Low Power Radio

Our mission is to build participatory radio as a tool for social justice movements and community expression. Our method is low power radio.

Low power FM (LPFM) stations broadcast at 100 watts or less, and are run by non-profit organizations, unions, schools, churches, and other local, non-commercial organizations. The FCC launched the low power FM service in 2000, creating the first opportunity for community radio broadcasting in more than 20 years. Read more about this achievement of the pirate radio movement and other media activists in our history.

Today there are over 800 low power radio stations on the air, giving a voice to communities across the country. But there are still some major changes needed to realize the potential of low power radio.

The FCC has designated low power radio stations as "secondary" to full power stations, which essentially means what it sounds like: second class citizens. If a big corporate station likes a Low Power FM station's channel and wants to take it, they can, just like the neighborhood bully taking your school lunch money. We're fighting to protect Low Power FM stations from the encroachment of full power stations. Read more about this issue on the encroachment page.

Low power stations also share the airwaves with translators, which repeat the signals of other stations, sometimes in chains that link dozens of translators over hundreds of miles. Translators help stations reach far-off areas, but they shouldn't take priority over community radio stations. We're fighting to ensure that translators don't end up with licenses that should be available for real local stations. Read more about this issue on the translators page.

Thanks to big broadcasters, Congress limited low power radio as soon as it started, and urban communities never had a chance to apply. The Local Community Radio Act would return authority to the FCC, allowing them to license low power stations in cities for the first time. We've fought for this bill in 2005, 2007, and we are now working to pass the 2009 version. Read more about this issue on the Local Community Radio Act page.

And continue reading below for fact sheets, articles, and our FCC comments related to low power radio!

Background Reading