All Classical Portland, a radio station that has been a fixture of the city’s left of the dial programming since 1983, announced Wednesday that it will be moving its broadcast operations from its current home at the Hampton Opera Center to the dishier digs of downtown's KOIN Tower early next year.
The estimated $6 million relocation represents a serious upgrade for the internationally known station. On top of adding around 3,000 more square footage to their home base, the move will give All Classical a bigger space for live performances, a new recording studio for local performers and composers, and a gathering area for the larger arts community in the city.
The move, according to All Classical’s President and CEO Suzanne Nance, comes at exactly the right time for the organization. The station had the highest ratings in its history over the past fiscal year, with a quarter of a million regular listeners in Oregon and SW Washington and thousands tuning in around the world online. The 2019 launch of the International Children’s Arts Network, a streaming station featuring easily digestible classical music programs and storytelling, generated a lot of buzz. Additionally, Nance told the Mercury, there was the practical matter of the lease at the Hampton Opera Center being up this year.
“With our growth and our trajectory,” Nance said, “I thought, ‘We are expanding and we could do more for local artists, if we had better quality studios or a full media arts center with video production capabilities. And what if we could have a real performance space?’ So, I told [our real estate agent], ‘Let’s see what’s out there.’”
An extensive search was quickly narrowed down to three potential locations, but Nance says that the more time she spent in the KOIN Tower—in particular the theater spaces that were once part of the KOIN Center Cinema, which shuttered in 2004—she knew it was the right fit.
“I thought, ‘This is it,’” she remembers. “I can see community gathering here. I can see artists creating in here. It became really apparent that that was the right space for us.”
It helps, too, that the building already has a lot of the infrastructure All Classical will need to start broadcasting. It’s still the home of local TV affiliates KOIN and KRCW, and in the past, radio stations like KINK-FM were building tenants
All Classical’s excitement is understandable, and its intention is to move downtown by early 2024, but there's still a long way to go before the organization can fully move. The station’s engineers have begun discussions with GBD Architects to map out what’s possible in this new space. And while All Classical has already raised $3 million to fund this relocation, it will need to undergo an extensive capital campaign to raise the rest of the cash to finish the job.
“I’m not going to sleep for the next 10 months,” Nance said with a laugh. “We are going to reach out to those who believe in our service, and we have quite a few people who are interested in helping us get there. The work continues.”