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Surge in FM Translators Continues

Their license category is up 5% in one year and 43% in the past decade

The number of FM translators and boosters in the United States continues to surge.

The latest quarterly raw numbers of the various types of broadcast licenses have been released by the Federal Communications Commission. There are now 8,771 translators and boosters, 5% more than just a year ago and 43% up from 10 years ago.

[Related: “NAB Lays Out Precarious Financial Position of Radio”]

Translators rebroadcast an FM or AM station signal on a different FM frequency. Boosters operate on the same FM frequency as the main station. The commission does not report the two individually, but the ongoing growth is certainly almost entirely in translators, not boosters, as various FCC policies over that period have tended to promote the expanded use of that type of signal.

The list below is as of Sept. 30, 2021, and compares the number of stations to the same time last year.

AM Stations — 4,519 (down 41 stations from a year ago)
FM Commercial — 6,682 (down 22)
FM Educational — 4,211 (up 15)
Total — 15,412 (down 48)

FM Translators and Boosters — 8,771 (up 432 from a year ago)
Low-Power FM Stations — 2,081 (down 62)