Los Angeles The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that it is opening the window for applications across the country for low power radio licenses from October 15th through October 29th of this year. You should care about this not because it is easy to win, build, and operate a radio station, but because it is worth the effort, provides people a critical and powerful voice, and allows them to build power and affect change.
The FCC for the first time in decades has opened up additional frequency in cities around the country. A radio engineering search that might cost between $500 and $1500 by some estimates depending on the size of the city and its complexity is critical. Computerized estimates are available that can give any potential applicant a guesstimate of how many frequencies are in your area and the engineering study would allow you to make the case that your application would not interfere with other existing frequencies. Many are arguing that this time the FCC process is more straightforward, but the heart of it is mastering the engineering. When ACORN assisted communities around the country in the past, most applications were tossed out on claims of questionable engineering. Here the hope is that there are so many frequencies available that the odds to success for community organizations and coalitions trying to get on the air may be more successful.
Depending on the frequency and the terrain, low power may be adequate to broadcast to entire, huge neighborhoods in a city. In New Orleans that could mean all of Mid City around Fair Grinds Coffeehouse or the whole 9th Ward near our offices there. In other cities in could mean all of south Philly or South Phoenix or wherever. And, of course with livestreaming of the signal, you can hear radio anywhere in the world, which is exciting to us as well.
KABF , the 100,000 watt station based in Little Rock and broadcasting for the last 29 years (August 31st!) has been trying to figure out how to help in Arkansas and how to do joint programming with potential stations. Getting the license is the first hurdle, getting on the air is the second, which many still argue can be done reasonably cheaply, and then operating with great content is the last hurdle in building an audience.
Prometheus Radio in Massachusetts is a huge resource and their website gives extensive tools to get a sense of the number of frequencies available and how to get this done. AM/FM and KABF are ready to help.
Having been the “voice of the people” for 29 years, we think there are a lot more people who need to be heard and whose voices could be raised by low power radio stations.