Five Ways Low Power FM Will Power Up Public Radio

ds106-world-radio-dayWorld Radio Day is this Thursday, February 13. It’s the perfect time to talk about how Low Power FM Radio could change the public and community radio landscape in the United States. For the past three years, I’ve been putting a shoulder into low power FM (LPFM) infrastructure development. I have helped to get the word out about the opportunity nationally, assisted nonprofits with their applications, fostered relationships between applicants and identified resources to help them build. I’ve never seen so much enthusiasm for community radio, and my little public radio nerd heart is gleeful about the potential. Maybe some of the ideas are a stretch. I’m certainly showing my enthusiastic idealist colors, but World Radio Day encourages expansive thinking and big ideas. One thing’s for sure, LPFM will have an impact.

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) created World Radio Day in 2011 to annually prompt us to think about the transformative power of radio. This year their focus is gender equality. People from around the world are contributing audio and video clips in which they further the discussion about gender in radio and other ongoing structural issues like race and class.

We know we have structural issues in public media. We talk about them at our conferences and participate in trainings at our stations, but the conversation doesn’t get much past working on individual racism and an introduction to white privilege. These inequities require multipronged solutions. One small way to chip away at them is the current LPFM radio infrastructure build out.

Some numbers that illustrate how we’re doing:

Women hold less than 7% of all TV and radio station licenses.
People of color hold just over 7% of radio licenses and 3% of TV licenses.
[source: Free Press]

92.7% of journalists at commercial radio stations are white.
81.5% of journalists at non-commercial radio stations are white.
91.3% of radio news directors (commercial & non) are white.
67.3% of the work force in local radio news are male.
[source: Radio Television Digital News Association 2012 survey]

For reference, the US population is 51% female and 49% male / 72.4% white and 27.6% people of color [source: US 2010 census]
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Seattle! Celebrate the Sound of Tomorrow at the Pike Place Market!

SoundOfTom_FBNext Tuesday, October 15, two very important things are happening:

1. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will open an application window for thousands of low power FM radio frequencies (LPFM) across the United States.

2. Sabrina Roach, Brown Paper Tickets Doer, specializing in Public Media, will be producing a lunch to celebrate Puget Sound applicants!

We here at Brown Paper Tickets have been working for two and a half years to get the word out to non-profits around the country about the possibilities that LPFM offers — we see it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shift our media landscape on both a local and national level. That’s why we’ve been collaborating with local public agencies to help support applicants.

All that work has paid off, and on this coming Tuesday, October 15th, we’re bringing together a celebration of the local organizations that could soon be popping up on your radio dial. Consider this your invitation to meet the LPFM applicants in your neighborhood, get your own map of the proposed new media landscape in the Puget Sound, and enjoy some free food while you’re at it.

They’re our airwaves. What’s your vision?

*What: Celebrate the Sound of Tomorrow: A Brown Paper Tickets Neighborhood Radio Party*

*Where:  Pike Place Market Elliott Bay Room on the top floor of the Economy Market Atrium.

*When: Tuesday, October 15th , 2013 at noon.

*RSVP here!

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Non-Profits: What Would You Do With Your Own Radio Station?

Today, many of us get our news from neighborhood blogs that report the goings-on in our local communities. These blogs and their popularity are indicative of how hyper-local news is effective in binding and supporting neighborhoods. Another growing source of local information are low-powered FM radio stations, which are non-commercial stations that operate at low power, for low cost, to a hyper-local community area. The popularity of hyper-local engagement has even caught the attention of the FCC, who recently approved the granting of hundreds more low-powered FM radio station licenses to local non-profits.

This provides a unique opportunity for non-profits to use the airwaves as a tool for broadcasting to their local community, and for making a difference in the world.  We encourage any of the non-profits that we work with to take advantage of this amazing opportunity.

Think about it — what would your non-profit be able to accomplish with your own community radio station?

Here’s the story of the community radio station WSLR 96.5 LPFM in Sarasota, Florida. This short documentary gives you a sense of the people, passion and vision that creates community radio and the valuable contributions that stations like WSLR give to their communities. Think how great it would be to have a station like WSLR in your town or city, promoting your causes to your very own hyper-local community! This is your opportunity to make that happen.


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Radio/New Media Doer Sabrina: Clever Crafty Crafts I saw at Maker Faire New York

In September I had a chance to get to know people in the Maker Movement by attending Maker Faire New York. I had a blast and will be writing more about why I, as the Radio Doer went along with our Maker Doer Tamara Clammer and co-worker Kelly Allen. (hint: it has to do with building more relationships between Community Media and Makers/Hackers). I met many creative tech people and engineers – but the work of the crafters also caught my eye. I don’t knit, but I love fabric arts and independently made jewelry, so a few things caught my eye. The Brown Paper Tickets booth at was right next to a main thoroughfare – so I saw some incredible crafty crafts and wear-able art.

Some highlights:

Food Scarf!
I loved this scarf. Maybe you’ve seen art like this just hanging around people’s necks, but I haven’t. The whimsy of it just made me happy. I didn’t get her name, but she said she just graduated from school where she focused on animation. She calls her stuff Scarf It Down Knit Delicacies. Check out her Etsey Store!
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