Low Power FM: A Historic Opportunity

Published 9 years ago - 1

Every Community needs a Low Power FM Radio Station

by Mary Francis, Board Member – UUs and Allies: A Nationwide Community Radio Network

UUs and Allies: Nationwide Community Radio Network has recently been established in order to take full advantage of the approaching historic opportunity for establishing a network of progressive Low Power FM (LPFM) radio stations owned by non-profits such as unions, food banks, progressive churches, free clinics, and social justice groups. In January, the Low Power Community Radio Act was signed into law. UUs and Allies mission is to get the word out and to assist non-profit organizations with the legal and technical aspects of successfully launching an LPFM station. The FCC is now in the process of setting the rules, and will open an application window for 2,000 to 3,000 LPFM frequencies some time in the next year.

Non-commercial, educational frequencies (NCE), which reside on the FM dial between 88.1 and 91.9, are granted to American citizens by the federal government, at no cost, as a public trust.  Currently, 80% of the non-commercial, educational (NCE) broadcast spectrum is owned by the right-wing. Less than 10% of the Talk Shows are moderate or progressive. This initiative offers a strategy to prevent the hate-talkers and religious fundamentalists from capturing the rest of the airwaves, and to provide a more positive and empowering voice in our communities. We merely have to seize this opportunity by reaching out to friendly non-profits in order to file as many applications with the FCC as possible – in the hundreds, if not thousands.

The beauty of this plan is that establishing an LPFM is both relatively inexpensive ($5k-$8k) and even if you cannot build, there is NO penalty if you don’t build once you are awarded a frequency. Furthermore, there are several organizations that are willing to help you build and get on the air.

Indeed, the key to success is teamwork, and there are numerous existing organizations which serve as the backbone of Community Radio in the nation. For example, when it comes to accessing quality programming to put on the air, Pacifica Radio provides access to quality programming the likes of Democracy Now!, Free Speech Radio News, WINGS, Sprouts, Youth Radio, etc. Like-minded radio engineers and broadcast attorneys, and organizations such as Prometheus Radio Project, Common Frequency, Radio For People, and the National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB) are prepared to help any organization dedicated to the Common Good apply for a radio frequency and even help you build and get OnAir. These good people provide webinars, how-to manuals, policy guidance, and personal assistance and advice, all for the cause of strengthening the Community Radio Movement.

By establishing an LPFM station, you will provide your community with a place for independent rational voices at a local level. LPFM Community Radio is Democracy In Action. For those who value democracy, who truly understand what the word means, this is one of today’s most significant causes. Creating our own media, turning off the corporate talking heads, and creating a conversation with one another, will make us more focused, more confident, and generate a stronger and more forward-thinking culture.  An LPFM network is a cooperative mechanism for cooperative engagement that reaches out into the larger community to make our aspirations a reality.

Join us. Investigate this wonderful opportunity, and explore these groups and their websites.


A community of wonderful advocates are offering to stand with us in bringing civil discourse to the airwaves and advance issues of social justice and peace. The fundamentalists learned the power of controlling the airwaves two decades ago. Now, we have been handed this chance to take some of the radio spectrum back! This opportunity may never come again. Spread the word, share with those in your community organizations, and please contact us.

UUs and Allies: A Nationwide Community Radio Network

Board Members:

UU Mary Francis, OK (has 2 CPs from 2007 window + possibly another to be awarded)

UU Rev. Chuck Freeman, TX (Host of ‘Soul Talk’ radio & activist minister Live Oak Unitarian Universalist)

Ally Sue Wilson, CA (Emmy Award winning Writer/Producer of Documentaries -see “Broadcast Blues”)

Ally Matt Joplin, OK (Founder of Food for Thought-food and learning site for the homeless)

Ally Todd Urick, CA (Common Frequency Radio Engineer and author of a definitive study on LPFM)

UU Tom Killorin, WA (Board Member of KSER & also Eliot Institute, a UUA camp)

UU David Barbour, NM (has 2 full-power radio stations in NM)

UU Teresa Allen, TX (Member of Pacifica Board and KPFT board in Houston)

Ally Al Davis, NY (Radio Engineer at WGXC community radio, Hudson, NY & WXPI in PA)

UU Kindra Muntz, FL (Activist for Election Reform & author of successful 2011 AIW re: Citizens United)


Watch the Prometheus Radio Project Video: Our Cities, Our Airwaves and read about the principle of Localism.

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One thought on “Low Power FM: A Historic Opportunity

  • Thank you, Sam, for working to make this article more inclusive and fixing the format.
    I hope the readers will explore the CommonFrequency.org website and PrometheusRadio.org. Prometheus has done a dozen or so ‘barnraisings’ – these weekend events not only put up the tower and get the studio up and running, they hold workshops all weekend and teach your volunteers how Community Radio works! Sam went to the one last fall in Hudson,NY.
    Fun and educational stuff!


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