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Not too jazzed about the KPLU sale?

Upcoming fundraiser provides opportunity to do something about it

Maia Santell (pictured) and House Blend are just one of the acts donating their talents to Save KPLU. Photo credit: Gary Grape

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Pacific Lutheran University plans to sell its public radio station, 88.5 FM KPLU - a fixture in the South Sound community since 1966 - to the University of Washington. In turn, UW reportedly intends to fold that station into its own radio station, KUOW, effectively shutting down KPLU and leaving an automated streaming jazz track in its place.

This sale would also make some 28 members of the KPLU staff redundant and jobless. According to Stephen Tan, former chair of KPLU's Advisory Council and current chair of the governing board of Friends of 88.5 FM, that's just one of the reasons that the proposed sale is unacceptable.

"Selling the station to KUOW would mean no more local news coverage and no more public affairs coverage," said Tan. In short, KPLU would lose everything that makes it KPLU. No heart, no soul, no community - and in its place would be little better than a cold, lifeless jazz-playing robot, he said.

Possibly, the silver lining to KPLU going up for sale is that anyone can buy it, provided they have $7 million by June 30. UW has that, and the Friends of KPLU is very close to having that - just north of $6 million according to Gary W. Grape, director of events for the Tacoma Events Commission. Of course, keeping the community radio station in the community is going to take help from the community.

Friends of 88.5 FM is hosting a "Save KPLU" fundraising event at The Swiss May 11 at 7 p.m. The Friends have assembled a great lineup of acts for the event, including the Billy Shew Band, the John Hodgkin Group, and Maia Sentell and House Blend. (The latter of which also performed at this year's Gray Sky Blues Music Festival. If you missed them there, here's your second chance.) Attendance is free, but donations to the "Save KPLU" campaign will be accepted. It's a chance to paint the town, rouge your knees, roll your stockings down, give back to your community, and all that jazz.

"SAVE KPLU" FUNDRAISING EVENT, Wednesday, May 11, 7-10 p.m., The Swiss Restaurant and Pub, 1904 S. Jefferson Ave., www.kplu.org/save-kplu

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