After twenty years of grassroots advocacy, the federal government is about to grant low power FM radio station licenses in hundreds of communities across the country. Unlike any other medium, low power radio binds communities together and can further the mission of your arts group or community group, union, neighborhood association or other civic body like nothing else. To find out more, join Black Agenda Report for a Thursday April 26 conference call at 9PM Eastern Time. To get your entry code contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What Could Your Organization Do With Its Own Radio Station?
By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
“Low power FM stations will broadcast to an area 12 miles in diameter. We're talking about neighborhood radio that binds actual neighbors together around their own needs, concerns and objectives...”
What could your not for profit organization, community or arts group, labor union, school, or local church do with its own fully operational low power FM radio station? This is not a rhetorical question, it's a very practical one. Late in 2012, or early in 2013, the Federal Communications Commission will be accepting license applications to operate what could be hundreds of neighborhood FM radio stations in cities and towns across the country.
For most of the last two decades, the Philadelphia-based Prometheus Radio Project, which you can find on the web at www.prometheus.org has led this fight, partnering with local forces to bring the technical knowledge, and doing the watchdogging and advocacy on the national level that got the laws passed and appropriate regulations enacted. And now the licensing window is almost here. It's a moment that's been a long time coming. Corporate broadcasters, and even so-called public broadcasters have spent millions to hire lobbyists and rented congressmen and senators to deny the broadcast microphone to anything or anybody that is not, or isn't owned by a greedy for-profit corporation.
Commercial radio has impoverished our music, by preventing local artists from reaching local audiences. Commercial radio has starved our communities of news by withdrawing corporate support for the gathering and broadcasting of original news, especially local news. Without local artists reaching local audiences, without local news and without the ability of people to listen to and lead their own local conversations, we are NOT communities, we are ONLY markets. Turning our collective relations into exclusively market-mediated relations is in fact the vision of the corporate America.
“Do your organization's capacity-building and community building efforts a favor, and find out just what your organization could do with its very own low power FM radio station....”
The fight for the rights of nonprofit community broadcasters to access the radio dial is nothing less than a fight for the rights of people to hear their own voices. It's a fight for the right to own and operate media which recognizes and builds communities, where commercial media ignores communities, instead recognizing only markets to be delivered to its advertisers.
What could your organization do with its own low power FM radio station? Think about it. Low power FM stations will broadcast to an area 12 miles in diameter. We're talking about neighborhood radio that binds actual neighbors together around their own needs, concerns and objectives, the same needs, concerns and objectives that caused you to form your local not for profit organization in the first place.
While individual nonprofit organizations can apply for station licenses, preference will be given to coalitions of two, three and more local organizations, because a wider base ensures more success both at fundraising and at the production of original programming for your local radio station. The minimum financial barriers to application and station startup are not terribly high, either, often in the low to mid single-digit thousands. Do your organization's capacity-building and community building efforts a favor, and find out just what your organization could do with its very own low power FM radio station.
To find out more about this once in a liftetime opportunity, join Black Agenda Report and Prometheus Radio for a one hour informational conference call with Prometheus Radio on Thursday, April 26, at 9PM EST, 8PM CST. That's Thursday evening, April 26 at 9PM Easter, 8 PM Central and 6PM Pacific time. To obtain the number and code, email us at email@example.com. That's firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.
Bruce A. Dixon lives in Marietta GA, and is a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.