In actuality, music probably built the radio star. But video content definitely promoted the radio star. Seattle-based radio station KEXP might demonstrate that better than just about anyone.

With a wildly successful YouTube channel and some clever new bumpers to promote a capital campaign, KEXP has found a way to integrate video content with music in a way that enhances just about every aspect of both mediums. They’ve become much more than a radio station, and the capital campaign to raise $15 million for new digs at the Seattle Center would take that achievement to a whole new level.

Just yesterday, four of these bumpers (produced in partnership with Loaded Pictures) were featured in the Latest Work section of the Commercialize Seattle website. Though they don’t directly mention the campaign, these spots feature prominent Northwest talent like filmmaker Lynn Shelton, Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready and Galen Disston of Pickwick along with some of the infamous KEXP DJs in humorous little bits that showcase how intimately connected the station is to the local arts scene.

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Lynn Shelton and Mike McCready try to collaborate in KEXP’s “Scene” bumper

KEXP’s Marketing Director Rob Knop said the folks at Loaded Pictures were great to work with, and that they have a great instinct for creativity and improvisation.

“One of our bumpers featured a ‘spoof tour’ of the KEXP facilities that included a scene from the men’s bathroom.” Knop said. “There wasn’t a lot of space to shoot the tour group, Loaded Pictures hit upon the idea of shooting down from inside the ceiling tiles making the joke of a mock tour of the men’s bathroom very effective.”

A tour group sees the bathroom where many musicians have peed in KEXP's "Tour Guide" bumper

A tour group sees the bathroom where many musicians have peed in KEXP’s “Tour Guide” bumper

Since 2006, KEXP has been hosting live in-studio videos on its YouTube channel, which gives viewers an intimate view of musicians performing in KEXP’s small but magical little studio. According to Knop, KEXP now produces over 500 live in-studio videos a year and counting with an average worldwide viewing audience of over 700,000 persons a week.

“I think it goes without saying that we live in a visual society so any chance we get to incorporate visuals or video with the music we program is something we are always keenly open toward,” Knop said. “Our bumpers have been picked up by Seattle International Film Festival, Northwest Film Forum and the Ark Lodge Cinema for starters, we’re hoping to continue distributing the clips to other art-friendly venues, especially those who feature music documentaries or music-based films. We’re also experimenting with adding our bumpers to the ends of our KEXP live streaming video sessions.”

KEXP’s new home project, for which they’re raising the $15 million, would incorporate that visual aspect of their station into the design of the facilities. Knop explained they are designing a public viewing area for the in-studio sessions, where music fans would be able to sit behind the mixing console to watch the broadcasts and recordings of live sessions in real time.

An artist rendering of the Live Room and Viewing Area. Courtesy of SkB Architects.

An artist rendering of the Live Room and Viewing Area. Courtesy of SkB Architects.

As Knop pointed out, it’s going to be a “real treat for persons interested in production as well as music. It’s going to be of a lot of fun and probably one of the most unique activities in Seattle.”

Not only will the new home allow KEXP to expand its physical footprint and bring viewers into the mix in a whole new dimension, but it’ll also allow for expanded musical offerings with updated audio and video studios. And, perhaps the most thoughtful component of all, they also will incorporate a “home away from home” element for musicians on tour. Knop explained the site will include amenities like laundry and shower facilities so musicians can make themselves a little more at home on the road.

To learn more about the project specifics, make a donation, or participate in other ways (like buying a personalized tile for the exterior of the new building or taking part in the Music Match initiative where dollars donated are matched with funds from Pearl Jam, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Dave Matthews) visit Knop encourages people to also spread the word via social media to help support the campaign. 

About KEXP

KEXP is more than a radio station. KEXP is a dynamic arts organization that provides rich music experiences on the air, online, and on the streets. KEXP’s unique services benefit three distinct groups: Music Lovers, Artists, and the Arts Community.

KEXP’s curatorial staff of 40 DJs, who are widely recognized as experts in their field, present the newest emerging popular artists alongside established bands. KEXP’s programming features both variety and specialty shows that brings you the emerging sounds and long-time favorites from the Pacific Northwest, the country, and throughout the world.

Artists championed by KEXP are not typically supported by traditional non-profit arts organizations or commercial media outlets. They are inventive, contemporary musicians creating new work in popular genres that include rock, hip hop, reggae, country, Latin, modern global and more. For a full list of programs, visit KEXP’s Shows section.

Check out the On Demand section of KEXP.ORG to find services like the real-time playlist, a two-week archive of KEXP’s radio programs, and six different podcasts, distributing hundreds of hours of music—for free!

KEXP is a service of the University of Washington, who holds the station’s FCC license. As a 501(c)3 non-profit arts organization, KEXP relies on investments from individual, foundation, business, and government supporters.