December 2015 Broadcast

Our Cities Our Airwaves: new stations on the air

Seasons Greetings!


In 2015, Prometheus traveled the country and built seven radio stations. These new stations are outlets for community expression and tools for social justice organizing. They broadcast the voices of communities historically marginalized from media representation and ownership.


We taught new radio DJs to operate the mixer and new radio engineers to solder audio cables and power up their transmitters. In collaboration with grassroots groups across the country we hung antennas, installed studio equipment and ran thousands of feet of audio and data cabling.


Will you join us in supporting new social justice radio stations to get on air?


It's been 5 years this month since we won passage of the Local Community Radio Act. As a result 683 new Low Power FM stations are on the air today, many of them in cities. And even more, 1055 organizations have permits and are now working to begin broadcasting.


The work of building a just media future is only beginning! As the new year marks our transition to a volunteer-led project, your support is more important than ever. You can join the project by volunteering or by supporting us with your contribution.





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 Inside This Issue

 Three Radio Barnraisings, One Community at a Time 

Each Prometheus station build is organized in the spirit of the Amish barnraising tradition where an entire community gathers to build a barn together. Unlike Prometheus barnraisings of the past that drew participants from out-of-town, we work with each local organization to gather friends and neighbors from their community to pick up hammers, soldering irons and microphones to get their new station on the air.

In 2015, Prometheus partnered with seven grassroots organizations to build community radio stations. Below you can learn about the three new stations we built since our last newsletter this summer.

RadioCATA 102.5 FM WCNU-LP -- Bridgeton, New Jersey

Prometheus Engineer Allan Gomez installs RadioCATA antennaA new community radio station operated by the farmworker organization CATA is now on the air at 102.5-FM in Cumberland County, NJ. It is the only Spanish-language station in the area.

The mission of the new Low Power FM radio station, known as RadioCATA, is to "provide a service of information, entertainment and education to unite the Latino community in the struggle for human rights." Prometheus worked with CATA staff and volunteers to install the broadcast equipment, build cables for the new studio, and train volunteers in its operation. Pictured right, Prometheus engineer Allan Gomez installs antenna with CATA volunteers.

CATA is a migrant farmworker organization that is governed by and made up of migrant workers and farmworkers who are actively engaged in the struggle for better working and living conditions. CATA's mission is to empower and educate farm workers through leadership development and capacity building. Pictured below, Allan Gomez instructs CATA volunteers in building cables for the new studio.

Prometheus Engineer Allan Gomez teaches RadioCATA staff and volunteers to make audio cables for the new studio

CATA is not the first farmworker organization to use community radio as an organizing tool. Prometheus collaborated with the Coalition of Immoklee Workers to build WCIW-LP in 2003 in Southwest Florida, and with PCUN, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, to build KPCN-LP in 2006 in Woodburn, Oregon.


The Voice of the East Side 104.7 FM WEQY-LP -- Saint Paul, Minnesota

WEQY talk showPrometheus worked with the Dayton's Bluff Community Council, a neighborhood nonprofit in Saint Paul, to build WEQY, now on the air at 104.7-FM on the east side of the city. According to the station's vision statement, they "will serve the East Side as a community anchor, connecting and sparking dialogue across cultures and generations, educating the public, and broadcasting the voices of the East Side." Read about their new station here and here.


KALY Radio 101.7 FM KALY-LP -- Minneapolis, Minnesota

Mahamed and Abdirahman prepare the KALY antenna for installationKALY 101.7-FM began broadcasts in Somali from its South Minneapolis location on the Eid al-Adha holiday on September 24th. Prometheus worked with the new station, operated by the nonprofit Somali American Community, to build the studio, install the broadcast equipment and train volunteers in its operation. Pictured top right, station director Mahamed Cali and broadcaster Abdirahman Nor assemble the two-bay antenna before installation.

The station will provide basic information like weather updates as well as conversations about issues affecting the tens of thousands of Somali people in the state of Minnesota. Prometheus Engineer Will Floyd with KALY Director Mahamed CaliPictured bottom right, Prometheus engineer Will Floyd and KALY station director Mahamed Cali.

"This is the first Somali FM radio station in the US and it's in Minnesota," said Mahamed Cali, Director of KALY, adding, "everyone is excited!"

KALY will help new immigrants navigate life in America, for example with instruction on "how to communicate, how to order at a restaurant, talk to their landlord, how the system of education works, how the country works.

The new station was featured on a local TV newscast and in several online and print publications.


 LPFM Radio Impact Maps

Coverage map of KALY-LP in Minneapolis

We are excited to announce a new software now under development that will provide radio stations with detailed coverage maps to help them understand and better engage with local communities. The mapping software, called LPFM Radio Impact Maps and made possible through the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, will give LPFM stations access to precise data on their signal coverage paired with population and demographic information.

The new software, developed by Engineering Director Paul Bame, will help LPFMs succeed by measuring their signal reach and potential audience, helping the broadcasters to develop appropriate programming, tap into volunteers and attract underwriters. Prometheus will begin usability testing with LPFMs in early 2016. You can read media coverage of the project here and here.


 Prometheus to the Future!

The arrival of 2016 brings changes at Prometheus, the first of which is our new office! This month we moved out of our home of more than three years at the Gershman Y building on Broad Street in Philadelphia. And we are (almost) completely moved into our new home at LAVA in the Belmont neighborhood of West Philly. We are excited to be back in West Philly and connecting with the organizations and folks at LAVA. Pictured top right, Paul Bame removes networkPaul in the new office cabling from our old office, and bottom right, Paul hanging in the new office.

And we have to extend a huge thank you to Katie Ingersoll, Ian Smith, Jeff Rousset and Emanne Saleh who helped with our move, and everyone who came by to take surplus items off our hands. Thank you!

The new year also marks our transition to a volunteer-led organization. Our current projects will continue and we will continue to offer engineering services on a per contract basis. Prometheus station builds will also continue as we help more organizations than ever before to get on the air.

As a volunteer-led organization, Prometheus will foster connection between new stations across the country, building a network of mutual support, content sharing and solidarity among LPFMs. In addition to building stations next year, Prometheus will help radio enthusiasts connect with their local LPFMs and provide educational resources, like LPFM Radio Impact Maps, to help new stations get on the air and build sustainable and successful operations. You can join us as a generous donor or volunteer and bring justice to the airwaves in 2016!


 Prometheus in the News