KPSU marches on

College radio station finds strength in streaming”

It has been a little over a year since the Portland State radio station lost its AM signal and was forced to accept alternative methods of broadcasting. Since then, KPSU has shifted its focus toward online streaming and found its voice in the students who continue to push the group forward.

College radio station finds strength in streaming”

It has been a little over a year since the Portland State radio station lost its AM signal and was forced to accept alternative methods of broadcasting. Since then, KPSU has shifted its focus toward online streaming and found its voice in the students who continue to push the group forward.

KPSU staff
Saria Dy / Vanguard Staff
KPSU staff from left: Jake Fagan, Jay Turk, Jarrett Cirelli, Stefani Varney and Keegan Meyer.

KPSU used to lease an AM signal from KBPS, Benson Polytechnic High School’s radio station. From 1994 to last year, KPSU broadcasted on Benson’s signal from 5 p.m. until midnight on weekdays and from noon to midnight on the weekends.

The experiment of college programming broadcasting on a high school signal had some rocky moments, with frequent clashes over music choices and interpretations of FCC guidelines. KBPS Station Manager Bill Cooper had the final say on content issues, and on June 25, 2010, KPSU broadcasted content that ensured its divorce from KBPS.

The offending comment, “sodomy is great,” did not technically violate FCC guidelines as it was broadcast after 10 p.m. The comment was made on the program The Debate Hour, hosted by the PSU debate team.

“Most of the shows on KPSU stayed within the guidelines we set for them that pertain to FCC rules, and just the common sense of what should be allowed on a school district-owned radio station,” Cooper posted to the PDX Radio message board after the June 25 broadcast. “It’s unfortunate that a small percentage of KPSU hosts decided to ‘push the envelope’ and air content not in keeping with our directives.”

The 16-year relationship with KBPS ended tumultuously, and just as Programming Director Jay Turk was taking on his new role at KPSU. Although online radio had already been a part of KPSU’s broadcast and made up about half of its listeners, there was a sense of the need to rebuild.
“It was a blow to our egos and perceived legitimacy,” Turk said.

Turk’s next directive was to establish a legitimate radio station online. “Terrestrial FM radio is not necessarily the only game in town,” Turk said.

The group started by throwing out its old website. There was no re-design or re-formatting; the overhaul began from scratch. KPSU now has a new web address, more podcasts available and a digital library system arriving in October.

The biggest change is intangible. Turk wants KPSU to become even more involved in the campus community, with student groups and campus organizations hosting shows on the station—much like the debate team did last year.

Turk also wants international students to gain a presence at KPSU. “The most popular Russian show on the West Coast used be the broadcast from KPSU,” Turk said.

Next week, a student-led show on Bollywood films will begin.

The group has not ruled out the possibility that KPSU will broadcast on a signal again, and the money to lease a signal is still in their budget. They have $100,000 allotted for a signal lease this year.

“We would really love to return,” Turk said. “But it’s a finite resource—there are only so many signals in the city. Do they want to get involved with a college radio station? We’ve been in the mindset that it’s a possibility, but we have to set ourselves up for the possibility that it
won’t happen.”

To contact KPSU about student and organization opportunities, e-mail [email protected]