Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a public notice announcing a filing window for applications for new low power FM (LPFM) radio stations. LPFMs are community-based, non-commercial radio stations that operate at 100 watts or less and reach a radius of 3 to 7 miles (check out our LPFM fact sheet for more info).
These small but mighty stations are an alternative to broadcasters that seem to play the same five songs on infinite repeat, and provide opportunities for local and niche artists to recieve airplay. LPFMs also offer a wide variety of small, independent organizations — including schools, civic groups, churches, and non-profits — a platform from which to engage with local communities.
The new low power application has a few important changes from the past. First, new stations will be permitted in urban areas for the first time ever. As long as an applicant can prove that their station would cause no harmful interference, the FCC will grant a special waiver. This new change will double or triple the number of new stations available, and it’s a major victory for Prometheus and our allies who fought for it.
Additionally, the FCC will offer special incentives to stations that provide local programming, and who maintain publicly accessible studios — a focus on community-driven broadcasting that we can really get behind.
Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to approve rules that will allow the unprecedented expansion of true local radio across the country. Beginning in October 2013, community groups will be able to apply for licenses to operate Low Power FM radio stations, bringing local voices to the airwaves in towns and cities across America.
FCC commissioners approved the rules in a unanimous, bipartisan vote. Their actions today represent a significant step towards achieving greater diversity on the public airwaves, and more opportunities for local musicians (which we obviously dig). read more
In a July 12 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC opened the door for possible inclusion of low-power FM (LPFM) station applications alongside applications for FM translators (low-power stations that relay full-power FM signals). The FCC has committed to LPFM as a tool for bringing more community voices to the airwaves, but this move may pit existing stations against new applicants in competition for the same limited frequencies.
“It looks like the FCC is taking the right step forward in terms of trying to ensure that those opportunities for LPFM exist at all,” said Casey Rae-Hunter, deputy director of the Future of Music Coalition. Without such a compromise, the opportunity for new LPFMs could “just completely go away,” he said. read more
How do you find out about new music? A lot of you probably rely on the internet and word-of-mouth. Yet it’s been shown time and again that good old-fashioned radio can still play a huge role in creating buzz around bands.
Non-commercial radio in particular is helping to drive the discovery of new music. When a great song hits the airwaves, it’s as if the clouds part, the birds chirp, the…well, you get it. This kind of spirit also helps sustain local creative communities while helping artists develop their careers.
The non-commercial radio universe consists of college stations, community stations, Low Power FM and National Public Radio.
Launched on the eve of an important Congressional hearing on Low Power FM radio (LPFM), the “I Support Community Radio” campaign features video testimonials from such artists as the Indigo Girls, Saul Williams, David Harrington of Kronos Quartet, Jon Langford of The Mekons and Waco Brothers, Vijay Iyer, Franz Nicolay of The Hold Steady and more.