LPFM vs. Translators: A “Resolution”

Last week, the FCC approved significant rule changes to the low-power FM radio service; this week the agency formally released the text of those changes.

There’s a lot of good things in the latest Report and Order. LPFM stations have finally achieved something close to technical and legal parity with FM translator stations. LPFM rules have been refined to provide a substantive preference for those who actually plan to focus on live and local programming. And the next filing window for new LPFM stations will open in the fall of next year. Read More

Larry Bloch: 1953-2012

Larry Bloch, a founding member of radio free brattleboro, died last month of pancreatic cancer. He was 59.

Bloch was one of those rare and lucky folks for whom activism was a full-time vocation. After working with Greenpeace throughout the 1980s, he created the Wetlands Preserve in New York City in 1989. The nightclub became a magnet for many bands that rose to fame out of the “alternative” music soup of the 1990s. Read More

Crowdfunding Community Radio?

This crowdsourced funding call to build a new community radio station crossed my tweet-stream Tuesday. The Media Institute for Social Change, a non-profit media literacy/empowerment group in Portland, Oregon, has apparently secured a “rare opportunity” to build a new radio station in town. The goal of its campaign is to raise $3,500 by November 16. As of today, $2,220 has been pledged.

“We have accomplished perhaps the hardest part – we have acquired an FCC license, an incredibly rare commodity,” writes the Media Institute for Social Change’s executive director Phil Busse. “Your donation, quite literally, will be the nucleus around which the radio station is built…. Read More

A Weekend at the Wave Farm

Last weekend I had the distinct honor and pleasure of attending the first-ever Transmission Arts Colloquium, hosted by free103point9 – a non-profit organization whose mission is devoted to advancing transmission arts (loosely defined as the creative manipulation of the electromagnetic spectrum) and access to the airwaves more broadly.

free103point9 has an interesting history. One of its principals founded 87X, a pirate radio station in Tampa, Florida at the height of the pre-LPFM microradio movement. After moving to the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, free103point9 was born in 1997. This microradio station provided an outlet for lots of programming, but became quite well-known for its sonic experimentation. Following the passage of LPFM, free103point9 evolved from rogue broadcaster to thriving arts organization. Read More

NPR: Where New Ideas Go to Die?

Public radio broadcasters in the U.S. are coming to grips with the announcement from Tom and Ray Magliozzi that they plan to retire from Car Talk, one of National Public Radio’s most popular (and lucrative) programs, this fall.

“Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers” have been doing the show for 25 years. Although they’ll be done, Car Talk itself will remain on the air with shows assembled from the archives (one of the producers, a former colleague of mine, says they’ve got wide discretion to pick and choose what will air and when).

There’s been some controversy over whether it makes sense to actually keep running Car Talk since all the content will be rehashed. Ira Glass, founding producer of This American Life (a program that, ironically, NPR declined to syndicate), thinks airing reconstituted shows makes for bad programming precedent on NPR more generally. Read More