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Promoting Local Low Powered Community Radio

| 03.27.2012 | 08:04:5812763 |
January 2012: Almost one year ago exactly, the Obama administration signed into law the "Local Community Radio Act" which allowed smaller community radio stations the ability to broadcast to their communities. At the forefront of the push to give greater radio access to communities is the Prometheus Radio Project. Their efforts help to create local communities of radio broadcasters which could help to disseminate information quickly in the event of a disaster.
The community radio organization said in a press release last year, "Low power stations are small, 100 watt stations that fit between larger stations on the dial. These locally owned stations are run by non-profits, schools, emergency responders, and other non-commercial groups. The new law repeals earlier restrictions that kept low power radio out of urban areas."

Recently, the Associated Press "The Federal Communications Commission is expected to start taking applications for the new stations sometime this fall. Philadelphia-based Prometheus Radio Project, which advocates for community stations, is raising awareness of the opportunity and what it believes is the need for more low-power stations that serve narrow audiences, often just neighborhoods."

The AP Continued, "An FM signal from a 100-watt transmitter can reach 3 to 10 miles, depending on the terrain and there are success stories. About 30 miles southeast of Fort Myers, the nationally recognized Coalition of Immokalee Workers runs a legally licensed low-power station that helps migrant farmworkers organize for better wages and report human rights abuses. In Opelousas, La., low-power KOCZ plays the region's heritage zydeco music on the first station licensed to a civil rights organization."

According to Prometheus, "The FCC introduced the low power radio service in 2000, allowing non-profit organizations, schools, churches, and emergency responders to serve their communities on the airwaves. Due to restrictions set by Congress in 2000 at the behest of the National Association of Broadcasters, only about 800 LPFM stations are on the air today.

Grassroots organizations, civil rights advocates, and church groups fought for ten years to repeal the restrictions that limited low power radio to rural areas, ending with the passage of the Local Community Radio Act. The law could lead to hundreds or even thousands of new stations."