KPSU gets AMPED for FM

Last week, Portland State’s student-run radio station KPSU completed its fundraising drive, AMP KPSU. The drive, which ran March 31–April 20, featured a series of programs and events designed to help raise awareness for the station’s efforts toward acquiring a Low-Power FM signal.

KPSU applied to the Federal Communications Commission in November 2013 for an FM signal and is currently waiting for approval. The station is tied in consideration with two other applicants for the local signal space.

The expected range of the signal would be a 3.5 mile radius from the location of the antenna, the proposed placement of which would be on top of Ondine Hall on the PSU campus. The signal from the antenna could reach as far as North Killingsworth Street, East 82nd Avenue, Reed College and the city’s west hills.


AMP KPSU kicked off at the Pony Club Gallery on April 3, with music provided by KPSU DJs. Assistant Promotions Director Blake Hickman described the event as “a really cool rock inspired art event…we had some awesome DJs playing.”

“It was really awesome just to see the whole community come out. It was definitely a bit of a different crew than our events usually play to. It was really packed. It was a good kick-off,” Hickman said.

The kick-off was followed the next night by a 24-hour live broadcast, in collaboration with, at the KPSU studio. The continuous broadcast featured sets from 18 different local bands.

Gabe Granach, the station’s promotions director, said the 24-hour live stream was a success.

“We surpassed the amount of visits to our website in the entire month previous in two days.”

Subsequent nights of music were held at Ground Kontrol Arcade, The Knock Back, the Hollywood Theatre and Holocene. The event at Ground Kontrol included free arcade games and live sets by KPSU DJs. The venue was filled to capacity for the majority of the night.

“It’s always nice to have our DJs playing live at events because you really get to see what other DJs are doing and what kind of music they’re into. It was a really awesome selection of DJs that we had in that night,” Hickman said.

The AMP fundraiser culminated on April 18 with the KPSU Kruise, an event which featured music by local Portland bands Magic Mouth and Orquestra Pacifico Tropical, taking place during a nighttime Willamette River cruise on the Portland Spirit, docked near the Hawthorne Bridge.

FM for the future

Station Manager Keegan Meyer said the AMP drive was an opportunity for KPSU to increase awareness about radio and highlight what KPSU means to students and what it would mean if the station acquired an FM frequency.

An FM signal would allow KPSU to reach more listeners and would help convince local businesses and organizations to advertise at the station.

“It will be able to be more of a revenue source because of the opportunity to be able to be heard by more people, known by more people and thus hopefully be able to bring in more money because of that interest,” Meyer said.

Another goal of the drive was to raise money to supplement the funding that the organization receives from the Student Fee Committee at PSU. All the money that was raised during the AMP drive went straight to KPSU.

“All of the money that we get will allow us to provide a better service, whether that’s to update our equipment, to be able to have more money to book fundraising concerts or maybe to get a KPSU mobile app going,” Meyer said.

Granach said the drive brings much needed funds to a student organization that has experienced budget cuts from the SFC in the past—as much as 30 percent in the last year.

When asked if the possibility of future cuts to KPSU’s budget could impact the station’s greater FM goals, Meyer laughed, “I’m already worried about it.”

“The university is already cutting programs, “ he continued. “I’m definitely pissed off about it when it involves student wages and the Educational Leadership Service Award model. I want to say on the record—I fucking hate the ELSA model.”
ELSA awards are the financial aid awards that students receive as compensation for their involvement in student organizations such as KPSU.

Acquiring an FM signal, and the increase of interest in involvement at the station that would come with it, could stimulate the administration to increase students’ compensation for their work.

Meyer said that current efforts to rebrand student involvement in the station as a resume-building experience rather than positions that provide financial compensation could be harmful.

“They [the administration] think that they can start changing certain student organizations, especially the media publications, to go down that route. I’m very concerned about it. It will be something the future generations of KPSU employees will have to tackle,” Meyer said.