In the year 2013, the 80-old medium of FM radio has new significance for America, and Capitol Hill stands to hear a few new voices on the FM band. With President Obama’s January signing of the Local Community Radio Act into law, suddenly we live in a country where up to nine “Low Power FM” radio stations are allowed within any given zip code. Capitol Hill strides across four zip codes. The long and the short of it is there is lots of room for more small, local radio.
Highlights of the new law are delineated by the Prometheus Radio Project here.
This Thursday at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, at 104 17th Ave S Seattle, WA 98144, Brown Paper Tickets and city and county arts organizations are holding the first in a series of free workshops will be held to inform educational institutions and nonprofits of the steps, the restrictions of, and opportunities held within the prospect of becoming a radio station. You can register for the free session here.
The new rules allow for more stations within the dial by changing allowing for low power stations to exist three clicks away from existing higher bandwidth stations, with several provisos. It’s important to not interfere with the broadcasting ability of other stations, there are specific limitations on signal strength and the content must be local. (e.g. call-in shows, radio dramas, non-random music content.) Much of this will be covered in the workshops.
Capitol Hill of course already has a head start on low power radio with Spunk FM 101.9… well, previously at 101.9 and pending FCC approval, back on the literal airwaves. “it has always been the mission of Spunk FM to eventually become legally licensed,” wrote DJ Alan in November to CHS. Programming EDM and Dance as well as Rock music, with a healthy dose of information about local nonprofits and service organization for the Gay community and the Hill at large, Spunk stands a good chance of falling within the New FCC regulations.
Having previously operated outside of the rules, Spunk went online-only in October of last year to avoid any issues with their expressed desire to operate within law. No news on the status of that transition, but barring any insurmountable obstacles the community should be able to find Spunk FM back at 101.9, if within the allowed three mile radius. In the meantime the web stream is at www.SpunkFM.com, and available on mobiles at www.SpunkFM.com/mobile.html.
Here’s the announcement on the LPFM sessions from Brown Paper Tickets:
Brown Paper Tickets kicks off a series of free information sessions to educate nonprofits about the opportunity to apply for a low power FM (LPFM) radio license on Thursday, Jan. 24, at 1 p.m. at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, 104 17th Ave. S. The event is free with registration at: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/302076.
The series of information sessions is prompted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announcement that it will open an LPFM license application window to nonprofits, educational institutions, tribal nations, emergency services and more, on Oct.15. The majority of groups eligible to apply are not yet aware that this opportunity exists. This application window will be the first time that groups in urban areas can apply for an LPFM radio license, and there is no guarantee that another application window will open after this.
“Eight different radio frequencies may be available for LPFM radio stations around Seattle,” said Todd Urick, technical director for Common Frequency, 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to innovative new community and college radio. Urick provided hundreds of pages of channel analysis to the FCC for a study regarding LPFM availability on the FM band nationwide.
LPFM stations are non-commercial and operate at 100 watts, reaching a radius of 3.5 miles consistently, and often reaching listeners up to 10 miles away.They can function as broadcast studios and multimedia training facilities; when integrated with new technologies, they can allow local content, such as hyper-local news and music, to be amplified nationally and globally.
“Brown Paper Tickets donates 5% of all profits to building healthy communities, and we believe that LPFM is an important and powerful tool in that mission,” said Sabrina Roach, a Doer specializing in public interest media from Brown Paper Tickets, who is producing the series of LPFM information sessions. The goal of the series is to illuminate a path for local nonprofits to evaluate the LPFM opportunity, and to create awareness for resources available for helping them apply for, build and operate a radio station. “An average of 70% of Seattle events on Brown Paper Tickets benefit a nonprofit organization. Because of that 12-year relationship, our company feels a responsibility to communicating the LPFM opportunity to local nonprofits and to those who support them.”
The first information session will feature a panel of speakers from the Seattle Department of Arts and Cultural Affairs, the Seattle Department of Information Technology, 4Culture, the University of Washington Bothell, and OneAmerica. Each will share their knowledge of resources available to nonprofits to evaluate their ability to build and operate a LPFM station. The University of Washington Bothell and OneAmerica will explain why they are applying for LPFM licenses and what they are doing to prepare.
Beginning in February, those who want to apply for an LPFM radio station can download a video of the information session (courtesy of the Seattle Channel), and materials distributed at the event, at http://community.brownpapertickets.com/Doers/radio.html, where they can also sign up for the next free LPFM information session.
This event is made possible with support from Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, the Seattle Channel, the Seattle Department of Arts and Cultural Affairs, the Seattle Department of Information Technology, 4Culture, and Brown Paper Tickets.