KEXP DJs and Staff Remember the KEXP Old Home, Part Two

KEXP New Home
photo by Gregory A. Perez

This morning, KEXP said goodbye to our "Old Home" at the intersection of Dexter Avenue and Denny Way, on the outskirts of downtown Seattle. Our building was far from perfect -- broken toilets, leaking ceilings, and you've probably heard the DJs talking about the HVAC issues -- but there were many wonderful memories made there. We asked KEXP staff and DJs to share some of those favorite moments, which you can read below:

Kurt B. Reighley, Development Communications Manager:

I have fond memories of many in-studios, but nothing tops the 2012 performance from Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields. Stephin’s creativity, wit, and attention to detail have continually impressed me over our decades-long relationship. That said, I was still completely taken aback when, moments before I dashed down the hallway from the DJ booth to the Live Room for his in-studio session, the engineer on duty told me the session would take place in the men’s room. Stephin had made the call—and he was right: the acoustics were fantastic. Plus his opening cover of Yoko Ono’s “Flush Piece” makes me giggle to this day. And kudos to the KEXP A/V team for capturing it all despite the very cramped quarters. The old Live Room may have been tight, but it felt like a hockey arena compared to doing an in-studio in the bathroom.

Sara Green Williams, Controller & Director of Human Resources:

The last ten+ years for me... coming to the first parking lot BBQ and not enough beer taps... slinging beer at the second parking lot BBQ... volunteering for data entry during drives and sitting at a tiny desk in the front lobby... midnight grant submissions... complete Dexter office rearrangement #1... complete Dexter office rearrangement #2... goodbye copy room... goodbye DJ mail room... getting the flu the night before our annual audit... how fast can you get to FedEx??... toilet disasters... warring HVAC systems... that time I answered the phone and it was NASA calling... that time we met an astronaut... all the times old friends and new came in to play in the live room... helping out during Shake the Shack food drives... random afternoon lunch BBQs... parking lot meetings... the many mysteries of the men’s room crawl space... and many, many more!

Shake the Shack Food Drive // photo courtesy of North Helpline

Masa, host of Expansions on KEXP:

from Dexter/Denny to where we go...

• Kidnapping Mike Banks, Gerald Mitchell, & Santiago Salazar, aka Underground Resistance of Detroit, for 3 hour interview was unreal and fantastic.• Jean-Jacques Perrey describing me how Salvador Dali reacted when Perry played Flight Of The Bumble Bee for him. (from unpublished interview)• Asking Patti Smith for an autograph and she photographed me with her B&W Polaroid camera. I was acting very childish.• Just talking about music with Karl O'Connor (Regis) for whole afternoon. It was SAIKO moment.

[Note: Masa aired the full version of his interview with Regis during last Sunday's edition of Expansions. Hear it now in KEXP's Two-Week Streaming Archive.


Kari Stark, Gift Processor:

Before we moved some of the staff over to the Armory in 2012, all part-time staff was moved to the middle hallway so full-time staff could have an office to work in. The problem with working in the hallway: all our stuff got taken/used all the time. The item taken the most...chairs! Almost every morning we had to walk around the building to find our chairs. However, the morning chair scavenger hunt bonded us, creating TEAM HALLWAY! Sharlese and I are sitting next to each other in the New Home, which I don’t think is a coincidence. TEAM HALLWAY 4 Life!

Tom Smith, Senior Account Executive, Underwriting and Business Support:

Helping DJs get to their show in the snow...

Of Montreal / animal head day

This, too

Mike Fuller, co-host of Shake the Shack on KEXP:

Would that include the time I discovered a gateway to another dimension in the vault and managed to seal it just before our world was sucked through into the other side, where a matter/anti-matter collision would have surely destroyed both universes? Because that was a pretty good night.

Cyrus Despres, Manager of Information Technology:

In the mid-aughts, KEXP found itself frantically converting every square inch of our Dexter facility to workspace in order to accommodate our growing team of staff and volunteers. Amongst the various hallways and closet spaces that became offices was the very dear-to-my-heart “male room”. That is, our former mail room. Andrew Corey and I became its first occupants, proudly christening it with its new name. I credit that room with the close friendship and great working partnership that Andrew and I forged over the course of our time together in that space.

Jim Beckmann, Online Content Manager & Senior Video Producer:

At KEXP, we get hundreds of CDs sent to us each week by bands, labels and promoters hoping to catch our DJs’ and Music Director’s attention. But only once that I can remember did a band earn what I called the “Chutzpah Award”. This is from a blog post I wrote in 2007:

  • Earlier this month, we at KEXP received an email informing us that “one of the biggest bands in Utah” (I know, right) “is heading to Seattle on Aug 30.” Needless to say, we were impressed. No, actually we forgot about it, until, sure enough, on August 30, there was a band at our doorstep… literally.
  • Salt Lake City band Kid Theodore, who gained some music blog buzz last year with their debut “goodnight… goodnight,” set up shop on the sidewalk outside of the station and performed for passersby and KEXP-folk on their way to lunch. The band, who seemed to play songs mostly from their new album, didn’t seem to care that they’d garner much more attention somewhere else, where there was a bit more traffic - say, Pike Place Market - and let it all rip, kicking the air, dipping the standup, and even climbing the walls.
  • Though the band describes their own sound as “very eclectic, energetic… similar to The Doors, The Kinks, & Spoon,” you might find yourself comparing them favorably to Cold War Kids. Major props to these guys for taking a chance.

Major props indeed. Though they didn’t go on to much renown, it certainly caught our attention. I wonder why no other bands thought to do it.

Quilty 3000, Variety Mix DJ:

I started my final show in the Dexter Ave studios last Sunday afternoon with Lulu's "To Sir with Love". That song always invokes strong emotions in me as does leaving this building that has nurtured KEXP so well during these last 14 years. I remember when we moved in and it didn't take any time at all to feel like this is where we belonged. I don't think anyone thought that we would outgrow the space like we did and windowless storage closets and hallways would be converted into offices and workspace. I'm very glad for my KEXP colleagues that the new home has a great open work space with a wall of windows and no one has to share a sound-proof room as an office (well, except for us DJs and we'll have two sound-proof rooms for prep, yay!).

A few cherished memories at Dexter Ave include when Brandi Carlile was at the station in October of 2010. My sister came down from Bellingham to watch the in-studio. During the interview, when Brandi and Kevin Cole where talking about Referendum 74, my sister told me that she and her then-girlfriend (now wife) would marry if it passed. That was a momentous moment.

In 2006, Bobby Bare toured with his son, another KEXP favorite, Bobby Bare, Jr. As a kid, I would sneak into my sister's room to listen to her "Stars of the Grand Ole Opry" record. I loved "Detroit City" by Bobby Bare that was on it. To hear them singing that song together in our studio was one of those rare moments where everything circled back home. Even thinking about it now gives me goosebumps. Afterwards, I gave Mr. Bare a ride to his hotel. He told me he had the same feeling playing in our live room that he had in Nashville's legendary RCA Studio B. Goosebumps, indeed.

Ian McCulloch was slightly grumpy when Echo & the Bunnymen stopped by KEXP in December 2005. I was so excited I didn't mind. Towards the end, he accidentally knocked over his cup of English-style tea with milk on the rug. A few months later, Cheryl Waters and Kevin Cole were in Austin during SXSW. They end up sharing a street bench with Mr. McCulloch. (There's another great story about that, but you have to hear it from Cheryl.) During their conversation, Ian mentioned the spilled tea. It then dawned on both Cheryl and Kevin what the bad sour smell lingering in the live room was from.

Belle and Sebastian // photo by Gregory A. Perez

Oh, and then there was the time during a Belle & Sebastian in-studio when Stuart Murdoch was gazing up at me. Swoon! KEXP’s Dexter Ave studio will always be in my heart and I know we’ll bring the best part of this building with us when we move.

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