Low-power FM stations show future of local radio

Source: Citizen Times
Author: Wally Bowen
Asheville, NC, United States

[Commentary] What if there were radio stations dedicated solely to serving a specific geographic community rather than the demands of national advertisers and network owners? Would we begin to rethink and reimagine radio's potential and possibilities?

An experiment in reimagining radio was unwittingly set in motion by the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which removed the cap on radio station ownership, produced a frenzy of consolidation and greatly accelerated the disappearance of local voices from our airwaves. The resulting backlash led to the licensing of low-power FM (LPFM) radio stations in 2000, despite strong opposition from commercial broadcasters and NPR, which argued that LPFM stations would interfere with full-power stations. The Local Community Radio Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives last December on a voice vote. With broad bipartisan support, LCRA may be one of the few bills that a highly polarized U.S. Senate can pass in a postelection, lame-duck session. The bill removes constraints imposed on LPFM by network lobbyists and will allow many more Americans to hear for themselves the reimagining of radio.



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