KFAR: Burgled in Knoxville

Knoxville’s First Amendment Radio reports the break-in happened two weeks ago. The station broadcasts from a trailer (ex-crackhaus) and have put a lot of work into the place. The thieves basically made off with stuff that was not bolted down: a computer, monitor, printer, small television, two CD/MP3 players, microphone and headphones, and assorted cabling. Nothing in the transmission chain was touched.
This thread on the station’s message board hints that there may have been witnesses (including a phone company worker who inadvertently loaned the burglars some wire cutters), yet it remains to be seen just how hard a police force will work on a case involving a pirate station as victim.

FCC Gets Earful in Monterey; LPFM Bill Advances from Senate Committee

First the news from Washington: John McCain’s bill to expand the FCC’s LPFM service cleared the Senate Commerce Committee yesterday, but not without some last-minute chicanery – an amendment has been added that exempts the state of New Jersey from any expansion (if it occurs).
Now it must clear the full Senate and House of Representatives, where the odds are not as good. However, Prometheus reports that some of the religious LPFMers are leaning on GOP congresscritters pretty hard, so there’s still some hope. Continue reading “FCC Gets Earful in Monterey; LPFM Bill Advances from Senate Committee”

Florida War on Pirates: Mobilizing the Troops

On Tuesday “more than 50 radio managers and owners gathered…at a meeting of the Florida Sheriffs Association at the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood,” according to the Miami Herald. “Their goal: To plot strategy on taking small-time, illegal operators off the air.”
The Broward County Sheriff’s office claims to have shut down “a dozen stations in the past 18 months,” while an estimated three dozen remain on the air in south Florida. “It takes ruthless, local law enforcement tactics,” said Sheriff’s Captain Larry DeFuria. At least two attorneys from the Florida Association of Broadcasters were also present at the meeting, undoubtedly for purposes of coaching the best ways to apply the smackdown. Continue reading “Florida War on Pirates: Mobilizing the Troops”

March of the Low-Band God Squad

This article was initially written for/published in the Wisconsinite, a now-defunct alt-biweekly newspaper in Madison, WI.
Under the guise of evangelism several religious broadcasting entities are mounting a full-scale invasion of the FM dial. This invasion exploits a couple of little-known provisions in FCC regulations that provide these broadcasters the opportunity to flood open frequencies with low-power transmitters. In very real terms these “godcasters” are crowding out the potential growth of new community radio stations.
Key to this ploy is a type of FM radio station known as a translator. Translator stations range in power levels from 1 to 250 watts and cannot air locally-produced programming. The FCC created the translator class of FM radio station initially to serve as a booster for full-power FM stations that operate in areas where terrain (like mountains) may block their signals.
Over the years many individual radio stations have applied for and received licenses to operate translators to extend or fill in gaps in their primary coverage area. In Madison, for example, Wisconsin Public Radio maintains a 10-watt FM translator station on 90.9 since WHAD-FM, The Ideas Network’s primary FM outlet (based in Milwaukee), does not provide adequate coverage to the Madison area and the next-closest nearest Ideas Network FM outpost, in Highland, cannot be reliably heard in Madison at all. Similar translators help boost or extend the reach of other WPR stations around the state. Continue reading “March of the Low-Band God Squad”

Limited Audience in Monterey Provides Fodder for Protest

As the FCC is only letting 400 people into its public hearing on “localism” in Monterey, California this Thursday – and only a portion of those 400 will be allowed to speak – the public is being encouraged to gather outside the hearing venue and make some noise.
They’ll be supplemented by microradio activists who plan to conduct a remote broadcast in protest of the general lack of public access to radio (as well as to the hearing itself). At least one group may set up a PA system to relay the events inside to those outside; perhaps some of the hearing may also be rebroadcast this way. Continue reading “Limited Audience in Monterey Provides Fodder for Protest”

LPFM Expansion Bill to Clear Committee

S. 2505 – the bill to expand LPFM back out to its original parameters as defined in 2000 – is expected to clear the Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday. This is somewhat of a no-brainer as S. 2505’s sponsor, John McCain (R-AZ) also happens to be committee chairman.
At present the bill has just two co-sponsors. Remember that it must still clear both the House and Senate and survive a presidential veto (expected but not yet promised). There’s always a chance that S. 2505 could become a “rider” to other legislation, a common legislative shortcut used when Congress has a backlog (as is the case presently). Then again, it could always be scuttled in exchange for the support of other measures with more political capital. Continue reading “LPFM Expansion Bill to Clear Committee”

Bad News (Double Dose)

The first is the FCC’s decision to set aside an earlier ruling that suspended approval for an Oregon commercial radio station to move closer to Seattle – a move which will force Mercer Island High School’s KMIH-FM off the air. The set-aside effectively puts the school’s station back in the gallows.
KMIH General Manager Nick DeVogel says, “This decision is ripe for reconsideration and appeal, and we implore the Commission to do just that.” Continue reading “Bad News (Double Dose)”

LPAM Petition Revival Effort; FCC Tomfoolery Planned for Monterey

What with the FCC in the midst of a spasm of public backlash (recently magnified by the judicial bodyslam given its media ownership work), a new effort is afoot to resurrect a petition for rulemaking to consider the establishment of a low-power AM radio service. Such a petition was actually tendered to the FCC more than a year ago but, like other selected documents, it entered the agency’s maw and disappeared.
The “revival petition” asks the FCC to finally respond to the LPAM request made in mid-2003; it will be submitted as a part of the agency’s ongoing inquiry into localism. Don Schellhardt is collecting signatures; if you’d like to be included e-mail him and include your contact information for the petition’s purposes. The initial plan called for submission to the FCC by tomorrow but that may be a bit flexible, and follow-up filings can be made to include more signatories. Continue reading “LPAM Petition Revival Effort; FCC Tomfoolery Planned for Monterey”

New Microradio Documentary Features Tucson Stations

Coming soon to a DVD player near you: Making Waves, a documentary about a cluster of microradio stations in one Arizona city and the people behind them. I suspect it will an interesting cross-section of American microbroadcasting in a post-LPFM world. Expect a review here in the future.
The 66-minute show premiered at the Arizona Film Festival in April and ran for a week on Tucson’s public access cable channel last month. Producer Michael Lahey says a web site about the work is forthcoming. Continue reading “New Microradio Documentary Features Tucson Stations”

Translator Invasion's Impact on LPFM Quantified

The following are results of a preliminary study conducted by REC Networks analyzing the impact a flood of more than 13,000 FM translator applications filed last year are having on the potential growth of bona-fide local LPFM stations. REC is undoubtedly refining this information; visit their web site for more.
Bracketed text are additions to the original.
We surveyed 10,000 census designated communities, which if the translator applications that were filed during the March 2003 (Great Translator Invasion) window did not exist would be able to have some form of LPFM: Continue reading “Translator Invasion's Impact on LPFM Quantified”