Jeff Hylton Simmons can see the finish line. Seven years ago, the 37-year-old Midwest transplant, sound engineer and broadcaster hatched the idea for a free-form, Portland-inspired terrestrial radio station. In September, 91.1 KXRY—or XRAY.fm—is slated to debut on your local dial. All that's left is to find a studio to operate out of and a spot to position the station's low-wattage transmitter. But XRAY Fest, a nine-day "virtual tour through the history of Portland music" featuring concerts, DJ sets and film screenings themed around the city's legendary music venues, isn't just about raising the funds needed to make those things happen. "It's really about awareness," Simmons says. "The festival is more of an introduction. More than a final or a last thing, it's a first thing."
Willamette Week spoke with Simmons and Jenny Logan, president of the Cascade Educational Broadcast Service, the nonprofit organization shepherding XRAY.fm into existence, about what to expect when the station launches in the fall.
WW: Summarize XRAY's mission statement.
Jenny Logan: The consensus—among the board members, at least—is that we want to curate the best of Portland culture. Not just be a straightforward reflection of what is happening in town, but pick out the best of what is happening and be able to broadcast that to everyone.
Jeff Hylton Simmons: It's like if the same group of people who started KBOO back in the '60s did it in 2013. We think we need this.
Why does Portland need this?
Simmons: The short answer is, because it feels like, to me, even being here since 1998, it's going through a lot of growing pains. It's spinning out of control in a cultural way. There's so much immigration, so many new people getting involved, so many people who think they know what the town's like because of a television show. That's why I think it's necessary.
You used the word "curate," which suggests this is one particular vision of Portland. Isn't there a danger in that, of marginalizing certain local music cultures?
Logan: The protection against that is being inclusive and being open in the community [and] getting people who know about music that we don't know about involved in the station. I think XRAY Fest is a way of getting attention from people who might say, "I want a piece of this station because it's not representing the Portland I know."
How will you know XRAY is a success?
Simmons: I've listened to a sickening amount of horrible radio—radio that actually makes culture worse, with DJs who aren't playing music, talking about celebrity gossip to send you to their website so they can sell ads. That's all I hear, flooded in the entire market. To me, a measure of success is to drive down the I-5 and hear four good songs in a row.
COMPLETE LIST OF XRAY FEST EVENTS:
Sat, June 8th - MISSISSIPPI STUDIOS
6PM #FREE 21+
SPACE PALACE + ELECTRICILL + FANGMOON + DJ DAIRY (aka Tres Shannon)
Sun, June 9th - HOLLYWOOD THEATRE
7PM $7 (w/ a parent)
Sublime Frequencies Presents: Vodoun Gods on the Slave Coast A Film By Hisham Mayet
The premiere screening a visual feast
Sun, June 9th - RONTOMS
9PM #FREE 21+ RONTOMS SUNDAY SESSIONS - CHASTITY BELT + SUMMER CANNIBALS
Mon, June 10th - DANTE'S
9pm 21+ Karaoke from Hell
Tue, June 11th - PRODUCE ROW
7pm 21+ #FREE Rev Shines Supper Set + DJ (former mayor) Sam Adams
Tue June 11th - BUNK BAR
9pm 21+ $12 THE BATS + EAT SKULL
Wed June 12th - HOLOCENE
9pm 21+ #LOWCOVER Blackbird & #XRAYFEST Present A Blackbird (the club) Retrospective:
31 Knots: Joe Haege tries to impress Jay Winebrenner
Made For TV Movie (one-time reunion show!)
CHAMPANGE JAM + DJ SAFI
Thur, June 13th - UNION/PINE
6pm #FREE MEOW MEOW and ARTISTERY present
KELLI SCHAEFER (EP RELEASE)
NO MORE TRAIN GHOSTS
DJ BILL PORTLAND + guests
Thur, June 13th 9pm - WHITE OWL SOCIAL CLUB
9pm 21+ #FREE DJ Joe Preston DJ Blackhawk
Fri, June 14th - THE MISSION THEATRE
The 90-minute director's cut of Benjamin Ellis' X-RAY VISIONS 5 & 7pm Screenings $7 all night
with performances from: THE TENNESSEANS, TONY GREEN, ROGER NUSIC, members of NO/NEW BAD THINGS, THE KURTZ PROJECT
Sat, June 15th - THE MISSION THEATRE
5PM & 8PM screenings, $7 each Mike Lastra's 'Northwest Passage: The Birth of Portland's D.I.Y. Culture'
Followed by an exclusive 30 minute preview of: 'Madness and Glory: The History of the Satyricon'
DOCTOR AMAZON (think Smegma)
MONICA NELSON and the Highgates (The Obituaries)
JAGULA (think Hellcows)
Sun, June 16th - CLUB 21
6pm 21+ #FREE DJ Dollar Bin (aka Steve Turner) DJ HWY 7 (aka Jay Martin) DJ Ghost Train (aka Sean Croghan) DJ REMA REMA + DJ Cecilia
SEE IT: XRAY Fest is June 8-16 at multiple locations.