Radio – With Video?

If you spin the radio dial to the very bottom of the FM band in Anchorage, Alaska – and then go a little lower – you’ll find a pleasant surprise. There’s a radio station there.

Broadcasting on 87.7 MHz with 920 watts of power, KZND ‘The End’ is causing quite a stir in Anchorage. It was first stumbled upon by an intrepid newspaper columnist and offers “alternative music” to the masses.

But the KZND is out-of-bounds. The FCC says any FM radio station must fall on a frequency between 88 and 108 MHz, and must have a minimum broadcast power of 100 watts. KZND, by broadcasting on 87.7, falls outside the parameters the FCC allows for legal radio broadcasting. Read More

Back in Black

Doug Brewer has a thriving radio equipment sales and repair business, but his main love has always been his radio station, 102.1 – Tampa’s Party Pirate. After two years of silence following a brutal raid by the authorities, Brewer is risking it all to take back the airwaves around his Florida home.

At a scaled-back 125 watts and a smaller antenna, the Party Pirate may not be as loud a voice as before, but the fact that it’s back at all is a feat in itself.

In an interview conducted via e-mail, Brewer says it wasn’t a tough decision to go back on the air. “We were already ready. The (new station) site was developed the same week that they raided us 2 years ago.”

“The hardest thing was to resist the urge to turn the transmitter back on for two years,” admits Doug. “I guess I just felt it was time to do it, and since it’s only about a month to Y2K, well, the timing just seemed right.” Read More

Martyr No More

Two years is a long time to stay silent. But in the case of Doug Brewer, who can blame him?

Doug was one of those raided by law enforcement and the FCC on November 19, 1997. That day is referred to by unlicensed microbroadcasters nationwide as “Black Wednesday” – when the FCC swept through Florida with guns at their back and shut down at least three low power FM radio stations. One person was even arrested in the sweep.

Doug’s case was one of the most brutal. He was woken up early the morning of November 19 to the sight of a SWAT team and held “in custody” for most of the day in his home while agents methodically destroyed not only his station, 102.1 “Tampa’s Party Pirate,” but also damaged his home and ransacked his radio equipment sales and repair business. Read More

The End-Run Begins

Just two days after the FCC closed the second round of comments on a proposal to legalize a low power radio service, the broadcast lobby has chosen not to wait to hear the opinions that more than three thousand of you sent the Federal Communications Commission on the issue.

Representative Michael Oxley (R-OH) has announced the introduction of legislation called the “Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act of 1999,” which would prohibit the FCC from continuing its proceeding on the creation of a low power radio service, as well as prohibit the FCC from ever being able to consider such a service again.

Oxley has already issued a press release on his new bill. It is nothing more than the “party line” we have all already heard from the National Association of Broadcasters, its members and, most importantly, the lobbying force it controls. Read More

Official Reply Comments on LPFM

Another important deadline has come and gone in the FCC’s current proceeding to create a low power FM radio service. Back in August, public Comments on the proposal were due – the latest round of debate has been conducted via Reply Comments, which give anyone the opportunity to rebut something someone else said during the Comment phase.

I have to admit these weren’t worded nearly as diplomatically as my original Comments were, but, hey, at this point everyone’s arguments are on the table, and the time to be tactful is running short.

Reply Comments were due to the FCC November 15th; it will take the next step on the proposal within the next few months. Read More