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LPFM Watch: Missoula Community Radio, Radio Bristol, and Lompac Station Prepare to Launch

This was probably the slowest week at the FCC in regards to low power FM (LPFM) actions since we began our weekly LPFM Watch column. No new LPFM construction permits were granted, leaving the grand total from the fall 2013 application window at 1,857. Two applications were dismissed: for Harbor Light Broadcasting (South Bend, Indiana) and for Grand Rapids Adventist Academy (Grand Rapids, Michigan).

Although the FCC hasn’t been too active on the LPFM front, we are seeing a regular trickle of press for some of the new stations that are on the horizon.

Missoula Community Radio (KFGM 105.5 FM) will have an open house this Saturday as it prepares for its launch in Missoula, Montana. According to Missoulian,

The station’s board is wrapping up paperwork with the Federal Communications Commission and its application for nonprofit status, and hopes to be live by mid-July. The mission statement, though, is ready to go. ‘We’re a First Amendment station focusing on community access and providing a platform for under-served communities,’ said Aaron Jennings, board vice president of KFGM 105.5 FM. ‘We want to make sure we’re giving people a chance to express themselves that don’t already have access to some way to get that message out,’ he said. That means news shows, music shows or whatever programming people want to produce, said Ann Szalda-Petree, the station’s general manager.”

The City of Lompoc, California is also gearing up to launch its new LPFM station, KPEG-LP at 100.9 FM. Currently in a testing phase, the station is solely airing music for the moment, but plans to have a full slate of community programming. The Santa Maria Sun writes,

Lompoc is now even more media savvy. Gregg Ratcliff, studio manager for the city’s Public, Education and Government [PEG] access television said that the city’s new FM radio station, 100.9 FM-LP, is operational…In January 2014, the Federal Communications Commission issued a construction permit. At one point, construction crews were delayed for two weeks. Eager to begin construction, Ratcliff started digging a trench with his assistant. ‘One day I got tired of waiting, and I grabbed my assistant Bill Smith, a couple of shovels, and some Gatorade and we went up to the transmitter site and started digging ourselves,’ Ratcliff said. ‘We got about 8 inches deep and we realized that possibly our best trench digging days were behind us.’ The station’s antenna is mounted to an old light pole, which Ratcliff said was rescued from the city scrap pile. The transmitter housing is also recycled from the scrap heap, Ratcliff said.”

In Bristol, Virginia, a new country music LPFM station is launching this summer at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. WBCM “Radio Bristol” will “broadcast from the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in a studio that is equipped with historic vintage gear, restored to meet the modern needs of a fully functional radio station. The studio will also be a working exhibit for museum visitors to experience a radio broadcast firsthand,” according to an announcement from the museum this week. WCYB reports that, “Besides country, it’ll focus on American roots music including bluegrass, old-time, and Americana. It’ll even have three streams: classic, Americana, and live.”

Finally, in Arizona, a flurry of LPFM stations are also hitting the airwaves. The Eloy Enterprise reports that 41 new LPFM stations are coming to Arizona, including numerous religious stations. The article provides glimpses of a number of the soon-to-be LPFMS, including KPCR, aka Phoenix Community Radio:

KPCR’s community-based station is located in Hance Park, Phoenix, but still without a tower and frequency. The station will focus on the arts, culture, interests, and diversity of Central Phoenix. Each topic will hold a three-minute slot two or three times a week that covers the latest community topics buzzing around town. One program targets public safety with the Phoenix Police Department, which will cover road closures, marathons, police action and any new scams people run into…Other programs include, ‘Garage Sale Groupie,’ where the station will visit garage sales and get people to chat about what they’re selling. ‘Senior Moments’ is another, which will focus on activities that appeal to those 55 and older. The station will cover the state Legislature, too. ‘Here we’ll recognize the “worst bill of the week,”‘ Aronow said. ‘I want to call it “Lifting the Lid.”‘

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


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