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Philadelphia Public Safety Department Turns Off Its 5 LPFMs

Intended for in-time emergency preparedness alerts, the five stations ran 24/7 PSAs

The Montgomery County Department of Public Safety has permanently turned off its five low-power FM radio stations in Philadelphia. According to reports from WHYY, these LPFMs were turned off March 7 after the county submitted a request to the Federal Communications Commission relinquishing its licenses.

Included are the county’s licenses for WRDY, WEMA, WEMZ, WEMK and WEMQ.

WHYY reported that, while the county applied for these licenses in 2013 with the intent of using the stations for in-time emergency preparedness alerts, instead, those stations ended up running 12-minute loops of 24/7 public service announcements.

County officials told WHYY that the five stations only reached about 80% of the community, and that it proved difficult to update each station every time they needed to send an emergency alert. Advertising five different stations to Montgomery County’s residents also proved difficult, which is why the county opted for generic PSAs, according to WHYY.

These PSAs included everything from messages on fire and severe weather safety to COVID-19 information. All this in addition to the county’s other in-time emergency messaging systems.

[Related: “A Look at the Strange, Unique and Compelling World of LPFMs“]

WHYY said it’s not clear what the cancellation means for other community members waiting to apply for a LPFM radio station license. You can read its full report here.

If those LPFMs do become available for other groups or organizations to claim, applicants will need to abide by stringent FCC requirements.