One recipient of the recently-bestowed Edward R. Murrow Awards is Portland Radio Project, an Internet radio stream and website hub that received two Murrow commendations: one for an ongoing non-profit spotlight series called Community Voices, and another for website excellence.
RAIN spoke with two members of PRP’s founding team, Rebecca Webb (News Director) and Carrie Kikel (Marketing Director) about the organizational mission, and the operation of an Internet-only radio project focused on local community.
“Our mission is to give voice to Portland. We are all about being local.”
Webb and Kikel are proud of both awards. “It’s a sign that we’re doing what we set out to do, which is to connect Portland to Portland culture and artists,” Rebecca Webb told RAIN.
Portland Radio Project was formed in May of last year, and began streaming in October. As non-profit business, PRP is funded by local launch partners, underwriters, and listener donations. “We’re working on the revenue streams all the time,” Webb said.
Community Voices is a daily feature that spotlights one non-profit each week in a five-part series of programs. Production is accomplished by one staff member who works with a rotating team of volunteer college graduates to conduct interviews and assemble the programs. “It’s something we are absolutely dedicated to,” Webb and Kikel told us.
Most of PRP’s programming is music, which features a local-artist recording at least every 15 minutes. “Our theory is that if we mix local artists with established and popular music, it will appeal to a larger audience,” Webb said.
Community connection is high on the list of PRP’s mission values, along with offering a corrective to media consolidation that the founders believe has made broadcast radio less public-service oriented. “Many of us have been in the industry for a while and watched what happened with ownership concentration. We want to bring elements of public service back into the picture, which commercial stations have sometimes abandoned. We’re deploying that on the Internet platform.”
Not only Internet in the long run, though, as Portland Radio Project has been granted a LPFM (Low Power FM) license, and will extend to over-the-air this fall.
No matter the platform — streaming, website, LPFM — it’s all about Portland. Carrie Kikel noted: “If it’s not about Portland, it’s not about our community. Rebecca and I both worked in the community for a couple of decades, Rebecca on the broadcast side, and me on the non-profit communications side. We have different vantage points, but we both saw what happened to media — the voices, causes, and projects that make this such a great place to live have gone silent. That is deeply a part of our mission, and what created Community Voices.”