Campus station registering for local broadcast license
Laney College’s 9th Floor Radio may be riding the FM airwaves by the end of the year, thanks to a new FCC bill that allows small-radius radio stations to apply for a broadcasting license. The bill is named the Local Community Radio Act (LCRA), and it allows the FCC to license new local stations across the country.
The licensees are called Low Power FM stations (LPFMs). An LPFM is a noncommercial radio station which operates at 100 watts of power or less, with a relative radio tower height limit of 30 meters or shorter. Their signal strength radius is usually three to ten miles. These licenses are not available to individuals or commercial organizations, and must be run by nonprofits such as schools, churches, community organizations, or local governments.
Peralta’s Executive Director of the Department of Marketing, Public Relations and Communications Jeff Heyman is hopeful that 9th Floor Radio will be approved by the FCC for an LPFM license. However, if the station does receive a license, Heyman predicts that “it could be a year or two” before its programs are on the air.
Ninth Floor Radio was born in 2006. The station began, as the name suggests, on the ninth floor of the Laney Tower building. Construction in the tower forced the station to move into Laney’s District Office last year.
Currently broadcast over the internet, 9th Floor now has over 2,700 hours of programming under its belt. There are 35 shows per week being broadcast online, both live and on rotation. The broadcasts feature a variety of music, from jazz to punk, and everywhere in between. The programs are also available for download, and some 50,000 copies have been downloaded so far.
If all goes well with the FCC application, fans will be able to tune into the station on their radios as well as the internet. Until then, audiophiles can find 9th Floor’s webcasts on its website, 9thFloorRadio.com.
The opportunity for new LPFM licensing comes after a decade-long struggle between corporate stations, media rights activists, and Congress.
The Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act of 2000, signed by President Clinton, greatly restricted the number of LPFMs allowed on the air. This bill was enacted in part to protect the frequencies of corporate radio stations. The LCRA, which passed the Senate on Dec. 20, 2010, allows new LPFMs to be licensed for the first time in over a decade.
On June 17, two-and-a-half years after the passing of LCRA, the FCC finally announced a two-week window in which new radio stations could apply for an LPFM license.
The application process is free to all, but most stations will need to hire an engineer to find a frequency that the applicant station can use. The frequency cannot interfere with those of preexisting radio stations. The period for application submissions is between October 15-29, and submitting an application for the license does not guarantee approval.
Students interested in working with Laney’s television or radio programs can enroll in Heyman’s social media class, Journalism 65.