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Tune in to WUVS 103.7 LPFM in Muskegon, Michigan on a Thursday evening and you’ll hear a segment with a Muskegon County judge, a public service announcement from nearby Muskegon Heights Public Schools, and a music and talk show with WUVS founder and general manager Paul Billings, known on-air as P.A.

WUVS, a low-power FM (LPFM) station whose mission is to educate the local urban community about area issues and resources, takes its role seriously. The station employs eight staff and twelve volunteers, has its own beat reporter, and offers a high school mentoring program.

“People believe in what we do,” Billings says.

Congratulations to our friends and barnraising partners at WGXC for their official FM launch! On February 26, WGXC began its full time FM broadcast on 90.7 FM, which will reach 78,000 people in the Hudson Valley, New York.  

WGXC Hands on Radio is a full power community-run radio station in New York’s Greene and Columbia Counties. WGXC partnered with Prometheus for our first full power radio barnraising in September 2010, when over 400 volunteers came together to teach DIY media making workshops,build the WGXC studios, and celebrate the launch of the station and the debut of its amazing  programming schedule.  

Since then WGXC staff and volunteers have been hard at work, producing programming on their internet webstream, continuing to build community support, and preparing for the station’s FM launch. Governed by a Radio Council which represents many of the diverse communities in the station’s range, WGXC offers a great model of participatory radio. 

Now that we’ve passed the Local Community Radio Act, the Prometheus Radio Project is launching a national outreach campaign to educate the public around the opportunities for low power FM (LPFM) radio stations in our communities. We need your help to spread the word!

For the first time in ten years, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will soon be accepting applications for new LPFM station. Prometheus is working with a national coalition of media organizations, community leaders, engineers, and other community media advocates to do outreach. You're invited to join and help organize communities around this opportunity. Our goal is to support a large, diverse group of LPFM license applicants and to get underrepresented groups on the airwaves.

Now that we have passed the Local Community Radio Act, we are looking ahead to the largest expansion in the number of community radio stations in US history. Let the fun begin! We are ramping up our organization and convening a coalition to help get these new radio station licenses in the hands of groups wanting to start local, participatory stations.

So you want to start a station …

The best community radio stations are participatory, engaged locally, and serve their communities with a clear mission. They are led by a coalition of groups, strong leaders within the community, and have a dedicated group of volunteers. Even though you can't apply for a new radio station until the FCC takes applications, which may be a year away, there are many things you can do in the meantime to organize your community and plan your station.

We strongly suggest holding a meeting to begin mapping out a plan for community involvement. What communities in your area lack a voice in local media? What issues are underrepresented? Who are the people and organizations you want to engage? By finding out what kind of radio will be relevant to those you'd like to serve, you can start building listeners even before you build your station.

Since the FCC hasn't yet released the new rules for the low power FM (LPFM) service, it's too early to begin picking a location or to know what channels are available in your community. We do know that these license will be available only to non-commercial entities, including non-profit organizations, schools, churches, emergency responders, and local governments. If you aren't associated with a non-profit organization, look for organizations locally that might make good partners.

If you have any other questions about how to start a station, fill out the "Want to start a radio station?" form here: /want_to_start_a_station. Once the form is completed, we will add you to our list for updates and news.

“When can we start our radio station?” It's the number one question we get at Prometheus these days, but there's no easy answer. If you've followed the Local Community Radio Act on its long journey to becoming law, you already know that the biggest hurdle is behind us. However, it will be months, perhaps up to a year, before the FCC can accept new applications for radio stations. To explain why, we lay out the steps ahead. (Also see: What to do in the meantime)

Dear Friends:

I am very pleased to announce that as of January 15th, 2010, I will be stepping down from my role and leaving the staff of the Prometheus Radio Project.

For the twelve years since we founded the group in 1998, Prometheus Radio Project and the movement for Low Power Radio has been the central fact of my life.

I Can't Believe We Actually Did All These Things:

  • Hundreds of new community radio stations we have worked with are on the air,
  • Thousands of  people attending our radio barnraisings have trained and shared their skills in community media,
  • A thriving media reform and media justice movement has emerged with our partnership,
  • Two successful court cases with our legal partners, halting media consolidation and projecting LPFMs from encroachment,
  • Over a hundred fifty staff and interns have come through Prometheus, many of whom have gone on to leadership roles in other organizations,
  • Successful advocacy at the FCC on a number of issues,
  • And finally, in December the passage of the first media reform legislation in recent memory, the Local Community Radio Act, which will open up opportunities for community radio in the cities.

Update March 2012: We won! The FCC released new rules on March 19, 2012 that implement a market-by-market analysis to ensure space for new LPFMs. See our article explaining the details. Thank you to everyone who wrote letters to the FCC on this issue! The text below, from Fall 2010, is outdated. We have preserved it here to give historical background on the translator fight at the FCC.  

Two studies released by Common Frequency show that a well-intentioned FCC plan may actually gut the potential of community radio. Intended as a compromise, this plan would actually hand over the vast majority of open frequencies to companies that already own stations, keeping community radio off the dial in urban areas.

If you work with a radio station, there's something new you need to know about emergency alerts! The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is getting ready to implement the Integrated Public Alert Warning System (IPAWS). IPAWS is a system for sending emergency messages to the public through the Internet using the new Common Alerting Protocol (CAP). The new system will allow community radio stations to provide another level of emergency warnings to listeners, but it will cost most stations thousands of dollars to implement.

After 10 years, our movement of organizers, leaders in arts and immigration rights, youth, families, and elders in every corner of the country, are extremely close to passing a bill that would expand low power FM radio to all our communities.