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Looking at LPFM

Giving some thought to the world of low-power FMs

Last week we in this column our subject was pirates, buccaneers of the airwaves. After I wrote that column, I walked out to my car to drive home and flipped on the radio wondering if I could find another pirate (it was about 5 p.m.). Within about five seconds (two pushes of “scan”) I landed on a pirate. Over the next couple of days, I scanned around and found three “regulars” on the air that I could pick-up in my area of Miami. One lays claim to being on the air for eight years now.

I captured these pirate stations’ audio on my smartphone and uploaded them to a password protected page on my own web site. Before giving you the password, I do need to say that both of these stations play and say content socially unacceptable to most people. If you are easily offended (or even not easily offended), I would not recommend listening to these!

Sadly, these are broadcast in this area for everyone to hear. Ironically, both stations spoke of “the kids” or “family” events, all the while this inappropriate music played. It’s very unpleasant and not something that I (as a matter of opinion) would say “makes the world a better place to live.” Again, please don’t listen if such material offends you and please do not play within ear shot of kids. From this home page, go to the “Downloads” tab and click on “Off-The-Beaten-Path.” You’ll be asked for a password. The password is: pirate

We’ll jump off this topic and onto the legitimate lower powered stations that are licensed to be on the air. As most broadcasters know, the first round of LPFM stations hit the airwaves over 10 years ago. The second group in 10 years started launching earlier this year and will continue to launch into 2015 and 2016 (with CP extensions). 

Prometheus Radio
One of the leaders of the LPFM charge was Prometheus Radio. They make available at their website a lot of good information for LPFM stations.

REC Networks
Michi Bradley and her REC Networks site are known for tireless work with LPFMs and promoting the LPFM service. She was also a contributor to the Radio World eBook on LPFM. She’s at the top of the list of LPFM experts.

Knight Foundation Funding for LPFMs and Noncoms
Unfortunately one of the very best resources for funding new equipment with noncoms went away with the defunding of the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program grants. But, if you are in a former Knight-Ridder newspaper area, the Knight Foundation may be able to help you out. The Knight Foundation is known to support communities through arts, innovation and community support. They have a pool of $5 million and want a short narrative of ideas that might benefit your community. Unfortunately it is limited to the following areas (former Knight newspaper cities): Aberdeen, S.D.; Akron, Ohio; Biloxi, Miss.; Boulder, Colo.; Bradenton, Fla.; Charlotte, N.C.; Columbia, S.C.; Columbus, Ga.; Detroit; Duluth, Minn.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Gary, Ind.; Grand Forks, N.D.; Lexington, Ky.; Long Beach, Calif.; Macon, Ga.; Miami; Milledgeville, Ga.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Palm Beach County, Fla.; Philadelphia; San Jose, Calif.; State College, Pa.; St. Paul, Minn.; Tallahassee, Fla.; and Wichita, Kan.

The deadline for information about your project which will better your community (like an LPFM or noncom station … or maybe special programming) is in two weeks (11/14/14). You don’t need a budget amount and the narrative must be limited to 150 words or less. If they like your idea, they’ll ask you to develop further and you may find some financial backing through the Knight Foundation.

Coverage Map for WDPE

Click on the Image to Enlarge

Radio Coverage Tool

Nautel is well-known transmitter manufacturer. They have developed something called “


,” which stands for the Nautel Users Group. You can sign up for free to join the NUG on their web site. The NUG has a great and highly informative gathering in Las Vegas every year preceding the NAB Show. But another reason you would want to join, even if you aren’t using their transmitters, is their awesome Radio Coverage Tool. The FCC’s coverage map for LPFMs is about as generic as you can get, but plugging in your numbers into the Nautel Radio Coverage Tool will produce a beautiful Longley-Rice map with a lot more detail of shadow areas and terrain factored in and a population count within the different potential coverage layers. Here’s an example of the coverage map for WDPE “DNP 102.3” in Dover — New Philadelphia, Ohio.

LPFM eBook

I’d be remiss to not point out Radio World’s

eBook on LPFM

. I had a small part in putting this book together and think it’s a valuable resource for LPFMers with less experience on the technical side. There’s a ton of useful information available there … and the eBook is FREE (which is always the right price for nonprofits and noncoms!).

And finally …

I usually like to end on a “high note” but this one is a very important link. I worked with Joe Vigil at KOB(TV) in Albuquerque, N.M., he was a TV news reporter and I was director of engineering. Both of us have moved on … I’m now in Miami and Joe is in Alaska so we did go to opposite ends of the U.S.

I recently found this story that Joe posted and it reminds all of us of just how important early cancer screening and tests can be. Joe is certainly younger than I am. He’s probably in his 30s … maybe early 40s with a wife and two little kids. I know you hear this all the time (and I do too), but cancer screening can lead to early detection, and that can lead to treatments that allow you to live!

Another friend lost his life colorectal cancer due to its advanced stage when he finally was diagnosed (he wasn’t tested early). This other friend, Ed Schumacher, a former co-worker at WJER AM/FM in Dover/New Philadelphia, Ohio, was also in our business and owned a very successful small market FM station in the same area of Ohio, WTUZ. Ed passed away about a year and a half ago. It was important to Ed to remind people that his life could have been extended had he just took the message to get checked seriously. Please spend a few minutes watching this report that Joe produced about cancer and finding out that he has it.

If you stumble across a good or unusual web site that might be of interest, please don’t hesitate to send me the link and any info you might have about it. My email address is [email protected].