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Another Victory For Low Power Radio

By aaroncynic in Miscellaneous on Dec 18, 2009 10:40PM

2009_12_18_CHIRP.jpg Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Local Community Radio Act, which will open the airwaves to potentially hundreds of new low power FM radio stations across the country. The new legislation sets to repeal constraints put on LPFM Radio by Congress in 2000. Any low power station was to follow the “third adjacent rule,” which stated that there must be three empty clicks of the radio dial between stations. If the act is passed into law, those empty airwaves will now be filled with any number of low power stations, which could be used by local community groups, non-profit organizations and religious groups.

The restrictions were originally put in place because larger media conglomerates feared that LPFM stations may interfere with major radio stations. According to Jennifer Lizak, Vice President of the Chicago Independent Radio Project (CHIRP), 3200 groups applied for licenses but only 800 have been able to acquire them in the past nine years. None of these have been an in urban area.

Low power radio could be the key to finding some real diversity as well as more local oriented programming on the radio. Congress approved the Telecommunications Act of 1996 hoping to foster competition among communications companies, but the deregulation drastically reduced the number of media companies and diverse programming on the air. “Fewer owners has meant less diversity in ownership as well as in issues on the air, music played and voices heard - while low power FM cannot solve all of the problems created by media consolidation, it does provide some amount of justice for those who are not currently being represented on the airwaves” said Jennifer Lizak via email.

CHIRP could still face an uphill battle however, due to the fact that much of Chicago’s dial has already been taken by other radio stations. Jennifer said they, along with other groups in New York and Los Angeles who may be in the same position are working together with the FCC to find options. CHIRP isn’t waiting for the airwaves however, they’ll be launching their own station January 17th online at