I just got an email from Jeff Shaw, my friend back in Davis who I got to know because he is the station manager for KDRT LP-FM, a low-power community radio station where I got my start on the air.
There’s been trouble brewing for quite a while about the status of low-power fm stations, which are currently considered second-class citizens next to full-power stations. A full-power commercial station can just up and sit on an LPFM station and take its spot on the radio dial if it feels like it. KDRT was at risk for being run out of town by a station called KMJE that was going to move close enough to Davis to interfere with KDRT’s signal – they are both 101.5 fm. It didn’t matter that KMJE was the one moving, KDRT would have had to shut down or be legally an “encroacher.” Fortunately, there has been such an upwelling of support for Davis’s community station that KMJE realized that they were about to piss off the new market they were trying to reach, and has backed off with intent to negotiate KDRTs continued existence. But not every LPFM station will be that fortunate.
Fortunately, the FCC is cluing into the inequities involved, and the value that small local stations have for their communities, and is looking to change the rules to give LPFM stations more security. Many media reform groups such as Prometheus Radio and The Future of Music endorse this plan, but they have one big obstacle, one enemy, that will stop at nothing to prevent LPFM stations from having a means to prevent being overrun by bigger stations that just feel like doing it. Who, might you ask? Is it the conglomeromegacommercial stations? An FCC dissenter? Rush Limbaugh?
No, it’s NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO.
Oh, they don’t just think that the FCC shouldn’t decide in favor of the low-power community stations, they claim that they have the laws of physics on their side. What? Oh get ready for some Monday Madness! Continue reading Monday Madness: NPR on the Laws of Physics