KPSU signed a six-month contract with Portland Public Schools (PPS) yesterday that will force the station to give up airtime to broadcasts of Benson High School sports. During football season, the games will replace regular programming each Friday from 7 to 9:30, or until the game ends.
Earlier this month, Portland Public Schools had threatened to cancel its contract with the college radio station. The contract allowed KPSU to broadcast on the school district’s AM band. Without the AM band, the station is limited to an FM broadcast with only a two block range and internet radio broadcast.
The school district was unclear on its reasons for wanting to end the contract, but employees of KPSU suggested that it may have been due to distaste with the station’s programming.
KPSU staff is happy to stay on the air, but the contract has brought mixed feelings.
“I just looked at it and thought ‘you’ve got to be kidding me,’ station manager Ava Hegedus said, “This has not been a compromise situation at all.”
Hegedus is worried about how listeners will react when they tune in to listen to the radio and hear the sports broadcasts.
“There’s not doubt in my mind this is going to make us lose listeners.”
She is also concerned about accommodating show sponsors, some of whom pay up to a year in advance.
There is no schedule for basketball airings, but according to the new contract the games will air twice a week and PPS will give KPSU two weeks notice before preempting their programming. Four times a month they can interrupt programming for any reason.
Additional interruptions will be allowed for “emergencies that may impact the health and safety of PPS students,” the contract read.
In addition to the seven curse words KPSU was already not permitted to say, according to the contract’s addendum, the station must “comply with a conservative interpretation of FCC licensing guidelines.”
The addendum also calls for KPSU to ensure that their content is appropriate for high schoolers, because what “may otherwise be considered appropriate or acceptable for a college-age audience is not appropriate of acceptable for this AM frequency.”
“A station that serves as the only non-print media from Portland State, the only AM college radio station in Portland and an alternative voice to the community as a whole is being prioritized behind a high school sports broadcast,” said KPSU DJ Dr. Kronik, adding that regardless, he is glad the station will remain on the air.
“Portland State needs to get serious about getting this campus a radio station,” Hegedus said.