The Federal Communications Commission is busy preparing for an onslaught of applications for new low-power FM (LPFM) stations: the filing window opens on October 15th and closes on the 29th. Interested applicants should already be hard at work preparing, because building a radio station from scratch is not a simple process.
But there have been and will be some important info-dumps that can help demystify the issues. In chronological order: Continue reading “55 Days and Counting: Informative Events for LPFM Applicants”
With what seems like increasing frequency, media-pundits are dropping rhetorical bombs riffing on the notion that radio is dying. This inevitably sets off a tizzy within the radio industry itself. But there are still strong signs of life, especially if one steps back and looks at the big picture.
Every quarter, the Federal Communications Commission issues a report on the number of licensed broadcast radio stations in the United States. The graph at right compiles the last 21 years of these reports (from 1992 to 2013).
These FCC reports are available here. I used the agency’s mid-year totals, released every June 30th, for year-to-year consistency. (2000 and 2007 are asterisked because there was no June 30th report archived for those years; these figures come from the FCC’s third quarter (September 30th) report.) Continue reading “The Health of Radio: By the Numbers”
Mark your calendars: the FCC has scheduled a two-week filing window for LPFM station licenses to begin on October 15, 2013. More than a decade since the first (and only) LPFM filing window, this may very well be the last chance to build a wave of new community radio stations in the United States.
The application process is not simple, and there are 130 days to master it. It is crunch-time. Continue reading “Date Set for LPFM's Second Coming”
Kudos to Matthew Lasar for unearthing an ex parte gem from the FCC files. Clear Channel’s top engineering executive and chief lobbyist had a sit-down with FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai earlier this month in which they covered a wide range of issues related to the state of AM broadcasting. Pai is pushing for an "AM Revitalization Initiative" at the FCC, which would consider several ideas related to finding sustainability for the nation’s oldest broadcast band. Continue reading “Clear Channel: Give Us More Translators Before Expanding LPFM”
The city of Boston, Massachusetts is gearing up for a mayoral election later this year, and among the folks throwing their hat into the ring is Charles Clemons.
A former Boston police and corrections officer, Clemons may be better known as the founder of Touch 106 FM, a microradio outlet busted by the FCC in 2007-08. Clemons received a $17,000 forfeiture for unlicensed broadcasting and refusing to allow FCC agents to inspect the station. Continue reading “Boston Radio Pirate Runs for Mayor”
Last week, the FCC approved significant rule changes to the low-power FM radio service; this week the agency formally released the text of those changes.
There’s a lot of good things in the latest Report and Order. LPFM stations have finally achieved something close to technical and legal parity with FM translator stations. LPFM rules have been refined to provide a substantive preference for those who actually plan to focus on live and local programming. And the next filing window for new LPFM stations will open in the fall of next year. Continue reading “LPFM vs. Translators: A "Resolution"”
Larry Bloch, a founding member of radio free brattleboro, died last month of pancreatic cancer. He was 59.
Bloch was one of those rare and lucky folks for whom activism was a full-time vocation. After working with Greenpeace throughout the 1980s, he created the Wetlands Preserve in New York City in 1989. The nightclub became a magnet for many bands that rose to fame out of the “alternative” music soup of the 1990s. Continue reading “Larry Bloch: 1953-2012”
On November 26, 1987, Mbanna Kantako founded WTRA, an unlicensed microradio station broadcasting from the John Jay Homes in Springfield, Illinois.
Legally blind and in his twenties at the time, Kantako started the station to protest the imminent destruction of the housing project by the city and the pervasive police abuse that occurred there.
WTRA would later be re-named Human Rights Radio to reflect the Kantako family’s widening concern with issues of social injustice.
Continue reading “Human Rights Radio Turns 25”
At the turn of the twenty-first century, proponents of HD Radio sold the technology to the FCC by claiming that it used “no new spectrum.” Advocates of low-power FM (LPFM) radio made a spirited but ultimately unsuccessful challenge to this claim. They worried that the digital sidebands of FM-HD signals would interfere with the new wave of community stations the FCC was preparing to unleash. HD supporters dismissed these concerns.
Ten years after both HD and LPFM took to the air, the conflict between the two services is crystal clear.
Brad Johnson is a lot like me: a former participant in the corporate media who made the decision to step away from it following the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. One of the careers decimated by post-Telecom radio consolidation was broadcast engineering – Brad was the chief engineer at several Citadel and Clear Channel-owned stations in central California until he was let go in the repeated rounds of downsizing the companies conducted during their station-buying frenzy. Continue reading “LPFM vs. HD Radio: The Curious Case of KGIG”
On Monday, the Federal Communications Commission announced further rules designed to expand the LPFM radio service. This is likely to be the last significant opportunity for budding community broadcasters to obtain an LPFM license. Radio Survivor’s Paul Riismandel has an overview of the FCC’s action, while REC Networks Michi Eyre has written a thorough synopsis of its nuts and bolts.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway is the FCC’s proposed handling of a flood of applications for FM translators. More than 6,000 applications for translators are pending from a 2003 filing window (when more than 13,000 applications were tendered). This run on translators has already scarfed up lots of FM spectrum that could have gone toward an LPFM expansion. Continue reading “FCC Outlines LPFM Expansion”