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United States

FCC considers low power FM licenses 118

V for Victory writes "Would you like to run your very own over-the-air radio station with a real, legal license to broadcast? The FCC is currently considering a plan to license low power FM band broadcasters with 10, 100, or 1000 watt power ratings. Naturally, this proposal is being opposed by Big Radio Companies and the National Association of Broadcasters. However, at the moment the FCC is accepting comments from the public. Read more about it here. The deadline for comments is September 1, 1999. "
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FCC considers low power FM licenses

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    This could have a real impact in the rural counties of this country, which, geographically, comprise 95% of the country.

    I live in a rural county about the size of Delaware, but almost all live in one city. A 10 watter would cover it. With its low costs, it could cover the same demographics as the 50k stations, but with much a much more affordable rate card.

    And, who knows, we might even get local coverage, instead of nonstop satellite programming. No more All John-John, All Of The Time.

    Now, we need to do this with TV stations, too. Can you say goodbye, national media?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    My first objection to this is that 1000W is way too much power - If I can talk 10-15 miles on a 25W 2m (145MHz) rig you don't need a 1KW to have a low power FM station. I fear that most of these stations wouldn't have enough height on the antenna, bad feed line, bad SWR, poor operator knowledge, and a real RF exposure hazard would result.

    Next the FM broadcast band is right next to the aircraft band and poorly aligned equipemnt from these unlicensed stations has in the past caused serious problems. I know here the ILS (instrument landing system) is on 108.3, not that far from the top of the FM band. Most tower and approach controllers operate with 12-25 W transmitters and could be blanked out by a bad spur. Move on to the 2nd harmonic and you cross buisness, public service, and marine frequency allocations.

    I think the FCC should create a license that would allow low power FM broadcasting. I would restrict the transmitter to 25W or so and require a simple license test, like that done for amateur licenses, to ensure basic technical competance and safety knowledge. I would rather have a lightly regulated transmitter than an unlicensed one.
  • Don't get your hopes up, folks.
    If you go read up on this proposal, which has been
    on the table for months, now, you'll see that they
    are only going to give out a handful of licenses,
    and only in major metro areas, and places like
    San Francisco and Philadelphia will only get to
    have 1 or 2 low power stations. Smaller cities
    fare better, but still, it's not like every
    block will have its own station.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is my first post to Slashdot, so please be gentle.

    I am heavily involed in a LPFM station, Free Radio Asheville, which broadcasts at a power of 20 watts in my home town. We have been on the air for over a year now and have raided once by the FCC.

    Make no mistake the FCC would never have begun to make these proposals on their own had it not been for the hundreds of Micro-power stations like ours that began popping up like mushrooms over the last three years. While these proposals are a good start they don't go nearly as far as the LPFM movement would like.

    Check out
    for our point of view.

    One thing I would like to point out to everyone here about the efficacy of these Internet streaming technologies for liberalizing the broadcast media. I would hazard to guess that a percentage approaching 100 of the population in America owns a radio of some sort. You can buy one at Wal-mart for 5 bucks. Computers and Internet though are not so widely (geographicaly and economicaly) distributed. 90% of the world's population do not have access to a phone much less a computer with an internet connection. The largest broadcasting corporations know this and have been buying up broadcast licenses in America like penny candy ever since 1996, and are begining to work where they can in the foreign markets. This is no accident!

    If you want community based media you are going to have to fight for it. A good book for background on how long the FCC and the commercial broadcasters have been in bed is:

    Telecommunications, Mass Media, and Democracy : The Battle for the Control of U.S. Broadcasting, 1928-1935

    Robert W. McChesney / Paperback / Published 1995
  • I'll just add my voice to the poster above. More than 50% of the U.S. population does not have internet access.


  • This is, sadly, much too common on the net nowadays. People who seem to believe that "everyone" has net access. (I have seen two messages in this discussion that explicitly show that, and a few that seem to presuppose it.)

    The fact is, it is a privileged minority of people who have net access. Go to a minority/immigrant/blue collar worker community, and try counting how many people have computers.

    And go to other countries, and do the same.


  • This is my first post to Slashdot, so please be gentle.

    Ha. Welcome to the flamepit ;-).

    Seriously, I've been posting on slashdot for over a year and a half, and never gotten much flames, even when I've gotten controversial. A couple of emails once, but I just ignored them.

    I am heavily involed in a LPFM station, Free Radio Asheville, which broadcasts at a power of 20 watts in my home town. We have been on the air for over a year now and have raided once by the FCC.

    I'm sure many people here would like to hear more details about this story.

    Anyway, congrats to you and your partners on this truly commendable project.


  • It would be really fun, and good from the standpoint of the people running the transmitters, but really bad for the listeners. There just aren't, and can't ever be, enough broadcast frequencies for this scheme to be pulled off without a lot of stations interfering with each other.

    I'm not so sure about this. Could you be more specific? I would like to see the assumptions behind your judgement. Like wattage, number of people who would want to set up a station, number of people who would actually run one on regular schedule, frequency allocation, etc.

    Use the internet! I am watching a 300K bit-per-second stream from NASA Mission Control at the moment, courtesy of . It looks great, with high resolution and 12+ frames per second when there is enough action in the picture - it seems to fall back on a much slower rate when there is less movement.

    I use a 33.6 modem to connect to the Internet. Where I live (Puerto Rico), there are no plans that I know of for cable modems, ADSL, or any of those high speed access technologies /. techies seem to think everyone will soon have. Where I live, a very low percentage of the population has a computer. Almost everyone has a radio, though.

    So you see, if I and a group of people wanted to communicate to our community, radio is the way to go.

    This is the wave of the future. In 10 years or so we will all have 5 Megabit-per-second fiber-optic feeds that cost the same as cable-tv+telephone today. We will choose what we want to see in our homes, and when we want to see it.

    This is false. I mean, the "we all" part. Most people won't have such access. And there is the threat that this kind of connection be subsidized by private interests that will have a say on what kind of content we will be able to choose from.

    Case in point: I have a cousin living in Houston who gets free dialup net access. When she connects, a non-minimizable, always-on-top window displays ads. For example, one of the sponsors is Barnes and Noble. I remember that I tried to connect to Bookpool and Amazon, and it gave me an error message-- The access provider actually blocks out competitors to one of its sponsors!

    Have you stopped to think that this kind of arrangement could very well be what will bring your vision of "cheap internet for everyone" to reality? TV already works like this...

    BTW, where I live, basic cable TV is almost $50/mo. Phone is quite cheap, though, since the phone company was owned by the government and they would subsidize phone for low income people. But the government recently sold the phone co. to GTE, so I expect prices to go up gradually...


  • The 50% of the U.S. population without Internet accesss don't count, anyway. Your point?

    Let's stick to _your_ point for a second. I didn't say 50%; I said _more than_ 50%. So you're saying that the majority of the U.S. population doesn't count.

    My point is that they do. And the rest of the world's population, every bnit as much.

    Did you need me to clarify this, or were you just eager to spout techno-elitist crap?


  • Sorry to reply twice, I just had to say something else about this bit.

    It would be really fun, and good from the standpoint of the people running the transmitters [...]

    Hmm. I think you should consider the fact that the people who are pushing this are already doing this, have been doing it in many cases for years, and definitely not (at least not primarily, in any case) for fun; unless you consider being on the receiving end of an FCC raid to be fun...


  • I live in Puerto Rico. I consider Puerto Rico to be a different country than the US (some people don't however; I won't discuss this point now). The FCC does regulate radio in PR.

    Anyway, my comment had absolutely nothing to do with microradio. I was just pointing out the tacit assumption of an absurd idea: "everyone has net access". I gave counterexamples: poor people in the US (and industrialized countries), and most people nearly everywhere else.


  • They're too busy voting to count, anyway.

    If it were so... Last I heard, voter turnout at US elections is terrible.


  • Veering further off topic, a similar thing happened here back in April. A very popular "new rock" station called 96X went down without a word one Sunday night. The next morning, they had been replaced with a periodically looping blurb directing the listeners of "the former 96X" to the local top-40 station, Y105. At around 9am, they had been completely replaced with "Kiss 96", an R&B oldies station. 96X and the station that replaced it are owned by Cumulus Broadcasting. 96X had just put on a large concert with some big-name bands (no small feat, since it was just a dinky local station in an area that usually isn't first on the list for big-name concerts), and they had what many people thought was the best morning show in the area. The obvious question is, what was Cumulus Broadcasting smoking? ...ah, but I suppose this isn't really the proper forum for this. Oh well...
  • I'd like to see lots of small, low-power radio stations because, in times of major societal breakdown or other calamity, they are less likely to be disabled than the Internet. I am not a survivalist or a conspiracy theorist, but I believe that having plenty of small, distributed xmtrs is a Good Thing. One reason the U.S. would be almost impossible to invade and conquer is the fact that we have an armed populace and millions of CBs that populace can use to communicate. LPFM extends the commo capability. If, in good times, we get to hear some offbeat music and political views, that's fine, too, but as far as I'm concerned, that's just a fringe benefit.
  • Those kits are barely a jumping-off point. They use relatively cheap components, which means they have a fair amount of frequency instability (they drift). Sound quality is tolerable. You'd need to do a fair bit of upgrading to make it really usable.

    On the other hand, if you don't mind spending in the hundreds, Ramsey also has a higher-powered transmitter that works really well.

  • Yes, any "public performance" of ASCAP- or BMI-licensed music (SECAM in Canada, I believe) requires a licensing agreement with the appopriate thugs^H^H^H^H^Horganization. I think you can also license "per performance," but I imagine that would requre a lot of ongoing paperwork.

    You generally pay a flat fee that I think is indexed to your gross earnings, and you must occasionally (I think we did it once a year at the radio station I PDd) do a two- or three-day "survey" where you fill out every artist/song/label, so that ASCAP/BMI have a fairly representative view of what's being played nationwide.

    They can't do this themselves by listening the radio, because they're busy hassling auto mechanics and barbers who play the radio in their shops.

    Keep in mind, though, that there is a growing body of music not controlled by ASCAP/BMI, and that there are other forms of broadcast content than music programming.

    I do hope they allow LPFM to proceed. It's needed now more than ever, due to the oppressive sameness imposed by the national radio companies and their consultants.


  • No, it's definitely not free if you consider the bandwidth that it takes. You may be able to piggy-back off of somebody who's already paid for it if you're at a University or if you're at a job where they let you use their network, but somebody has to pay for it.
  • Due to a change in FCC rules, companies can buy more radio stations in the same markets. Chancellor Media on the verge of owning 500 radio stations! Soon all radio will be owned by five companies! The only thing that can alter the almighty power of these companies is local home brew broadcasters. Only these people care about the LOCAL community.

    Check out OFF THE HOOK for more info!

  • On January 28, 1999, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which is available in [ Word Perfect ], [ text] or [ Acrobat (7.5mg) ] versions

    I also noticed the above... no Word format! Heheheh. Too bad that right after that they offer a spreadsheet in Excel format only. =(

  • I'm pretty sure that 100 and 1000 watt radio stations are legal. In fact I believe the lowest allowable by law is 19.5 watts. Coincidentally thats also how much power my campus' radio station has, and I live two blocks from where its broadcast and can never pick it up.
  • I have no faith in the FCC wanting to make the airwaves available to the public. There is no way they would want to touch all the sticky issues of MP3 and the RIAA. Not only that, it would give people a voice. We can't have that. The FM radio band is dying anyway. Let the big companies strangle the monopoly until people no longer have receivers, but mp3 players and internet for the news.

    I will not even voice my opinion to the FCC, because they would not want my opinion. I'm the type they would not even want on the air. I'd be one of those people they would want banned for life and blacklisted from even getting a permit in the first place.

    Pirate radio stations can even be evasive. I won't even suggest *cough* *cough* transmitters strung from a tree powered by solar cells and getting a feed from a stealth IR beam. When the tree is raided, an alarm is tripped and the operator is the wiser. Who needs the trenchcoat FBI raiding your house because you want a little free speech? If ya wanna be heard, yall be heard, damnit, and the FCC cannot put a muzzle on your mouth or tunes. The internet let the cat out of the bag for encryption, Linux, music artists without a label, and now radio. Its too late. We're free! Damn the government.

    (cue to the sound of tanks running over my house)
  • After you get your license to operate your computer (different licenses for commercial and personal use, but please fill in the slot that asks what you will be using it for,) you will be shortly contacted by the IRS to fill out a form for what CPU speed you have and the OS that you use. You see, the big evil software company now uses a more efficient method to collect its tax on you. Rather than upgrades, it saw Linux taking over, and well, everyone has computers, it just needed to be taxed. A few people abused computers in high profile cases, something had to be done, a few bills were introduced, and its just not encryption that needs to be licensed anymore, so there you go! Other new taxes are being proposed, like the slashdot tax, which falls under the luxury taxes, because its not the NEWS like MSNBC news.

    Government control. Have to keep the population paying its dues or this great country would just fall apart and the communists would take over. Nuclear war, terrorists, child molestors, and the plague.

    Where's your license buddy? I'm gonna have to turn you in. We can't have people using this stuff for free.
  • They are in the electronics department. Its a little black box that takes a 9V battery and includes a double ended headphone jack. They are sold as CD to FM car stereo adapters.

    The easy way to increase the effective power of any transmitter is to increase the antenna length. Be sure to make the length multiples of the original size, or if you know the wavelength of the frequency, you can go 1/4, 1/2, etc to prevent standing waves from the end that bounce back into the receiver in opposing polarity. This transmitter has something like a 3 inch antenna. A 3 foot antenna really gets the signal out. I'm not sure of the legality, but you can do a search for CFR, title 47 on telecommunications. Lots of legal writing on what you should and shouln't be doing.

    How to hack the inside of the box? The best way is to experiment. Get a radio and start transmitting. Its a simple circuit and the goal is to increase power to the transmitter. Hint: resistors resist current.
  • by dattaway ( 3088 ) on Saturday July 24, 1999 @04:32AM (#1786489) Homepage Journal
    Walmart sells small FM stereo transmitters for the purpose of allowing your cd player to work over your car stereo. Cost? $20.00 It is a low power transmitter and I won't tell you which two resistors to replace with lower values to increase the output power, because I'd get in trouble and you can easily guess which two they are. Those things normally transmit about 20 feet, but with the illegal mod and a few feet of the antenna, they go a few blocks or more.

    Have fun, get one for each mp3 player and monopolize the frequency band with music people actually want to listen.
  • As others have commented, the proposal, if it contains retrictions on commercials and if it makes onerous demands w.r.t. interference, will kill low power FM.

    So support the idea, but makes sure your comments specifically point out the bad parts. And add that transmitting Internet data would be particularly beneficial as a way to boost throughput to users doomed to be modem connected for the foreseeable future. Cheap data recievers could make their life much better.

    The good news is that there is a whole big world outside the U.S. that could use this kind of technology to make Internet access better.

  • It would be really fun, and good from the standpoint of the people running the transmitters, but really bad for the listeners. There just aren't, and can't ever be, enough broadcast frequencies for this scheme to be pulled off without a lot of stations interfering with each other. Use the internet! I am watching a 300K bit-per-second stream from NASA Mission Control at the moment, courtesy of . It looks great, with high resolution and 12+ frames per second when there is enough action in the picture - it seems to fall back on a much slower rate when there is less movement.

    This is the wave of the future. In 10 years or so we will all have 5 Megabit-per-second fiber-optic feeds that cost the same as cable-tv+telephone today. We will choose what we want to see in our homes, and when we want to see it.



  • Yes it is needed. Not everyone can afford a computer and an internet connection, but most can afford a good radio for $15.
  • Again, though, not everyone can hear your internet radio station. Many many people cannot afford even what we think of as "cheap" computers and internet access fees. They can afford a cheap radio.
  • For years, the FCC hasn't had any rules for stations broadcasting under 100 watts, and refused to create any rules.

    This would, naturally, lead some to believe that if you want to broadcast there, it's okay to do so. Nothing preventing you from it, right?


    If you take the time to dig, you can find documented, verifiable reports of the FCC calling in local police, FBI, and other MIB-types, doing dawn raids, ninja-style gear, the whole bit. Just to shut down microtransmitters.

    Having no rules would be best, in my ideal world. But that doesn't seem to have worked. As long as the rules are vageuly sane -- say, cheap licensing fees, few to no requirements for content control...

    Oh, sorry. You meant in the real world?

    This looks great, but between the FCC's control fetish and the overwhelming influence of people with money, odds are nothing will come of this.

  • However, the RIAA is convinced radio stations don't pay enough. Anyone remember the rules for online 'radio' they are pushing through? Way more restrictive on what you can play, and costs more too. RIAA people are quoted as saying, effectively, 'We let radio get too sweet a deal, and we're not going to repeat that mistake'. Radio's argument was always 'We shouldn't pay that much, after all we do you a service by advertising your product'.

  • 2. Complete FORM-ET using Notepad or another ASCII text editor. Because E-mail filings are automatically processed, they must include specific ECFS Document Index Terms, and must be computer readable...

    It seems that someone there understands why open standards matter! What a refreshing feeling after all of the requests to submit Word documents...

    That just made my day. :-)

  • by b!X ( 8465 )

    Americans for Radio Diversity [] and Radio 4 All [] are where to go to learn more ont his from a src other than just the FCC.

  • The european Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) standard is not spread spectrum.

    To gain resistance to fading caused by multipath interference a signal needs to be a few megahertz wide.

    In the case of cellular phones the narrow data signal is spread my mixing it with a higher rate spreading sequence.

    DAB works differently: it aggregates a large number of compressed audio signals and transmits them using one high-rate carrier.

    Another reason why DAB is so efficient is that it is possible to transmit the same signal from several transmitters covering overlapping areas and the signals will not interfere with each other in the overlapping zones. A regular radio station has a small area where the signal is received with good quality and a very large zone where reception is poor but the frequency cannot be reused. DAB can cover an entire continent with continous coverage of the same signal - good, but only for big centralized broadcasters.

    I'm afraid that any public access to DAB transmission will be more similar to the cable model.
  • I won't tell you which two resistors to replace with lower values to increase the output power, because I'd get in trouble and you can easily guess which two they are.

    I don't see how you'd get in trouble. If you were using one of these devices, perhaps. But showing someone how to make one of their own? Not a chance.

    I don't know much about electronics. I can solder, tho. So which two resistors is it? (:
    Northeast USA Computer Show Schedule
  • For a while last year I enjoyed blasting a BroadcastWarehouse [] 1 watt PLL xmtr for about a 3 mile radius on an empty freq (nearest legal station was over 200 miles away) but still the risk of the MIB taking my stereo and computer stuff was a bummer and it's no longer on. Just playing some stuff I like, like weekend marathons of the huge Harry Shearer [] online archives or old radio programs; some Air Checks [] and stuff - for a creative person the possibilities are endless.

  • I think it's ASCAP [] does that; there was an article here on /. about them trying to collect license fees from web sites for even LINKING to another site w/ licensed music on it. Free radio sounds great to me, but don't think the, ahem, 'establishment' would like it one bit.

  • It's pretty sobering to see how tightly controlled radio really is. Check out Broadcast Architecture [] to learn the soulless truth.

    Curiously enough, my favourite radio station is a Broadcast Architecture product, but the methodology with which it was developed scares me a little. Unfortunately, it's where I have to go for my favourite music, which is modern jazz instrumentals a la Keiko Matsui.

  • Yea, but he might be living in a lead-lined concrete silo .. you never know ;>

    Not that I've *TRIED* living in a concrete silo ..
  • that was one of the more arcane systems for commenting. they could have set up a web form in the space it took to describe how to email in the comments...
  • I'm not so sure that you can be so quick to call this a bad idea. On the radio side, I don't think that the FCC would be proposing these rule changes if they thought there was a significant risk that it would reduce the FM band to nothing but static and interference. I could be wrong, but I would guess that the FCC has access to experts in the radio field to advise them on the technical aspects of a change like this.

    On the Internet side, while it may be true that your typical slashdot reader will have a megabit connection in a few years, I don't think the general population will have one. Also, I find it extremely unlikely that I will have one in my car. Given that a large amount of the population gets their daily news via radio in their car, I think more competition here can only be a good thing. I'm lucky, and in my home town we have an excellent community radio station. However, most communitites are not so lucky. Perhaps this rule change would help rectify that.
  • People who are interested in low-power radio, the positive effects these stations have on communities, and the current corporate welfare system that leads to their being shut down, should check out this article [] from Reason; another article appears in the current (August/September) issue.
  • The FCC may just be putting this up just so that it can be slapped down. I don't know much about the current Chairman, who proposed this and immediately caught Congressional heat and industry outrage. BUT the FCC occasionally gets an enlightened head.

    This is a one-time chance to do for radio broadcast what the Internet has done for wires. This is the equivalent of RIAA v MP3. If this proposal crashes, current broadcasters will be smug for a century, while indies will be permanently locked out... short of today's midnight knocks on the door and confiscation. Think about the schlock you hear on most radio stations; think about what it would be like to tune a local station playing what YOU listen to all the time... or owning one...

  • Sure, we all think we could pick better tunes and do beter chatter than the real djs/producers/megaradio companies (and the reason all radio sounds the same is because of tight control somewhere, i know that much.) but doesn't a broadcaster have to pay some sort of fee (equaling royalties) for playing songs on the radio? Just think of the uproar when they find out that k-jimbo is broadcasting "illegal" mp3's straight out of his basement. Does anyone else know better than me about this?
  • I got one of those transmitters at Wal-Mart a couple of weeks ago for $7 at clearance price. If you want one of these things, get it now. The goofy thing is, I got it to transmit tapes to my CD player. (My music is on CD now, but the occasional book on tape is nice for trips.)
  • I'm just wondering if this is really needed? With shoutcast and the proliferance of high bandwidth connections we can already transmit "higher quality than radio" shows to anyone across the world, let alone our neighbourhood. Plus it's free and we don't have to pay the FCC $$$ to get our own channel.

  • This is true, but you need to think about some stuff here.

    First, there are only a fixed number of channels available in the spectrum. If they did hand these things out you know what it would sound like? You would have everyone in the world stepping on each other and you would NOT be able to understand anything. This is not like AM where you can hear both signals at once. The strongest FM signal wins, and the rest become noise which mix in with the strong FM signal, then it clobbers it. No way, no how can two nearby FM signals share the same frequency.

    Other things have to be taken into consideration as well such as output power. A 1000 watt signal is going to be able to go quite a distance, so for a certain range nobody else can use that frequency. I am not sure exactly how they are going to determine who gets what power licence, but I would think that in some areas you would do better with 10 watts than 1000. 1000 would be good for the little towns where the nearest neighbor is 2 miles away. 10 watts would be good for a station which supports a 3 or 4 block neighborhood.

    Also, the reason that this proposal "has been on the table for months" is because they always do this. It gives everyone time to draft their proposals. Sometimes they will extend the comment period, sometimes they do not.

    Mister programmer
    I got my hammer
    Gonna smash my smash my radio
  • It would be really fun, and good from the standpoint of the people running the transmitters, but really bad for the listeners. There just aren't, and can't ever be, enough broadcast frequencies for this scheme to be pulled off without a lot of stations interfering with each other.

    I'm not sure about this point. Assuming that the FCC establishes a reasonable licensing procedure, only the people who really want to broadcast will get the licence. In addition, not many people will get a licence and broadcast due to the cost of the equipment and technical expertise required. A one watt kit costs about 200 and comes as a breadboard, a bunch of chips, and a wiring diagram.

    Given this I believe that inteference will not be a major concern since incident power goes as a function of 1/r^2. So if you're receiving a 1 W/m^2 at the source, 10 meters away you're receiving .01 W/m^2.

    This is the wave of the future. In 10 years or so we will all have 5 Megabit-per-second fiber-optic feeds that cost the same as cable-tv+telephone today. We will choose what we want to see in our homes, and when we want to see it.

    This maybe true in middle class homes in the suburbs but may segments of the population will not have this type of connectivity. Many people do not have a computer now and a significant fraction will probably still not have one 10 years from now. In addition, telcos and cable services will probably not spend the money required to wire areas that won't give a good return(inner cities, rural areas, areas with low income, etc). For example, the only reason Hyde Park in Chicago is getting DSL service is because the University of Chicago is pulling some strings to get Ameritech to wire the entire neighborhood. Without the U of C's influence, I'm sure that Ameritech wouldn't consider adding DSL at all since it's a "low income area."

  • Even in the US a lot of people won't have DSL/cable modems. Consider the people in say rural Arkansas who may not even have a local ISP, much less high speed connectivity. Most of the fast connections will be in high population/high income areas leaving a lot of people out of the loop.
  • by Ellis-D ( 19919 )
    Yes, radio stations have to pay everytime they play a song. Damed RIAA. So, when you hear about a big time artist lossing money from mp3s, think about what they get from those top 40 sations.....
    I ate my tag line.
  • The name for the system of government that plays favorites for friends is FASCISM. It's ultimate expression is Taxpayer Supported Radio.

    No, thats Nepotism, geez
    "Subtle mind control? Why do all these HTML buttons say 'Submit' ?"
  • Just last week in Ames the radio Station 107 'dot' 5 got swallowed up and turned into "KISS 107 FM"

    the station origonaly started out as an 'alternative' type format, but had gradualy began to shift into a more pop format, although they usualy played a lot of what would be considerd 'alternative, or modern rock' though.

    after they got baught out by the KISS people they went strate into the craper! I mean now they play Will Smith!! and britany spears! There new motto is "all of the hits, not just some of them" I mean what the fuck does that mean?

    The weird thing was, they "the 'dot'" had just put on a huge "dot fest" with lots of music. And the station was a great place for local music to break in as well.

    well all I can say is, thank god for MP3s
    "Subtle mind control? Why do all these HTML buttons say 'Submit' ?"
  • In this discussion
    the FCC can't regulate other contrys
    "Subtle mind control? Why do all these HTML buttons say 'Submit' ?"
  • I'm not sure what my college, OSU, has but I know its pitiful. It can't even be picked up off campus. It really pisses me off b/c usually college radio is alot better than the Evil 5's stations (aka corporate). Take 97x in oxford, ohio, now they are a great station. Thier web site is at, and they've got ra streams. Mmmm.... Independent radio. Hmmm.
    Yet another example of when the mainstream sucks, something good arises (linux, indy radio, etc)
  • by djHooker ( 33395 ) on Saturday July 24, 1999 @05:01AM (#1786522) Journal
    Here in Minneapolis, this issue has been quite visible. We had a few stations, including the now famous and defunct Revolution Radio [] fall victim to the massive corporate radio assimilation. Disney/Capital now owns over 60% of our cities airwaves!

    After the 1996 Telecommunications Act [] was passed into law, the media focused mainly on cable TV and cell phones with no coverage of the potential impact on radio. According to ARD [] by the end of 1997 over 4000 of the nation's 11,000 radio stations had been sold and in the 50 largest markets three firms controlled over 50% of the ad revenue (in 23 of those markets 3 firms controlled over 80% of revenues.)

    This buying frenzy sent the cost of radio skyrocketing. The Rev, a radio station with a weak signal and less than a 2% market share, sold for over $17 million! More than ever, when you travel around the country, you hear the same songs, the same voices, the same commercials -- no matter what station you listen to.

    While MP3 streaming radio [] has helped to fill the gap for me, it's only a moderately reasonable alternative because of my DSL connection.

    To me, this [] falls in line with some of the same goals of the Open Source movement. More and better access for everyone, and less of an opportunity for special interest control. Control of the airwaves by media conglomerates means less artistic freedom and more packaged and processed drivel. []


  • They are legal, but they cost alot of money to get. For example, you have to pay an engineer to do studies to show that you meet the FCC requirements. They are also strict as what type of attenas can be used, and so forth. Usually the only people allowed the low power ratings are schools and community groups. The reason for the low power license is to make it less expensive that what the 50kW FM stations have to pay.

    Peter Gogas
  • This is probably one of the driving forces that led to the FCC considering such licenses:

    They've been broadcasting since '93 without a license the whole time. They've also managed to stave off the FCC's legal action.

    A mind is a terrible thing to taste.

  • The problem with stringing a transmitter from a tree powered by solar cells is the cost factor. You must be willing to lose all the hardware during each raid.

    Now, if you just wanted to be heard once, then maybe this would be worth it. But to gain listeners, (afterall, people usually have their stations memorzied, preset, etc) that takes time. And after the FCC finds the 'first tree' they'll be trolling for your next broadcast, and get their quicker.

    Now how about a mobile transmittor - ala Pump Up The Volume). What would be nice is to set it up in a mass transit system, and let the city unwittingly move it 24/7. Subway/L-Train is the only thing I can think of that goes 24/7. If you wanted to put it in a bus, you might want some "down time" at night when the bus is parked all night.

  • The ARD also has a form page for submitting comments to the FCC concerning this issue -- it's kind of one giant petition. You can check it out here: []

    Sign it and get rid of all those damn morning shows!

  • It is an interesting idea that could blwo some power back in to radio by making it more Internet-like (less "mass media"), but on the other hand, its lifetime is a few years at most. Icecast is where the future of streaming music is, not the FM.

    We have MP3 playing machines now, I wonder when can see are gonna see the first radio set that plugs into the home network and streams music off the net (except for my old Pentium with mpg123 in the bookcase).
  • by Sun Tzu ( 41522 ) on Saturday July 24, 1999 @06:10AM (#1786529) Homepage Journal
    As always, the devil will be in the details. If 1-10, 100, and 1000 watt stations are licensed it could be a wonderful opening of radio to all points of view. Just don't count on it.

    My pessimistic inner self keeps screaming two things: First, the FCC is a bureaucracy that might easily be persuaded into burdening these new classes of station with enough regulations, fees, and hoops to jump through as to make the whole concept meaningless. Second, the big broadcasters will fight a genuinely liberal small station policy to the death.

    My fear on this is that the micro station classes will be created but only one or two percent of people who would like to run one will be able to get by the red tape and costs. It will be a big P.R. victory for the FCC. Perhaps even the big broadcasters will "support" it and claim some high moral ground. Just remember, when the red drains from the faces of the radio establishment honchos and is replaced by benevolent smiles, be very, very suspicious!
  • Uh... What sort of "secret" information would you possibly be broadcasting across the entire campus?
    And if you're broadcasting it over the airwaves, it's perfectly legal for someone from another school to listen in.
  • Is when I have to get a license to practise free speech. And the FCC is almost there. I don't think that a pirate station should be taken down, when there have been few or no complaints about it. Actions like these are fascist, and seem to stem from a juvenile(sp?) attitude of "if it's not mine, it is evil." There should be a side band (108-120fm) that is included on any new recievers that is under no regulation. If a parent doesn't want their child listening to it, they can install a prevento-dongle that keeps the device from sliding that far. If this happened, the FCC would step up about 3 noches in my opinion.
  • For years, the FCC hasn't had any rules for stations broadcasting under 100 watts, and refused to create any rules. If I remember it's actualy 100mW
  • For some reason, slashdot is mangling the URL when I paste it into an anchor tag. The URL is comsrch.hts?ws_mode=retrieve_list&id_pro ceeding=99-25 (with no space in the middle of "proceeding"). You can also get there by entering "99-25" into the Proceeding field of the form you get at https://gullfoss.fcc. gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/ecfs/comsrch.hts [].
  • by Jay Maynard ( 54798 ) on Saturday July 24, 1999 @04:10AM (#1786534) Homepage
    The text at the top is incorrect, partly. Original comments are due 2 August, not 1 September. The extra month only applies to reply comments, those filed specifically in response to other comments already filed.

    A couple of other links: You can search the FCC's database for already filed comments in this proceeding (there are 974 of them as I write this), and file comments from your web browser [].

    One thing to note when commenting to the FCC: The FCC is especially unswayed by the kind of rhetoric folks around here tend to sling. Go read the Linux Advocacy HOWTO, and then be even more reserved than it recommends.

  • Now, as much sense as your poinmt makes, not every one is going to have access to such technologies right off tha back. I live in a place that's not to far from major metropolitan cities, and we still have no major technological upgrades throughout the valley. Still use phonemodems, no cable modem service, ADSL, what's ADSL?, etc.

    Anyway, this is for people to make their own radio stations, and is more than for HAM radio enthusists. I don't know about you, but it's still going to take a while for internet radio car stereo's to make it out for the general public to chose it, along with chrome rims, and a/c.

    Gawd, the FCC is so freaking totalitarian

  • I completly agree, the FCC is to late on this. There is a huge underground shoutcast/icecast radio broadcast cult going on right now. And the cool thing is theres no commercials-no FCC regulations-its free AND you have a pick from top 40 to techno to talk radio even cell fones [].
  • I do the DJing for a show [] on a christian community radio station ( Fish FM []) here in Australia. While I don't see that any FCC decision will affect me in any way, I have had first-hand experience with quite amateurish radio equipment. Fish FM shares a community band (currently has no license, but is expecting to be awarded one in the next few weeks) and transmits 70 watts. For this, Fish has to host a transmitter on a ridge (extremely expensive), transmit from the studio to it with a link transmitter (another expensive device). Not to mention the cost of the board, the compressor, the equipment, etc etc etc.

    I don't see how, without experience and money, the average joe public could create a successful radio station, especially considering every other interested joe p. would be attempting the same thing.

    I personally am interested in using the technology for wireless communication. The lack of discussion on this point has made me wonder whether it is somehow unrelated to the FCC business (not the impression I got). I would like to walk around the house with my laptop, and stay connected to my network. In fact, I would like to also take it outside, maybe down to the lake (a few hundred metres from my house).

    Any comments on why licensing for broadcasting for lower power transmitters is particularly useful?
  • by gibsonp ( 63906 )
    Joe is right - the FCC does not want tirades about "more alternative rock" or about "how media moguls own all the stations in my town."
    If you file a comment, be sure that it addresses some of the issues set forth, like interference contours and loosening of the 3rd adjacent rules. Simply saying you want more of X artist won't matter one hill of beans to the folks at the FCC.

    As you can tell from my email address, I am employed in the Broadcasting industry and think that LPFM would generally be a bad idea. I don't stand to profit from it's existance or non-existance, but changing the interference contours of existing stations could make a mess of the radio dial.

    Yes, LPFM would give new owners a station, but we're talking about small coverage areas - no where near that of an existing class A facility (6kw at 328 feet). If you covered a few blocks, you would be lucky! Is such a small coverage area really worth having?
  • I should point out the fact that its _already_ legal in the US to have a 2640 foot (1/2 mile) radius broadcaster (FM/radio) without any form of lisence. Though I believe you're still subject to FCC fines for swearing on the air (which is kind of frustrating when you want to play bad music on school radio. Good thing I listen to classical :) ). The US should switch more to a CRTC [] (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, part of the Canadian Crown) style control. They work much the same as the FCC except that they operate on complaints instead of running around monitoring frequencies. There's also the Canadian Broadcast Standards Commission (non-government, I only know about it because I went to school with the chairman's son and carpooled with him.:) ) which is run by the broacasters in Canada for the broadcasters in Canada. Both of these organisations will allow small name radio stations quite easily, at lisence (renewal) time. FCC's behind the times, guys. Its still somewhere in the McCarthy era. But anyway...
  • I regularly listen to CBC Radio One (Toronto) [], otherwise known as "News, and More" (all broadcasted regions can be listened to on the CBC [] website and CBC Radio Two (nation-wide) [], otherwise known as "Classics, and beyond", over real-audio. These radio stations are Publicly funded and have No Commercial Interests. The News on CBC is considered to be the world standard, very unbiased (though, obviously, the occasional bias slips through).

    Its very listenable radio, no ads, lots of cool science programs, art programs, International news every hour.
  • A solution is to have 5 broadcasters,broacasting the same thing (or nine, or however many you need). The outside broadcasters shouldn`t broadcast more then twenty or thirty feet on the same frequency (using the aformentionned thing from walmart) Then you have your range expanded to 1.5 miles, fluctuating, in each direction.

    Or it won`t work.

    I`ve never tried. :)
  • Yeah, I did two years of high school radio. The school is responsible for giving you some kind of FCC replacement thingamajig which I now have.

    Due to a weak broadcaster, the FCC had to actually sit outside the building to listen to the radio station, though normally on the opposite side so the hosts couldn't see it. Anyway, some friend of my friend's came in while I was there and told us there was an FCC truck outside. So the hosts of the show dedicated the next piece to the FCC guys sweating in their truck, and they left post-haste.
  • It would be cool if you could use one of these licenses for local, digital broadcasting. ie no station identification, short of packet headers :-)
  • ... because we are heading fast towards Mbone and cheap commonplace wireless services. At some point in the near future everyone everywhere will be able to set up an Internet radio station with little more than a home stereo and a PC; the original point of "microcasting" (as low power FM is nicknamed) is to give voices to people who are not represented by corporation-owned radio stations!

    It will be useful to the radio enthusiast though, much like ham radio.

  • Indeed, the low power FM radio issue has been fought hard for by a local Minnesotan, Alan Freed and his LPFM station, Beat Radio []. Beat radio began its broadcasts on 97.7 FM on July 21, 1996. On Nov. 1, 1996 Agents from the FCC raided Beat Radio's studios and seized the broadcast equipment.

    That was a blow to Beat Radio, but they didn't quit. They took the FCC to court and they are winning! []
    Additionally, Beat Radio was able to make it back on the air, nationwide from feb. to oct. 1998 on these stations:
    • Minneapolis/St. Paul: WWTC 1280 AM
    • Phoenix: KIDR 740 AM
    • New York: WJDM (now WWRU) 1660 AM
    • Los Angeles: KPLS 830 AM
    • Denver: KKYD 1340 AM
    • Chicago: WAUR 930 AM
    • Ft. Worth/Dallas: KAHZ 1360 AM
    • Kansas City: KCAZ (now KUPN) 1480 AM
    • Philadelphia: WPWA 1590 AM
    • Detroit: WCAR 1090 AM
    So, if you were lucky enough to hear the beat, or would like to hear it on the air again, please check out the Beat Radio Website []. There's lots of information about lowpower FM, but probably the most interesting is a scan of an "Action Plan and Resource Kit" distributed by the National Associated of Broadcasters (NAB). The kit was distributed to NAB members in an attempt to rally support AGAINST low power FM!

    So, yes, from all the watching I've been doing, the LPFM issue is BIG here in the Twin Cities (as a previous poster had noted.)

    Remember, the airwaves are public property, or at least, they shouldn't be only accessible to the rich or powerful corporations, right? It seems to me that if the public doesn't have control of the flow of information, we're that much closer to being led wildly astray. And, the rules governing LPFM seem to fit closely with deciding just WHO has the chance to control that flow of information...
  • the FCC is used to Hams being Linux users. They had an issue with the ARRL about licensing and requested word documents..didn't last long...
  • abc/disney already owns most the stations near me and so we have 3 stations that are effectivly the same and no good variety station
  • Hi!

    I'm interested in using high-frequency ranges for data, phone, etc... and am interested to know what we be involved in doing this, and what regulations might exist.

    1. What would it take to buy or build both broadcast and directed microwave transmitters... used for either data or analog audio. I'm aware of many solutions for directed microwave... but am more interested in home-brewed devices.

    2. What range would be expected for broadcast microwave for audio (looking for at least FM radio quality)... and for various data rates?

    I appreciate any further information
  • I disagree on the comment about how without money you can't create a successful radio station. I've seen Pirate stations with pretty crude equipment become the most popular stations in their small market. Especially considering if they are filling in a niche in the market.

    I'm pretty sure with a little money and the right location I myself could do decently with a station. Your DAW (SAW, CoolEdit Pro) software runs on a basic desktop PC, so someone with a bit of knowledge and a lot of heart, and a decent board could feasibly be putting out higher-quality programming (which isn't saying much nowadays).

    Granting a low-power license to someone might be just a preliminary action -- if the low-power one has some success they are liable to up the license the next possible chance, up the power, and voila' you have a player suddenly that you might not have had in the market without a chance to test.

    Someone just screwing around on a low-power broadcast won't have much success. Those taking the opportunity seriously could end up filling in niches in rather large markets. The good ones will eventually kill off all the crappy ones.

    As to why it is useful? I think it's pretty obvious. I'm in the radio industry and I think that the low-power stations who end up doing things professionally and well could be the kick in the butt the so-called Big Boys need to change the way they approach radio.

    Sure they'll never have a major impact on the Arbitrons, but contrary to popular belief it isn't all about Arbitrons.
  • You are correct.

    One thing that never seems to be able to sink into the radio industry's head is that people don't like satellite radio. It's too genric and impersonal, and stations are already finding that out. It woprks OK for filling in a niche in a market where no other alternatives exist, but satellite radio can't and won't ever be a main player.

    People want to hear local news. They want to hear local music. They want local interviews. They want local personalities. Not everyone wants this, but a good majority do if you ask them.

    But a good portion of the radio industry doesn't want that or care about it, they just want their money from the community, not to be *part of* it.

    Does anyone remember how years ago everyone was saying that FM was going to kill AM radio? Last I checked AM radio was still alive and thriving, especially with Talk, Sportstalk formats, and the like. In fact, I think it's safe to say AM radio has even been making a bit of a small comeback lately.

    Seems like there were some people who thought TV was going to kill radio too. Hah. I know a lot of people who never watch TV but listen to lots of radio. Look at the state of television.

    Realize it or not there are stations out there that totally ignore Arbitrons or other rating systems and are having NO problem making money as well as having a large listener base.

    Sure changes are afoot in the future, but they're not going to be as successful as everyone is predicting. No Armageddons or apocalypses. Just overzealous people overreacting to a situation without fully thinking about the alternative.

    -- Primis.
  • It doesn't matter anyhow if there are a ton of licenses. As with most things, the good low-power ones will survive and make a niche for themselves. The rest will die because they won't be given the proper attention.

    Someone truly wanting to do this and do it right won't have too much a problem keeping their station's listener-base, if you ask me. I'm willing to bet there are knowledgable and talented people out there willing to give it a shot.

    It's just like most everything else in life, survival of the fittest.

    -- Primis.
  • by Zxcv Mbone ( 71851 ) on Saturday July 24, 1999 @09:36AM (#1786552)
    Sorry guys. Don't be so dumb as to believe this crap, this proposal is designed to *kill* micropower radio and it was drafted by the broadcast industry. And it's goal is to *stop* free DIGITAL radio for a few more years... (Ever read Brer Rabbit "Dont throw me in that bramble bush" ? Well, it applies..)

    Some points.. How would these new micropower stations support themselves if ALL advertising is banned?

    How come the proposal says that any micropower station can be taken off the air if it "interferes" with *any* commercial station, *anywhere*?

    Why do existing broadcast outlets get first dibs on *all* the available frequencies?

    Just a HEADS-UP.
    This is just a very carefully-drafted plan to KILL micropower and ESPECIALLY, hold off what the broadcasters see as the real threat. Spread-spectrum *DIGITAL* radio like they have in Europe and the rest of the world.. Why? Because with spead-spectrum, their big arguement, that spectrum is scarce and there are only a limited amount of channels, is completely deflated.
    (The big thing they always hold up to hold off the liberals, that the equipment is more expensive, is also completely full of crap.. )

    You can have *many* *many* digital radio channels operating in the same slice of spectrum, and ultimately the radios can actually be *cheaper* to make in quantities than current, analog equipment..

    Say no to the crumb thrown by the FCC.. say YES to UNLIMITED channels of FREE DIGITAL RADIO.

    (The NAB hates the idea of micropower because "Their property" -OUR airwaves- has in the last few years, appreciated in value and is now VERY costly for all but the very rich...Basically-
    four years ago, when the Republicans took over the house, Newt had a special meeting with the broadcast industry to ask what they could do for them, Result: they started selling licenses to the highest bidder, the mega-corporations, who had the money to buy up all the local stations and replace them with satellite spewed crap, and we lost out. Dont let their whining about "return on investment" win.. the airwaves are owned by EVERYBODY.. They are taking advantage of our ignorance on these issues. the FCC is not our friend.

    For a ALTERNATIVE view on this issue, please read html []

    Just a heads-up. (Thank you Mike, for opening my eyes.)


  • If you all want to know about some of the people who who made this possible (put pressure on the FCC to make this proposal).

    Check out the list of stations at:

    For Microradio news:

    BTW, the deadline for public comments is, August 2nd. So make your comments soon!

    While your at it, why don't you add your endorsement to the National Lawyers Guild/Committe on Democratic Communications comments on the FCC LPFM proposal:
  • >As others have commented, the proposal, if it
    >contains retrictions on commercials and if it
    >makes onerous demands w.r.t. interference,
    >will kill low power FM.

    Bull. Non-Commercialism is the only viable way for
    Microradio to flourish. If people insist on commercial microradio the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) will redouble its efforts to kill it because they will see it as taking potential ad revenue out of their pockets.

    I personally want microradio to be a real locally based alternative to big commercial radio.

    Microradio is too important to worry about how someone can squeeze a few bucks out it -- frankly folks, you'd more profitably invest your money in swampland in Florida than in a commercial microradio station. Why do I say that? Here's a clue: though the FCC may be proposing 1000 watt Low Power FM stations it ain't likely to become a reality.

    They'll end up allowing a 100 watts or less, you can bet on it. They may make a provision for sparsely populated rual areas where it takes 1000 watts just to reach 500 people. But in urban areas and especially major radio markets 1000 LPFM just ain't gonna happen. The radio band is too damn crowded as it is.

    It takes less than a 1000 bucks to get a 50 to 100
    watt station on the air. The electric bill -- including power used by studio equipment -- is about the same as what heavy use of your clothes dryer would cost you -- or a couple of PC's running 24/7.

    If a community wants a station, they'll have little dificulty keeping it running on donations -- especially when people in the neighborhood know that they'll be able to do thier own shows.

An inclined plane is a slope up. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"