[While Cary Clarke takes a much-deserved vacation traversing the globe, I'll be filling in for him here at the local music news desk. —Ezra Ace Caraeff]
Over the next few weeks, KPSU is undergoing an ambitious undertaking in which the radio station attempts to raise $10,000 for their annual pledge drive through a series of varied concerts—from punk to jazz, indie-pop to experimental. For the past 14 years, the Portland State University-based station (which can be heard both online at kpsu.org, and for limited hours on 1450 AM) has been the anchor of freeform student-run radio in Portland. Development Director Jeremy Hardy took a moment to answer some questions about the station, its fundraising goals, and how playing Everclear doesn't make for good radio.
How do you see KPSU's relationship with the local music community?
As every year passes by, KPSU showcases more and more local music talent—mostly bands that are unsigned, self-released, or on small indie labels. In addition to hosting these bands on the air, on such shows as Live Friday, Sound Judgment, and Signal-to-Noise Ratio, KPSU also has the amazing opportunity to sponsor or co-sponsor concerts around town as a vehicle to expose the Portland masses to great local stuff not named "Storm Large" or "the Decemberists." Another treat of KPSU's free-format structure is that we aren't limited to having just the typical "indie" sound on our airwaves. At any given point our listeners could hear local hiphop, punk, experimental/noise, or even a jug band.
If money wasn't an object, how would you change the station? Would you like to actively compete on the airwaves against stations like 94.7 FM?
(1) We'd invest in a new board console for our broadcast booth—ours is from the '80s—that features a delay button. (2) A total overhaul of our website. (3) And after doing all of that, there are several tasks that need to be done before investing in our own signal, mainly hiring an FCC lawyer to help us with the mounds of paperwork, all the red tape, and grant researching. If we ever had our own signal, we'd kick 94.7's ass. We'd be the only station in town truly playing "alternative" choices. Any station that plays the following—Beck's "Loser," "Rock Lobster," and anything by Everclear—is not alternative.
This year's goal is $10,000. What are those funds used for? Does the school not provide a budget for the station?
We do receive an allowance from PSU, but after paying the leasing fees for our signal and the stipends for our student staff positions, we aren't left with a whole lot of dough. Last year was our most successful pledge drive ever ($5,500), and I think $10,000 was sort of an arbitrary number we tossed out during a general meeting. Part of the money we make this year may go toward my vision of having an all day blowout in Pioneer Courthouse Square next May or June in honor of the pledge drive and also our 15-year anniversary.
Hit kpsu.org/pledgedrive for a full schedule of KPSU pledge drive concerts.