Over the course of its 50-year history, KEXP has evolved from a shoddy college radio station into a renowned multimedia organization with a global audience. As the Seattle Institute crosses the half-century mark, a number of changes have taken place in recent years.
Following the recent departure of longtime CEO and Executive Director Tom Mara, a new independent radio bastion leader has been selected to oversee the next chapter in KEXP’s evolution. Ethan Raup, who served as KEXP’s Chief Operating Officer for the past six years, has been named its new president and CEO.
“I think we’re on an incredible path now,” said Raup, who will officially begin his new gig on July 1. “I feel good about the role I’ve played in getting us on that path, and I’m so excited about the next steps I know we can take.”
Raup’s hire follows a six-month international search to replace Mara, who was recently named executive director of the Seattle International Film Festival. In a press release announcing Raup’s selection, he praised his work addressing pay equality at the station, technology investments targeting a digital audience, and his efforts in programming change that helped bring a more diverse set of voices across the organization. elevate.
Despite the loss of its leader over the past 30 years, the search committee was initially not concerned with maintaining a sense of continuity at the top of the organization, said Jill Singh, chairman of KEXP’s board of directors. During the interview process, Raup constantly brought new ideas and demonstrated “a style of leadership that we knew we were looking for,” she said. His knowledge of the inner workings of the station and ‘the journey the organization has made’ eventually became an extra bonus in the eyes of the board, which Raup chose unanimously.
“Ultimately, Ethan is an active leader within KEXP and gets things done,” Singh said. “He’s very action-oriented and that told us, given the evidence of that over the past few years, that we really knew what he could do.”
Prior to joining KEXP more than eight years ago, Raup gained extensive experience in local government under the leadership of former Seattle Mayors Mike McGinn and Norm Rice, as well as former King County Executive Ron Sims.
In the coming months, Raup plans to begin a strategic planning process with “wide engagement” among staff and community members to find ways to reach new listeners and better serve KEXP’s existing audience, among others. others through its radio/online broadcast and the popular YouTube channel. KEXP also ventured into podcasting, first with its thoughtful “Sound & Vision” series and the recent “Fresh Off the Spaceship,” a deep-rooted limited series exploring the Seattle-based Black Constellation collective.
Two years ago, KEXP reconfigured its prime-time weekday schedule, previously filled with mostly white, male DJs, and created slots for Larry Mizell Jr. and Gabriel Teodros, two respected veterans in the Seattle music community. The station also added the “Overnight Afrobeats” show and promoted Albina Cabrera to a full-time role as a Latin content producer and co-host of “El Sonido,” KEXP’s Latin music show. The measures were part of the station’s pledge to become an anti-racist organization and were accompanied by measures to close the pay gap within the station.
“We’re at a point now, I think – between [recent] investments and the deliberate path we set out two years ago to really open up and welcome more voices — we’re in an incredible position to really think big about the future,” Raup said.