Wednesday, March 21, 2012

FCC opens up the air for LPFM

Now this is a big deal for the radio world. Maybe, just maybe, we'll get some decent radio stations on the air again.

Start your own low power FM station!

March 19, 2012

We did it! Today the FCC announced the biggest victory for community radio since we led the fight to pass the Local Community Radio Act more than a year ago. The FCC will dismiss thousands of applications for translators (repeater stations) to clear the airwaves for community radio. Across the country, hundreds of channels that would have gone to giant networks will now be preserved for our communities to use. This victory would not have happened without years of effective advocacy from Prometheus and grassroots activists. And we couldn't have done it without you. Thank you! (Scroll down to read our full press release.)

Today's announcement will help hundreds of local groups to build their own community radio stations for the first time. But our work isn't over. We still have another fight ahead at the FCC, and we are leading a grassroots campaign to help community groups apply for radio licenses and build their stations. Today's win creates a historic opportunity, but to take advantage of it, we need your help.

Will you donate today to help us continue our work?


Electromagnetically yours,


Stephanie Thaw (and the rest of the Prometheus staff collective)


P.O. Box 42158
Philadelphia, PA 19101
United States
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For Immediate Release


FCC Decision Opens Radio Airwaves for Communities Nationwide
New rules create opportunities for hundreds of new community radio stations

March 19, 2012

Washington, DC-- In a victory for communities nationwide, today the Federal Communications Commission announced that the agency will open the airwaves for community radio. To make room for a new wave of local stations, the FCC will clear a backlog of over six thousand pending applications for FM translators, which are repeater stations that rebroadcast distant radio stations. The decision will allow for the first new urban community radio stations in decades.

"Today the FCC has opened the door for communities to use their own local airwaves, and that will be transformative," said Brandy Doyle, Policy Director for the Prometheus Radio Project. "We commend the Commission staff for the care and diligence they have shown. We also wish to thank Chairman Genachowski, Commissioner McDowell, and particularly Commissioner Clyburn and her hardworking staff for their efforts on behalf of communities."

The announcement concludes the first hurdle in implementing the Local Community Radio Act, passed by Congress in 2010 after a decade-long grassroots campaign. The FCC is on track to accept applications for new Low Power FM (LPFM) stations nationwide as early as Fall 2012. Community groups are gearing up to apply for the licenses, which will be available only to locally-based non-profit organizations.

“For our migrant communities here in Arizona, community radio would give a voice to people who rarely get to speak for ourselves in the media,” said Carlos Garcia, Lead Organizer with Puente Arizona. "Anti-immigrant voices dominate the airwaves. Community radio can help us tell our own stories, share news and information, and get organized."

Broadcast radio remains one of the most accessible means of communication in the US, with 90% of Americans listening at least once a week.

"Radio is a great tool for reaching working people - it's free to listen, easy to produce, and people can often tune in on the job or while doing housework," said Milena Velis, Media Organizer and Educator with Philadelphia-based Media Mobilizing Project. “In Pennsylvania, we're facing big challenges, from education cuts to rural poverty to environmentally destructive shale drilling. We see community radio as a way to bring people together and create solutions from the ground up."

Low power community stations are non-commercial and cost as little as $10,000 to launch, putting these stations within reach of many communities who have limited access to other media outlets.

Hundreds of pending translator applications will be dismissed in Philadelphia, Phoenix, and dozens of other cities, in compliance with the rules released today. The FCC plan will preserve channels by dismissing translator applications that would preclude future community radio stations in certain markets where the FCC has determined that space for community radio will be scarce.

“We are pleased that the FCC has taken such a careful approach to preserving channels for community radio,” said Doyle. “And we’re particularly glad that the FCC has taken our recommendation to ensure that the frequencies set aside are in populated areas, where they are needed. This will make a big difference in San Antonio, Sacramento, and 12 other mid-sized markets, where stations too far from the city would have reached only tumbleweeds or farmland."

The FCC had stopped processing the pending applications in response to a 2005 petition filed by Prometheus and Media Access Project. The new processing plan includes several changes proposed by Prometheus to improve the outlook for community radio.

Also today, the FCC released a set of proposed rules for new community radio stations, asking for public comment on the proposals. That release begins the final rulemaking procedure which must be completed before the agency can accept applications for new stations.


The Prometheus Radio Project has been the leading advocate for low power community radio since 1998. Prometheus led a decade-long grassroots campaign to pass the bipartisan Local Community Radio Act, succeeding in 2010. Over its history, Prometheus has supported hundreds of communities in licensing, building, and operating their own radio stations.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How to create a Pirate Radio Station

I recently was asked how to do this, with more detail, on Reddit. Here's what I put there (with some additional infos):

Transmitter, dipole antenna and cable $3000 Package here: http://progressive-concepts.com/info/item.php?id=812

Mast assembly $150 (base and poles):
Insulated pivot base assembly
http://www.ebay.com/itm/160748331985?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649#ht_500wt_1125
Military antenna mast support poles (4ft each X 12):
http://www.ebay.com/itm/120825971714?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649#ht_849wt_882

Guy-wire and stakes (home depot): $50

Laptop with USB Mixer and 2 mics
Laptop (any will do): $400

Behringer 1204BUSB Mixer $200
http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/X1204USB.aspx

2 Shure SM57 Mics with Stands (but any mics will do): $275
http://amzn.to/xSh1bs

This is all you need to get going.
Total: $4,075

If you want a really small antenna for stealth, go with this 1/4 wave $60:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/140695102306?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649#ht_2134wt_1114

The brain dead way to tune your 1/4 wave antenna is here:
http://apiratemonk.blogspot.com/2012/02/proper-fm-antenna-tuning-simple-brain.html

I have more gear (which is why I said $7800 on the Reddit post) but this is all you need to get on the air.

Remember that it's PIRATE radio.... against FCC regulations. In NJ and Florida it's against the law, but in the rest of the country, it's just breaking an FCC regulations.

The FCC has an enforcement branch, but they don't have alot of manpower. What they usually do is give you a warning and if you turn if off, they go away. If you keep getting busted by them though, you'll eventually get a fine (up to $11,000), but, they have no court to try you in other than the existing court system so they have to get one of their overworked lawyers to convince a court to force you to pay which they hate, so, they try everything possible to get you to just turn it off.

We ran Boulder Free Radio (KBFR) for 5 years before we stopped.

Here's a blog I did on my exploits:
http://freemedia.blogspot.com/

The story of KBFR:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KBFR_(pirate_radio)

Sunday, March 11, 2012