Stephen Dunifer’s Briefing Paper

By Stephen Dunifer

In every FCC action brought against micropower broadcasters Part 15 has always been cited. Given the FCC’s own definitions this is a blatant misapplication of their own regulatory structure.

First let us examine the definition of a FM broadcast station under Part 73:

FM broadcast station. A station employing frequency modulation in the FM broadcast band and licensed primarily for the transmission of radio-telephone emissions intended to be received by the general public. (§ 73.310 FM technical definitions.)

Note the operative phrase “to be received by the general public”. Even though micropower stations are non-licensed their emissions are intended to be received by the general public. Further, they operate in the FM broadcast band and employ frequency modulation. Therefore, they are an FM broadcast station as defined by 73.310. Read More

Stop the Insanity!


by Don Schellhardt

The RM-9208 Petitioners (Nick Leggett, Judith Leggett and Don Schellhardt) ask the Federal Communications Commission for a suspension of microbroadcasting prosecutions.


We ask the Commission to take the following steps:

1. Suspend all ongoing microbroadcasting prosecutions until such time as the Commission has: (a) adopted a final rule which legalizes some or all microbroadcasting stations; OR (b) decided and announced that it will not legalize any such stations.

In other words, all ongoing prosecutions would be suspended while the Commission’s current reconsideration of its microbroadcasting policy is in progress. Read More

RM-9208 Petitioners Talk Back

This is the text of written comments filed with the FCC by the RM-9208 Petitioners (Nick Leggett, Judith Leggett and Don Schellhardt) on Wednesday March 4, 1998. It shows you how the LPFM discussion is evolving within the free radio community, and how some consensus-building can do good things. So now, what’s next?

We, the undersigned Petitioners, whose Petition is the subject of Docket No. RM-9208, hereby submit written comments. We are three private citizens, motivated by a desire to advance the public interest and a deep concern for the future of America.


Counting Your Chickens

We’ve all heard that old adage, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” While it’s an overused cliché, it’s very applicable to the free radio community right now.

The buzz in the movement is all about the two proposals for an LPFM service filed with the FCC over the past couple of weeks. It’s important to remain realistic. While the FCC has received both Petitions for Rulemaking and is currently accepting comments on them, we shouldn’t lose sight of some simple facts:

Free Radio remains illegal. Check this scenario: the FCC receives a complaint about a “pirate” in the area. Through their voluminous investigative means, they’re able to track down the “pirate.” After taking field measurements, the goons get permission to move in. As they drive up to the station, they can hear the signal strong and clear. The lead goon knocks on the door, and the station op opens it. As they muscle in, the op can be heard crying, “Wait! The rules are changing! What I’m doing won’t be illegal for long!” Read More

Inspecting a Public File

The FCC recently issued a Notice of Proposed Rule making seeking comment on the location of a station’s public inspection file (MM Docket #97-138). According to current FCC rules, licensed stations must keep a stack of required documents on hand at the station’s main studio for anyone to inspect.

Most of the time, the most expected person to inspect the file may be a visitor from the FCC. But since the FCC doesn’t get around to inspecting stations that much, stations sometimes neglect their public files, missing updates and other pieces of information that, if discovered missing, could very well cost the station a hefty fine or license problems.

Now a move is afoot to allow stations to literally distance themselves from the people they serve. MM Docket #97-138 would allow stations to locate their studios farther away from the community they’re actually licensed to. That isn’t that big of a deal; so many radio stations are now automated, carrying pre-packaged programming from somewhere else, that they’re really not “serving” the community of license with their air signal anyway. Read More