

For Kirsten and me, the session provided an interesting window into the mentality of today’s high school students. I have no doubt that blogging will become a bigger part of high school journalism in short time, as these students are already so tech savvy and equipped to do so. Once they graduate, those same skills will no doubt be invaluable in the rapidly changing media world.

As if to further drive home the above observations, I noticed while preparing to post this blog on Friday morning that one of the students from yesterday had sent Kirsten and me a note. Via Twitter.

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What I Read: James Keblas

This week, we chatted with James Keblas, director of the City of Seattle Film and Music Office, about what he’s reading these days. We found Keblas is, appropriately, a bit of a news junkie and willing and eager to embrace new technology.

This is the second installment of a regular series we plan to run. We’re surveying prominent people around Seattle — authors, journalists, politicians, actors, chefs, and business leaders — to find out how their reading and media consumption habits have evolved in recent years.

Keblas’ answers seem to jibe with a new Pew Research Center survey showing that people are consuming more news now than ever, and finding that news from a more diverse array of sources. Here’s a link to a Washington Post article on the survey.

Below are Keblas’ responses to questions about what he reads:

1. What are your favorite local news outlets? Why?

My favorite places to read daily local news are all on the web.  I can’t remember the last time I picked up an actual paper.  When I get up in the morning I make an espresso and read through about 10 different blogs sites, including Publicola, neighborhood blogs, The Stranger, Puget Sound Business Journal, etc.

2. What do you consider “must reads” every day? Must watch? Must hear?

If you care about local politics, then Publicola is a must read.  Very little gets by that team.  Working in a public office, it is great reading Publicola because it’s like a City Hall/ Olympia newsletter.  I don’t always agree with them but I like their coverage.

3. Do you consume news through: print, television, radio, laptop, smart phone, ipad, podcasts, other?

NPR is a must for me first thing in the morning.  It’s like getting my daily news read to me by Burl Ives.  Great long, in-depth stories presented without shouting and no commercials (yes, I am a member).  My wife loves MSNBC so we watch that sometimes in the evening.  I have an iPhone so it’s really easy for me to get all my news and information all day long where ever I am.

4. Do you use Facebook, LinkedIn, and/or Twitter for news and information?

I use social networking personally and professionally to disseminate information, but to be honest I don’t read it much.

5. What online news sites or aggregators do you visit regularly?

For the most part I use Google Reader and let everything come to me.

6. Do you regularly visit any individual blogs for news, analysis and opinion?

Huffington Post is a good aggregator so I occasionally check it out.  I am a major technophile so also read sites like Engadget, Wired, Fast Company and Gizmodo to fill that fix.

7. Have your news consumption habits changed in the last few years? If so, how?

I used to religiously read the Seattle Times and the Seattle PI daily because those were the best sources.  I still read them and think they play an important role, but I go to many other sites beforehand now.

8. Do you read for fun? If so, what? Last novel you read? Non-fiction book?

I have to read for fun otherwise I risk becoming one of those people who take relatively unimportant things too seriously.   I don’t trust people who only read serious news and non-fiction.  They don’t have perspective or imagination.  To keep my sense of humor in shape I read The Onion, The Stranger and Stewart/Colbert.  To keep my imagination in shape, I subscribe to Yanko Design and read Kerri Harrop’s blog, generalbonkers.com.  I also try to keep a fiction book going at all times.  Right now I am reading all of Jonathan Troppers books.  He is insightful, funny and an eloquent writer.  I just finished the book, This is Where I Leave You.  Highly recommended.

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KING-FM hard at work to build nonprofit

On the air at KING-FM 98.1, classical music continues to play 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Just like always.

Behind the scenes, though, station staff members are hard at work to transform KING from a commercial venture to a listener-supported station.

Beginning next July, KING-FM will no longer operate on advertising dollars. At that time, the station’s seven-year commercial partnership with Fisher Communications ends. KING decided against renewing the relationship.

In September, KING plans to kick off its first major capital campaign. The station will approach major donors with the goal of raising an initial $2 million. KING is also already in the process of becoming a 501c3 and obtaining a nonprofit radio license from the FCC.

Next year, the station will start appealing to listeners for donations. KING-FM is still developing a target fundraising goal for audience pledges.

According to KING general manager Jennifer Ridewood, the station first started contemplating breaking ties with advertisers last year. Ridewood took a road trip to visit listener-supported classical stations in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, Washington D.C., and North Carolina.

She found that the stations were thriving on donations, even during the recession. While grant funding dipped when the economy took a nosedive, listener support did not.

Classical music stations work with the nonprofit model, Ridewood said, because the typical listener – an affluent individual age 55 or older – is the sort most likely to make a donation. Advertisers, on the other hand, prefer a far younger audience, meaning they’re less likely to want to support a classical station than the listeners themselves.

“We have a great demographic because they are committed to their community and classical music,” Ridewood said.

Ridewood also talked to Seattle NPR stations KUOW and KPLU, both of whom expressed support for the idea. The station managers told Ridewood that Seattleites are eager and willing to support radio they care about.

In April, the KING-FM board voted to become a nonprofit. Since then, in addition to building the future financial structure, the station has launched ventures that Ridewood feels befit the listener-supported model.

At the end of July, KING-FM started the Arts Channel. The station records interviews and conversations with musicians and arts groups and streams them online. KING-FM also began a larger push to record live music. The station plays some of the shows on the air, and puts others on the web site. Both Arts Channel and the live music initiative came about because of listener feedback and requests, Ridewood said.

This is the first time in KING-FM’s lengthy history that the station will attempt to be supported by listeners. The commercial venture dates back to 1947, when Dorothy Bullitt started the KING radio and television broadcasting empire.

Dorothy Bullitt

In 1995, Bullitt’s two daughters donated KING-FM to the nonprofit Beethoven. At that time, KING-FM teamed up with commercial communications company Entercom, allowing the radio giant to sell ads for them.

When that agreement ran out seven years ago, KING paired up with Fisher. Now, KING-FM is venturing out on its own, and creating the next chapter for classical radio in Seattle.

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