Wednesday, February 08, 2012

To Reed or not to Reed

It was just this week that 97.9 KRRC went dark, possibly for good.  The Reed College radio station has had a long and troubled history and the expectations have often been grim. They were operating at a mere 8.2 watts before this and it had been a long struggle to get that much at all. But let's begin at the beginning. More here.

The first incarnation of the Reed Radio Club began in 1954, by October 1955 KRCB-AM was a reality. This carrier current station operated on 660 AM. Their studio was in the basement of Doyle dormitory and they may or may not have also had a wee little pirate transmitter. Regardless of the legalities, this grew into a 10watt Class-D station, 89.3 KRRC-FM by the summer of 1958. But the patchwork of home-made and refurbished hardware was breaking down from the beginning. frequent bouts of downtime plagued the station for a decade. In 1981 that Class D status reared it's ugly head when 89.1 KMHD bumped them from their frequency.  KRRC and moved to 104.1 where they sat undisturbed until 2002. More here, and here.

A christian radio station from Tillamook, KFIS-FM was changing it's city of license to move-in on Portland and was going to mow down the Tiny Tim of college radio stations in order to do so. Only a couple months later the Portland fire marshal paid them a surprise visit and found them in violation and closed their studios. They did manage to pull that one out and get moved to 97.9 at an even lower power.  In 1992 they tried to make the best of a bad situation and increase their HAAT on the KGON tower. The FCC denied their request.

Then the unthinkable happened. On January 10th 2010, KRRC made it's plea on line with the following post:
"KRRC needs $5k to apply for a new frequency, the assistant treasurers are in favor of giving us the money, but ultimately it's senate's decision. If you care about KRRC, if you've listened to KRRC, if you like KRRC, please, take a second out of your day to send Senate an email. Tell them you want to keep broadcasting and keep KRRC alive....To put it bluntly, this is life or death for KRRC, if we don't get a new frequency, we won't be able to legally broadcast, and the FCC will take our license away..." 
It was an even worse situation that the last time. This time it was Clear Channel. They're moving KNRQ all the way from Eugene, OR into the Portland, OR market. For some reason, despite prior concerns about station migrations away from smaller markets, the FCC has permitted this 100+ mile move. the legally dubious move-in stomps directly on top of KRRC. Grim is an understatement. In November of 2011, KRRC gave up the ghost and moved to an online-only platform.

Reed College tried to sell the doomed license, then an a clever more they donated the class D license for KRRC to a non-profit devoted to community group named Common Frequency. With any luck the new owners will keep the programming local and try to shoehorn the station into a new frequency somewhere on the Portland radio dial.