||This article may be written from a fan's point of view, rather than a neutral point of view. (October 2008)|
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (June 2008)|
|Broadcast area||Portland State University campus|
|Slogan||Portland's College Radio|
|Frequency||98.1 MHz FM|
|First air date||October 1994|
|ERP||4 watts |
|Callsign meaning||Portland State University|
|Owner||Portland State University|
KPSU is one of only a few Community radio stations left in the United States which provide fully freeform programming. This means that the station's DJs choose all the music formats they play, without any required cuts or forced rotation. KPSU's programming features a wide gamut of musical genres. KPSU reports weekly to CMJ, providing a top 30 of the new releases played on-air.
All of KPSU's employees are students. The on-air hosts are volunteers drawn from the university population, as well as a diverse pool of community members. KPSU derives its funding from Portland State University, local businesses, and its own annual fundraising drive.
The station promotes a variety of music concerts, and features musicians from across the country and around the world. KPSU also hosts the weekly show, "Live Friday," which features live performances by an assortment of local and traveling performing groups.
In addition to conventional radio transmission, the station streams broadcasts live on the Internet and archives several weeks of programming in hour long MP3 format. Archives may be downloaded, or subscribed to as a podcast at KPSU.org. KPSU is Metro Portland's only city-wide independent and student-run radio station.
On July 31, 2007, KPSU launched its quarterly free music publication, KPSU Magazine. Issues are written and designed by volunteer staff and feature articles and interest pieces on music, art, and local culture, as well as members of the KPSU community.
The following is the early history of Project KPSU as recalled by Don Nasca, the Project Coordinator before the station went on the air and his memory of his experiences as the first Station Manager[original research?].
Project KPSU was the name given to the Portland State University student organization with the mission of starting a student managed radio station on campus.
KPSU only exists today because hundreds of people cared enough to volunteer their time and energy to the “idea” of having a student operated college radio station.
There are no words that can describe the energy we felt as this “idea” transformed into actions and then into hardware and radio signals. There were no microphones or CD’s or even a space to operate; just this “idea” floating around. Many people from a wide diversity of perspectives made contributions of their time and effort; students, faculty, administrative staff members, local citizens, and small business people all seemed to find something energizing in the “idea” of a college radio station.
While it took a great deal of focus, determination, and organization of a few key people; Project KPSU is the sum of hundreds of contributors, many of whom will not be formally remembered. As of this writing, over sixteen years have passed and the same energy continues to be the life of the organization.
There are many important lessons to be learned from this historical record that will help anyone or any group that hopes to transform an “idea” into reality and especially within a large public organization.
In the fall of 1992, a student group known as the Popular Music Board (PMB) discussed the need for a PSU College Radio Station. With the help of Student Advisor Sharon Brabanac; students, John Beil, Carl Bergwall, Aaron Cross (Chairman), Kirill Galetski, Brian Korver, and two or three others established a non funded Student Organization named “The Friends of KPSU.”
Brian Korver wrote the initial IFC proposal to acquire funding to hire a Project Coordinator to take on the task of taking this “idea” from a concept to a fully functioning student operated campus radio station. Brian personally visited and wrote many faculty and administration members to gain support for hiring a project coordinator and starting on the path to establishing a college radio station.
January 4, 1993: Greg Smiley, Editor of the Vanguard Newspaper wrote a strong letter of support to the Student Incidental Fee Committee (IFC) for Brian Korver’s proposal to fund a KPSU Student Coordinator position.
January 8, 1993: The Friends of KPSU submitted their proposal titled “Project KPSU” to the IFC for funding to hire a project coordinator.
February 1993: The IFC granted Project KPSU $8,000 to hire a coordinator. Brian also obtained a $1,000 grant from the PSU Foundation to help fund the stations development plan.
June/July 1993: The Friends of KPSU begin advertising and interviewing candidates for the position. Jon Beil applied for the position; however, Brian, Aaron, and Carl preferred to hire an outsider with more business and technical experience.
August 1993: According to PSU Student Advisor Margaret Banyan; “The Friends of KPSU hired Don Nasca, an MBA student with a background in business and radio communications from a field of 20 candidates.”
September 28, 1993: The Vanguard reports “KPSU hires Coordinator” Don Nasca.
October 1993: ASPSU IFC chairman, Michael Reynolds and the ASPSU President Greg Smiley offered Project KPSU a single desk and phone located in a tiny computer lab which was shared by many unfunded student organizations.
Don and Brian worked on various pieces of the project and formed a great team. They took the PMB dream of 1992 and transformed it into an action plan. Don researched FCC rules and regulations and the Portland area frequency limitations. He contacted every radio station manager in the area for ideas.
Brian researched college stations; namely how they were managed and how they fit into the school’s administrative and academic organizations. He looked at what they were doing and what was working and not working. Together, Don and Brian wrote the first Station Handbook and the first large scale KPSU funding proposal.
Brian found every possible stakeholder, gatekeeper, influencer, and decision maker that stood between “the plan” and turning on the microphone. Together, Don and Brian devised reasoning as to why KPSU was a great idea and opportunity for each and every stakeholder. They developed a project time-line and funding requirements and began approaching every office on the campus for support.
There were pockets of resistance along the way and this can always be expected from long-term, change adverse members of a long established organization. Don and Brian overwhelmed them with logic, charm, facts, figures, and old-fashioned persistence. As word traveled up the university organizational ladder, the administrators became less resistive and doors began to open.
October 1993: A couple of weeks after Project KPSU had their first desk, they had their first volunteer; her name was Joanne Lau. Joanne was Don’s right hand, always ready, willing, and able to handle any task, big or small. Joanne kept things organized and typed most of the team documents. At this point Don and Joanne started to hold two weekly meetings to attract volunteers. Together they spent hundreds of hours working into the late night on KPSU projects. Fortunately, they were forced to leave every night because the busses and trains stopped running and they needed some time to actually study and sleep! Joanne wasn’t interested in a radio show, but she later fell in love with the idea and co-hosted, then later hosted her own international music show. She remained a highly involved member for at least five years.
November 1993: Without request and in hopes of getting some attention based on reality and not third hand information filtered by a long chain of administrators; Don sent an overview of the Project KPSU’s work to then PSU President Judith Ramaley.
December 16, 1993: Don found a few aging AM radio stations in the area were interested in selling their licenses, but the starting prices were near one million dollars. The FCC had no intention of allocating any additional frequencies to the Portland market and even if Project KPSU managed a successful petition to the FCC, there would be no guarantee the frequency would go to PSU. All the available options were eliminated except one. KBPS, a 1,000 watt AM station that was owned and operated by Portland Public Schools since 1923 had recently lost all of their funding and were in need for a means to keep the Benson high school radio station students on-the-air.
Don wrote the KBPS Development Director, Veronica Nordeen with an offer to buy KBPS AM airtime. Veronica was encouraged by this new source of funding and arranged a meeting with then KBPS Foundation President, John Grout on January 3, 1994.
KPSU members manned tables outside of Smith for three days and collected over 1,200 student and 100 staff and faculty signatures in support of funding KPSU. Several Dean’s wrote positive comments backing the effort.
January 3, 1994: The meeting with KBPS was a success. Project KPSU was given the green light by the KBPS Foundation to proceed with contract negotiations.
January 4, 1994: Don and Brian were invited to attend a University Executive Committee meeting. The attendees were President Ramaley, Lindsey Desrochers, V.P. of Finance and Administration, Jay Kenton, Director of Business Affairs, and Vice Provosts, Rod Diman and Dalton Miller-Jones.
President Ramaley outlined four areas of concern that needed to be addressed before the University would grant permission to Project KPSU to access the airwaves: 1) Long-term continuity (preferably with an PSU academic link); 2) Space and Equipment; 3) Frequency access plan and; 4) Financing.
Brian, Don, Joanne had their work cut out for them. They had to convince the University Administration, the Student IFC, the KPBS Foundation, and Portland Public Schools to accept their proposal. Should any of the four entities not be swayed in favor of a PSU campus radio station, Project KPSU would have died on the spot.
January 19, 1994: To show KBPS that PSU was serious; nearly the entire project KPSU team visited KBPS in force. The Vanguard front page features photos of Project KPSU students touring the KBPS studios. Interest grew rapidly at this point and it was much like a political campaign.
February 11, 1994: Vanguard front-page article – “Radio budget hearing draws week’s biggest crowd.” KPSU had twenty-five pizza’s donated and invited the entire campus. Hundreds of people lined up for pizza and they were given a rally speech by Don Nasca. Then the Project KPSU team led the crowd into the IFC hearing. Over one hundred people marched into the IFC hearing and you just can’t imagine the faces of the IFC members. They were awe struck as most budget hearings were attended by few supporters.
At least a dozen people unknown to the KPSU team, including faculty, staff, and students in the crowd spoke up to support the creation of a college radio station. Several IFC members were supportive, but there were political pressures for funding, especially from the Athletics department and KPSU was not a simple shoe in.
It is unclear as to the sources of resistance to the KPSU proposal, but the staff consultant to the IFC, Verl Burroughs was the Assistant Budget Director and she was making negative remarks as to the long review process required to move the student effort forward. KPSU was a big student train that was moving very fast and this just didn’t happen very often at PSU.
After Verl Burroughs comments, the students on the IFC seemed unable to make their own funding choices out of fear of doing something that would upset the administration. Sadly, they decided to defer the whole matter to the University President.
February 15, 1994: Vanguard reports on the front page “IFC funding decisions with KPSU’s request frozen for input from the Administration.”
March 8, 1994: Vanguard reports “KPSU Funding in President Ramaley’s Lap” on the front page.
March 9 –15: John Rumler wrote an article about KPSU in the Willamette Week.
March 31, 1994: The Vanguard reported, “PSU radio gets space to broadcast.” For anyone who works in a University, getting the use of physical space is truly a miracle. That space was SMC 18 in the old A/V department in the basement of Smith Center. The IFC offered KPSU no space, the administration and faculty offered no space and so without having to appear against KPSU, the administration could have easily used the lack of space as the unfortunate reason behind the death of a great student idea.
If it were not for Larry Sawyer, the manager of the PSU Audio Visual Department, KPSU may not have found a space on campus. Hat’s off to Larry for letting KPSU into his area. Larry was willing to grant KPSU members access to a small room in his department as long as we respected the area and didn’t interfere with the occasional use of the space by the faculty.
Fortunately, none of the three levels of managers over Larry resisted our proposal. This is attributed to Jay Kenton and Lindsay Desrochers giving KPSU a green light to at least show them KPSU could be a great activity for students if properly managed.
Larry was concerned by the fact that the advancement of technology in the early 90’s was rapidly replacing the need for Audio Visual services around the campus. A/V was once a large and thriving organization, especially in the days of film projectors and tape recorders. A/V was then only a tiny fraction of its once large staff and of diminishing importance to PSU. Today, the A/V space where KPSU was born no longer exists in any recognizable form and not surprisingly there is a computer lab in its place.
April 27, 1994: Vanguard reports, “KPSU members find their way into student government.” Aaron Cross – President, Susan Hayden - VP, Scott Harris – Senate, Matthew Montchalin – Senate, Mary Beth St. John – IFC, Don Nasca – IFC. The KPSU team got involved with Student Government because we realized that strong student leadership actually makes a tremendous impact on campus and student based programs needed a strong ASPSU to help them move forward.
April 6, 1994: Vanguard Front Page Headline – “Class tunes students in to broadcasting.” The picture features KPSU members Jana Engbert and Mary Beth St. John in one of the Benson High Schools’s broadcast training booths. The trainees are: Jason Bergstrom, Edward Donovan, Mark Drewry, Jana Engert, Kirill Galetski, Scott Harris, Brian Joseph, Scott Kirkwood, Matthew Montchalin, Don Nasca, Mary Beth St. John, and Summer Young
April 25, 1994: Twelve KPSU members complete the first Radio Broadcast Training Class at Benson High School’s KBPS.
May 27, 1994: Jay Kenton, PSU Director of Business Affairs wrote to Rod Diman with his review of the KPSU budget and draft copy of the contract for KBPS airtime. Jay was cautiously optimistic, but confident in Don Nasca and Brian Korver’s ability to make the project a success.
Per Jay Kenton’s request, Don submitted a revised 94/95 budget with the help of Joanne Lau and it was fully approved by the IFC. Hat’s off to Jay Kenton and Rod Diman as without their support, KPSU would have never been possible.
Jay and Rod took the responsibility for Project KPSU failing and possibly creating trouble for the University. It was they that would have to deal with the President and Executive Team should anything go wrong. These men placed a great deal of faith in a few unpaid, but passionate students who could walk away from the project at any moment without notice.
June 1, 1994: Vanguard Season Finale Issue selected KPSU’s Coordinator Don Nasca as one of the “Four Top News Makers in 1993/94.”
June 21, 1994: Jay Kenton, Director of PSU Business Affairs and Rod Diman, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs signed a three year agreement on behalf of PSU with Portland Public Schools to retain forty-nine hours of KBPS airtime per week. Mr. Diman thought it would be best to wait until the fall term to begin broadcasting as faculty and staff would return from summer vacation and possibly provide some needed support. That was the only reason why KPSU started in October and not in July 1994. It was obviously a long summer for the people who were itching to get behind the microphone.
June 22, 1994: Vanguard cover features: “PSU Radio Tuned in.”
July 1994: Brian Korver graduated and moved out of his campus apartment with his girlfriend Heather. Heather designed the first Project KPSU tee shirt and these were sold at the PSU Bookstore. Brian went on to Stanford. He graduated in 1996 with an MS in Computer Science and has been very successful. Brian’s research, proposal writing, and communications skills were critical to the success of KPSU.
September 30, 1994: Pete Schulberg wrote an article about KPSU in the television section of the Oregonian.
September 30, 1994: Vanguard Front Page Headline – “KPSU hits the airwaves.” A photo of Elizabeth Welch is shown operating the stations first and very old tube console.
Fall 1994: PSU Magazine ran an article about KPSU.
October 1, 1994: KPSU’s first radio program was hosted by Station Manager Don Nasca and Kevin Flink, teacher of Benson High School’s radio program. Our first crew of thirty-eight trained, licensed, and contracted announcers hit the air waves that week. The following is the list of the Project KPSU radio pioneers:
Mike Acquisto , d’Amileau Baulk, Carl Bergwall, Jason Bergstrom, Creston Boatwright Dave Carter, Mark Drewry, Chris Fedunok, Anthony Fiarito, Kirill Galetski, Susan Hayden Margee Hanners, Micki Hudson, Jon Joiner, Brain Joseph, Kristen Kibler, Scott Kirkwood, Matt Kosokoff, Joanne Lau, Dieudonne Mayi, Rick Moore, Don Nasca, Doug Rogers, Dan Shea, Joshua Shokrian, Sharie Smith, Aimee Stanisich, Cherri Stuller, Zac Travis, Angela Turk, Michael Valez, Sherman Waring, Matthew Weber, Elizabeth Welch, Laurel Welch, Don West, Jonathan Yates, and Summer Young
Carl Bergwall and Kirill Galetski were the only members of the “The Friends of KPSU” to actually go on to take the KPSU radio training class and to hold a radio show. Carl remained an active member for at least six years.
October 4, 1994: The Vanguard ran an article, “KPSU on the air – at last.”
October 1994: A Portland newspaper called Tonic ran an article about KPSU featuring Joanne Lau and Laurel Welch on the air. Positive comments were noted from KBOO Program Director Chris Merrick and a not so enthusiastic comment from the General Manager of KUFO and KBBT.
October 7, 1994: The Vanguard runs an article about KPSU with a photo of Don Nasca and Margee Hanners interviewing PSU President Judith Ramaley on-the-air.
October 7, 1994: The Business Journal ran an article about KPSU.
October 10, 1994: PDXS ran an article about KPSU.
October 12, 1994: The Rocket ran an article about KPSU.
November 11, 1994: Carl Shultz, a Portland music writer for the Oregonian, features Fred Schaaf in the old A/V Studio and an article about KPSU.
November 1994: The Station’s Executive Team prepares for submission of 95/96 Budget. This budget was much larger and allowed for a paid staff. The first Executive Team consisted of Don Nasca, Station Manager; Joanne Lau, Office Coordinator; Carl Bergwall, Development Team Coordinator; Fred Schaaf, Music Team Coordinator; Matt Kosokoff, Production Team Coordinator; and Laurel Welch, Promotions Team Coordinator.
Many other articles ran in various music papers around Portland in 1994.
February 1995: Once again KPSU attracts a large crowd of supporters to budget hearings.
March 7, 1995: The Oregonian printed an editorial written by Don Nasca about Public Broadcasting being more than simply OPB.
March 22. 1995: The Willamette Week ran an article about KPSU with a photo of Kris Vockler and d’Amileau Baulk on the air.
August 1995: Don Nasca graduated with an MBA and his term of service ended after 24 months as Coordinator and Station Manager. Don left KPSU in good hands with a trained staff and a solid organizational structure which included ninety-six active volunteers.
August 1995: Elizabeth Caston was "hired" as the second Station Manager and she held a retirement party at her house for Don.
Don was employed by KBPS Portland Public Schools and The KBPS Radio Foundations as the KBPS AM and FM Underwriting Coordinator; he also acted as the PSU/Portland Public Schools liaison for fifteen months.