Although some may question the importance of niche broadcast radio stations when an online radio station can be set up with little overhead, Michael Bracy, policy director for the Future of Music Coalition, said LPFM can reach people an online station may not, as well as allow people in those communities to make their voices heard.
“In terms of economic justice, and who actually gets to talk, a lot of people who are still listening to radio as a predominent communications form are the people who don’t necessarily have access to broadband,” Bracy said. “They’re also the ones that aren’t really targeted by commercial media, and frankly, when you look at the demographics they’re not particularly well-served by public radio.”
Bracy said he’s been part of lobbying efforts for more than a decade to get the FCC to allow these LPFM stations in urban areas, which had previously been restricted from the urban airwaves. He expects about 1,000 new LPFM stations to be created once the application process finishes.
“The idea that the federal government would ban non-commercial speech where there’s no technical reason to do it, is just ridiculous,” he said. “If a group in Seattle or in Austin or wherever wants to manage a 100-watt, non-commercial radio station, hey, bully for them, right? Now, we do live in an unbelievably complex media marketplace, and if they can’t build a business plan to sustain it, if they can’t add value to the community and make it work, it will go away. But still, they deserve that right.”