Prometheus is touring in the Northwest meeting with working class people who are organizing in the face of deep budget cuts, growing poverty, and record military spending. As communities continue to come under attack by an unyielding corporate agenda, the mainstream media consistently fail to represent the voices and stories of ordinary people bearing the brunt of these policies. Low power radio offers a unique chance for communities to build and control their own media outlets. 

At Prometheus, a big part of our mission is to demystify complex technical and media policy issues for regular people. And because some issues are just too wonky for words, this time we've made a video.

In late May, Prometheus welcomed 7 interns who have committed to spending their summer vacations working on Radio Summer and ensuring Prometheus is prepared to help hundreds of groups apply for new community radio stations. They hail from different places and have some very different interests but all share a commitment to media justice and we excited to have them in our midst.  

Celina loves watching documentaries and traveling, and wrestled a shark with her bare hands and won. Roger likes going for hour-long runs, and his favorite meal is lasagna. Beth bikes around frantically in search of free food when not at work. Natty plays accordion, badly, and likes to write political sci-fi... also badly. Margaret is a seasoned long-distance walker who enjoys making clothing in her spare time. April is a seasoned radio activist who enjoys reading Fanon in her warehouse in Chinatown. Lucy enjoys rainy days, long walks on the beach, and immanentizing the eschaton. More about these feisty young go-getters. 

What do your pre-teens listen to at 5:30 PM on Tuesdays?  If you're in Davis California, probably Rocket Radio, an interview and talk show aimed at elementary schoolchildren. It's hosted by a plucky pre-teen named Rocket, who interviews friends and reads stories on the air. 

This month, we’d like to offer our condolences to the FCC. The Local Community Radio Act started out as a simple mandate for the FCC to expand low power radio. But during its journey to becoming law, various lawmakers added stipulations to please their state broadcast lobbies, each one exacting a toll before allowing the bill to progress. Most of these additions were harmless, a few were burdensome for low power stations, and some just waste the FCC's time. The upcoming economic impact study is in this last category.

Thanks to the messy business of legislative compromise, the Local Community Radio Act requires the FCC to “conduct an economic study to evaluate the impact that low power FM stations will have on full-service commercial stations.” The FCC must complete the study by the end of the year, so they are seeking comments by June 24 on how they should conduct the study.

We are thrilled to welcome Belinda Rawlins as Field Director at the Prometheus Radio Project. Belinda will lead our campaign to expand low power radio, coordinating Prometheus staff and the People Powered Radio Coalition to organize and support applicants for new low power radio stations. 

Belinda's strengths in strategic planning, coalition building, organizational development, and technical geekery are a perfect fit for Prometheus as we grow our organization and our movement on the heels of the Local Community Radio Act. She brings 25 years of experience in community radio, proven success in grassroots campaigns for community media, and over a decade of executive leadership in public media organizations.

Most recently, Belinda has been the executive director at the Transmission Project since 2008, where she transformed the CTC Vista program into the Digital Arts Service Corps, placing over 400 VISTAs at over 170 organizations to build capacity for public and community media. She also works as the part-time Policy Strategist for NAMAC, the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture, where she was a board member prior to accepting a position. She is a voting member of the Media and Democracy Coalition (MADCo).

What do hula-hooping sessions, poetry readings, and a social worker have in common?

Low-power radio, of course. 

Meet WRFR-LP 93.3 FM in Rockland, Maine. Representing an entry in the station’s weekly events calendar, a program broadcast on Thursday mornings, and a woman whose promotion airs on the station, this eclectic mix is par for the course at WRFR. (And for the record, the hula-hooping sessions, held on the second and fourth Friday of each month, are not a joke.)

This self-described “on-air voice of the community” in Rockland puts its microphone where its mouth is. The station features 54 programs from 50 volunteers, and it has some 85 sponsors, nearly all of them local.

At the helm of this operation sits Joe Steinberger, WRFR general manager. A lawyer and a former Rockland City Councilmember, Steinberger also helped found the station. During his time on the Council, Steinberger organized a taped debate that was to be broadcast on the municipal government’s cable channel. When the debate was withheld from the air because a councilmember was dissatisfied with the outcome, Steinberger lost interest in what he viewed as an overly restrictive channel.

Then he learned about low-power FM (LPFM).

Just take a glance at the WSCA-LP Portsmouth Community Radio Station program schedule, and you can see it’s packed with local public affairs shows that you won’t hear elsewhere in Portsmouth. Every Monday features All Things Gay, a lively LGBTQ-focused talk show. Tune in Tuesday afternoon to hear in-studio interviews on Don’t Dis My Ability, a show produced by adults with disabilities, and during the evening old-time radio on WSCA Audio Theater. Wednesday airs Parent Talk and Writers in the Round. There are political talk shows throughout the week, an alternative and holistic health show, and even a show all about pets and pet handling.

Prometheus will be in Boston April 8-10 for the National Conference for Media Reform sharing our knowledge and experiences and hopefully learning a bunch ourselves! While there, we will meet with  folks interested in supporting regional outreach efforts to get organizations prepared to start a radio station. If you are going to be in Boston and want to chat, or join us for some hula hooping, hunt us down when you are there or contact us beforehand!

Look for Prometheus at these workshops and events: