Q&A: Jeff Hylton Simmons & Jenny Logan

The founders of—a new low-power radio station—on the past, present, and future of local radio.

By Katie Gourley December 2, 2013 Published in the December 2013 issue of Portland Monthly

Why a new radio station? 

Jeff Hylton Simmons: I realized, “Wait, all the great music my friends listen to is not represented on the radio.” People understand quickly.

Jenny Logan: In general, we’ve given up on listening to radio. So the idea that it could come back and be something that you want to listen to is novel to some people.

Did the legendary ’90s venue X-Ray Café inspire the name of your station? 

JS: It’s an homage to the independent, all-inclusive, all-ages culture of that place. The X-Ray created “Portland Weird.” It’s a cherished gem that is missing in local radio. 

What role do you hope to play in Portland’s culture? 

JL: We want to do something that is really Portland. We don’t need to go elsewhere to find cool stuff because there is a lot of cool stuff happening here. 

JS: We are only as good as what people bring to the table. Luckily, some really, really exciting people live in Portland. 

What are your long-term goals for the project? 

JL: Our dream is to have a studio that’s visible and accessible to the public, where touring bands want to stop and people can come and watch them. We’re also trying to involve school-aged kids. We are starting a partnership with the Rock ’n’ Roll Camp so the campers can learn what it’s like to do a show and maybe come in and do their own playlist. Launch Party
Live music by Ural Thomas and the Pain, Old Light, Rev. Shines, and a slew of DJs
Mississippi Studios
March 15

How is station funded? 

JS: Volunteer gasoline. (Laughs.) We are using standard radio models, combining foundation support, grant support, and listener support. It is the same type of model that most nonprofit radio
stations like OPB use. 

Community radio seems to breed internal conflict (see KBOO’s recent chaos). How do you avoid that?

JL: There has to be someone that’s really boring and dry making sure everything’s running properly. That’s probably me right now. But some conflict is healthy because it means that we’re not like a monolithic subculture. We have people with different backgrounds and different ideas. And part of the fun for me is working out compromises.

JS: That’s the paradigm for community radio in general. But we have the advantage of starting from scratch.

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