Community broadcaster: the time has come for LPFM-250
Rural communities in particular can greatly benefit from increased low-power FM power
Posted: June 26, 2021
The author is executive director of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. NFCB comments are posted regularly on www.radioworld.com.
The National Federation of Community Radio Broadcasters joined a series of organizations in submitting comments in support of the REC Networks rule-making petition. The petition, RM-11909, promises to be a game-changer for rural communities, according to the NFCB assessment.
Why did NFCB sign up to extend LPFM? Low power stations represent an important moment in the evolution of radio in the proposition of US REC Networks is simple and intuitive. This would allow LPFMs in communities where their signals can be improved. Currently, most LPFMs are only about three miles away from their transmitters due to existing power limits of a maximum broadcast power of 100 watts. An increase would help sparsely populated areas tremendously and not cause conflict with existing broadcasters where they are otherwise present.
[Read: Community Broadcaster: Giving Mood]
Radio World recently shared some of the words from non-commercial broadcasters representing government, community and faith licensees. Many representatives of radio stations share that their outlets are assets in their communities. “Our little station provided hyperlocal programming,” one reads, for example, in WVMO’s comments. In each of these stories is the spark that is why so many people get into radio in the first place. These broadcasters aim to make a difference locally. An increase in signal would only deepen these zonal relationships.
In few places the relation of our medium is more necessary than in remote areas. Lacking the number of broadcasting options one might hope for in rural areas, low-power FM stations perform a vital function. They provide a sense of belonging, information about emergency response, and a cultural gathering place where face-to-face encounters are more difficult due to the terrain. Stronger radio in these areas means stronger communities.
The idea presented by REC Networks has its share of criticism. Since there was the radio, one has the impression that there has been tension on the space on the dial. However, such conflicts are not as prevalent in rural communities where, to quote NFCB CEO Sally Kane, there are more cows than people. Either way, some argue that possible conflicts should mean a complete halt to progress. But, with natural disasters and the dire needs of communities for education and support, isn’t it wiser to just be more responsive when problems arise, rather than stop everything? I tend to believe that commissioners are professional enough to handle problems as they arise.
The FCC has yet to consider the petition for rule-making for REC networks, but the overwhelming number of comments is a fitting demonstration that, especially in rural communities, LPFM increases are an idea whose time is running out. came.