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First Major Market Commercial Triple A Radio Sign-On Since 2007 Debuts in Seattle

In a “Hell Freezes Over” moment, Hubbard Broadcasting is taking the plunge with KPNW/Seattle…

By Paul Marszalek

For the first time in 15 years, a major market Triple A radio station has flipped formats to Triple A.

Hubbard Broadcasting waved the white flag on its 17th-ranked Country station “The Bull” in favor of the new format.

Rebranded with KPNW call letters, the new station has a promising future as the Seattle market checks all the boxes for the Triple A format: An educated and heavily white population, a healthy public radio audience, a previous commercial Triple A station that performed well (KMTT/The Mountain), a legacy Alternative station that cumes well but rates low, and a current, high-performing public Triple A station in KEXP.

KPNW signal coverage courtesy

Further, 98.9 FM is not some translator fed by an HD-2. It’s a 68,000-watt flamethrower that covers every PPM from Everett to Olympia.

The station should be able to build an audience coalition made up of former Mountain listeners, disaffected upper demo listeners of Alternative KNDD/The End, and some of the less musically adventurous listeners of public radio Triple A KEXP. There’s even a chance that KPNW could erode enough listening from The End to push it over The Edge.

To start, KPNW is playing a very wide berth, from Queens of the Stone age to the occasional head-scratcher, such as Pharell’s “Happy” within the same quarter hour. Perhaps the station is taking a hint from Portland’s KINK, which has had success incorporating Hot AC musical elements. Regardless, it’s early days, and audience feedback will help refine the sound.

Mike Henry’s Paragon Media Strategies is leading the effort, just as the company did the last time Triple A radio hit a major market on the commercial part of the dial — when WRXP launched in New York way back in 2007.

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