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LPFM Watch: More than 400 LPFM Applications Granted this Month

It’s been a busy week at the FCC, with the tally of newly granted low power FM (LPFM) applications now inching towards 500 (up from just over 200 at this time last week). It’s incredible to see the wide variety of organizations that are now one step closer to getting on the air. Animal advocacy groups (at least three of them!), colleges, school districts, churches, tribal groups, cities & related municipal groups, arts organizations, and social service agencies are amid the mix of 450+ organizations with granted applications.

While applications are being granted at a nice pace, there were also some dismissals this week, including several applications that had been prepared by mass-filer Antonio Cesal Guel. As we’ve reported, several groups have been protesting hundreds of applications that are linked to Guel on the grounds that the proposed LPFM stations are not truly local. Yesterday, at least 18 of his applications were dismissed, including many in or near urban areas, including South San Francisco Hispanic Community Radio, North Chicago Hispanic Community Radio, Nashville Community Radio, North Kansas City Community Radio, and Portland Community Radio (in Oregon). So far, more than 68 of his applications have been dismissed.

Colleges and Schools

This week, more than 15 applications were granted to colleges or universities. A few of the grantees include the Journalism Department at West Virginia University at Parkersburg (Parkersburg, WV), University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (Belton, TX), Rocky Mountain College (Billings, MT), and University of North Alabama (Florence, Alabama). For a full recap, see tomorrow’s College Radio Survivor.

Additionally, a number of schools and school districts received new application grants, including (but not limited to) Laurelwood Academy (Jasper, OR), Springfield Board of Education (Holland, OH), Addison Community Schools (Addison, MI), and three school districts in Montana.

Religious Groups

As we’ve been seeing throughout the LPFM process, numerous organizations with religious affiliations applied for new stations licenses. Grantees so far include a variety of groups. Catholic churches/schools/parishes (more than 20 so far), Bible camps, Seventh-Day Adventist organizations, Baptist, Lutheran, B’nei Noach (Grave Creek B’nai Noach in Moundsville, WV) and Islamic-affiliated non-profits are all in the mix.

As I’ve been wading through the granted application list, a few groups caught my eye. Maetreum of Cybele, Magna Mater Inc. (Palenville, NY) is one of the most intriguingly-named organizations. A religious organization focused on the Cybeline Revival, the group has neo-Pagan connections, honoring the “Mother Goddess.” According to its application, it is “dedicated to educational works regarding the environment and building community.” Its new LPFM is expected to “provide a forum for all interested community groups and individuals as well as programming regarding green energy, protecting the natural world and raising what we call goddess consciousness.”

Music by and For Young People

A few new LPFM grants are focused on youth. Musical Youth of Hawaii (Kapolei, HI) plans to air music by young people. According to its application (PDF), “Regularly scheduled programming hours will be assigned to youth for them to present their music and interact with the community.”

Hillsville Radio for Kids (PDF) in Hillsville, Virginia is an unusual grantee in that it is planning a station aimed at kids aged 12 and under in the spirit of Radio Disney-type programming.

Promoting Small Farming Communities

It’s nice to see the small-town spirit of low power licenses exemplified by hyper-local community organizations. Several local chapters of fraternal organizations like the Grange (Willits, CA) and  the American Legion (Hooks, TX) have already been granted LPFM applications.

A few groups have a stated purpose that includes benefiting local agricultural communities. According to the LPFM application for Little Lake Grange #670, “Our center is a cultural hub for the small town of Willits, CA. With a focus on farming, our community center hosts events that everyone in town comes out for…”

The Gourd Farming Educational Society (Epps, LA) is unique in that its stated goal (PDF) is to “promote gourd farming and agricultural interests.” Specifically, the new LPFM will “inform its listeners about the contribution that gourds have made for hundreds of centuries to many civilizations, including our Native American ancestors who lived…here in the village of Epps…”

We will continue to monitor the latest LPFM news and in future installments of LPFM Watch we will highlight additional applicants.

LPFM Watch is a weekly feature on Radio Survivor appearing every Thursday.

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2 Responses to LPFM Watch: More than 400 LPFM Applications Granted this Month

  1. Scott Fybush February 4, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

    I wish all of these LPFM applicants all the best…but I really have to wonder if they’ve really thought through all the challenges of keeping a radio station active and interesting once it’s on the air. Once you’ve produced a couple of weeks of “Gourd Talk,” then what do you do to keep the needles moving and the power bill paid?

    Given that the FCC has essentially no enforcement resources to hold any of these applicants to their programming commitments, it’s not hard to imagine some of these ambitious but very specialized stations becoming less specialized and less local as they try to fill airtime going forward. And not to be overly cynical, it raises questions about why those high-minded programming commitments are even needed.

    • Paul Riismandel February 4, 2014 at 7:25 pm #

      Scott, I think you raise a good point. Producing programming is hard, and it is something that every community station contends with. However, I don’t think it’s inevitable that stations will default to becoming less specialized or less local. Rather, it’s important for them to start strategizing right away once they received their construction permits.

      Today’s new LPFMs have the benefit of new technologies, even compared to the first LPFMs a decade ago. It’s easier to create programming, and, crucially, share programming. Social media makes it easier for a station to reach out to constituencies and have a dialog that goes beyond airwaves.

      Localism does not only mean locally produced programming. It also means programming that is responsive to local needs. An LPFM should be able to put together a consistent broadcast day made up of a healthy mix of some locally produced and hosted programs and some syndicated or programs shared amongst like minded stations. For instance, imagine all the agriculturally oriented stations shared programs.

      I’ll certainly be writing more about this in the coming weeks and months.

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