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:
1. WGXC’s "Saturday Afternoon Show" on LPFM. On Saturday, August 17, community radio station WGXC (Hudson/Catskill/Acra, NY) aired a two-hour special on LPFM, which included interviews with FCC officials, aspiring LPFM applicants and active stations, and lots of context about how the LPFM service came about and what its future may hold.
2. FCC LPFM Webinar. On Tuesday, August 20, the FCC held an online gathering to explain the LPFM service and the steps required to apply for a new station. This webinar has been archived here—the agency plans to hold another one in early October.
3. Radio Survivor Twitter Chat. Tomorrow (Thursday, August 22) the principals behind Radio Survivor will facilitate a discussion on Twitter about the coming LPFM filing window. It’ll be focused on how colleges and other student/school organizations can take advantage of the LPFM opportunity, but it’s open for anyone to participate. The fun begins at 10 AM Pacific time. Follow the hashtag #LPFM for all the action (or to peruse the discussion after the fact).
4. Prometheus Radio Project Webinars. The fine folks at the Prometheus Radio Project have scheduled a series of webinars over the next month covering many aspects of building an LPFM station, from the application process itself to finding a transmitter-site to producing and acquiring programming (and much more). These webinars will be archived as well.
5. Common Frequency Webinar. Common Frequency, a non-profit facilitator of community radio projects since 2006, is also hosting a webinar on the LPFM application process. It takes place next Wednesday, August 28th starting at 1 PM (Eastern time) and (free) registration is required to participate. Visit Common Frequency’s companion-site, LPFM Now! for more details on the application process and how they might be able to help you.
Ten years ago—during the first LPFM filing window—there was but a fraction of this kind of support available to community groups looking for bona-fide public access to the airwaves. As a result, nearly half of all LPFM licenses went to well-prepared churches and other religious groups more interested in proselytizing than empowerment. These sorts of resources will hopefully make for a more balanced distribution this time around.