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XRAY.FM Brings Ultra-Low-Power Community Radio to Portland

A new very low-power FM station hit the Portland, Oregon airwaves this week. XRAY.FM is a new community station that took over the license for Reed College’s legacy class D station at 91.1 FM in 2012 with the help of Common Frequency.

The station mounted a very successful Kickstarter in January. Starting with a goal of $40,000 to fund the launch, XRAY ended up with $103,762 contributed. The Portland community clearly got excited about the prospect of another progressive community station hitting the dial.

The station is balancing progressive talk programming during much of the day part with a line-up of well-known local music DJs for the balance of the schedule. The talk programming marks the return of local host Carl Wolfson and nationally syndicated Thom Hartmann who previously were heard in Portland on progressive talk station KPOJ which Clear Channel flipped to Fox Sports Radio in November of 2012. KPOJ was one of the commercial stations with that format in the US, starting as an Air America affiliate, then transitioning to local and syndicated programming.

The format change was much lamented amongst Portland’s progressive community. That’s why last fall community station KBOO-FM started carrying Hartmann’s show on as a stop-gap until XRAY could come on-line.

Class D stations were the original low-power FMs, operating at much lower power than today’s LPFMs. These stations haven’t been licensed by the FCC since the mid–70s, and only a handful of these legacy stations remain on air. Operating with a whopping 8.2 watts of power, XRAY will be out-powered by the new LPFMs coming on line in the Portland area. Wisely, it looks like the XRAY team is counting on using the FM signal as a platform to build a strong internet presence and explore other options for extending its broadcast reach.

The Portland Mercury featured XRAY as its cover story last week and OregonLive has a short post about the station.

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