Radio by and for the People

Neon 'On Air' sign

For generations, rural Oregonians have relied on community media to break isolation, share information about community happenings, survive crises, and celebrate art, music, and culture! As wealthy corporations buy up small-town papers and radio stations, human dignity leaders are working hard to support rural media makers.

These partnerships allow us to amplify pro-democracy organizing, share programming created by and for the people of rural Oregon, and support communities in taking back the airwaves when licenses become available. 

When ROP got word from our statewide community media partners that there were opportunities to bring noncommercial full-power radio stations to Ontario and Baker City, we quickly connected with the folks on the ground. After just one meeting together, folks in Malheur County were off and running on a station for the Four Rivers Community, which includes Ontario and Vale. You can learn more about their new station, 90.7FM KRFR, here!

Folks from Baker City were also eager to bring a local, community radio station to life, and like most bold ideas, it has been a collaborative effort to get it off the ground from the beginning. 

In November 2021, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced accepted applications for noncommercial educational stations all over the country. In Baker City, Brian from Baker Art Guild partnered with ROP to apply for the license, and over one year later, in March, we got word that we received the license! Simultaneously and unbeknownst to Brian, Katie Bratcher of Broadcast Baker was working to bring online community radio to Baker City. For the first minutes after Katie heard the big announcement, she was MAD. Why had they both been working towards this common goal and not known of each other’s efforts? Anger quickly turned to excitement and a formidable partnership formed shortly afterwards. 

They teamed up and have been recruiting more and more dedicated community members to launch 89.9 FM, KBZR. The team is working hard to hit the airwaves by 2024! Read more about their founding and efforts here.

Why does community media matter? 

To Brian, KBZR means giving the community an opportunity to share and express their creativity and passion for music, to learn, and to get involved locally. He is not alone. Rural Oregonians have consistently named strong, publicly-funded community media as a priority and a key piece of the Roadmap to a Thriving Rural Oregon. That’s why for several years ROP produced and worked with dozens of rural radio stations to broadcast Rural Roots Rising, our podcast that spotlights rural organizing for democracy and justice. 

Logo for radio station KBZR with an image of a tower and lightening bolts above it.

It’s often tough to make sure our issues are being framed well in the media, but what if the movement for human dignity led the local media? We want to strategize with you about how you are engaging with community media and if you are not, how to incorporate community media outreach into your plans as a tool to help advance our work for human dignity! Have some thoughts you want to chat through? Reach out to your ROP organizer or email Sam at sam@rop.org!

P.S. This fall, we are partnering with ROP friend and movement communications expert, Robert Bray, (who was also at the Caucus!) to host three strategic communications trainings over Zoom! The series will build our skills around breaking down complex issues, help us reframe and refine messaging, and support folks to speak with the media as well as our neighbors about the issues that matter most. Keep an eye on your inbox for more details, or email us at emma@rop.org to let us know you want a personal invitation! 

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