KEXP-FM Seattle (90.5) has received one of the largest ever bequests to an individual public radio station. An anonymous listener, identified only as Suzanne, left nearly $10 million to the trend-setting adult alternative station.
The station says the surprisingly generous donation will be used for a number of music and media education programs, to help fund KEXP’s digital content strategy and to allow the station to expand and experiment with radio and online music programming. Inspired by the donation, KEXP has also created a new planned giving initiative, the Reverb Society.
The donor was celebrated with a special set of programming during KEXP chief content officer Kevin Cole’s afternoon program. “We intend to honor her legacy in every step we take in stewarding these funds,” Cole said. “Suzanne’s love of music, her support for artists, her sense of philanthropy and service to the community, and the joy she found in exploration and discovery will live on in the programs and services that are made possible through this amazing and generous gift.”
The station’s Board of Directors Development Committee has decided to put a large amount of the donation into a fund for future, unforeseen expenses. By doing so, the station can use more of its ongoing donations to fund the day-to-day operations of the station.
“We have historically set aside a portion of donations to our annual fund into a reserve or rainy-day fund,” co-chair Scott Redman explained. “Suzanne’s amazing gift has ensured that our reserves are now sufficient, which means that the generous gifts from all of our other 18,000 annual donors will be invested directly into our mission.”
The donor was known to station staff, who said they will honor her request for anonymity. She was a regular contributor to station fund drives and invested in KEXP’s new state-of-the-art facility.
“The thought that she would do this is mind-blowing to me. [Suzanne] had shared with me once or twice, kind of casually, that she had made plans for KEXP in her estate,” director of development Betsy Troutman told the Seattle Times. “But she was young, and I said, ‘Oh, that’s amazing. Thank you very much.’ I didn’t think that it would come when I was here.”
The donation has inspired the creation of The Reverb Society, for donors interested in considering support of KEXP in their estate plans.