Saturday, June 08, 2024


It's about 650 miles from Portland to San Francisco, that's a full day at the wheel. The plan was to spend as much of the drive on the coast as possible so instead of heading down I-5 or Route 99 I drove north west up Route 26 to join 101 in Seaside, OR; lost some time but gained some road miles.

The coast of Oregon is mostly rural, small towns separated by miles of forest. KXJM is located in Banks, along route 26 but at 68k watts is just another Portland station. KMHD petered out and I started looking for local stations. The Classic rock station 102.3 KCRX in Seaside was the first and their license is held by "OMG FCC Licenses, LLC" which is the best LLC name I've seen since "The Dude Abides LLC."  In this area OMG also owns 1230 KKOR and 1370 KAST-AM in Astoria which is too far north to receive here. (They also own a cluster of station in Alaska.) OMG sadly only stands for Ohana Media Group and not the exclamation "oh my god." Ohana's website has been down for quite a while and is excluded from the wayback machine so they're running dark online.

is classic rock if you think The Offspring is classic rock. It's fine but it's not all about Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. Further down the coast in Cannon beach there's a whole cluster of FMs to check out. The best option was 94.9 KBGE an actual AAA format station: Gorillaz, Florence and the Machine, Blur, Genesis, Live etc. Nothing unexpected but at least it's not new country. Down the road Manzanita has a local Classical stick, KQMI and then down around Bay City  we have another cluster of FMs now audible from Tillamook. Two are public radio: KTCB and KTMK. But down on the AM band I can now clearly get 1590 KTIL. My info said that it was classic rock but all I heard was country music... Slim pickins' out here. Bay City next door has an actual LPFM station 92.9 KAYN. [LINK] They had a bluegrass program and it's the best thing I've heard since KMHD faded out. 

Route 101 swings inland and I can briefly hear Portland stations again before heading back to the coast. In Newport is Lane Community College and their stations 89.7 KLCC and 90.5 KLCO. It does have some local programs, notably Eye 5, a Saturday roots music show but it's not Saturday today so I get an NPR zombie. Another hour south, in Lincoln City there's another classic rock station KCRF. But they're silent today. That went dark in the Pacific West foreclosure. [LINK] and [LINK].

Around Newport, more Eugene stations came in range. It didn't add any great options, further south Reedsport and then Coos Bay there's even more NPR zombies; KLFO, and KSBA, and yet more classical: KZBY, KWAX, and KWVZ and further south are KSOR, and KOOZ. AAA outlet KTEE was playing some Roasanne Cash. But in Florence 90.7 KXCR, a hyper-local unassuming 900 watt station. I stuck around and I heard a show about poetry, and listened to a talk show KXCR Conversations. These get posted online here so you can hear that very show. Also notable is KMHS, a high school station with not one or two but three sticks: 1430, 105.1 and 91.3. I just wish it wasn't wasted playing modern country music.

The drive was beautiful of course. I stopped at a joint named Mr. Ed's Espresso, Juice, and Underground Pub. The walls and ceiling are all hung with guitars of every make and model. The pizza is great it was one of the best stops on the whole drive. As I approached the California border I could hear 790 KRJY-AM, the Travelers Information station out of Eureka. This station is interesting because it's privately owned. They signed on in 1980 as KEKA. Prior to 2000 it was an Adult Standards format, and under Westwood One it was Spanish Oldies until 2016.

Station 910 KURY-AM should be playing Nostalgia but it too has drifted forward a couple decades more like it's FM counterpart on 95.3. The first California FM station I can hear for sure is 91.9 KHSR, an NPR zombie. I hear it best near the coastline. 1480 KEJB-AM out of Eureka is playing some actual oldies: Chiffons, Martha Reeves, Bobby Fuller the first one I've heard all week. I drove through Brookings, past several state-line themed cannabis shops and was in suddenly California.

I might have missed something but the giant redwood trees do seem to only start south of the border. I have since read that they do grow in Southwest Oregon but are smaller. The first LPFM I hit was 101.1 KFUG in Crescent City but they were playing modern country music as I passed through town but according to their website it's a crapshoot. It could have been Noiseparade or all Elvis. More here. I could hear 104.7 KHUM out of Humbolt by the time I got to Kalamath, more true AAA: Dan Auerbach, Beatles, Lana Del Rey and way too much J.J. Cale. 

Down the road I hit the Eureka-Arcata market which has a more robust radio dial. Station 95.1 KMDR playing is listed online as Rhythmic Oldies but is actually Soft AC. 94.1 KLGE a loungy jazz station... not quite Adult Standards though it sports some Mel Torme. A couple years ago they did a real deal radio play called "Hard Boiled Humboldt, A Half-Baked Detective Story". Yes you can download it and you should. [LINK] I expected it to come in but 105.1 KRFH, the one college station in town was not audible.

The area between Eureka and Ft. Brag is pretty rural but I noticed, starting in Eureka what KMUD has become. Firstly it is the station I remember. I tuned in and the first thing I heard was some talk about Shamans and then Native American music. They are now a real deal public radio network: 91.1 KMUD, 88.1 KMUE, and 90.3 KLAI. Don't ever change.

The dial got quiet until we hit Ft. Bragg and then Mendocino, home of 89.3 KAKX. The kids are surprisingly adept, nice mix of indie rock. Then the highway routed further inland. In Santa Rosa I can hear a repeater for KCSM on 90.7, and KWMR is keeping it weird. Kay Clements was still MD last time I came through, she's not listed on the staff website anymore but they just celebrated 25 years of broadcasting[LINK], congratulations! I also bumped into KRJF-LP which I've not heard before [LINK]. In the mid-afternoon I caught the New Music show, mostly a mix of AAA and indie rock, nice driving music. From there I could already hear San Francisco stations like KPFA, but I stuck with 93.7 KJZY, one of the few Nostalgia stations left, then all jazz 91.1 KCSM all the way into the city.

Filled with tacos from Tacos Oscar next door, I paid a visit to 1-2-3-4 Go Records on 40th Street in Oakland. Among other things I got a few stickers there, one for 92.7 FM KEXP.  The problem is that KEXP is on 90.3 in Seattle. Much like KYA Gold in Seattle... this station is 800 miles away from this sticker. The truth was a big surprise. In 2009 KEXP bought the station we now know as 92.7 KEXC. I'm not sure how I missed the news, but KEXP bought the old KJAZ stick from Flying Bear in 2022. There were other sights and other sounds, but you can't stay on the road forever.

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