KPSU raises funds for expansion

KPSU college radio has been holding its yearly pledge drive this week in an effort to raise funds for expansion and maintenance of the Portland State University student-run radio station.

Showcasing special events and various incentives in exchange for donations, DJs and volunteers hope to reach their goal by Saturday night.

“We have to generate a certain percentage of funds to get money from student fees,” said Aaron Miles, KPSU music director. “In past years we’ve maxed out at $3,000, but this year the goal is $5,000.”

Pledge-drive events have included local bands playing on the air as well as various interviews. Special broadcasts have ranged from the live bands Upright Dub Orchestra and Ross Beach and the Hell Pets, to an interview with popular Saddle Creek band The Faint.

Donations from local businesses provide incentives for callers, with gift certificates to local stores ranging from Music Millennium to Hot Lips Pizza.

“A lot of times people end up getting a one-to-one trade for their donation, a $20 donation for a $20 gift certificate,” Miles said. “It’s perfect if you were going to go out and buy a record anyway.”

Some DJs made incentive gifts themselves, such as KPSU promotional T-shirts, while others turned to more creative approaches, explained Ava Hegedus, volunteer coordinator.

“I gave away a date with myself,” she said. “It went for $50.”

Donations primarily come from local listeners, Miles explained.

“We know students don’t have a lot,” he said. “But we’ve had lots of luck with people who have careers and money, who appreciate different types of music and no commercials, and will donate $50 … but the $15 to $20 donations do add up.”

Hegedus said the funds will be used to purchase new equipment, as well as to make possible the expansion of KPSU into the field of news programming.

“The pledge drive is a good chunk of our annual budget,” she said. “We’re developing a news program, we need new equipment, software and training packets. And the more money we have, the more music we have, with a better selection and fresher music.”

Past pledge-drive funds have been vital to the success of the station, Miles said.

“We have listeners around the world, who will sometimes even call in and pledge,” he said. “Our Internet stream allows us a much farther reach, and we can do that because of past pledges.”

Funds from the drive also help pay for the radio timeslot KPSU leases during evenings on 1450 AM. As opposed to the KPSU FM station that can only be heard on campus or very few areas downtown, the AM station is citywide and allows the student group to expand its reach.

KPSU has recently begun broadcasting in the basement and first floor of the Smith Memorial Student Union, and plans to continue playing music in the building even after the drive comes to an end.

Because of this recent development, daytime DJs will start to implement KPSU’s first attempt at formatting.

“We’ve been free format, but now that we’re in the hallway our listeners are going to be a mixed group,” Miles said. “We’re trying to play 90 percent new music from at least five different genres during the day, have it really mixed up. It will be enlightening for people.”

The new formatting is also an important part of the station’s future plans, Hegedus explained.

“We’re setting the system in place to be a busy station and get more people involved,” she said. “We’re getting ready, and hope to eventually broadcast 24 hours a day citywide.”

Other future plans include possibly bringing the popular news show “Democracy Now” to KPSU during the mornings, along with other news and talk-show programming.

Miles also mentioned that both an intro to radio, as well as a radio news class might be available in years to come.

Both hip-hop and mixed-genre shows are tentatively scheduled for spring, Miles explained, as well as a possible KPSU compilation CD.

Hegedus said that funds from pledges make more events possible, and hopes to expand KPSU as much as funding allows. Money from students and community members who help support the station are helping a great cause, she said.

“I don’t want to say that we’re the only alternative radio station in Portland, because there’s KBOO,” she said. “But we are the only music-focused alternative station in Portland. We’re non-commercial, non-corporate and the DJs have 100 percent control.”

Tune into KPSU at 98.3 FM on campus, or online at Evening programming can also be heard on 1450 AM from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.