Over its 50-year history, KEXP has grown from a scrappy college radio station to a renowned multimedia organization with a global audience. As the Seattle institution crosses the half-century mark, a number of changes have occurred in recent years.
Following the recent departure of longtime CEO and Executive Director Tom Mara, a new executive from the independent radio stronghold has been selected to oversee the next chapter in KEXP’s evolution. Ethan Raup, who has served as KEXP’s chief operating officer for the past six years, has been named the new president and chief executive officer.
“I think we’re on an incredible path right now,” said Raup, who officially begins his new gig on July 1. “I feel good about the role I’ve played in helping get us on this path, and I’m so excited about the next steps that I know we can take.
Raup’s hiring follows a six-month international search to replace Mara, who was recently named executive director of the Seattle International Film Festival. A press release announcing Raup’s selection touted his work addressing pay equity at the station, technology investments focused on digital audiences, and his efforts in programming changes that helped elevate a more diverse array of voices. within the organization.
Despite losing its 30-year-old leader, the search committee was not initially concerned with maintaining a sense of continuity at the top of the organization, said Jill Singh, chair of KEXP’s board of directors. Throughout the interview process, Raup continually brought in 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 “how far the organization has come” ultimately became an added asset in the eyes of the board of directors, who unanimously chose Raup.
“Ultimately, Ethan is an active leader within KEXP and he gets things done,” Singh said. “He’s very action-oriented and that told us, seeing the evidence of that over the last two 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, working under former Seattle Mayors Mike McGinn and Norm Rice as well as former King County Executive Ron Sims.
Over the next few months, Raup plans to begin a strategic planning process with “widespread engagement” among staff and community members to identify ways to reach new listeners and better serve the KEXP’s existing audience through its radio/online broadcast and popular YouTube channel, among others. avenues. KEXP has also ventured into podcasting, first with its thoughtful “Sound & Vision” series and the recent “Fresh Off the Spaceship,” an in-depth limited series exploring the Seattle-based Black Constellation collective.
Two years ago, KEXP reconfigured its prime-time weekday schedule that had previously been filled with mostly white male DJs, creating slots for Larry Mizell Jr. and Gabriel Teodros, two respected veterans of Seattle’s music community. . The station also added its “Overnight Afrobeats” show and promoted Albina Cabrera to a full-time role as a Latin American content producer and co-host of “El Sonido”, KEXP’s Latin music show. These measures were part of the station’s commitment to becoming an anti-racism organization and were accompanied by measures to address pay equity gaps within the station.
“We’re at a point now, I think – between [recent] investments and the deliberate path we charted 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.