Thursday, May 23, 2024


Everyone knows the airport code for Portland (PDX) but if you were not familiar, PSC is the airport code for Tri-Cities in western Washington state. The Tri-Cities are three cities (Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland) located at the confluence of the Yakima, Snake, and Columbia Rivers. I flew into Seattle (SEA) and after a short stop in Olympia and drove the 160ish miles to Portland to begin the real road trip. This is my first visit in over a decade. [LINK] and [LINK] Much has changed. The weird things was that I didnt' run into KEXP stickers until I got to San Francisco a week later.

In Ellensburg, 96.1 KGRU-LP is no more. The Great Round-Up Cowboy church surrendered their license in 2016. Station 89.9 KGRG is still there, as is 1330 KGRG. They're still broadcasting different programming, but I did not hear any hosts leading me to believe they're operating under automation at least that morning. The "Alternative past" logo is long gone.

Station 101.1 KOHO was playing Classical music as expected. I made a side trip into Olympia to tune into 89.3 KAOS which did not disappoint. I caught the program Sister Sound in all it's psychedelic glory. [LINK]. I picked up a few Calvin Johnson mix tapes [LINK]  and the latest issue of the Cooper Point Journal. (I did spot that KAOS advert on page 7, well done.)  Sadly 90.1 KUPS was not very audible on the route. 91.3 KBCS was, so I heard DJ Mike Biggins briefly before the Bluegrass show began at noon PST. I think he was spinning some Taj Mahal but again the faded out before I passed Tacoma. 

The co-channel interference between KASB and KMIH on 88.9 was such that neither station was audible on my route. Strangely KMIH has flipped from Rhythmic CHR to AAA making their playlist more like KBCS than KNHC if we're comparing among the Seattle stations. KMIH operated on 104.5 until 2008 when this mess began. They had some secondary coverage via a translator on 94.5 but they sold it to Bonneville and while I'm sure the revenue was tempting... the station seems all but inaudible now. Putting two class D stations on the same frequency was a truly bizarre decision, which at this point could really only be improved with a timeshare agreement.

As soon as I got south of Cowlitz, WA I began trying to tune in my long-time favorite jazz station, KMHD. The signal cleared up around Castlerock. I caught part of the program Songs From Cloud 9, and then the following Monday morning, but was sorry to miss the Carlton Heston rebroadcast. But I did listen to The Morning Session, which was very chill, as advertised. The dial stayed put for a long time.

I made a real effort to spend some time listening to KFFD, Free Form Portland. They're small, they're weird and 100% volunteer. When I first tuned in I couldn't tell I even had a station, but after a bit of listening it was interrupted suddenly by an announcement about storm water runoff. Then I realized I was hearing ocean waves, not just static. It was surreal. Around 9:00 AM they had some hard soul and R&B program rolling. But when I checked back later it was a bilingual Spanish/English talk program.

KBOO was being KBOO and I can hardly describe what I heard but it was like Merengue with Hammond organ leads. I am guessing it was the Africa Oye program. KXRY (X-Ray FM) was playing a local artist Dakota Theim "The High Life" which I know because hosts Paul and Hannah backsold it properly. Good job kiddos. I tried to get 99.9 KXRW but there wasn't even a whisper on that frequency, not even driving down Route 5 in Vancouver. Similarly 100.7 had neither KBSF-LP nor KQRZ-LP when I tried Monday morning.

I had a great time in Portland, heard good music, ate great snacks.  There were more food trucks than restaurants. The hotel room even came stocked with a Roberts Revival R300 radio with a digital tuner. So instead of using the car radio, I was able to adjust a nice telescoping antenna and sit in the hotel room in total comfort and do a proper bandscan.

PORTLAND BANDSCAN (highly selective)

88.3 - KBVM     Religious talk
88.7 - KZRI        Christian rock
89.1 - KMHD     Jazz
89.5 - KPFR       Choir
89.9 - KQAC      Classical
90.3 - KFFP        Bilingual program?

90.7 - KBOO      Random
91.1 - KXRY      Indie Rock
91.5 - KOPB       NPR
91.9 - K2201N    KWAZ repeater
96.7 - KNUM      Hiphop
99.1 - KPRP        Indie rock
107.1 K296FY    KXRY repeater

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