Legislative Maneuvers

There are three levels at which to play the political game. They are the local (the bottom level), state (middle), and national (the top level). Each step up the ladder takes more effort, adds more risks, and can lead to more rewards. Not surprisingly, those higher up on the ladder contain more power than those on the lower rungs.

As far as the legalization of low-power radio goes, there’s different activity at different levels – and each one paints a unique perspective on how its political game is being played out. Surprisingly, much of the action is happening in Michigan.

Starting locally, Tom Ness and his merry band of walking civics lessons at the Michigan Music is World Class Campaign have been busy bringing the issue before city councils, township boards and other bodies of local government. The goal is to collect resolutions – official documents by a government body that don’t set policy, but do express an “official opinion” on an issue or cause. Read More

What You Need

Many of the questions I receive deal with what it takes to begin a free radio station. The majority of these folks are looking to set up an FM operation.

While there’s lots of how-to documents on the legality and general organization of an FM free radio station, none answer the most basic question of all.

The following is an answer I gave to a recent email, where the question was, “I don’t know what goes between the outputs of my mixer and the inputs of the antenna, and in what order.” Read More

Risks and Rewards

It seems there’s a bit of confusion over the terms “pirate” and “free” when applied to radio. Some associate piracy with breaking the law, while “free radio” seems to be thought of as some sort of quasi-legal community operation.

The two terms, in the eyes of the law, are one and the same. “Pirate” or “free” radio stations both have one thing in common – they both broadcast without an FCC license, and therefore are illegal operations.

Being a radio “pirate” used to be a compliment, until the movement toward legalization of low-power radio stations began in the United States – then, as more moderate activists joined the scene, the term “pirate” was phased out as being politically incorrect.

Leave the United States, though, and most of the unlicensed stations operating out there will still refer to themselves as “pirates,” and they’re proud of the moniker. Read More

Time’s Running Out

June first is the deadline for the public to file comments on the FCC’s proposed LPFM rulemaking. Comments must be received in Washington, D.C. by August 2. So, for all intents and purposes, you’ve got less than a month and a half to make yourself heard.

You can talk all you want about how wonderful legal LPFM is to your friends, family and co-workers, but unless you file formal, public comments with the Commission, the people that need to hear your opinions won’t – and all you’ll have done is spout hot air.

The following is a primer into how to file comments – what you write is up to you, and if you need help figuring out what to say feel free to browse through previous features; there’s more than enough food for thought there. Read More

The True Face of the Dark Side

It was to be a busy annual convention for the National Association of Broadcasters: with consolidation at a fever pitch and various new technologies being unveiled, corporate broadcasters all over the nation converged on Las Vegas last week to talk shop and pitch wares.

As is the typical form, FCC Chairman William Kennard addressed the assembled executives and managers at a breakfast meeting.

These annual addresses typically are a “state of broadcasting” kind of speech, where the FCC Chairman at the time lays out his goals for the coming year. One of those goals will be the creation of a low power radio service. In fact, Kennard made special mention of it in his speech.

The entire event was broadcast over the Internet – all but Kennard’s low power broadcasting comments. Read More