With the economy in disarray, this isn’t the best of times to propose an expansion of anything, let alone FM radio. But with changes in government and the broadcast industry, the time to act is now. There’s a new FCC chairman, and Congress as I write was in the process of extending the date for implementing digital TV signals.
Predictably, the biggest disappointment for those wanting this change rests squarely on the shoulders of existing broadcasters, both commercial and non-commercial, who (with lip service to the contrary) don’t want the extra competition. Such foot-dragging should not slow efforts by the rest of us to contact congressional offices and the FCC with e-mail, letters and phone calls.
At the very least, you would think the FCC would expand the FM band from 88.1 down to 87.7 MHz, where the left side of most FM tuners ends. Just by adding those two channels, many non-commercial broadcasters across the country could see a dramatic improvement in signal coverage and/or the creation of new FM stations. It’s time to move ahead, and let long-overdue fresh programming ideas come forth for both aging baby boomers and the emerging iPod generation. It may be the only hope for an industry that has struggled mightily in recent years.