Classical KING FM 98.1 is the primary institution developing new audiences for classical music and the arts in Seattle, Bellevue, and the Puget Sound Region. Listener-supported KING FM is located at Seattle Center with a mission to make classical music accessible for everyone in the community and to advocate for the arts in our region.
In addition to creating programming that offers everyone in the region an opportunity to make classical music and the arts a part of daily life, Classical KING FM partners with arts and culture organizations of all size and scope in the region. We offer broadcast performances of local concerts as well as an opportunity for local musicians to perform on our signature Friday evening program Northwest Focus LIVE. The Northwest Focus Concert Calendar offers listeners the opportunity to learn more about concerts and events to encourage them to deepen their involvement with classical music and the arts by attending and supporting the excellent performing organizations the region boasts.
Teachers and parents use Classical KING FM to introduce children to classical music, and the station has additional programs to supplement this important work. Through our popular Instrument Petting Zoos, the annual Young Artist Awards competition, and other partnerships, KING FM provides support for arts education in the region.
We are proud of the rich history of the station, which was founded by broadcasting pioneer Dorothy Stimson Bullitt in 1948. After Dorothy’s death, her daughters Patsy Bullitt Collins and Harriett Bullitt donated the station to a nonprofit to ensure the station continued to serve the region. Their concept was that the community would support the station going forward. KING FM operated as a commercial classical station until 2011 when it became a classical public radio station.
More than 15,000 members are supporters of Classical KING FM, helping to pave the way for a bright future for the station, and bringing the richness of classical music to diverse audiences in the rapidly growing Puget Sound Region.
The Classical KING FM Commitment to Diversity
KING FM recognizes that the music we refer to as “classical” comes from a predominantly white Western music tradition and was written for the church or commissioned by wealthy, white patrons. Despite the brilliant work of composers and performers of color, classical music remains predominantly white, as a result of its history and structural racism. There is still much work toward change for all of us in the field to undertake.
Often, people think the way to diversify classical music is to include World music or other genres. Many other cultures have their own forms of classical music. We recognize and respect these traditions, which listeners can explore on World music stations and streams. Radio, as a medium, works best when stations have focused formats. Listeners, even those with eclectic tastes, want consistency, so they know where to turn for the specific music or news they are seeking. Part of our specific focus is to make the Western classical music tradition we program meaningful to anyone who listens. There are documented physiological and psychological benefits to listening to classical music, and we want to make those benefits accessible to everyone. Our goal is to make our station a warm, welcoming place for people of all backgrounds and cultures to explore music with us.
In recognition of the lack of diversity in our field and within our own organization, Classical KING FM commits to an action agenda for change, including, but not limited to:
- Ensuring diversity in the recordings we present on air. We are limited by music rights agreements of the existing recorded repertoire. The classical recording industry has not been focused on diversity; therefore, we also commit to advocating within the industry for the needed diversity in available recordings.
- Committing to build pipelines for diversity in both our station staff and our board of directors.
- Bringing diverse perspectives into our organization and including diverse voices through community partnerships as we work on these changes.
- Collaborating with music educators in our region to provide access to music education for all children. Access to music education begins in school for many children. In order to have diversity in the field as a whole, we need to give all children the opportunity to fall in love with classical music and the arts.
Classical KING FM commits to real and lasting change. To reach our short and long term goals, we will hold ourselves accountable over time by making diversity, equity, and inclusion a key strategic priority, developing an action plan to move us forward, and finding metrics to measure our progress. Our work will be driven and monitored by The Social Action Committee of the Classical 98.1 Board of Directors, although this work is the responsibility of everyone involved in the organization.