LPAM Comments In, Favor Further Exploration

The initial comment period on the petition for rulemaking closed on November 21. Just over two dozen comments were filed, the overwhelming majority of which favor further FCC study of a low-power AM community broadcast service. Not too bad considering the petition got almost zero publicity. Comments from LPFM’s major players are nonexistent, save for an excellent graphic from REC Networks illustrating just how LPAM might bring community radio to places (legal) LPFM will never reach. Read More

Low Power AM Petition for Rulemaking Accepted at FCC

RM-11287 is a multi-party petition that calls for the opening of the AM band to small broadcasters. Two of the five parties involved also filed the original petition for rulemaking that led to LPFM’s conception.

This has been a long time coming: citizen interest in LPAM has percolated since the 1990s, and there’s been open discussion of the idea since at least 2002. In 2003 a respected broadcast engineer submitted a proposal to the FCC which called for the creation of 30 and 100-watt “neighborhood radio” AM stations with 1-5 mile broadcast ranges. The FCC never formally acknowledged receipt of this document. In 2004 efforts were made to revive the proposal, to no avail. Building on these previous efforts with copious field experimentation led to the petition the FCC finally accepted.

RM-11287 attempts to differentiate LPAM from LPFM in several respects. The most significant is its commercial nature: LPAM seeks to “fill the current gap between small stations and megacorporations…where mid-sized businesses used to be” in the broadcast industry. Petitioners contend that while LPFM addresses a “community coverage gap” opened by the consolidation of radio since 1996, “[t]here remains, in radio and in other mass media industries, a separate, but similarly dangerous, ‘small business gap'” which “harms the nation by hindering economic growth and also by limiting the free flow of information and ideas.” It is proposed that one entity may own up to 12 LPAM stations nationally, although no more than one in any given market.

Multiple options are presented for the technical requirements of an LPAM service, with power levels ranging from 1 to 250 watts. All are geared toward keeping administration of the service simple. It is believed that under such conditions LPAM stations may provide opportunities for access to the airwaves that LPFM simply cannot: for example, according to cited analysis from REC Networks, metropolitan Detroit is currently off-limits to LPFM, but as many as four possible LPAM frequencies exist in the city.

Some components of the petition, like asking the FCC to make licensing decisions between competing applicants based on their proposed broadcast content, will simply not fly. And given that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires the FCC to auction off all commercial broadcast licenses, implementation of the proposal as written would require the blessing of Congress. But the fact that the FCC is at least open to a rudimentary level of discussion about LPAM is encouraging. Comments on RM-11287 are due in mid-November (on or around November 20).

Low Power AM Petition for Rulemaking Accepted at FCC

RM-11287 is a multi-party petition that calls for the opening of the AM band to small broadcasters. Two of the five parties involved also filed the original petition for rulemaking that led to LPFM’s conception.

This has been a long time coming: citizen interest in LPAM has percolated since the 1990s, and there’s been open discussion of the idea since at least 2002. In 2003 a respected broadcast engineer submitted  a proposal to the FCC which called for the creation of 30 and 100-watt “neighborhood radio” AM stations with 1-5 mile broadcast ranges. The FCC never formally acknowledged receipt of this document. In 2004 efforts were made to revive the proposal, to no avail. Building on these previous efforts with copious field experimentation led to the petition the FCC finally accepted. Read More

LPAM’s Appleseed Bears Fruit

Kyle Drake, the revolutionary LPAM guru whom I had the pleasure to meet at the RAD Conference, has unleashed something with great potential to give LPAM a significant kickstart in the proliferation department.

Key to this is a tunable loading coil – vitally important because it conquers what is probably the biggest drawback to liberation of the AM dial, the unwieldy nature of the antenna system. He’s designed one that works well. Read More

Localism Backlash in Massachusetts

The Vox Radio Group is a regional player in the radio business, owning more than 30 stations in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. Like most broadcast companies it’s been culling staff over the last several years, but when it let go George Trottier, meteorologist of 32 years at WNAW-AM in North Adams, Massachusetts, some karmic line got crossed.

The station got pummeled with feedback from angry listeners – so much so that the WNAW’s general manager re-hired him less than a week later. Publicly: live, on the air, during the morning show. Read More