Thursday, January 12, 2006

Low Power FM Radio Service

This is a copy of a letter filed in support of The FCC's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Low Power FM (LPFM) Radio Service

Years ago, I was General Manager at WGHS, a tiny, non-commercial, student-run radio station at Glenbard West High School in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. We provided services to that small community that no commercial station would - live coverage of local village government meetings, play-by-play action of local football games, and interviews with students and citizens. The excitement of local participation inspired me to get my First Class Operator's license at age 16 and to go on to a life-long career in electrical engineering. That was back in the 1970's, long before low-power FM (LPFM) was possible. Today, LPFM provides those same opportunities for small towns and neighborhoods.

The FCC should protect low-power FM (LPFM) stations from full power commercial stations. While LPFM stations provide services and perspective to the community that commercial stations can or will not, LPFM stations may not have the administrative and legal resources to influence federal government like ClearChannel and other corporate owners. The FCC can protect the common airwaves from moneyed interests.

Low Power FM stations provide cultural diversity and a local focus. Translators reduce the variety and usefulness of America\'s airwaves by repeating material available through other media. If I cannot receive a commercial FM station signal clearly, I often can hear their programming via streaming media on the Internet. However, Low Power FM stations cannot afford these alternatives.

The FCC should modify licencing rules so that LPFM stations can use more time to construct stations and to arrange for community ownership.

The FCC has the responsibility to protect and safeguard low power radio. Congress is considering legislation to expand the service by removing the restrictions on the third-adjacent channel, which could allow LPFM to expand into larger communities. The FCC should take every opportunity to tell Congress that the technology is ready for this change. In my day, we spent time to monitor and tune our transmitter to keep it within tight specifications. Technology has progressed to the point that today, tranmitters are much more stable and capable. Receivers are much more selective and easier to tune. As a result, there can be room for many more voices on the dial.

Thank you for your help.

You can help counteract the effects of large corporations on public discourse. Get involved with Low Power FM Radio, if only by listening to the stations in your area. It's like podcasting, except it comes out of your radio! How weird is that?

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