DJ Ambush stands behind the turntables in The Numberz FM space at the Portland Art Museum.
Credit: Jason Hill
Black Radio Station at Home in Portland Art Museum
DJ Ambush's community waves on The Numberz FM uplift Black experiences in Portland and beyond.
3 min read
Victoria Powell, former Content Manager at Travel Portland, relocated to Portland in June of 2021 from Atlanta, Georgia. Read More
How do you build a legacy? Well, you start with a story, a truth, a message and mix all three.
Those are the ingredients that make “The Numberz FM,” co-founded by DJ Ambush in 2018 and housed in the Portland Art Museum. The digital radio station focuses on sharing, playing and turning up the volume of Black experiences in Portland—from voices filled with talent, knowledge and excellence—by creating a legacy.
Start with the story: Portland is the people, and people take pride in their homes and communities. As the city grew, so did gentrification, which resulted in thousands of BIPOC people being displaced from their Portland neighborhoods to “the Numbers.” These neighborhoods near the eastern fringes of the city saw an influx of Black Portlanders and BIPOC communities were spread apart.
Next up, truth: The Numbers holds culture that’s been nurtured by Black experiences, and DJ Ambush is taking an artful approach to reconnecting Portland’s Black communities by creating a media space dedicated to empowering and sharing those experiences beyond Portland’s city limits.
Finally, the message: The Numberz feeds the community with all sound waves, from house music to new releases from Portland’s upcoming artists and conversations with community leaders. As Portland’s first and only Black-led radio station, The Numberz is using its voice to transcend music and inspire dialogue.
About DJ Ambush
But that’s not everything that fortifies Executive Director DJ Ambush’s vision and Portland’s creativity. He says Portland’s art scene felt like home and drew him when he moved here from Philadelphia in 2016, and he continues to pour into the community just as much as Portland poured into him.
DJ Ambush fell in love with the art community’s sense of family. “That was one of the main things I noticed when I first got here, how the artist community supports itself,” he said. In that same community spirit, The Numberz found a new home at the Portland Art Museum. After hosting workshops and socially distanced outdoor performances, the station moved its operations into the museum in August 2020. Museum visitors can also explore The Numberz-curated AUX/MUTE Gallery, which features work by BIPOC artists.
“For any creative output, you’ve got to do something that feeds you, that keeps you replenished,” he said. “One thing that’s really, really dope about Portland is the amount of record stores and the amount of comic shops. And that’s it for me: Comics, collecting vinyl. Those are the things that I use to replenish.”
Music Millennium is the oldest record store in the Pacific Northwest. They have an impressive collection of new and used CDs, vinyl records, DVDs and other music-related products. They also host special concerts and events.
Calling itself "the record store of comic stores," this airy comic book shop houses an inventory of obscure titles shelved alongside mainstream selections, plus volumes of cutting-edge graphic art and design.
The Numberz is more than just a radio station — it’s a medium for Portland to feel pride, unity and community in Black experiences. Portland has always been humble, but, with The Numberz, we’re taking pride and taking ownership of the sound that is ours. Tune in and pay a visit to experience our innate Northwest swag and contribute to The Numberz legacy.