Got radio? Communities step up to the LPFM microphone

A rare window of opportunity will soon open. Local communities nationwide will have the chance to tear open the drapes, roll up the blinds, throw that window wide open and shout out to the surrounding region and potentially worldwide.A Low Power FM radio band could soon be at your fingertips. From October 15 to 19, the Federal Communications Commission will be accepting applications from folks who’d like to fire up their own radio station.A couple of caveats: these stations cannot be used for commercial purposes, nor can they be run by individuals. It generally takes a village of volunteers to get one of these LPFM critters on the air—a nonprofit village, to be precise.

And these stations are only allowed to broadcast at a level of 100 watts, hence the name “Low Power.” So your geographical footprint of reception would only be a few miles. Enough to serve a local community.

But with Internet streaming readily available, the sky’s potentially the limit.

Some tips on how to proceed:

  • Start raising money. The FCC application is free, but engineering and equipment costs can add up and vary widely. Additionally, there are expenses like studio space rental and content licensing fees to consider. Get to know both your local commercial broadcasters and amateur radio enthusiasts; they’re an excellent source for operational advice and resource for recording/broadcasting equipment.
  • Recruit volunteers. It’s easy to find folks who want to be on the radio, harder to gather a behind-the-scenes crew. Contact community nonprofits and local merchants. Starting a radio station is an exciting prospect, a great way for those folks to become involved and promote goodwill.
  • Create a catchy mission statement and letter of introduction. Mail and/or email these to everyone you know. Emphasize the importance of community education, news, events, and promoting local talent. Develop a buzz about the station and its possibilities.
  • Make sure you jump through all the hoops and touch all the bases. Beginning with the FCC application, there’ll be plenty of paperwork to fill out. All fairly self-explanatory; just be certain it gets done. On time.
  • Stay local, reach global. Local content is key. Maintain a high profile in your community. But don’t forget global resources. Keep in touch with organizations like the Prometheus Radio Project and And don’t forget about that Internet streaming.

Don’t be afraid to belly up to the microphone. Right here n Washington State alone, over 20 LPFM stations have already successfully begun broadcasting.

Your radio window on the world awaits.

Originally published at

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