The future of radio might just reside, at least in part, in these LPFM stations. Marika Partridge has been in radio for most of her career and spoke with Geeks and Beats before joining a panel on the topic at the Future of Music Coalition’s Music Policy Summit in Washington, D.C. recently. After several years in Alaska, she moved to Washington to serve as an engineer and, later, producer of NPR’s All Things Considered. She’s been a driving force behind the creation of Takoma Radio, an LPFM station scheduled to go live early next year in the DC suburbs.
It’s easy to feel like radio is a format on life support. On the FM dial, Clear Channel (ahem, excuse me, iHeartRadio) controls huge swaths of our broadcast landscape. Indie stations do exist—and are a Godsend on road trips—but they’re few and far between. Of course, there are tons of digital options, including tailored channels and online streamers where algorithms do the heavy lifting. But will the audience continue to grow or eventually fade out? read more
Music lovers everywhere: it’s time to tune in, turn the volume up, and celebrate because Thursday, August 20 is National Radio Day. This holiday has been celebrated since the early 1990s on Aug. 20, honoring the day the first news radio station, 8MK radio in Detroit was licensed by the FCC and went on the air in 1920. But this year’s event is going to be the biggest yet, as dozens of noncommercial stations across the country will be participating. And you can participate too by visiting www.nationalradioday.com. read more
Over the last year, we’ve watched with excitement as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted new construction permits for over 1500 new low-power FM (LPFM) radio stations across the country. These new stations are claiming space on the public airwaves to better represent the full diversity of American voices, and include stations run by community groups, activists, churches, labor unions, and college students. These stations may only have a range of a few miles, but their impact on their local communities, including musicians, can be immense.
Now, some community radio advocates have asked the FCC to allow these stations to expand their reach. A petition currently under consideration at the Commission would create provisions for LPFM stations that meet certain criteria to broadcast at 250 watts rather than just 100, thus expanding their geographic reach and allowing more listeners the chance to tune in.
Interim Executive Director Casey Rae Speaks to MN Musicians and Composers
Monday, March 10, 2014
Good morning. Thank you for all for being here, and thank you for having me at the Minnesota Music Summit. It’s truly an honor to be joining you at this amazing event. Today, I want to explore the future of music, which is still being written, and which you all can play a part in writing. Some of the issues I’ll be bringing up will no doubt be familiar to you. Others may not be as familiar. But it’s not just about me giving some prepared remarks, it’s about dialog. It’s about the very real connections between people who are passionate about music, who create it and nurture it. And those are the connections that I love to make. In 2014, there’s no single approach to being a musician or composer, so it’s become critical that we listen and learn from one another.
Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a public notice announcing a filing window for applications for new low power FM (LPFM) radio stations. LPFMs are community-based, non-commercial radio stations that operate at 100 watts or less and reach a radius of 3 to 7 miles (check out our LPFM fact sheet for more info).
These small but mighty stations are an alternative to broadcasters that seem to play the same five songs on infinite repeat, and provide opportunities for local and niche artists to recieve airplay. LPFMs also offer a wide variety of small, independent organizations — including schools, civic groups, churches, and non-profits — a platform from which to engage with local communities.
The new low power application has a few important changes from the past. First, new stations will be permitted in urban areas for the first time ever. As long as an applicant can prove that their station would cause no harmful interference, the FCC will grant a special waiver. This new change will double or triple the number of new stations available, and it’s a major victory for Prometheus and our allies who fought for it.
Additionally, the FCC will offer special incentives to stations that provide local programming, and who maintain publicly accessible studios — a focus on community-driven broadcasting that we can really get behind.
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.” read more
Music and government may not seem like they have much in common. But four panelists did their best to convince an audience at SXSW that they were, in fact, hopelessly intertwined.
“These issues are breathtakingly complicated,” said the panel’s moderator, Michael Bracy, policy director at the Future of Music Coalition. “How do you build a regulatory structure for a market that is changing so rapidly?” read more
Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to approve rules that will allow the unprecedented expansion of true local radio across the country. Beginning in October 2013, community groups will be able to apply for licenses to operate Low Power FM radio stations, bringing local voices to the airwaves in towns and cities across America.
FCC commissioners approved the rules in a unanimous, bipartisan vote. Their actions today represent a significant step towards achieving greater diversity on the public airwaves, and more opportunities for local musicians (which we obviously dig). read more