KPSU fights to save independent airwaves

Rocking out at a Chinese restaurant, The Bipolar Bears, the Dimes and other local bands and DJs played at a fundraiser for Portland State University’s radio station, KPSU, last Wednesday.

Despite the venue – normally Seven Stars is just a restaurant – the event attracted support from the PSU community.

“It was great that people came out. There were a lot of people very enthusiastic to be there,” said Angelo De Ieso, programming director at KPSU.

Dubbed “Radio Active,” the event was a joint venture with two other independent radio stations, KBOO and KMHD, intended to raise awareness of a change in Federal Communications Commission rules that opponents say will increase media consolidation.

These changes follow a June 2 vote that split along party lines. Republicans, led by chairman Michael Powell (son of Secretary of State Colin Powell), prevailed 3-2.

The newest rules, released July 2, will increase the number of media outlets a single corporation is allowed to control. Bills to counteract the rulings by placing further restrictions on media ownership have been introduced to both houses of Congress, though these will face strong Republican resistance.

The result of the change is a radio market even less friendly to small independent radio stations, De Ieso said.

“The more media is consolidated, the harder it is for small stations like ourselves to get on board and have stations,” De Ieso said.

The situation is worse at KBOO, which lacks the student funding KPSU gets, but competes directly with corporate giants.

“We want the public to have access to the media,” said Spider Moccasin, KBOO outreach coordinator. “When it’s one message coming from one corporation, you’re just led down the road of their biases.”

The same is true for local music, said Moccasin, who is also a member of the

Bipolar Bears. Commercial radio stations rely on play lists dictated by ad sales, not love of music.

“Those stations have led us to believe ‘Every Breath You Take’ is the only song by the Police,” Moccasin said.