Reps, Commissioners weigh in on LPFM, FM translators


FCC Commissioners / May 2012Two US representatives and all five FCC commissioners spoke up on the FCC’s Open Meeting consideration of LPFM and FM translators as directed by Congress’s Local Community Radio Act. Here’s a summary of what they had to say:

* Mike Doyle (D-PA): Happy to reverse role and be a visitor at the FCC instead of a host. Thanks Genachowski and staff for making LPFM happen, says thousands of new stations may potentially be added. You don’t have to be super-wealthy to start an LPFM, you just need determination and planning. Praises LPFM for local specialty news, breaking new music other stations don’t play. Singled out “long-lost cousin” Peter Doyle and Media Bureau Chief Bill Lake for praise. FCC’s 2nd adjacent waivers interpretation, focus on localism are spot on. They came up with something everyone can live with. Another long-lost cousin, Brandy Doyle, headed up effort at Prometheus Radio Project to put FCC in contact with actual LPFM operators.

* Lee Terry (R-NE): Didn’t realize how many Doyles it took to get the project to the finish line. FCC did it, and it did it right. Pittsburgh and Omaha are both comprised of a variety of communities, and this will allow communities within a market the chance to have a specifically-targeted station. It’s not about having the biggest mainstream station, it’s about serving a local community. Preston Love Jazz and Arts Center in Omaha will likely be an applicant. 1930s jazz musician Preston Love is an icon of Omaha African American community. Tim Clark is exec of the Center, and he’ll be trying to use LPFM to help develop local arts scene.

* Robert McDowell: 5th attempt to address tensions between LPFM and translator proponents. We always forget how difficult it is, then we do something, then there are problems and we’re back at it again, causing him to offer this Steven Wright joke: “Right now I’m having amnesia and déjà vu at the same time.” Pleased that interference rules protect existing FM stations; pleased with statutory preference for local service by LPFM operators, approves of effort to make sure both sides have ample licensing opportunities.

* Mignon Clyburn: Major step toward the creation of a media landscape more reflective of the entire US population. FCC has been inundated with testimonials from LPFM supporters of all types. Opening of 2nd adjacency waiver will be key to bringing LPFM into large urban areas. Notes that music lovers on her staff are excited about the possibility of hearing indie music that doesn’t make it on commercial radio.

* Jessica Rosenworcel: relaxing 3rd adjacency is a key to making urban LPFM possible. She worked with Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and John McCain (R-AZ) at Senate Commerce Committee in the earlier stages of developing LPFM. Says FCC made effort to balance needs of LPFM and translator proponents.

* Ajit Pai: Congress tried to expand LPFM while protecting broadcasters, and this proceeding does just that. Notes presence of Chinese LPFM in Kansas, a place where one would not expect such a thing. 2nd adjacent channel waivers – LPFM applicants must show that they will not interfere with any existing broadcast outlet – key to earning Pai’s support. Wants Media Bureau to alert broadcasters when a 2nd adjacency waiver is on the way. Commission must get to work on translator application backlog. Says the addition of 20 rural translator applications to national cap was his idea, thanked Commission for incorporating it.

* Julius Genachowski: “This is a big step to empower community voices, promote media diversity and enhance local programming.” Study showed that 86% of news on radio is national rather than local – this proceeding will help add to the local total. Genachowski was a DJ at small college station — “I was a midnight rambler.” LPFM will provide access to the airwaves to those who otherwise would not have it. This was a difficult proceeding, balancing technical issues and competing interests. This is a win for the people who do not have the money to send lawyers and lobbyists to Washington to advocate for their position. Example of Congress and FCC, Democrats and Republicans working together.


  1. The name of the honorable radio champion and US Senator from Washington state is MARIA Cantwell. Anyone who loves community radio should know Maria’s name. Thanks for the handy summaries, RBR. Funny how you point out the three Rockin’ Doyles who were instrumental in LPFM policy-making, along with others at the FCC, Rec Net and Common Frequency!

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