Radio World is Calling You

Affiliated Media Foundation Movement KABF Radio

            San Francisco       Dave Chaos, manager of KNON, the station we put on the air in Dallas, sent me a message the other day to remind me that we had been on the air almost 40 years there.  KABF in Little Rock went on the air in 1984, so we just a bit more than a year shy of our 40th anniversary there next August.  A couple of days ago, I had a calendar note indicate that we had gotten our license approval for WAMF-LP in New Orleans in 2017.  We just on the air recently with Radio ACORN’s internet station in Uganda.  We have close to 150,000 people listening to one or another of these outlets every week.

We’re still wrestling with the seven full-power terrestrial stations we won construction permits for 18 months ago in Arkansas, Colorado, and New Mexico, and are hoping we can get the one in Eudora, Arkansas and the one near Cimarron, New Mexico on the air soon.  ACORN Radio, our membership internet station is finally getting more participation from the affiliates.  Radio is such a powerful medium with a relatively low cost per listener and a great megaphone for music, message, and more, that I’m always surprised that there’s no a line out the door and down the street of organizations hoping to get on the airwaves.

I spent some tedious, but fascinating, hours recently going through the FCC’s entire list of 2111-odd licensed stations plus or minus some that are still working off their construction permits as opposed to being licensed and on the air.  You might think, and I might hope, that such a high number of low powered FM radio stations represents a huge asset and a plethora of booming voices spreading the news of community through radio.  We would both be disappointed.  The preponderance of licenses issued over the last six years are faith-based across the spectrum of religions.  Another bunch of them were licensed to educational institutions from community colleges to high schools to random universities.  Some public authorities like fire departments and community centers grabbed some licenses.  Finally, there were also some community radio stations like WAMF as well, but I would estimate only 10 to 20% at most.

On flat ground like New Orleans, the range of a 100-watt station is surprising large, reaching hundreds of thousands across many city neighborhoods.  Generally, the range is about three miles in a circle from the transmitting signal.  If you’re higher, maybe more.  If you’re lower with hills, maybe less.  For community organizations working in a specific patch, a low power station is a communication tool on steroids, linking everyone in the turf in north something or east whatever or south of something else.  Compared to the costs of terrestrial stations, we can put one on the air usually for $10,000 or less, especially if you have a building where we put the antenna.  Using volunteer hosts and engineers it’s pretty much internet, telephone, electricity and what not to keep the stations running.

If you have something to say or that you want to hear, opportunity could be knocking at your door, so listen carefully and reach out to the Affiliated Media / Foundation Movement (AM/FM) or for help, and we might be able to make your dreams come true.  It’s time to prove that radio is a tool for people to build community power, not just prayer.