Applicants for low-power FM (LPFM) stations range from mundane (Sacramento’s Sutter Middle School) to exotic (the Women on Top Awareness Series of Norcross, Ga.), and an equally mismatched bunch is debating their future. What else could draw one-time radio pirates to an NPR Board meeting, get network chief Kevin Klose on a Pacifica talk show, or bring together Republican senators and advocates for the blind? Since the FCC began accepting applications for the tiny noncommercial stations in January, the agency has received more than 1,200 from groups in 22 states and territories. Meanwhile, NPR, politicians, commercial radio interests and others have pushed bills to delay, weaken or defeat the new service, citing fears that LPFMs could interfere with existing full-power stations. LPFM’s supporters dismiss those concerns, and now find themselves in an odd position: fighting bitterly with a public broadcaster whom they ordinarily respect and often support.
NPR took a different tack March 16 in the ongoing assault on the FCC’s controversial plan to license low-power FM (LPFM) stations. Lawmakers and the National Association of Broadcasters have opposed the measure outright, but in a petition for reconsideration and a motion for stay, NPR asked the agency to take another look at some aspects of LPFM and delay implementing the proposal until July 15. Specifically, NPR requested greater protections for translators, radio reading services, full-power stations on third adjacent channels from LPFM stations, and potential digital radio technology. The network says the motion for stay would allow more time for NPR and FCC lab and field tests of interference expected to be caused by LPFM stations. On Feb.
The FCC’s establishment of two low-power FM (LPFM) classes of stations — 10-watt and 100-watt — could populate radio dials with more than a thousand tiny noncommercial broadcasters, assuming the plan weathers possible challenges from Congress and existing broadcasters. FCC officials say the initial LPFM proposal, unveiled a year ago, generated a record volume of public comment, with churches, high schools, minorities, microradio activists and others defending the plan against attacks from established broadcasters. The plan that won approval by a 4-1 vote is more modest than its predecessor. It nixed the idea of commercial LPFM stations — which may allow a boom in noncommercial radio beyond the reserved band. And it dropped the 1,000-watt class of low-power stations, allowing a max of 100 watts — broadcasting about three miles.
Three men have been arrested and charged with the murder of Michael Taylor, a former Pacifica reporter who was attempting to start a micro-power radio station in Los Angeles. Police confirmed that the execution-style slaying in April [earlier article] was related to Taylor’s recent-months’ effort to launch and get backing for L.A. Liberation Radio. Los Angeles homicide detective Alex Moreno said he believes the young men shot Taylor because they wanted the transmitter kit Taylor and his colleagues had purchased for the unlicensed, underground station. According to news reports, the three men, Andrew Lancaster, 23, Shawn Alexander, 19, and Jornay Rodriguez, 20, were scheduled to enter pleas at a May 23 arraignment. Because the murder allegedly involved kidnapping and robbery, the men could face the death penalty.