KPSU off-campus broadcast in danger

A contract dispute between KPSU and Portland Public Schools maymean the end of the off-campus broadcast of Portland State’sstudent radio station.

The station, located on-campus, rents air time from local radiostation KBPS, operated out of Benson High School and shares thefrequency 1450 AM.

Bill Cooper, who was recently hired by PPS to be the new stationmanager at KBPS, made the decision not to renew KPSU’s contract. Atfirst, Cooper demanded additional cuts to KPSU’s airtime.

KPSU initially refused these changes but later succumbed, againto preserve its spot on 1450 AM. However, an unimpressed Cooper hadalready decided not to renew their contract.

“We don’t know what his problem is,” said Hegedus. “It’s alwaysbeen this working, beneficial relationship for us.”

Since the station’s inception in November of 1994 KPSU hasenjoyed what they describe as a “symbiotic working relationship”with Portland Public Schools and Benson.

The school district previously received $46,000 annually fromKPSU for the right to broadcast at 1450 AM from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.weekdays and noon to 2 a.m. weekends.

This all changed when representatives from both stations met inAugust to discuss plans and proposals for their contract, which wasset to be renewed on October 15, when their current contractexpires.

According to KPSU station manager Ava Hegedus, KBPSrepresentatives first proposed contract amendments that would takeaway KPSU’s Friday night broadcast privileges in order to allow theschool district to broadcast live high school football games which,prior to then, were recorded and broadcast the next day.

KPSU accepted these new terms reluctantly in fear of losingtheir citywide AM frequency, alternatives to which are expensiveand rarely available.

According to KPSU, new KBPS station manager Bill Cooper made thedecision to discontinue KPSU’s contract with the school district,after demanding cuts in programming hours.

Though it would seem that, in light of recent statewideeducation cutbacks, PPS would benefit from the annual fee, andthough 1450 AM would apparently drop below the FCC-required 12hours of programming a day with out them, representatives from PPShave remained adamant in their decision.

Hegedus said she was baffled when, during contract negotiations,Cooper told her that PPS didn’t need the $46,000.

“That was the most outrageous part to me,” said Hegedus.

Though Cooper declined to comment on the nature of theircontract, he did confirm that it will not be renewed on October 15and that PPS doesn’t need nor want KPSU’s money.

“We’ve decided that we want to take back the time for the kids,”said Cooper, “the contract is not being renewed.”

Cooper said that the decision was made to terminate KPSU’scontract after they initially refused his additional proposedchanges.

“When that happened the decision was made that there would be nofurther negotiations and that the contract would terminate onOctober 15,” Cooper said.

However, Hegedus suggested that Cooper’s distaste for KPSU’scontent may have affected his decision.

“What he said was ‘well I’ve heard anecdotally that you havequestionable hip-hop programming,'” said Hegedus.

Though Hegedus admits KPSU’s future looks bleak, she and otherKPSU staff members, as well as student groups that support and helprun the station, have not yet given up fighting. In fact,representatives from KPSU and PSU are meeting with Cristi Plinski,Principal of BSH and also Cooper’s boss, on Tuesday to discuss thematter. Meantime, KPSU will be broadcast at and on98.3 FM (though its weak two-block signal will insure that almostno one off campus grounds will hear it,) and Hegedus and herassociates will continue to pursue purchasing their own AMfrequency.