LPFM applicant Dan Slentz has been writing here about the experience and the current application window. Slentz has done this before; he filed two
applications in the earlier LPFM window, which both were awarded. One licensee
backed out but the other became WNHS(LP) in Newcomerstown, Ohio.
A reader has asked what one should
expect to spend monthly to run a station; Slentz answers below.
are a lot of variables as to what your cost would/could be. Your format,
support programming (news?), location, affiliation, etc. all can affect your
First, anyone playing music must pay for music
licensing via ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. WNHS(LP) in Newcomerstown, Ohio, pays about
$2,500 a year for all these licenses combined. Fortunately the music licensing
companies have LPFMs on the lowest “cost tier.”
are part of a church or school and your location and utilities are free, that’s
big savings. Otherwise, you’ll have to figure this out. Don’t forget high-speed
Internet and a local phone line (a local phone number is an FCC requirement).
On the low side of rent & utilities (unless free), I would
budget $1,200 per month. Certainly this could be more … or even less ...
depending on your location. Best “hope” is that you are part of a non-profit
that can get the space donated or greatly discounted, or you are inside your
parent organization’s building and they “give you the space” and don’t worry
about the minimal amount of power you use.
do need to pay for utilities, you’ll find your biggest energy consumer is
actually NOT your transmitter but your heat and air conditioning. The
transmitter will likely use nothing more than 500 watts, and likely about 250 watts to 300 watts
(about 1/4 or 1/5 of your daughter’s hair dryer!) Your space can be small, so
you’re talking about something as small as a used car dealer might have on a
small lot. A small studio and maybe an office area (see PDF example here). With
luck, there is a bathroom, but a public “facility” in a commercial building is
even better as it reduces additional costs (toilet paper, plumbing problems,
air freshener, paper towels, etc.)
These are little
“trivial” things, but remember that all these costs can really add up. Unlike a
commercial station’s spots, which might generate $15 to $300, underwriting
announcements can be a little more like “a dollar a holler.” You’ll see much
lower “rates,” so you don’t want to spend one underwriter’s announcement fee
simply for toilet paper.
With planning (and luck),
you’ll have your antenna on a small tower on a high building or your own small
tower. But if you do need to get your antenna on someone else’s tower, this
could cost you some money. Prices for tower rental really depend on your city,
availability of tower space, where your antenna is located on that tower (lower
= cheaper), etc. A safe low cost would be $100, though I can’t see more than
$250 per month for a space. The simple fact is your transmitter is no bigger
than a carry-on suitcase, you use less than a hairdryer in total power, and you
can’t go very high on the tower (per the FCC’s limitations on LPFM’s
power/antenna height rules).
A Station Layout. Click on Image to Enlarge
If you wanted a content
resource like AP News, that can be very expensive. The cost for AP for an LPFM
was about $10k per year when I last checked. Oddly, AP is a “non-profit
organization” that charges LPFMs (other non-profits) more than small-market
commercial stations for the same service. I had an argument with a rep from AP
over the justification for this and his response was “that’s just the way it
If you are a music-oriented station and based on
any sort of oldies, you have the one-time cost of purchasing your music. A “new
music-oriented” station will need to budget a music subscription (companies
like TM Studios http://www.tmstudios.com/music.asp and others provide this
service). The days of “promo 45s” are pretty much long gone. You can get some
service, but the fact is that even small-market commercial stations don’t get
great music service any more. I like TM personally as they have a full-line
service from new music to oldies libraries, production music, and even jingles.
And they’ve been very “LPFM-friendly” to me in the past. I’d budget $200 per
month for music.
Other items to budget for might include
an emergency equipment repair/replacement fund, promotional budget, vehicle
& insurance, property/personal injury insurance. Certainly putting a budget
amount in place for emergencies is critical to any business.
||Free to $1200
||$150 to $300
||$100 to $300
||Donated to $300
|Emergency Repair Fund
||$25 to $250
||$25 to $250
|News Service Subscription
||$500 to $1800
||$300 to $1800
||$100 to $400
Looking at the above numbers, a “roundabout” budget of $2,000
per month looks possible.
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