Seattle Radio Station KEXP Takes to the Cloud with Windows Azure

At the Nonprofit Technology Conference in Washington, D.C., last week, Akhtar Badshah, Microsoft’s senior director of Global Community Affairs, shared how Microsoft and popular Seattle radio station KEXP have teamed up to give the station a “technological makeover.” Leveraging Microsoft software and services such as Windows Azure, KEXP is transforming operations ranging from the station’s internal communications to how listeners worldwide interact with music. The makeover will take three years to complete but listeners will start seeing dramatic improvements this spring.

KEXP, which began as a 10-watt station in 1972, grew into a musical force in Seattle and beyond with the help of a supportive membership base and Internet streaming. KEXP was the first station in the world to offer CD-quality 24/7 streaming audio and now broadcasts in Seattle on 90.3, in New York City on 91.5, and worldwide via the web at KEXP.org.

The radio station’s colorful history and widespread support among musicians has made it a virtual treasure chest of musical media, from its music library to related content such as live performances, podcasts and videos, album reviews, blog posts, DJ notes and videos. KEXP’s website allows users to listen live and to studio performances and archives of recent shows, as well as read about artists and buy music. To date, much of this vast musical information has been compartmentalized, unconnected, or not available online.

That’s about to change, thanks to a metadata music and information “warehouse” that KEXP has built on the Windows Azure platform. The warehouse, or “Music Service Fabric”, will store all of the bits of related data put them at listeners’ fingertips. The Music Service Fabric will normalize all play data throughout the station and will be used to power the real-time playlist, streaming services and new features such as contextual social sharing.

According to Badshah, KEXP’s willingness to experiment made the station a natural partner and the station’s use of Microsoft technology ranging from Windows Azure to SharePoint Online to Microsoft Dynamics CRM helps show technology can help nonprofits in a holistic way.

To learn more about this story, please read the related posts, “Tech Makeover: KEXP Takes Its Musical Treasure Chest to the Cloud”, on Microsoft News Center and, “KEXP.org: Where the Music and Technology Matter (Part 2)”, on the Microsoft Unlimited Potential Blog.