He quit Friday afternoon after 23 years with the public radio station.
On his website, Vincent, 50, cited "irreconcilable disagreements" with Program Director Jeff Hansen's "handling of editorial, airsound, technical and compensation concerns," and wrote he's not the only KUOW programmer with these concerns, but "I'm the first to decide not to take it any more."
(Photo: Ken Vincent: why is this man laughing?)
Vincent didn't close the door- "I hope and expect to work with the people at KUOW again someday."
In an interview Monday, Vincent told the Seattle Times' Florangela Davila he'd been "frustrated for a while ut that the last straw had to do with program changes announced Thursday."
On that day, the station said its weekday 2 p.m. show "The Beat," which had primarily focused on arts and culture, would be renamed "Sound Focus." The new program, which will debut Sept. 17, will explore a subject area that goes beyond the arts to include business, science and activism, according to an announcement. And in addition to in-studio conversations, the program will now also include out-in-the-field interviews.
The station also announced it would stop airing "The Writers Almanac," the five-minute poetry and history program hosted by Garrison Keillor, which had been included as part of "The Beat" broadcast.
On Monday, Weekday's Steve Scher announced Vincent's "abrupt" Friday departure.
"One identifiable hallmark of Ken's work [was] the musical choices that he made; they became comments on the program that added another level to the broadcast. He made 'Weekday' a better show," Scher said.
Close listeners and anyone who ever guested on the daytime shows knew Ken Vincent's mastery of the KUOW music archives to provide the perfect bumper music match for whatever topic was at hand- and that's saying something considering the broad, wide, and arcane subject matter that is local public radio fare.
NPR listeners covet their public radio personalities, despite the near-obsessive public radio eschewing of personality and celebrity. Public broadcasters, we're told, seem to invoke more intimacy and familial feelings from listeners than do their outraged or hypermanic peers on commercial radio.
The self-promotion is probably there, they're human beings after all, but the down-toned ambience, the cerebral earnestness, and that they're not trying to sell you anything may make them seem more like someone you might know rather than the locus of a personality cult, a member of which you're supposed to wannabe.
Public radio broadcasters seem to stay around- for life, it'd seem- so when one leaves, it's more like a death than mere disruption of a daily listening regime.
Losing Ken Vincent is like a messy divorce rather than one of those cold-blooded corporate separations the like of which we just witnessed at KIRO.
Sounds like KUOW's in for some changes. Public radio, though doing better in this market than its commercial counterparts, hasn't been growing as much as it should either. We've reported on the national attempts to grow the litenerpie, and it stands to reason that the autonomous local stations must try to do the same.
Will the streets be strewn with babies thrown out with the bath water? Only time (and Ken Vincent, maybe, eventually) will tell.
From Ken Vincent's station bio:
Ken started at KUOW in 1984 and worked for seven years as a news reporter and local Morning Edition host. In 1991, he left KUOW to work three years in local politics and government for the Seattle City Council. After his stint working for the city, Ken did some writing for Seattle Weekly before returning to KUOW in 1995. Before KUOW, Ken worked in public and commercial radio and TV as a reporter, program host, News Director, and other positions in Seattle, Los Angeles, and Juneau, Alaska. He was born, raised and went to high school and college in eastern Washington state, and has spent most of his life a resident of Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood.