The Polarization of NextRadio

As industry forces continue to grapple with radio’s digital transition, the medium’s push for renewed portability got a bit more complicated this summer. Not much of a surprise that the discourse surrounding the NextRadio app mimics similar forays into the new: lovers and haters lining up with little air to breathe between them.

The latest developments began with the launch last month of Free Radio On My Phone, a public-awareness campaign for enabling FM reception in smartphones. The campaign is a joint project of NextRadio, the National Association of Broadcasters, National Public Radio, American Public Radio, and the Educational Media Foundation—all heavy-hitters in commercial, public, and religious broadcasting. EMF has also agreed to sign its entire station-roster up for enhanced NextRadio services. Read More

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

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

Unholy Alliance

Clear Channel is the nation’s largest commercial radio broadcaster. Educational Media Foundation is one of the nation’s largest religious radio broadcasters. Both companies have an affinity for FM translators – and now, they’re working together for mutual enrichment at the expense of others on the dial.

EMF operates the K-LOVE and AIR-1 Christian music networks. It owns several hundred FM translators around the country; during the Great Translator Invasion of 2003, when more than 13,000 new translator applications were filed, EMF tendered paperwork for 875 new translators.

Clear Channel owns more than 700 full-power radio stations, and over the last few years it has also acquired or leased FM translators to rebroadcast some of its “beleaguered” AM stations as well as to simulcast otherwise-unheard HD Radio programming in analog form. Read More

Translator-Mongers and AM Stations Eye Expanded FM Band

Two suspicious proposals to expand the FM spectrum have surfaced at the FCC. While on its face the idea seems promising, the devil, as always, is in the details.

The first proposal was filed in late July by the Educational Media Foundation – parent company of the K-LOVE and AIR-1 Christian music radio networks, which can already be heard on more than 150 full-power, low-power, and FM translator stations.

A second, new group, called the “Broadcast Maximization Committee,” which represents the interests of AM broadcasters, followed up with its own proposal within days of EMF’s filing. It is difficult to believe the timing of the filings were coincidental. Read More