KRAP radio has been flushed away, though its manager hopes to get the station’s hard-rock music flowing again.
Two years ago, David Tedder of Longview started the low-power “pirate” station, which broadcast on 107.9 FM.
He decided to turn the station off Monday after getting a visit from Binh Nguyen, the Federal Communications Commission agent in the Portland office, who reminded him he couldn’t operate without a license.
Tedder, 33, whose radio name is Mr. E, said he started KRAP to fill the void left when Portland hard-rock station KUFO switched formats.
“I do all the programming,” Tedder said earlier this month while he was still on the air. He mixed local and national bands, something no other radio station was doing. “Local bands like to hear their stuff next to Metallica,” he said. “I just play a lttle bit harder music than mainstream.”
Tedder said he had cleaned up his on-air language, though some of the local bands’ lyrics might push FCC limits.
“We play unedited music,” Tedder said. “It’s uncensored. But metal singers don’t cuss as bad as rap, and if they do you can’t understand it.”
Nguyen said the language of KRAP songs wasn’t the issue, but the station’s lack of an FCC license violated federal law.
KRAP, also known as “Radioactive Rock,” was broadcasting with the relatively low power of 15 watts, Tedder said. (By comparison, KRQT broadcasts with 800 watts and KLYK has 3,000 watts.)
However, the maximum power an unlicensed station can have is way less than one watt, Nguyen said.
Nguyen said his signal-seeking equipment led him right to KRAP’s antenna, which is on Mount Solo.
The main reason the FCC requires radio stations to be licensed is so that they don’t interfere with the signals of other stations on the same or nearby frequencies.
Tedder said his signal was so weak that it didn’t carry into buildings, so most of his listeners heard him on car radios. The signal went as far as Kalama and Castle Rock, he said. He operated the station out of his Longview home.
The nearest station with the same frequency, Hope 107.9, is a Christian broadcaster in Albany, Ore.,
Nguyen said the FCC received a complaint about KRAP, though the agency can’t reveal who it was as long as the case is open.
KRAP’s website also attracted the attention of FCC investigators, Nguyen said. “We know that there are many types of these stations but they go underground. But this guy has a website.”
Pirate radio stations aren’t uncommon. “I’ve been with the commission 23 years,” Nguyen said. “I’ve done about 1,000 cases.”
Tedder said he could have passed KRAP off to someone else and kept the FCC searching for the new pirate operator, but “I don’t want to go that route.”
Instead, he plans to apply for an FCC low-power license “as soon as the community will allow me,” thanks to donations. He estimated the cost at $10,000.
Such a license would allow him to broadcast with up to 100 watts if a frequency is available, Nguyen said.
Meanwhile, Tedder plans to keep the music coming online at KRAP1079FM.com.