By Emily Neelon, Communication, Class of 2017
Looking out over the Portland skyline from the window of Portland Radio Project’s downtown studio, Rebecca Webb reflects on her thirty-seven years in the storytelling business.
“You make the best decisions that you can as you go along,” Webb remembers. Clearly, she made all the right decisions.
With a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Oregon that suited her talkative personality, Webb began her radio career in 1978 at KUGN in Eugene as the only female reporter in the newsroom. Almost forty years later, she has been at the center of Portland media as a radio personality and host for KINK and KATU and a host for KOINTV.
When Webb first began her career in broadcast journalism, radio stations were independently owned and connected to their communities. But since she first stepped into KUGN, Webb has watched owner consolidation bring radio to an impersonal national platform. Unhappy with this transformation, Webb pursued a graduate degree in political science at Portland State University. Her 2011 thesis project focused on radio owner consolidation in Portland through the lens of democracy.
This passion for putting an end to radio consolidation in Portland catalyzed her current project: Portland Radio Project. Along with other radio veterans who shared her disappointment in the direction radio was heading, Webb founded PRP in a friend’s bedroom in the summer of 2013. With the goal of keeping radio in the community by featuring local artists, businesses, non-profits, and news, PRP is acting on a different business model or set of motivations than any other outlet in the Portland metro area.
Since its founding almost two years ago, PRP has become a major presence in the Portland community. The station has moved from its bedroom beginnings to a space in Forge PDX in the Tiffany Tower and has been awarded official non-profit status. Although the station currently streams exclusively online, PRP will be moving onto the dial with a tentative launch date of May 1. For Webb, this success and support in giving radio a new life was entirely unexpected. Clearly, she is making all the right decisions.