Opportunity Knocks on Low Power Radio – Do People Hear It?

Affiliated Media Foundation Movement KABF Radio

            New Orleans      Writing this daily blog, I always have to remember that there are a certain number of people who will read it, so I need to watch my grammar and spelling, maybe thousands on a good day.  On the other hand, when I record this as the Chief Organizer Reports and also do the Peoples Daily News, it will be heard by literally tens of thousands, because it is played on KABF in Arkansas, WAMF in New Orleans, KOCH in Nairobi, and our internet stations Radio ACORN in Uganda and ACORN Radio for our members everywhere we organize as well as in some partner stations. That’s a giant megaphone for our message.  That’s why we call the stations we support and manage through the Affiliated Media Foundation Movement, “Voice of the People” stations.

            Many of us grew up with radio, but now in the age of the internet, maybe some have forgotten what a powerful medium radio is for so many?  Maybe some never even thought about that unless they are driving long distance and start flipping stations on the dial?

            I’m thinking about this constantly now, because once again the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is opening the window for applications for low power FM applications.  These are literally community stations that can’t be larger than 100-watts.  Depending on the topography, they can have quite the range on flat ground, like New Orleans and many other places, but it other cases, they are like a community organization and great for their neighborhood or town.  They are all nonprofit and noncommercial.  As opposed to the commercial computer-driven top-40 stations, all of them have to have at least eight hours of local programming.  When the window opens, the applications have to be from a nonprofit, but not a tax-exempt organization, and they have to have a local address for the organization within 10 or 20 miles, depending on the size of the market.  AM/FM is now in the process of working with forty different communities to try to go through all of the necessary steps, legally and engineering, to compete for an application.  The frequency can’t interfere with other frequencies, so the notion of competition with existing outlets is almost nonexistent.  AM/FM carries the weight and supports these applications from soup to nuts, including getting them up and running in the three year to construct and then going forward.

            We have gotten great cooperation for so many friends and allies in moving forward, and yet, this has been an incredibly hard process, as we count down the last 23 days until the window closes.  Of the 2200 odd existing LPFMs that the FCC has license no more than 200 to 400 are community radio stations.  The rest are mostly religious broadcasters or lined up with conservative institutions, colleges, and the like.  We’ve seen the spreadsheets on other applications from progressives.  We are likely filing for more than all the rest of the country combined. If we don’t move, the frequencies are gone, and it’s not just that they disappear.  They go to the bad guys, so to speak, or at least to unfriendly folks to much of what we do.  If we don’t move the needle.  The needle moves against us.

            The excuses for not moving run the gamut, but mostly they flow from a failure to understand the power of radio and how invaluable it is as an organizing and communications tool. If you get it, let us know, and maybe it’s not too late.  We’re concentrating on Colorado, New Mexico, and California with even on application emerging in Hawaii.  Massachusetts is knocking on the door for a couple of applications, and a couple are hanging fire.  We’re going hard on Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

            We’re down to days now, but if you get it and want to act, it’s not too late.  This isn’t hard, but we can’t do it without you.  If you want a piece of this action or to lend a hand, you know how to find me!