Atlantic Cities Article: Radio, Not the Internet, Might Be the Future of Local News

Radio, Not the Internet, Might be the Future of Local News
October 9, 2012
By Tanveer Ali

In the age of the Internet, the biggest opportunity in localized programming may come from a much older medium: the radio.

Sometime this fall, the FCC will open up thousands of low-power FM stations to community organizations. LPFM signals operate at 100 watts and reach about 3.5 miles. That may not seem like much, but in urban areas, that could mean meaningful, localized programming for thousands.

Until this point, LPFM stations were effectively banned because they couldn’t occupy frequencies within three clicks of an existing commercial station. The new rules will divvy up new community radio licenses, based on whatever is available on the dial that doesn’t interfere with existing signals.

"The Internet is good at a lot of things, but it hasn't met a lot of people's needs for local," says Brandy Doyle, policy director for the LPFM advocacy group Prometheus Radio Project.* "The community radio station connects them to the place they live."

That's what Phoenix resident Francisco Flores is hoping. Flores has been preparing an application for a radio license for the non-profit Coalition Phoenix, looking at technical details like where to place a signal. Flores expects his station to be educational, especially for those in Phoenix who don’t rely on the Internet, informing them about issues like health, immigration and general news.

"Radio is immediate," he says. "For us it is a way to reach the mother of the family or the father who is working or for the people who are out and about in the city who are doing their thing."

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