Classical KING FM takes steps to address issues of equity and inclusion

Feb. 3, 2021


Quinton Morris, associate professor of music at Seattle University and founder of the nonprofit Key to Change

Classical KING FM 98.1, the Seattle-based, listener-supported classical music radio station, is moving to address issues of equity and inclusion, and taking steps to make classical music more accessible.

KING FM leaders acknowledge the need to broaden its programming, make its board and staff more diverse and create a pipeline of younger talent in a genre that has historically been the province of the wealthy, the white and the royal, its music performed in courts and churches.

“What is becoming increasingly clear to us is that there is a world of music out there that we don’t know and should know,” said Brenda Barnes, the station’s CEO. “The reason we don’t know it is systemic racism. We want to find it, play it and unmute the voices. The classical music world will only be better and more relevant if we do it.”

KING FM has already taken steps such as including pieces by women and/or performers and composers of color at least once per announcer shift (or five to six times per day). A staff committee meets monthly to evaluate its music programming to see if it’s inclusive.


Brenda Barnes, CEO of Classical KING FM 98.1 (Jeff Luke)

The station has also hired the multitalented Quinton Morris as artist scholar in residence to create 10 to 12 programs featuring composers of color. The programs will air multiple times on KING FM and will also be offered free of charge to other classical stations across the country.

Morris, an associate professor of music at Seattle University, is also a violinist, chamber musician, educator, entrepreneur and filmmaker, with deep roots in Seattle — he grew up listening to KING FM. Morris is also the founder of Key to Change, a nonprofit focusing on music instruction for underserved youth. The organization recently launched a South King County violin/viola studio serving middle and high school students of color, and those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, in Renton, Kent, Auburn, Maple Valley and Federal Way.

Morris is working on a new show for radio and podcast, “Unmute the Voices,” featuring music by Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) composers and performances. He intends to reach out to composers and performers across the country to ask for recordings to include on the show.

“I’m working to formalize exactly how we want to unmute these voices — it’s a lot to unpack,” Morris said. “I’m thankful that KING FM has allowed me creative autonomy to go forward.”

Because KING FM’s community advisory board (composed of music educators in the area) has indicated a need for works by BIPOC composers geared for students, the station now also has Caleb Vaughn-Jones as composer in residence to fill that gap. A former member of Morris’ The Young Eight ensemble, Vaughn-Jones will write for, and work with, the students at Morris’ Key to Change studio, with the students playing the new repertoire on KING FM.

These new works will be only part of a move toward what Barnes calls the “need to change our programming to relate to and engage the community.”

KING FM board president Jim Duncan says the station has conducted interviews with more than 100 people in the community to find out what they want and need from KING FM. Not surprisingly, they discovered that the region’s huge population growth has brought an increase in diversity and also in income disparity. The arts are perceived as elitist and not accessible, and artists are impacted by the rising cost of living. KING FM, respondents said, needs to become more inclusive and more diverse.

“Our audiences should look like the demographics of our community,” Duncan said. “While KING is the most accessible way to introduce classical music, we need to be more inclusive of performers and composers of color, as well as women. Are they made to feel welcome and included? Do we mirror our community?”

In addition, one of the station’s goals is to have the demographics of its staff mirror the demographics of its audience. Of KING FM’s 250,000 weekly listeners (as measured by Nielsen), most are white or Asian (Nielsen does not break out the percentage of listeners of Asian background, although another measuring service puts that percentage at about 10%); 17,500 are Hispanic (7%); and about 5,000 (2%) are Black, according to Barnes. KING FM currently has one Latina as chief operating officer and a producer whose family background is from India, Barnes said.

KING FM has also begun diversifying its board (which currently has one African American member and one Asian American member, both invited to join in the past year), and has made diversity a key criterion in filling open board positions. It also plans to invest more than $500,000 in an apprenticeship program for announcers and producers of color over the next four years, Barnes said.

The station will continue its commitment to broadcasting music by major local presenters, such as the Seattle Opera, Seattle Symphony and Seattle Chamber Music Society.

It’s also planning to provide more context for some of its offerings, for those newer to classical music. A broadcast of Seattle Opera’s acclaimed 2005 Wagnerian “Ring,” set for Feb. 6-13, for example, will also include a live chat during each opera in the cycle to explain what is happening and to allow listeners to ask questions.

“Our whole mission is to introduce people to classical music,” Duncan said. “We need to make sure our programming is warm, welcoming and inclusive.”


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Caleb Vaughn-Jones is the inaugural Composer in Residence

Caleb Vaughn-Jones is the inaugural Composer in Residence

Caleb Vaughn-Jones, a classical cellist and composer will serve as the inaugural Composer in Residence at Key to Change. Vaughn-Jones will compose original works for both violin and viola for string students of all musical levels that they will perform in virtual recital in the spring of 2021. Based in Los Angeles, Vaughn-Jones will work virtually with Key to Change string students in a master class setting, assessing their playing ability to compose repertoire specific to their playing abilities and later coaching them on the created repertoire. Select string students will perform Vaughn-Jones’ original works and be interviewed on Dr. Quinton Morris’ new show on Classical King 98.1 FM radio. Morris’ new show is scheduled to premiere in January 2021. Morris is the executive director and founder of Key to Change, which he founded in 2017.

“I’m ecstatic about Caleb joining our studio as our inaugural Composer in Residence”, states Morris. “I’m thrilled for our students, who will have an opportunity to work with not just a young, brilliant composer, but someone who looks like them and understands their story. Representation is key and it will be present in Caleb’s residency through his teaching and the music he composes.”

Vaughn-Jones’ career in performance and musical composition has taken him around the world through industries of solo and symphonic performance, film, gaming, and sound production; from the Civilization games series by Firaxis Games, to solo performances in works with Hans Zimmer, Mark Lackey, and Southern Africa’s Free State Symphony Orchestra in Bloemfontein, ZA. His solo works and compositions in the United States include touring performances with the Sphinx Virtuosi at venues around the country, including the New World Center of Miami, FL and Carnegie Hall in New York, NY.

Brenda Barnes, CEO of Classical KING 98.1 FM Radio says, “We are thrilled to welcome Caleb Vaughn-Jones as our first Composer in Residence. We are grateful to Dr. Quinton Morris, our Artist-Scholar in Residence, for selecting Caleb and giving us a chance to work with a brilliant young composer.”

Born 1985, Vaughn-Jones’ artistic and musical interests showed at an early age. He attended performances of the Charleston Symphony and the Spoleto Art Festival, hosted in Charleston, SC. At the age of 8, he began voice lessons; by age 10, began studying the cello. In grades 11 and 12, Vaughn-Jones attended the South Carolina’s Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, spending his summers at Indiana University’s Strong Academy and the Interlochen Arts Camp where he received the prestigious Emerson Scholarship. Following those studies, Vaughn-Jones attended the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University and the Lynn Conservatory of Music.

“I’m really excited to create music that, hopefully, they find exciting and refreshing to learn and perform. I remember being a student and having those few pieces that I didn’t mind practicing because I really connected with the music. I really want them to realize how powerful this art form is and their instruments are tools that can bring about a huge range of emotions,” says Vaughn-Jones. “For me, this is the single driving factor behind my pursuit of artistic excellence; we can have a lasting impact on the listener.”

In 2013, Vaughn-Jones founded Regulus Sound Productions, specializing in production and sourcing of original sounds from Africa for various companies around the world, notably for Firaxis Games, Mandharam (Bollywood), and Step Up. Regulus Sound Productions has grown into a music production company, mixing remote cello recordings for producers in music for film, television, and gaming industries.

In conversation about his time in South Africa, Vaughn-Jones comments: “living in South Africa for 9 years had an impact on me. Some of this influence is obvious, a lot of which I’m probably unaware of at this point. During my time there I had the opportunity to collaborate with people from many different backgrounds. I learned most from traditional African singing. Attending weddings and church services were essentially music masterclasses for me. There are certain ways that Xhosa men sing bass notes that impressed me. That sound can fill a room.”

“South Africans tend to be more concerned about today, not the future…I find that they are a society that values deep relationships, everything has intention. Conversations are deeper, the food is made with love, and belly laughs are common. In terms of my performances and compositions, I have found that I second guess myself less. It is easier for me to determine whether something is actually impactful or not because I am not trying to impress the “academy”, but instead impact the human soul,” Vaughn-Jones says.

The Composer in Residence is in sponsored by Classical King 98.1 FM.

To learn more about Caleb Vaughn-Jones, visit

For more information, please contact:

Ashley Glover, Executive Assistant

(425) 276-1701

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Innovative BIPOC Composer Residency partnership with Classical King FM announcement

Dr. Quinton Morris with Davie Ann Ross and Ruby Ruo, top prizewinners of the 2019 Solo String Festival after their live performance on King FM 98.1.

Dr. Quinton Morris is selected as the first Artist-Scholar in Residence and Key to Change joins as partner with innovative BIPOC Composer Residency, both with Classical King FM 98.1.

Dr. Quinton Morris will serve as the first Artist-Scholar in Residence for Classical KING FM 98.1 for a two-year term beginning September 15. Dr. Morris enjoys a multifaceted career as a concert violinist, chamber musician, educator, entrepreneur, and filmmaker. In this new role for KING FM, he will create 10-12 radio programs and video podcasts featuring the music of BIPOC composers and performers that will be distributed nationally to classical radio stations across the country.

He will also start a composer residency program, selecting two living BIPOC composers to write or arrange new pieces for Dr. Morris’s Key to Change Studio. Performances of these new pieces featuring Key to Change violin and viola students will air on KING FM. KING FM is also thrilled to continue its previous partnership with Key to Change by featuring winners of its annual Solo String Festival on its weekly live program Northwest Focus.

“Dr. Morris and Key to Change have been valued partners of Classical KING for several years, and it was Quinton who suggested that KING FM consider a composer in residence program, explained Dr. Brenda Barnes, CEO of Classical KING FM. “I thought about it, realized Quinton was actually the perfect person to pioneer this new role for KING FM, and asked if he would consider serving as our first Artist-Scholar in Residence. I was absolutely thrilled when he said yes! We look forward to supporting Quinton in creating radio programs and podcasts that will be offered to stations and listeners across the country. It is such an honor to have this opportunity to work more closely with Dr. Morris and to raise the profile of important BIPOC composers and performers.”

“I have literally grown up listening to KING FM. As a kid, I remember listening to the radio as I would get ready for school and it’s been wonderful to continue my partnership with them in this new capacity. I’m very happy to have an active role where I’ll perform and program music by Black and composers of color, who have been largely ignored and marginalized within the classical music community. Additionally, I’m really excited about the launch of our composer residency program, where our Key to Change students will have an active role in this partnership. It’s a great way to show our youth that not only do they matter, but they too can be engaged participants in creating impactful change that can transform the lives of others”.

Classical KING FM will appoint a team of staff members to support Dr. Morris and his work with the station. They will begin planning and producing programs this fall.


About Dr. Quinton Morris
Dr. Quinton Morris is an Associate Professor at Seattle University and founder of the music education organization Key to Change. He enjoys a multifaceted career as a concert violinist, educator, filmmaker and entrepreneur. He performs solo concerti/recitals and chamber music and presents lectures worldwide.

Dr. Morris’ career spans across six continents, presenting in dozens of countries. His BREAKTHROUGH: The Quinton Morris World Tour included an innovative lecture recital and self-produced short film based on the life and music of Chevalier de Saint-Georges. BREAKTHROUGH premiered at prestigious venues including, the Seattle Art Museum, the Louvre Museum (Paris), New York Film Week among dozens of other concert halls and film theaters. Governor Jay Inslee awarded Dr. Morris the Washington State Governor’s Arts Award for his success with BREAKTHROUGH and the film received the first prize ‘Diamond Award” at the European Independent Film Award Festival in Paris and the bronze award at the Global Music Awards.

Dr. Morris has received numerous awards including the Puget Sound Business Journals “40 Under 40 Award,” Seattle Mayor’s Arts Awards, the Seattle University Provost Award for Outstanding Scholarship and Creative Work, and named a “Mover and Shaper” by Musical America. He is currently the co-chair of the Seattle Arts Commission.

Dr. Morris is the first music professor in over thirty years (and the second living African-American violinist in United States history) to receive tenure and promotion at Seattle University. He is the founder and director of Key to Change, a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching middle and high school underserved violin and viola students in South King County. For more information, visit his website at

About Classical KING FM
Classical KING FM 98.1 is the primary institution developing new audiences for classical music and the arts in Seattle, Bellevue, and the Puget Sound Region. Listener-supported KING FM is located at Seattle Center with a mission to make classical music accessible for everyone in the community and to advocate for the arts in our region.

In addition to creating programming that offers everyone in the region an opportunity to make classical music and the arts a part of daily life, Classical KING FM partners with arts and culture organizations of all size and scope in the region. We offer broadcast performances of local concerts as well as an opportunity for local musicians to perform on our signature Friday evening program Northwest Focus LIVE. The Northwest Focus Concert Calendar offers listeners the opportunity to learn more about concerts and events to encourage them to deepen their involvement with classical music and the arts by attending and supporting the excellent performing organizations the region boasts.

Teachers and parents use Classical KING FM to introduce children to classical music, and the station has additional programs to supplement this important work. Through our popular Instrument Petting Zoos, the annual Young Artist Awards competition, and other partnerships, KING FM provides support for arts education in the region.

We are proud of the rich history of the station, which was founded by broadcasting pioneer Dorothy Stimson Bullitt in 1948. After Dorothy’s death, her daughters Patsy Bullitt Collins and Harriett Bullitt donated the station to a nonprofit to ensure the station continued to serve the region. Their concept was that the community would support the station going forward. KING FM operated as a commercial classical station until 2011 when it became a classical public radio station.

More than 15,000 members are supporters of Classical KING FM, helping to pave the way for a bright future for the station, and bringing the richness of classical music to diverse audiences in the rapidly growing Puget Sound Region.


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Renowned Luthier Donates Violin to Instrument Library for Student Use

The Key to Change received a major donation in the form of a new violin (valued at $17,000) from David Van Zandt, a local violin maker, who has graciously gifted the instrument for the organization’s library. Van Zandt stipulated that the violin must be performed by a Black or Brown student, while they are enrolled in Key to Change.

Renton High School junior Analisa Ruiz was selected as the first recipient to use the violin. Analisa is considering becoming a music major after graduating high school. Analisa is a recipient of the Daniel Ching Scholarship. Dr. Morris selected Analisa to use the violin over the next two years. “She’s made enormous progress as a violinist while here at Key to Change,” said Dr. Morris. “I believe the use of this beautiful instrument will be a huge boost to her self-confidence as a student and player.”

Key to Change provides violin and viola lessons for middle and high school students living in South King County. Enrollment for new students will begin on August 17 – September 9, 2020.

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Key to Change Awards $11,000 in Daniel Ching Scholarships

“I was extremely honored and flattered when Key to Change wanted to start a scholarship fund in my honor. I’m overjoyed as these awards will give these young musicians the same opportunity I was given at their age, and all through the generosity of the entire Key To Change community which has given already so much to the fund. I feel tremendous pride that Key to Change exists because of the vision and hard work of my former student, Dr. Quinton Morris. I could not be more proud of what he has given to the community in South King County already, and look forward eagerly to the next stages of growth for the organization.” – Daniel Ching, violinist of the Miró Quartet

We are thrilled to announce the first round of recipients for the Daniel Ching Scholarship for Musical Excellence. Launched in 2019, the Daniel Ching Scholarship is named after the former violin instructor of Key to Change Founder and Executive Director Dr. Quinton Morris. Daniel played a critical role shaping Quinton’s career as a performer and inspiring him to give back to the next generation. Both artists overcame tremendous hardships on their way to becoming world-class violinists, and the new Daniel Ching Scholarship honors that journey by creating new musical opportunities for underserved students in South King County.

The inaugural recipients of the Daniel Ching Scholarship are as follows:

  • Richie Doan, violin, 11th grade
  • Nathan Wang, violin, 11th grade
  • Analisa Ruiz, violin, 10th grade
  • Jolene Nguyen, viola, 10th grade
  • Madison Woolery, violin, 10th grade
  • Ellie Whitby, violin, 10th grade
  • Alia Uffenorde, violin, 8th grade
  • Jasmine Wang, violin, 8th grade
  • Madison Cole, violin, 8th grade
  • Amariah Strand, violin, 8th grade
  • Hayley Camp, violin, Key to Change alumna, college sophomore and double major in violin at the Peabody Conservatory of Music and mathematics at Johns Hopkins University


Recipients of the Daniel Ching Scholarship each received personalized videos from Dr. Quinton Morris and Daniel Ching.

If you would like to donate to the Daniel Ching Scholarship Fund or learn more about this exciting endeavor, please click here.

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COVID-19 Updates at Key to Change

Key to Change is committed to maintaining a safe and supportive learning environment for our students. Due to community health concerns relating to COVID-19, some Key to Change programs may be modified in the coming weeks. Please check back on this page for the most recent updates.

Our Solo String Festival, Spring Finale Recital, and Spring Salon Concert, and Summer Camp are cancelled, in accordance with recommendations from the Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Weekly violin lessons at Key to Change are being conducted remotely via Zoom or Google Hangouts until further notice. Students’ weekly lesson times will remain the same, and they will receive a link via email to join in these online classes.

Thank you for your flexibility and understanding. Key to Change is doing everything we can to ensure the health and safety of students and community members at our events.

This is an evolving situation, and updates on COVID-19 are available from the Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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Key to Change with the Seattle Symphony

In February three of our students shared the stage with the Seattle Symphony at a special outreach performance at the Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center. Amariah Strand, Alia Uffenorde, and Jasmine Wang all represented Key to Change and the broader musical community of South King County with their exceptional performances in a pre-concert recital. Key to Change collaborative pianist Joseph Williams was the accompanist.

Watch their performances and a post-concert interview in the videos below!

Amariah Strand performs the Kuchler Violin Concertino in G Major, Op. 11:

Alia Uffenorde performs the Kuchler Violin Concertino in D Major, Op. 15:

Jasmine Wang performs the Seitz Violin Concerto in G Minor and Polish Dance:

Post-Concert Interview with the Students:

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Key to Change Receives 2019 Best of Kent Award

KENT September 27, 2019 — Key to Change Studio has been selected for the 2019 Best of Kent Award in the Music Instructor category by the Kent Award Program.

Each year, the Kent Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Kent area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2019 Kent Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Kent Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About Kent Award Program

The Kent Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Kent area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Kent Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

SOURCE: Kent Award Program

Kent Award Program


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Announcing the Winners of our Solo String Festival!

Key Changemakers: Our Festival Winners
Highlighting excellence in our community

This month’s Key Changemakers are the three winners of our Inaugural Solo String Festival! Each of them will receive a scholarship to the college of their choice and have a chance to perform live on Classical KING FM 98.1!

Davie Ann Ross:
Senior Competitive Division First Place Winner

“When I began playing violin, there was no one there to guide my parents and me in the ‘right’ direction. What Key to Change is doing for hopeful string players is providing that necessary guidance, and I am so grateful to have been able to participate in a program that hits so close to home.”  – Davie Ann Ross 

Davie is a junior at Raisbeck Aviation High School. She began studying the violin at the age of 8, and now plays in both the Seattle and Tacoma Youth Symphony Associations, where she has served as a principal player and concertmaster. She also volunteers through her student-run string ensemble at local elementary and middle schools in the Highline School District.

Alia Uffenorde:
Junior Competitive Division First Place Winner

“Playing an instrument is an opportunity to focus and produce beautiful music after putting in the hard work of practicing.”  – Alia Uffenorde

Alia has studied the violin for the past two years and the piano for the past four. She first learned about Key to Change when Dr. Morris visited her middle school orchestra, and has now been taking violin lessons with the organization for the past year and a half. Through master classes and other opportunities at Key to Change, she felt empowered to join additional ensembles like the Tacoma Youth Symphony.

Ruby Ro:
Jury Prize Winner

“Music is one of the ways to make sense of things, a way to express feelings when we have no words, a way to understand things with our hearts when we cannot grasp them with our minds. Music is the language we choose when we are speechless. It’s hard to imagine life without music.”  – Ruby Ro

Ruby is a freshman at Todd Beamer High School. She has been playing the violin for seven years and says that music has taught her more about herself and what she want to do for a career. She says playing an instrument has helped her gain a better understanding not only of composers, but of people in general, because playing music is a way of telling stories and sharing life experiences.

We are thrilled to have all three winners of the Solo String Festival performing live on the radio this weekend on Classical KING FM’s NW Focus LIVE program. Tune in on Friday, May 3 at 8pm PT to hear Davie, Alia, and Ruby perform on air and talk with KING FM host Sean MacLean about their musical journey through Key to Change.

Tune in on the radio at 98.1 FM or click here to stream it online from anywhere in the world!

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Key Changemaker: David Couch

Key Changemaker of the Month:
Highlighting Excellence in our Community


“Béla Bartók said of music, it ‘builds bridges, not walls.’ I really like that sentiment, and feel Key to Change is also about building connections in the community. I hope from my position as a teacher, a conductor, or a bass player, that I strive to build bridges, not walls.”

– David Couch, Kentridge High School Orchestra Director
(Pictured with his wife)


Our Key Changemaker of the Month is David Couch! David is the Orchestra Director at Kentridge High School. He studied double bass at the University of Texas in Austin, and played in the Austin Symphony before moving to Washington in 1980. He has subbed with the Seattle Symphony, Seattle Opera, and 5th Avenue Theatre, and the Pacific Northwest Ballet. He also plays with the Auburn Symphony, and teaches orchestra to students grades 5-12 in Kent.

He says the level of musicianship has skyrocketed in the Pacific Northwest over the past 15 years and it’s a great place to be a musician! Thank you David for all the music you bring to our community!


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