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How would your life be different if you had a radio station?


Links Galore!

Virginia Center for the Public Press: Radio Free Richmond Project

    ... or you had a show on a station run by new and new local owners with different values?

    What different kinds of events and people 
    would be "newsworthy"?

    What different kinds of music would you hear?

    NLPFMAC Frequently Asked Questions:
    • What IS  LPFM (a bit of history)
    • What does "Short Spaced" mean and why should I care?
    • What is a "subcarrier" and why does this allow NPR to hide their anticompetitive actions behind the blind?
    • Why will the new (currently proposed)  Digital Audio Broadcasting plans make all this work worthless if it comes to pass?
    • LPFM is desighned for the small fry,  how does the FCC plan to keep all the same huge institutions that have grabbed most of the existing radio stations from getting the LPFM stations? (Ownerhsip restrictions).



    FAQs that warrent their own pages
  • What is Low Power FM (LPFM)?

  • On February 20th, 2000, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) voted 3-2 in favor of creating new opportunities for "The Rest Of US" not heard on the radio dial to build "Low Power FM" radio stations to serve our neighborhoods.

    LPFM is specifically designed by the FCC to be simple enough and affordable enough that a coalition of civic organizations, small churches and advocacy/ educational organizations could apply for them over the Internet. LPFM stations are estimated to cost less than a mid-range new car. 100 watt LPFM stations would cover a 7 mile diameter. During the first round of applications, only the 100 Watt applications will be accepted. After this first round, 10 Watt applications will be accepted.

    LPFM is a variation of a kind of radio station that has been legal before. Previous to the Reagan-era FCC, you could apply for what was called a "Class-D" radio station of less than 100 watts. They were very  affordable. 

    National Public Radio wanted to get the "amatures" (otherwise known as "citizens") out of the picture so that they could sound more like commercial radio and thus get greater donations and secure their economic future in a new political climate (Reagan) that was extremely critical and intolerant of anything other than a corporate Wall-Street-Elite-centered version of Judeo-Christianity.

    Besides, have you visited a pubcaster lately? At least in the major metro areas, they often smell of new rugs and fully digital studios. They have equipment where all the lights work and there are no marks on the side of equipment that mean "smack here". Having worked in commercial radio, I can tell you that most public broadcast facilities are in considerably better condition than many commercial radio stations. Also, many public broadcasters have very well paid managemnt. At WCVE, the Central Virginia public broadcaster, the CEO makes over $100,000 a year, and they have a surplus of over $25,000,000. 

    And if you though that the scandal of selling mailing lists to the Democratic Party was bad, consider that WCVE canceled an environmental show called "Living On Earth" after it played a show that was critical of gasoline additives called MTBE ... in 1994, six years before the pollution of groundwater became so bad that even CBS's 60 Minutes had to give it coverage in order to retain credibility. WCVE's Chairman of the Board of Directors is A. Prescott Rowe, for many simultaneious years the "Vice President of External Affairs" (Public Relations) for Ethyl Corporation. Ethyl Corporation invented tetra-ethyl lead gasoline additive that allowed gasoline to be used in the high performance engines of WWII. "Ethyl Gas" was also (and in third world nations, still is) a major source of brain damage. If it hadn't been for high octane gasoline (due to the additives), we might have switched decades ago to Butane, Propane, Methanol or Ethanol that all have a natureal octane rating of around 120 octane ... and burn cleaner besides! So any news that gasoline additives are bad for the environment is not going to help the primary sugar-daddy of "ethyl radio" WCVE.

    If the public broadcasters lost governemnt funding, they might actually have to struggle for a living, and the smell of new carpet and electronics is addictive.

    Notably, NPR has refused to carry programs sponsored by Labor organizations, although they seem to have no problem with documentaries of medical issues funded by medical corporations.

    Furthermore, it looks as though some of what some of us took to be "Right Wing Nuts" were right ... public radio is run by government  propaganda experts. As taken from the NPR website on their leader:

      "Prior to joining NPR in December 1998, [Kevin] Klose served successively as Director of U.S. International Broadcasting, overseeing the U.S. Government's global radio and television news services (1997-98); and President of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), broadcasting to Central Europe and the former Soviet Union (1994-97). Klose first joined RFE/RL in 1992 as Director of Radio Liberty, broadcasting to the former Soviet Union in its national languages. 

      As RFE/RL President, Klose radically downsized RFE/RL and moved it from Munich, Germany, to Prague, the Czech Republic.

      He also helped devise and implement a strategy to coordinate all U.S.-funded international broadcasting (Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Radio/TV Marti, Worldnet Television) to save money, refocus the mission, and modernize operations in the post-Cold War. 

      Klose is a founder of the Intermedia Survey Institute of Washington, a non-profit research firm specializing in media and opinion survey in Eurasia. "

    Thus NPR lobbied to end the Class-D radio stations. They succeeded. 

    It should thus be of little surprise that NPR opposes Low Power FM radio stations. After all , they don't want to hear the population say, "If NPR didn't do it, who would? ...  my community radio station down the road that is critical of GE and Archer Daniels Midland, which 'government radio' is not because they are funded by them! "

    PRI savaged LPFM as "unsustainable" at the last meeting of the National Association of Community Broadcasters. That's convenient, since it was groups like PRI that have lobbied so heavily to bring LFPM down from a commercial service of 3000 watts to a  "nonprofit org-only" service limited to 100 watts. If that turns out to be too small an area and thus population to sustain enough donations to keep LPFM stations on the air, it will be due to groups like PRI. I suspect what PRI really means by that statement is that they charge too much for their programming  and present LPRM stations won't have the money to buy their programming and some local LPFM programmers might actually produce more compelling programming for their area than the local pubcaster that is turning over money to PRI for piped-in programming!!

    Other forces opened up the airwaves to stations that were willing to pay for directional antennas and full power translators, known as "satellators" quickly sprang up. These stations all cost huge resources to put on the air and so only the richest of churches and most determined of community groups got on the air.

    Thus though getting rid of the Class D stations was supposed to create a clearer radio dial so that the pubcaster's signal could travel further without any intervening station making it difficult for a cheaper reciever to separate ... they lost most of that gain to the huge religious "satellator" networks that sprang up in the gap.

    Then came 1992 ... the Oil ... Gulf War. The media had a love-fest with smart bombs. The population hurled in disgust realizing that NPR was only slightly better in that they had longer more detailed stories but not much more critical of government policy than CNN. 

    There have always been radio pirates, however now pirates took to the air in huge numbers as a form of civil disobedience. There developed a consensus among a growing part of the US population that the media  including increasingly NPR and Pacifica, had no place for their values and culture.

    Pirates at this point had been on the air in a few scattered places to serve poor tenant groups and the like.  Now more people from a more mainstream culture were getting disgusted with the media. Technological advances were making civil disobedience of a new kind possible, direct action by building a neigborhood radio became really feasible for less than $2000.

    Then came 1996. The 1996 Telecom Act allowed an unprecedented merger-frenzy among the commercial chain-owners of stations. Previous to 1996, the largest radio station owner had 38 radio stations. After Clear Channel Communications Inc. finishes ingesting AM-FM in 2000... they will control over 800 radio stations just themselves. In the last Duncan America Radio programming market analysis book, Clear Channel controls those stations that choose the programming for 80% of Richmond, Va's listeners alone.

    This put a lot of radio-heads who used to work for pitiful wages at a job they loved, radio, out onto the streets.

    Now pirate radio really took off!!

    Pirate stations started showing up in the arbitrons. Actual competition of a capitalistic nature was occurring. This would not do!!

    The largest socialistic (in all the worst meanings of the word) organization on this section of the planet went into high gear. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) ran to Uncle FCC, "Uncle, Uncle, those dirty pirates are taking our audience away!"

    Though he was a legal counsel for the NAB before President Clinton apppointed him to be the first African-American FCC Chairman ... even William Kennard obviously became disgusted with the abject antincompetitive mafioso behaviors of the NAB ... and decided to do something that hasn't happened at the FCC in over 20 years ...

    William Kennard actually decided to help citizens get back on the FM dial that we own!!

    And so the Low Power FM service was born.

    Basically Low Power FM is tecnically NO different than hundreds of exsting stations. The new slots created on the FM dial for the LPFM stations are created by in-effect playing a kind game of "musical parking spaces" 

    LPFM would be a "Short Spaced" radio station service. "Short Spaced" stations have already existed for over 30 years ... basically by luck or by lawyer, the bigger and/or luckier insitutions of this nation have been able to create space for their existence on the FM dial that would be denied any normal mere mortal civillian.

    Allow me to explain Short Spaced.


  • "Short Spaced": Legal radio stations must have a buffer of space between them to allow cheaper receivers a chance to separate the signals. Since 1964 when vacuum tube receivers and transmitters both fidgeted all over the dial, stations have had to maintain three "station lengths" between them or they were guilty of a kind of "tailgating" called being "Short Spaced". Imagine another analogy; if you were required to parallel park by pulling in to a parking space like a bus does, a certain space is needed on both sides of your "slot" to avoid hitting the next parked vehicle. Back in 1964 the "drivers" were pretty sloppy and so three spaces were needed front and rear. Well, some of them were not sloppy and technology has since provided for digitally tuned radios such that now stations regularly coexist with only two and sometimes only one "buffer space" in-between! These stations are technically in violation of the rules and would not normally have been allowed to get on the air in the first place. But these stations were allowed to end up closer than theoretically necessary due to occasionally libertarian FCC commission or because the stations had high powered lawyers and technicians to persuade the FCC. And so we arrive in 2000 with a regulation that is applied more loosely for the politically connected and wealthy and not for newcomers. What is really ironic is that the representatives of the connected stations, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), themselves defended the hundreds of commercial high powered "Short Spaced" stations in 1996. The NAB said that "Due to improvements in receiver technology … the rules are overly restrictive." The FCC agreed and allowed those stations to continue! 

    That is why it is duplicitous for the NAB to argue we will cause anarchy. The laws of physics work the same for us as for them, if they can build stations that close together with no problem for 98% of receivers at 50,000 watts, then so can we at a mere 100 watts.

    The LPFM rules created February 20th, 2000 do not actually change anything other than systematically and fairly applying the same relaxation of rules that the connected could buy … to the "Rest Of US" who have been left off the radio dial … until now!


  • This then brings us to another related issue, subcarriers.

    National Public Radio opposes LPFM becase (they claim) LPFM stations will disrupt the subcarrier based reading servics for the blind.. This would be a serious problem ... if it were true!

    To explain that, allow me to explain how FM Subcarrier works:

    There is a kind of a "radio station within a radio station" called a "subcarrier channel." When you see the stereo indicator come on, it means that your radio has detected the three subcarrier channels that create the stereo sound. The way it works is that FM stands for "Frequency Modulation". To explain, imagine if I hum at 60 pulses a second (like that hum you sometimes get on your stereo while plugging something in) and raise my voice to 400 pulses a second and then back down, I just passed information to you represented by the change in the frequency (pulses per second) of my voice. If I then charted that change and that change corresponded to another voice… then I would have an FM message in my voice that would be translated to that other speaker's voice by an "FM detector". That FM detector can detect those changes in frequency well beyond my ability to hear. Normally the monaural sound is modulating the "voice" of the FM transmitter anywhere from 20 times a second (20hertz) to about 15,000 times a second (a cymbal crash). But it is capable of "hearing" changes well up to 100,000 changes per second. I can modulate the FM signal in ranges of frequencies that become channels of radio within a radio channel this way! That is how many blind people get their reading services, the exact same way that you get two stereo channels out of one radio signal, from the subcarrier channels. So anything that harms the subcarrier reading services would also harm the stereo signal. 

    That means that the hundreds of registered "short spaced" stations would have trouble existing in stereo … and they have no problem existing in stereo indicating that they have no problem with their subcarriers either. 

    That's why NPR's complaints that LPFM will destroy blind reading services are misleading.



If you want to keep updated 



contacting your 

contacting your FCC Commissioners

Thank-you for reading all this 
and considering helping us 
create a radio dial as diverse 
as the population that listens 
and pays taxes to regulate it.

Contact Information
for Congress HERE
National LPFM Applicants Committee of the
Virginia Center for the Public Press
1621 W Broad St.
Richmond, Va. 23220
This is an effort to ensure that the public's airwaves are kept open for the benefit of all, not just the beautiful, rich or popular.

This site is designed to address efforts by a powerful minority to bend public policy to their aide and benefit at our expense and loss of liberty and access to the many voices of a healthy Democratic Republic.

Their Basic Plan: Force  a new standard for Digital Audio Broadcasting (IBOC-DAB) * that destroys the remaining stations that have resisted consolidation including any new LPFM stations that are started.


Eliminating LPFM only  makes it easier to convert the FM dial into a huge wireless Broadband Internet pipeline at the expense of your favorite programming. IBOC will double the width of radio stations thereby legally jamming any lower power station.

Saving LPFM is only the beginning.

Please call your Congressmen and Senators ... make sure they know you know that you want to hear your favorite station on the radios you already own! 

Your Congressmen
and Senators
by ZIP Code HERE

Ask your Federal Representatives and Senators to send a letter to the FCC Commissioners that we must:

1) Keep the FM dial FM
 (no "mandatory sunsetting" [prohibition] of affordable analog FM broadcasting)

2)  We want access to more choices in program values and sources [stations], not less.
Tell them to tell the FCC not to force a new standard for the FM dial for Digital Audio that will block your ability to hear the LPFM and smaller stations.

3) Help Digital Audio find a third separate "Digital Band" just as we moved FM to a different band from AM in the 1950s.

* What is "IBOC-DAB"? ("In Band On Channel--Digital Audio Broadcasting")

Digital Audio Broadcasting sends the sound out coded the same way a fax machine codes a picture, as little blocks that are "on" or "off" (the binary language of computers and other digital devices).

In Band On Channel describes where that digital signal is placed, in this case IN the FM BAND and centered ON their original signal  center location "CHANNEL"  on the FM dial.

If you drive up toward Washington DC and tune your radio to 106.5, then get within 20 miles of the test IBOC-DAB station, WJFK 106.7 in Alexandria, Va., you will hear a "buzz saw " sound, that is the digital carrier of the on-off-on encoded signal.