KBPS Logo 1923.jpg
Frequency1450 kHz C-QUAM AM Stereo
BrandingAM 1450 KBPS
FormatDaytime (school days):
Top 40, Hot Adult Contemporary, CHR
Nights/Weekends, Non-school days:
Oldies, Adult standards, Classic rock
Holiday music (November-December)
Jam Band (Specialty Programming)
First air date
May 4, 1923 (as KFIF)
Former call signs
KFIF (1923-1930)
Call sign meaning
Benson Polytechnic School
Technical information
Facility ID4782
Power1,000 watts
Transmitter coordinates
45°31′38″N 122°39′3″W / 45.52722°N 122.65083°W / 45.52722; -122.65083Coordinates: 45°31′38″N 122°39′3″W / 45.52722°N 122.65083°W / 45.52722; -122.65083
WebcastListen Live

KBPS (1450 AM) is a high school radio station in Portland, Oregon, owned by Portland Public Schools, and run by Benson Polytechnic High School students enrolled in its radio broadcasting program. From its founding the station has been based on the Benson campus and staffed by its students.

As part of its standard transmission, KBPS broadcasts in AM Stereo.


In May 1921, the Benson Polytechnic School received a government license to operate a "Technical and Training School" station with the call sign 7YK.[1] This station utilized a spark transmitter, which was limited to Morse code dot-and-dash transmissions. In the early 1920s broadcasting was introduced, and arrangements were made to establish a school station. Equipment previously used by a short-lived station, KYG,[2] was purchased by the student body in March 1923, and an application filed for a new broadcasting station to be operated by the students under the direction of teacher Fred Brainard.[3]

The first broadcasting station license, with the call letters KFIF, was issued on March 23, 1923 to the Benson Polytechnic Institute.[4] Equipment tests were begun in April,[5] followed by an informal debut broadcast at 6:00 p.m. on May 4, 1923.[6] A more formal station introduction, coinciding with the start of the fifth annual Benson Technical Show, was broadcast from 9:30 to 10:30 p.m on May 9th, with scheduled addresses by school director W. F. Woodward, Benson principal C. E. Cleveland, and student body president Bill Norvell, plus singing by Marguerite Carney.[7][8]

KFIF's initial assignment was for broadcasting on a wavelength of 360 meters (833 kHz), a shared "entertainment" wavelength that required allocating timeslots to individual stations in order to avoid interference. In late 1924 KFIF was reassigned to 1210 kHz,[9] which was followed by assignments to 1400 kHz in 1927,[10] and to 1310 kHz in early 1928.[11] On November 11, 1928, under the provision of the Federal Radio Commission's General Order 40, KFIF moved to a "local" frequency of 1420 kHz.[12]

The school's original application requested reassignment of the KYG call letters,[3] however the station was instead randomly assigned KFIF from an alphabetical roster of available call signs. In March 1930 the call letters were changed to KBPS (for Benson Polytechnic School), with the station's William Allingham explaining that "the letters KFIF were difficult to utter over the radio... and they were harder still to understand".[13]

During the 1933-1934 school year, programming was added intended for local elementary school students. KBPS was transferred from the school to the School District in the fall of 1939. As of 1942, KBPS was on the air every school day from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and from 3:15 to 5:00 p.m. Several of the city schools had radio production instruction, and would prepare special broadcasts for the station.[14]

In March 1941, with the implementation of the North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement, most of the stations on 1420 kHz, including KBPS, moved as a group to 1450 kHz. In 1929, KBPS had begun timesharing with another Portland station, KXL. After KXL moved to 750 kHz in October 1941, KBPS had unlimited broadcasting hours, but because it did not have enough programming to fill the available time, it was licensed with a reduced schedule as a "specified hours" station.

As of 1947, the station was broadcasting six hours each day. Patricia Green Swenson took over as general manager at this point, a post which she held until 1994.[15] By 1954, the station's schedule was 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday, which was sometimes extended for late running sports events.[16]

Beginning in 1994, a student group at Portland State University began leasing time on the station, in order to provide college radio-style programming over KBPS for 59 hours each week, from 5 p.m. until midnight on weekdays and noon to midnight on weekends. This programming used the self-assigned identification of "KPSU radio". The contract arrangement was terminated on June 25, 2010, a week before its intended conclusion, due to KBPS management concerns that some of the programming was inappropriate for a high school station.[17]

On July 1, 2012 KBPS suspended operations for the summer due to budget cuts, but returned to the air later that year.[18]


  1. ^ "New Stations" (Special Land), Radio Service Bulletin, June 1, 1921, page 3. The "7" indicated that the station was located in the 7th Radio Inspection District, and the "Y" specified that the station was operating under a "Technical and Training School" authorization.
  2. ^ KYG in Portland had been licensed to Willard P. Hawley, Jr. from March 28, 1922 until October 13, 1922, and then briefly continued under a temporary authorization by the Radio Service Bureau.
  3. ^ a b "KYG Radio Set Now Owned by Benson Tech", Oregon Sunday Journal, March 18, 1923, Section 3, page 3.
  4. ^ "New Stations", Radio Service Bulletin, April 2, 1923, page 8.
  5. ^ "In Portland's Schools: Benson" by Paul Brunner, Oregon Daily Journal, April 29, 1923, Section 5, page 4.
  6. ^ "'Tech' Radio Concert", Oregon Daily Journal, May 4, 1923, page 11.
  7. ^ "In Portland's Schools: Benson" by Paul Brunner, Oregon Sunday Journal, May 6, 1923, Section 5, page 4.
  8. ^ "Fifth Technical Show at Benson To Open Tonight", Oregon Daily Journal, May 9, 1923, page 12.
  9. ^ "Alterations and corrections", Radio Service Bulletin, January 2, 1925, page 7.
  10. ^ "Broadcasting Stations by Wavelength" (effective June 15, 1927), Radio Service Bulletin, May 31, 1927, page 10.
  11. ^ "Alterations and corrections", Radio Service Bulletin, February 29, 1928, page 5.
  12. ^ "Revised list of broadcasting stations, by frequencies, effective 3 a. m., November 11, 1928, eastern standard time", Second Annual Report of the Federal Radio Commission for the Year Ended June 30, 1928, Together With Supplemental Report for the Period From July 1, 1928 to September 30, 1928, page 212.
  13. ^ "Station's Call Changed", Morning Oregonian, March 18, 1930, page 9.
  14. ^ "Portland, Oregon 1933 to Date", Public School Broadcasting to the Classroom by Carroll Atkinson, 1942, pages 68-71.
  15. ^ Carlin, Peter Ames (2010-01-10). "Patricia Swenson, longtime manager of Benson radio station KBPS, dies at 93". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2010-01-10.
  16. ^ "High School Radio" (correspondence from Melvin Rydman), Radio World, December 7, 2016, page 30.
  17. ^ "KPSU loses AM signal" by Corie Charnley, Portland State University Vanguard, June 28, 2010.
  18. ^ Anderson, Jennifer (February 7, 2013). "Changes, donations keep KBPS on air". Portland Tribune. Retrieved 8 February 2013.

Further reading