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The Hill just published an op-ed co-authored by my friend Michele Combs of the Christian Coalition of America and me.

While we don't see eye to eye on several issues, Michele and I have found common ground on others, and with that identified opportunities to advance policies that genuinely benefit real people.

One such policy is the Local Community Radio Act of 2009 -- which was introduced by Sens. John McCain and Maria Cantwell.

If passed this bill would free up unused radio spectrum for hundreds and possibly thousands of new local stations. Known as Low Power FM (LPFM), these stations operate at 100 watts or less and broadcast just a few miles into local communities. They’re typically run by colleges, churches, schools and nonprofits to provide local information and perspectives not available elsewhere on a dial dominated by commercial conglomerates and political blowhards.

From saving lives during Hurricane Katrina to broadcasting local church services to homebound community members, LPFM stations have more than demonstrated their importance to communities nationwide. Without them, so many of our small cities, towns and rural areas would not have a voice on the radio at all.

This bill has united traditional foes like Barack Obama, Ron Paul, Joe Wilson and Bernie Sanders. Despite this bipartisanship, it's been stopped cold by just one senator (apparently held under the sway of a powerful corporate media lobby) who's holding local radio hostage with a single and secret hold.

After ten years of trying we have a 11th-hour opportunity to lift this hold and get this bill passed. But people need to get on the horn and call their senators.

For more, read Michele and my piece in The Hill or visit the great people at Prometheus Radio Project.

Originally posted to Timothy Karr on Wed Nov 17, 2010 at 12:45 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I conveyed support to my Dem senator's staff (5+ / 0-)
  •  You defeat secret holds by picking the Senator (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Greg in TN, Larsstephens think is doing the hold and attacking him, or her, mercilessly.  Then it's up to them to lift the hold or find out, as a matter of their own self-interest, who is doing it.  Always assume bad faith from senators: until your chosen target identifies the actual offender by name, keep attacking them.

    The most impressive thing about man [...] is the fact that he has invented the concept of that which does not exist--Glenn Gould

    by Rich in PA on Wed Nov 17, 2010 at 01:06:39 PM PST

    •  It's John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      antirove, ybruti, Rich in PA, Larsstephens

      Big shock that it's a Republican!

      Last month, one senator, John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), quietly placed a hold on the bill. Sen. Barrasso cited concerns that were similar to those raised by the National Association of Broadcasters, a powerful lobby that represents the interest of commercial broadcasters.


      Casper Office:
      100 East B Street
      Suite 2201
      Casper, WY 82602
      Main: 307-261-6413

      Casper Mailing Address
      P.O. Box 22201
      Casper, WY 82602
      Main: 307-261-6413

      Cheyenne Office:
      2120 Capitol Avenue
      Suite 2013
      Cheyenne, WY 82001
      Main: 307-772-2451

      Riverton Office:
      325 West Main Street
      Suite F
      Riverton, WY 82501
      Main: 307-856-6642

      Rock Springs Office:
      2632 Foothill Boulevard
      Suite 101
      Rock Springs, WY 82901
      Main: 307-362-5012

      Sheridan Office:
      2 North Main Street
      Suite 206
      Sheridan, WY 82801
      Main: 307-672-6456

      Washington, DC Office:
      307 Dirksen Senate Office Building
      Washington, DC 20510
      Main: 202-224-6441
      Fax: 202-224-1724
      Tollfree: 866-235-9553

      John BarrASSo

      •  Wyoming!!!! (4+ / 0-)

        If Wyoming isn't Exhibit A for the benefits of LPFM, I don't know what state is.  But that's also the logic of his hold--unlike most states, where only the left-behind markets would be served by LPFM, in Wyoming the whole state would be eligible so commercial broadcasters would be put in a bad competitive situation.  You could even set one of these puppies up in Casper or Laramie, since there's plenty of spectrum.

        So it's totally venal and should be fought, but I guess I'm not surprised.

        The most impressive thing about man [...] is the fact that he has invented the concept of that which does not exist--Glenn Gould

        by Rich in PA on Wed Nov 17, 2010 at 01:30:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  there's a great (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          antirove, Larsstephens

          there's a great LPFM in laramie -- la radio montanesa, a spanish language station.

          but cheyenne, one of the largest cities in WY and closest to the markets of boulder/denver, had 3 applicants, and all of them lost out when low power FM was limited to the most rural areas in america.

          about 1/2 of LPFMs are church or ministry -- the others are licensed to community groups, towns, schools, and many diverse others:

          find out if there's an LPFM near you here --

        •  Actually, as discussed above Wyoming is (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Larsstephens, hannahjs

          exactly the type of state where "free" slots exist (thus competing with the commerical stations).

          Why would a senator for an urban area give a damn, since there'd be very little impact because there's no frequencies available anyways?

          In any event, maybe Dan "what's the frequency" Rather can get involved in championing this.

  •  I was surprised, reading the Prometheus page (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Greg in TN, kestrel9000, Larsstephens

    ...that the FCC stopped giving out Class D FM licenses in 1978.  That's around the time I was active with a 10-watt station around New York, which shared the channel (and still does, I see) with a similar station a few miles away.  We had through 2:30, they had after.  

    The other cool thing we did, which was less legal (by which I mean "totally illegal"), was to take a carrier-current AM transmitter (a 1960s contraption that stuck a radio signal into a building's AC supply for local wired distribution) and plug it into an antenna instead.  My sidekick would then drive around and give me signal reports.

    The most impressive thing about man [...] is the fact that he has invented the concept of that which does not exist--Glenn Gould

    by Rich in PA on Wed Nov 17, 2010 at 01:13:16 PM PST

  •  You can also plaster an area with Part 15... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kestrel9000, 18038, Larsstephens

    ...microtransmitters, though it's kind of an inefficient way to get coverage!

    The most impressive thing about man [...] is the fact that he has invented the concept of that which does not exist--Glenn Gould

    by Rich in PA on Wed Nov 17, 2010 at 01:33:29 PM PST

    •  Part 15 unlicensed (0+ / 0-)

      Part 15 is more effective on AM than on FM.

      On FM, a legal Part 15 unlicensed station won't go more than a 100 feet or so -- if you're lucky.  But on AM, I've heard credible reports of ranges up to a mile or so during the daytime.

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Thu Nov 18, 2010 at 06:16:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for your diary and for the links. (0+ / 0-)

    Very informative.

    I'm a big fan of radio.  (Don't have TV.)  I listen to public-supported FM radio for music (KWAX for classical, KMHD for jazz) and a commercial AM station for liberal talk and news (KPOJ).  

    I don't think there's room on the dial in this area (I live 40 miles SW of Portland, Oregon) for any more FM stations, low power or otherwise.  There's already interference problems with the existing stations.  Two "Christian" stations and a local college station have signals that "bleed" into adjacent channels.

    "Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do." John Wooden

    by CKendall on Wed Nov 17, 2010 at 10:13:54 PM PST

  •  A few miles... (0+ / 0-)

    on 100 watts? Really? You need a new engineer. I'm a ham radio operator. I can pretty easily get into Los Angeles (60 miles away) on VHF with 50 watts and an antenna built out of an old tape measure.

    On topic, though- I'm a huge supporter of community radio. The airwaves belong to us, people- let's take them back.

    •  FM is not the same as VHF Ham radio (0+ / 0-)

      Since the bandwidth of an FM channel is broader than what Hams use, it takes more power to get decent coverage.  Also, in much of the US, the range of FM broadcast stations is interference limited.

      So a 100 watt LPFM with an antenna 30 meters above average terrain has a 1 mv/m contour of 5.7 km.  Absent interference, that station would be receivable well outside it's 1 mv/m contour -- but under typical conditions seen on the FM broadcast band today, realistic coverage might range from just barely over 5.7 km to maybe 10 or 15 km from the transmitter.

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Thu Nov 18, 2010 at 06:19:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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