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LPFM Watch: AM Revitalization and LPFM, Firefighter DJs, and more news

As we reported earlier this week, the FCC just released its report and order about the revitalization of AM and its recommendations have implications for low power FM (LPFM) radio stations. One of the policy changes involves expanding the reach of AM stations through FM translators. This would lead to the opening up of an application window for AM license holders to move an existing translator station (up to 250 miles) and would additionally open up another application window for construction permits for new FM translators.

This could mean some competition for LPFM stations and could also make it less likely that there will be another application window for new LPFM licenses. Michelle Bradley of REC Networks breaks down the suggested changes, calling it “good and bad news for LPFM.” As far as good news, she argues that,

Since this will be a closed opportunity where the window is limited to AM applicants only and limited to only one translator per AM facility, we will not see the same land rush we experienced in 2003 with the Great Translator Invasion. ┬áThis means that there still may be some wiggle room after the windows for your station to be able to grow to LP-250 if the FCC ever accepts either our proposal in RM-11749 or our “Plan B” proposal in comments for RM-11753.”

As far as bad news, Bradley states that “there are no plans for a filing window for new translators for LPFM stations at this time” and that “…LPFM stations will have less flexibility for moves.”

LPFM Launches from Volunteer Fire Department

In other LPFM news, we learned of a few more stations hitting the air, including one run by a volunteer fire department in Simsbury, Connecticut. The Hartford Courant writes about WSIM-LP, which not only airs emergency messages, but will also feature firefighter DJs from the Simsbury Volunteer Fire Department. According to the Courant, “The idea for the radio station was born from the October 2011 snowstorm, when the fire department was unable to communicate important messages to people stuck in their homes, Fire Marshal Kevin Kowalski said.”

KZSO-LP Getting Bumped by Commercial Broadcaster

The Nugget Newspaper reports that LPFM station KZSO-LP in Sisters, Oregon is being forced off its spot on the dial by a full power station. According to the article, “The local low-power community radio station…lost its frequency to a commercial radio station based out of Sunriver. Michael Richards, general manager of KZSO…explained: ‘The bottom line is that commercial stations trump the low-power FM license.'” KZSO shut down its FM broadcast after its signal was overpowered by the commercial broadcaster and for the time being it plans to continue streaming online. Its Facebook page points out that it is being asked to move frequencies from 94.9 FM to 106.5 FM.

KOWS on the Move in Sebastopol

Existing California LPFM station KOWS-LP is moving from Occidental to Sebastopol, according to the North Bay Bohemian. According to the article, “The community station has been broadcasting for eight years and serves both as quirky cultural redoubt and as the area’s go-to emergency broadcast system. It has become a destination of sorts for touring bands working the San Francisco to Portland thoroughfare…”

 


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4 Responses to LPFM Watch: AM Revitalization and LPFM, Firefighter DJs, and more news

  1. Paul Riismandel October 29, 2015 at 8:00 pm #

    I’m bummed to hear about the LPFM in Sisters, OR having to go off the air because of a commercial station. I wonder if the station really had to shut down, though, since it doesn’t sound like the commercial station used any FCC action to force it. Perhaps there could be a clever engineering solution to minimize the interference, especially since the article doesn’t mention if the commercial station is on the same frequency or an adjacent frequency.

  2. ThaDood November 6, 2015 at 3:15 pm #

    Ya know, if they really want to revitalize the AM band, then do what they did with LPFM, and allow more than just TIS programing for an LPAM. Of course, the NAB would never allow this (Hell, they don’t even want the growing number of license-free, Part #15, 100mW radiator and AM Carrier-Current stations on the dial.). However, it would solve a couple of problems. The biggest gripe about LPFM is large, urban, metro, FM stations saturation has made it impossible to start an LPFM station in those areas, but it’s a different story with AM radio in those areas. And, equipment to make it happen still exists. In the USA Radio Systems still makes the TR-6000 10W AM exciter for Carrier-Current, or TIS stations. And even at around $3,500.00, it’s still cheaper than new FCC approved LPFM exciters, and not to mention all the FCC approved old LPB and Radio Systems gear that’s out there and gets snatched up. Somebody wants it, I’ve been outbid on ebay every time on one of those. Just a big passing thought, but to revitalize the AM band, LET US HAVE IT!

    Tha Dood

  3. Paul Riismandel November 6, 2015 at 4:41 pm #

    I like that idea, Dood. But how do think a 10-watt LPAM would survive, with regard to RF noise and interference? How well would it be received after dark?

  4. ThaDood November 13, 2015 at 9:49 am #

    Hello Paul!!! OK, good questions on 10 watt LPAM stations, with regards to, range and interference. Well, we have some good models out there to study those issues, existing licensed TIS (Tourist Information Stations). Most of them are actually using 3 meter long (About 10ft.), antennas with 10 watts of power carrier behind them. Those are the stations that you see signs for “Traveller’s / Weather INFO Tune To ????AM”. And, from my daytime hours listening from a car stereo, ranges seem to vary from 2.5 miles in urban areas with much line noises and building absorption, to over 10 miles when you are driving in an area of open fields and no power lines around. At night, in urban areas the range is about the same, since the same interferences that come with the urban environments that affect local stations also plague night time distance (DX), stations. Now, those stations that I have heard +10 miles in daytime do get knocked down by DX night time propagated stations, so you might hear those stations from 3 – 5 miles. Still, when you look at the ranges projected for the original FCC Class D 10 watt FM stations, these TIS stations’ 10 watts ranges are very comparable to those FM stations, if not better. However, you know as well as I do the variances, transmitter locations, receiver specifications, antennas, local interferences, and of course receiver location, location, location. Oh, and don’t forget that some of these TIS stations can be heard for hundreds of miles at night, like the one on 1710AM from the New Jersey Turnpike. I can almost hear that nightly here in SW West Virginia. Thanks for asking.

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