Friday, May 31, 2024


I didn't drive directly from Tri-Cities to San Francisco. I drove from Portland to Tri-Cities and back to Portland, and only then down that long winding coastal road. Route 101 originates in Washington state where it wraps around the Olympic peninsula. Most sources give  that location as Olympia but I think the start of the ramp off is technically in Tumwater. The southern Terminus is in Los Angeles 1,540 miles away. The ramp  roughly at the ramp for S. Grande Vista Ave.

Two stations call Tumwater their city of license: 1340 KUOW-AM, and on 95.3 K237FR, the HD2 repeater of KYYO. Many stations give their city of license as Olympia: KAOS, KPLI, KXXO, KKWF, and seven repeaters and translators. Almost none of those towers are actually in either city. KAOS or course is local, as is KPLI; even KXXO way out on Capitol Peak at the Weyerhaeuser Radio Site in the Capitol forest is technically in Olympia. Strangely it's the repeaters that seem to be out of town like K270CJ and  K262CY repeater, are out of town.

K270CJ reminded me of something I've been observing for years now: the slow migration of oldies and classic rock playlists into the 1980s and even 1990s. By extension Country Oldies has also time-traveled to the 1980s which is frankly not a good era and I'm sorry to report that Nostalgia, the old big band format is basically extinct. But more on all that in a bit. 

Appropriate, to this topic, K270CJ at one point did broadcast "Olympia's Boomer Rock and Roll" as "Boom FM." But it's the HD3 channel of KRXY, that's not front row. HD3 is the back seat of the station wagon. (On the 94.5 FM stick they're broadcasting Hot AC.) But if you go to the website it has very mixed branding. It has KYA-FM in the header, but the URL is still Theboomfm, and the text describes the music as "Classic Hits" which is not oldies or classic rock. Notably the banner at the top is broken. I had forgotten this existed but this is all that remains of the old KYAgold site. That last flip of the FM stick happened in march of 1994 at 93.3 KYCY in San Francisco ending a brand stretching back into the early 1970s. [LINK] Per a December 2022 conversation on [SOURCEK270CJ flipped to SuperCFL and the steam flipped to sports which is what I found. However, I've found multiple other KYA streams... that are on-brand and still running.

I stocked up on  Calvin Johnson mix tapes at the Rainy Day Record Co. . but there's no tape deck in the car. So I spent this leg of the trip doing a bandscan while driving along the Columbia River gorge. This was an interesting experiment as there are no AM or FM transmitters in side of it but alternately behind the bluffs and hills around it. 


Heading to (Yakima-Pasco- Richland-Kennewick) Most of the drive is decidedly rural, these are white areas of the metro map. You can see the course of the river in the shape of the surrounding counties. But Route 14, aka The Lewis and Clark Highway,  starts in Vancouver, WA; home of 91.9 KOUV-LP, which is still a CP and 97.5 KDOA-LP a Caribbean station with a complicated resume. They sold their stick on 101.5 in the Dalles to the religious satcaster Educational Media Foundation (EMF). That station became KJYV in 2019 and then KDLZ in 2022. KDOA moved to 97.5 in 2021 but in September of 2023 filed a CP to move to 99.9. Both CPs are still active,but EMF (the E also stands for Evil) has a translator on 97.5 for KLVP making 99.9 the safer bet. They did file a proper STA [LINK] to remain silent due to that "copious interference" which they were when I drove through.

The first town of any note is Camas which has two location stations KIEV-LP "outlaw country" [LINK] and KNRK and by extension the HD-2 channel of KNRK, Alternative Classics. They were playing Kings of Leon when I last checked, a new cut from 2024. Alternative perhaps, classic? No. The Freeway ends at Washougal and while KMHD comes in clear there's nothing new on the dial I couldn't hear in Vancouver. The transmitters on Mount Hood are mostly on the south side of that summit and not particularly clear here.

Further down the road was the town Skamania, a perfect town for a ska-fest, or ska band. It's never happened but there have been a few near-misses. In 1964 Carlos Malcolm And His Afro-Jamaican Rhythms put out a record "Ska-Mania" which opened with the single "Skamania" it's mostly about curry. The Supertones and Five Iron Frenzy did a tour in 1998  named "Skamania." The band the Skatalites put out a record in 1996 "Greetings from Skamania." That's both one first wave and one second wave ska band, but still no love for the unincorporated community in Oregon. But if you're looking for local music in Skamania, Matthew McDonnell put our a cassette in 1992 "A Musical history and tour of the Columbia River Gorge."  Good luck finding it. A few miles later I pass the Bridge of the Gods.

After a quick stop at North bank Books I hit the road. 104.5 KPLP reports a city of license right on the water in White salmon, but they use a stick 23 miles away in Parkdale. It's another christian contemporary station.  I headed on to The Dalles; home of KQHR, KOTD, KMSW, KACI, KDLZ, KACI, KODL and another 9 FM repeaters.  92.7 KMSW purports to be Classic Rock and 1440 KODL to be Classic Country; both have slide into the 1980s. On the AM band are two more: news talker KACI-AM and and KODL-AM, both simulcasting on their respective FM sticks. I can just get 102.3 KRSX a standard issue country FM station.  They're 12 miles inland up route 97 to nowhere. Further down the road I can just get 106.1 KWCQ out of Condon, OR 33 miles away.

By the time I get to Boardman, before the river hooks north, The dial turns over to mostly Tri-Cities stations. Public stations KOLU, KRBM and KFAE comes in clearly but just like my last visit the college station KWCW is elusive. Half the dial is country music stations. I tried for 980 KTCR looking for an oldies station and got more 80s music. I can however get two other classic country stations out here: 1240 KTIX-AM and 1360 KOHU. Both have playlists that also lean into the 1980s but KOHU is certainly more interesting with a lot more old style lap steel. Both stations cover an area in the hills south east of Tri-Cities proper out in those white areas of the map. Station 101.9 KNHK is also classic country but I couldn't receive it. 

On the drive back there was one RF mystery that took me hours to make sense of. On 1230 AM I could hear this Spanish music for most of the drive. In trying to guess the location of the transmitter, I found it was strong fore and aft even as I rounded sharp corners, and tall hills loomed over head. I even considered it being a pirate. It turns out that 1230 KDYM-AM Sunnyside (near Yakima) and 1230 KRYN-AM in Gresham both simulcast "Estacion de la Familia radio". They are 170 miles apart at opposite ends of the Columbia river, but because of the depth of the gorge you can usually receive it anywhere between Portland and Kennewick. But which one you receive depends on which side of the mountain you're facing.

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