KORC FM: 100 Watts Doesn’t Sound Like Much, But…

There’s a new radio station in Corvallis. KORC is only broadcasting at 100 watts, which isn’t much compared with KLOO’s 1,000 watts, much less KOAC’s 5,000. They’ll definitely never blanket the entire Pacific Northwest the way Portland’s KEX does with their FCC-maximum 50,000 watts. But then, that’s why they call 100 watts a Low-Power FM (LPFM) radio service. 

Try tuning your FM radio to 105.9, and find out if you can bring them in. If you can’t, do not despair: you can also hear them at their website, korcfm.com. In addition, you can find them online at Podbean, on Apple Podcasts, and doubtless at a number of other classy venues by plugging “KORCFM” into your favorite search engine. 

The KORC volunteers have partnered with Veterans for Peace and Our Revolution Corvallis Allies to finance and run the station, in order to transmit “music and civicsto the community. It might seem a bit old-fashioned or even pointless to operate such a small radio station, which is likely to reach far more people via its website than over the air, but their transmitter’s location in South Corvallis might serve as a reminder that not everyone locally has access to the Internet at home. Even in 2021, thousands of Corvallisites depend on the radio as their lifeline to daily activities in the community. 

They do indeed provide civics, with recordings and live transmissions of local events and lectures, and also of events from outside Corvallis that may be of interest to local people, such as episodes of the Rural Roots Rising podcast, and quite a lot of music. In fact, it’s an eclectic assortment of music, mostly in the form of entire albums played without interruption, since they don’t play any commercials and their DJs evidently like music more than they like the sound of their own voices. The music is either chosen by the staff or obtained from kindred spirits living elsewhere. 

This LPFM business is fairly new, and the FCC and Congress are still working out the kinks. There’s a bill under consideration that would increase the permissible transmission power of a station to 250 watts, which would put such a station somewhere near the power of KBVR’s 340 watts. Well, that’s something that might happen, anyway. Their hope, in licensing these stations, is to encourage community groups to seek licenses instead of setting up “pirate” stationswhich, even though they are typically low-powered operations on the same scale as KORC, are a cause of concern for the FCC, since they may interfere with licensed broadcasters. There are only so many frequencies available, after all. 

So, you might want to tune in KORC at 105.9 if you have an FM radio you probably have one in your car, if you don’t have one in your home, or check them out online and see if it suits you. 

By John M. Burt