Nonprofit rock-and-talk radio startup XRAY.FM plans to merge with local music station KZME.FM this summer, doubling its signal reach.
That means XRAY.FM's programming—which has returned progressive talk hosts Carl Wolfson and Thom Hartmann to the radio dial—will finally be heard west of Southeast Cesar Chavez Boulevard.
KZME's board voted last night to authorize its CEO to negotiate a proposal from XRAY.FM to combine lineups. The decision was first reported on Twitter last night by The Portland Tribune.
(UPDATE, 7:10 pm: MetroEast Community Media CEO Rob Brading says negotiations with XRAY.FM aren't finalized. "I firmly believe those negotiations will result in a positive outcome," Brading says.)
XRAY.FM station organizer Jefferson Smith tells WW that the combined signals of the two stations could "double or triple" their reach.
"It's partly because of transmitter strength," Smith says, "but the real reach advantage is you'd have one stick in the West Hills and one stick on Rocky Butte. We'll be heard across the city."
XRAY.FM, which broadcasts at 91.1 FM, has a 10-watt transmitter on Rocky Butte, while KZME 107.1 FM has a 90-watt translator in the West Hills.
Smith says the combined station will broadcast at both spots on the dial.
Commercial progressive talk radio was cut out of the Portland market in November 2012, when KPOJ-AM 620 switched formats to Fox Sports Radio.
XRAY.FM launched in March, after Smith brokered a deal to return progressive talkers Wolfson and Hartmann to Portland airwaves alongside local indie-rock shows. The station raised more than $100,000 on Kickstarter, but its weak signal couldn't be heard in the central city—until now.