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

Human Rights Radio Turns 25

On November 26, 1987, Mbanna Kantako founded WTRA, an unlicensed microradio station broadcasting from the John Jay Homes in Springfield, Illinois.

Legally blind and in his twenties at the time, Kantako started the station to protest the imminent destruction of the housing project by the city and the pervasive police abuse that occurred there.

WTRA would later be re-named Human Rights Radio to reflect the Kantako family’s widening concern with issues of social injustice.

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LPFM vs. HD Radio: The Curious Case of KGIG

At the turn of the twenty-first century, proponents of HD Radio sold the technology to the FCC by claiming that it used “no new spectrum.” Advocates of low-power FM (LPFM) radio made a spirited but ultimately unsuccessful challenge to this claim. They worried that the digital sidebands of FM-HD signals would interfere with the new wave of community stations the FCC was preparing to unleash. HD supporters dismissed these concerns.

Ten years after both HD and LPFM took to the air, the conflict between the two services is crystal clear.

Brad Johnson is a lot like me: a former participant in the corporate media who made the decision to step away from it following the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. One of the careers decimated by post-Telecom radio consolidation was broadcast engineering – Brad was the chief engineer at several Citadel and Clear Channel-owned stations in central California until he was let go in the repeated rounds of downsizing the companies conducted during their station-buying frenzy. Read More

FCC Outlines LPFM Expansion

On Monday, the Federal Communications Commission announced further rules designed to expand the LPFM radio service. This is likely to be the last significant opportunity for budding community broadcasters to obtain an LPFM license. Radio Survivor’s Paul Riismandel has an overview of the FCC’s action, while REC Networks Michi Eyre has written a thorough synopsis of its nuts and bolts.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway is the FCC’s proposed handling of a flood of applications for FM translators. More than 6,000 applications for translators are pending from a 2003 filing window (when more than 13,000 applications were tendered). This run on translators has already scarfed up lots of FM spectrum that could have gone toward an LPFM expansion. Read More