A Radio Station In Your Hands Is Worth 500 Channels of Mush: The Role of Community Radio in the Struggle Against Corporate Domination of Media

Written in 2004, this is the most complete early history of Prometheus Radio Project, from its origins in the pirate radio movement through the role of Prometheus in launching the LPFM radio service, to the historic media ownership court case.  Kate Coyer & Pete Tridish published this in News Incorporated, Elliot Cohen (ed), 2005.  Download this article here.

 
A Radio Station In Your Hands Is Worth 500 Channels of Mush!
The Role of Community Radio in the Struggle Against Corporate Domination of Media

Pete Tridish & Kate Coyer

Published in News Incorporated, Elliot Cohen (ed), 2005.

Low Power FM (LPFM) is a crucial means of reclaiming some of the broadcast spectrum.  LPFM represents a renewed appreciation of local voices, public access and participation in community broadcasting.  As activists in promoting LPFM for the Prometheus Radio Project, we will argue the significance of community radio stations for the prosperity of a more democratic media.1  This chapter will outline the history of the movement for low power radio, and how the stage was later set for the larger struggle against concentration of media ownership.  Media consolidation in radio, with the standardization of its programming, homogenized texture and massive reduction in local news and public affairs sparked a low power radio movement that rose from marginal beginnings to become a formidable opponent of powerful media corporations.  In illustrating the relationship between the LPFM movement and the larger fight against media deregulation, we will consider issues of corporate consolidation and the logic of market capitalism as impacting both the movement for community radio and the need for a freer flow of news and information.  We will conclude by reexamining the future outlook for LPFM amidst the changing corporate, governmental and digital landscape.  

Low powered FM radio stations are Federal Communications Commission (FCC) licensed stations broadcasting at under one hundred watts, which translates to a broadcast range of five to ten miles.  What LPFM does is give a sliver of the radio spectrum to libraries, schools, civic groups, community organizations and churches.  Individuals cannot apply for licenses, but those applying range from the local chapter of ACT-UP to the Rotary Club.  The stations must be both non-commercial and not-for-profit.  License applicants must clearly state how the station will be used to further the educational mission of their organization.  As of March 2004, approximately 320 LPFM stations are on air, with hundreds more preparing to build.  Content is not regulated, but there is a slight preference in the application process for organizations that promise to produce their content locally, and all of the typical rules of radio about indecency, slander, cursing and so forth apply.  Groups can only apply during five-day time periods, or “filing windows,” which have only once been opened, and there is no schedule for when they will take place in the future.  LPFM is about returning a portion of the airwaves to communities, and it is about increasing citizen participation and access to broadcasting.

Until recently, the options for local organizations to get on air were limited.  The challenges and the resiliency of local community groups to gain access to the radio spectrum on both technical and political levels are well illustrated by the story of Radio Conciencia, an LPFM station on-air since December, 2003.   

The Radio of the Tomato Pickers
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) had a difficult job ahead of them. The Coalition had employed various strategies on behalf of the workers in the migrant farmworking town of Immokalee, Florida over the years: tactics such as negotiations, work stoppages and hunger strikes to focus public attention on poverty wages and sweatshop working conditions.  Several of their members had at one time been enslaved by ruthless contractors who banked on worker’s fear keeping them from reporting their captivity to authorities.

But this time, the stakes were higher.  After September 11th, the local sheriff was eager to take advantage of general anti-immigrant sentiments to make a power grab in his county.  He asked that all local law enforcement officials be granted additional powers as Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) agents, giving them the power to seize and deport undocumented workers.  This practice has long been taboo in US law enforcement because of the difficulties such a scenario could create.  For example, if an undocumented immigrant saw a robbery in progress, would they dare report it to officials if they could be deported?  Or, if they had evidence that could help solve a murder, would they risk contacting the police?  In spite of such arguments for retaining the traditional separation of jurisdictions, the sheriff was determined to push for expansion of his authority.

In response, the Coalition organized meetings and strategized to thwart the plan.  They would never again be able to get farmworkers to come forward and report on South Florida's illegal slave camps if this measure went through.  They would normally have relied on their traditional organizing methods to plan a protest in front of the sheriff’s office - walking house-to-house knocking on doors, posting fliers up around town and passing information by word of mouth.  This time, however, the coalition had an ally in mobilizing the community for the action- a local pirate radio station.  The station gave the police issue a significant amount of airtime, including in-depth interviews with CIW leaders.  Although the station usually steered clear of politics, and was generally left alone by the authorities, the operator of the station was convinced that this time he had to take a stand.

The word went out over the airwaves for days before the protest, and fifteen hundred farmworkers and supporters showed up to demonstrate, a far greater number than anyone expected.  The sheriff dropped his plan in the face of the furor, but enacted his revenge by having the pirate station shutdown the following week.  It had been operating for years unhindered by authorities when it stuck to playing music.  

Realizing the efficacy of radio for their needs, the farmworkers raised money to buy time on a local licensed AM station.  They paid two hundred and fifty dollars for an hour show each week.  It was worth the steep price in terms of the show’s contribution to their organizing capacity, but the cost was just too great to maintain and the workers had to discontinue the broadcast after about six months of being on air.  The farmworkers concluded they were in need of a sustainable and continuous means of broadcast communication in a region where multiple languages are spoken among the significantly migratory community.  The Coalition decided that it was time to pursue building their own radio station.

Purchasing a station in today's marketplace dominated by conglomerates can cost millions of dollars. This was obviously not an option for the tomato pickers, who often worked from dawn to dusk for sub-poverty wages.  They considered starting a pirate station, but ruled out the possibility because of the vulnerability of their constituency and their high profile as an organization.  They could not risk the ten thousand dollar fines, equipment seizures and jail-time that could accompany pirate radio operation.  Unbeknownst to the farmworkers, other activists had been working on this similar problem to address the broader issue of access to the airwaves for thousands of other small community groups like themselves.

The Coalition travels frequently across the country, educating communities about the living and working conditions of Florida farmworkers and the ways in which they are fighting to change those conditions.  On a stop through Madison, Wisconsin to promote their current boycott of Taco Bell2, they met labor radio reporters who recommended they start a radio station.  The Coalition was introduced to Prometheus Radio Project.  Prometheus advised them of the option to take advantage of new FCC rules won in 2000 that would allow them to apply for a low power local radio license.  The two groups worked together for several years jumping through assorted administrative hoops to finally obtain a broadcast license for the coalition in 2003.

However, it’s one thing to have a radio license but another to actually have a functioning radio station.  To that end, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Prometheus Radio Project organized a ‘Radio Barnraising’ that brought together over one hundred community radio activists, broadcasters, engineers, and enthusiasts for a three-day weekend workshop and station building in December, 2003.  Over the weekend, the volunteers pieced together the mixing board, installed all the equipment, raised the antenna and got Radio Conciencia on air that weekend.  Radio Conciencia plans to broadcast in at least four languages – Spanish, Haitian Creole, Mam and Quanjobal (two indigenous Guatemalan languages).  In addition to music from Latin America and the Caribbean, some of their program themes include the rights of women, worker rights, human rights, news from the workers’ countries of origin, political commentary, health education and, if all goes as planned, even a program of jokes to give the workers a much needed break at the end of a long, hard day working in the fields.
 
This collaborative model of community station building has brought five new LPFM stations on air in 2002-03 and is helping build a growing network of radio activists.  Many other groups that have participated in these events have gone back to their communities with the skills they learned and assembled their new low power radio stations.

The Deep Dark History of Low Power Community Radio
The Coalition’s access to legal, low powered community radio has come as a result of a long and arduous fight brought on by media democracy advocates, community organizers and pirate radio operators.  To the casual observer it might be assumed that radio licensing for community organizations would be a matter of bureaucratic common sense and everyday operations for the FCC; however, winning the opportunity for organizations like the Coalition of Immokalee Workers was actually an enormous battle which continues as this article goes to print.   

The establishment of LPFM as a tier of radio did not come easily, or overnight. In 1948, with the advent of the FM band, the FCC agreed to reserve a small portion of the new spectrum for non-commercial broadcast3.  Community groups, high schools and colleges used to have access to local, low power radio licenses in the early days of FM in the form of ten-watt Class D’ licenses, which were educational licenses issued on an as-requested basis.  Class D licenses were allocated alongside full-power licenses for larger community radio stations.  Ironically, these non-commercial FM licenses were not opposed by incumbent broadcasters in the beginning because of the perceived unpopularity of the FM band in an era in which AM reigned.4

In 1978, however, a policy change brought about by National Public Radio5 resulted in the end of the low power, Class D educational licenses.  As NPR planned its expansion throughout the United States, they were concerned these small stations would be in the way when they wanted access to a new region that the NPR network did not yet serve.  At the same time, full power community stations were stalled in an increasingly nightmarish bureaucratic snafu- a set of rules for choosing between applicants for a frequency with an absurd gamut of comparative hearings.  This system ultimately ended when the FCC realized they were not choosing the best applicants, but simply whoever had greater resources to tackle the Byzantine legal aspects of the hearings.  The decision to eliminate the old rules for competing non-commercial applicants was a good one, but the FCC did not get around to issuing a new procedure until 2000. During this time it was essentially impossible to get a non-commercial radio license, and today we see the results.  In the entire country, there are only about 200 community radio stations in existence, out of about 12,000 total stations nationwide. 6
 
Avast Ye!  Enter the Pirates…
The current system of media oligopolies is far removed from the early days of radio when the airwaves were the open province of technologically savvy amateurs, much like the teenage hackers from the early days of the Internet.  Virtually anyone with a transmitter and an interest in broadcasting had access to the airwaves.  These hobbyists of the 1920’s were instrumental in shaping the broadcast landscape and were at the forefront of developing and tweaking new broadcast equipment and technologies7.  The term ‘pirate broadcaster’ itself was used to describe amateurs who stepped on another hobbyist's signal, and was coined at a time when there was no government or corporate regulation of the airwaves.  When the government did step in and license the airwaves under the Telecommunications Act of 1934, rules were established limiting the number of stations any one company could own nationwide to seven AM’s and seven FM’s, thus ensuring diversity in station ownership.  At the same time these safeguards were put in place, community needs were cast aside in favor of commercial interests in the allocation of broadcast licenses, especially with the elimination of amateur access.  As early as 1928, the Federal Radio Commission decided to eliminate nonprofit radio stations in the interest of supporting the new, national commercial networks, claiming, falsely, this was necessary due to concerns of broadcast scarcity.  Amateurs, meanwhile, were relegated to two-way communications on a few small frequency bands.8

In light of the FCC’s history of indifference towards community radio, a movement of pirate radio broadcasters emerged in the 1990s that directly challenged the government’s policy of ignoring community radio concerns.  Microbroadcasters achieved some surprising victories in the courts, which threw in to doubt the validity of the licensing system itself.  Judges heard the cases put forward by microbroadcasters such as Steven Dunifer of Free Radio Berkeley, and were compelled to strongly consider whether, as he claimed, under the stewardship of the FCC the public airwaves had become “a concession stand for corporate America.”  Though some microbroadcasting cases were ultimately lost in the courts, a great deal of momentum was created and many otherwise law-abiding citizens were taking to the airwaves without a license as a form of protest against corporate domination of media.  

Dunifer’s 1993 case represented a turning point in the modern United States Free Radio movement.  An electrical engineer in Berkeley, California, he became angered with what he saw as the nationalistic, pro-Pentagon reporting of the Gulf War. He built a transmitter from scratch and carried it in a backpack up to the hills of Berkeley, and took to the airwaves.  After a few years of covert broadcasting, Dunifer was caught by the FCC and fined $20,000.  He vowed to continue broadcasting and publicly refused to pay the fine, so the FCC took him to court seeking an injunction against him.9

The National Lawyer's Guild took his case, arguing the regulations were unconstitutional on the basis of First Amendment concerns.  They argued the United States model of telecommunication regulations allows only a wealth-based broadcasting system- that the dominance of media by corporate interests is no accident but is inherent in the design of the current regulatory framework.  They made the claim microradio is the "leaflet of the Nineties" and that to disallow it is tantamount to censorship.  Free Radio Berkeley won an important Ninth Federal District Court decision in November 1997, in which Judge Claudia Wilken refused to grant an injunction against Dunifer pending review of the constitutionality of current FCC licensing practices.  His case was tied up in the legal system for four years.  Though Dunifer ultimately lost on a technicality, during the time his case was pending, hundreds of groups across the country flooded into the gap and took advantage of the apparent lapse in the FCC’s authority to regulate the airwaves.

Accurate numbers are difficult to come by, but it appears over 1,000 pirate radio stations were in operation across the country in the early 90s, echoing Dunifer’s call to see “a thousand transmitters bloom.”  They cast their defiant radio broadcasts as acts of civil disobedience against a corporate-based broadcast system that ignored the needs and interests of local communities.  This movement of pirate radios grew as corporate influence suffused commercial radio, public radio became increasingly national in focus and ‘beige’ in sound and many large community radio stations experienced internal conflicts between guiding principles of community access versus encroaching corporatism.

Many consider the birth of this new wave of pirate radio to be in 1986, when Mbanna Kantako set up a radio station to serve the African-American community of Springfield, Illinois.  The station started out as WTRA, radio of the Tenants' Rights Association, as a community organizing tool for the housing project.  The station was ignored by authorities for several years, until it broke a story about what ended up being a high profile police brutality case. When agents came to shut it down, station founder Mbanna Kantako went downtown to the federal building and the police station and dared them all to arrest him.  When authorities realized such a course of action could backfire in the tense situation, they left him alone for many years- spurring many to realize the FCC was not always ready to enforce its own regulations. WTRA is now known as Human Rights Radio and continues to broadcast without a license, even after a raid of its equipment in 1999.

A Breed of Villain Apart from Others Heretofore Discover’d
The political pirates of the 1990’s, like Dunifer and Kantako, were different from anything the FCC had encountered before.10  Some of the earlier pirates were often teenagers who could be scared off the air with a threat by an FCC agent that their parents would be told.  Other pirates were commercial radio engineers who brought equipment home on the weekend and did a little garage broadcasting on a lark.  

The difference between the political pirates and many of the earlier pirates, as one professional radio engineer put it: “We did pirate radio and we felt like we were being mischievous, that we were getting away with something.  The difference with pirates nowadays is they think they’re right.”11  Political pirates brought a collective belief that a healthy democracy could not exist when corporations had exclusive control over the airwaves.  Practically speaking, the political pirates also brought experience as community organizers.  Tactics learned in movements for social change became useful as pirate radio became a matter of policy debate.  Pirate radio broadcasters found themselves relying on campaign skills like letter writing, protest organizing, communicating effectively with a sometimes hostile media, and the mental preparation needed to steel oneself against the prospect of getting arrested during an act of civil disobedience.  Despite the lack of funding and chaotic organizational structures, the new pirates were unusually formidable opponents for an unpopular agency that had just experienced rounds of funding cuts at the hands of a Republican Congress.   

Another turning point was the “Showdown at the FCC” in which 150 pirates from around the east coast gathered in Washington, DC, in October 199812.  The event began with a three-day conference in a DC neighborhood youth center, where skills such as transmitter and antenna building, news reporting and audio editing were among the workshops held.  A debate took place at the Freedom Forum, a First Amendment think tank, with pirates matching wits with representatives of the broadcasting establishment.  On Sunday night, a Washington, DC based pirate radio station (Radio Libre in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood) was launched right in the backyard of the FCC.  The gathering itself culminated in a protest march from Dupont Circle to the FCC building to the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) headquarters.   

The centerpiece of the protest was a giant “meta-puppet”- a puppet controlling a puppet controlling a puppet.  The corporations were represented by a twelve-foot tall tower awash with corporate logos, topped by the Masonic all-seeing eye of the pyramid from the dollar bill.  The corporations held the marionette strings that controlled the broadcasters, who were represented by a ten-foot gorilla with a television for a head sporting the logos of ABC, CBS and NBC. The broadcasters, in turn, held the marionette strings for another puppet, the FCC, which was symbolized by an eight-foot Pinocchio (or, “Kennardio” as he was called, named after William Kennard, Chairman of the FCC at the time) with a giant telescoping nose that grew when he told lies about pirate radio and the public airwaves.  

The highlight of the demonstration, however, was a pirate radio broadcast right from the streets.  Protestors carried hidden transmitters in backpacks, which were actually broadcasting into the offices of the FCC and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB).  Demonstrators with megaphones dared officials to come out and make arrests.  When the protest reached the front of the NAB building, the crowd used the giant puppets to storm through the security guards and took over the plaza in front of their building.  People surrounded their flagpole and captured the NAB flag, raising a Jolly Roger pirate flag in its place.  The confrontational tactics and goofy humor caught the imagination of reporters and bystanders, and raised understanding of the issue to a new level.  Unsurprisingly, the FCC found it difficult to convince the public of the necessity for the agency to protect the frequencies from the likes of the radio pirates!

For months after, Chairman Kennard joked about this protest in his public appearances.  Because he was often criticized by the broadcasting industry for not being sympathetic enough to their requests for regulatory favor, he enjoyed telling industry associations that crowds of rowdy pirates had accused him of being a puppet of the broadcasters.

The FCC Captain Steers a New Course
The new pirate operators put the relatively progressive Kennard in an awkward position.  As the chief guardian of an orderly spectrum, he could not allow open rebellion against the FCC’s allocation system.  Kennard admitted, however, that pirates had some legitimate concerns regarding the concentration of media ownership and lack of community access to the airwaves:  “[The pirates] demonstrated that diverse voices weren’t being heard on conventional radio.”13  The FCC Chairman announced he would prioritize creation of legitimate opportunities for new voices on the radio dial.  Robert McChesney went further in his assessment: [The pirates] showed the FCC that low-power broadcasting is here whether you like it or not.  And that they’re going to have to deal with it.”14            

As a result, in conjunction with his campaign to crack down on pirates, Kennard announced he was ready to make some real changes to FCC policy regarding new applications for low powered radio licenses.  The FCC subsequently opened a rulemaking proceeding in January 1999, to examine their allocation rules, and sought public comment as to what shape the new radio service should take.  Kennard was particularly troubled by the effects of media consolidation on minority ownership of media, which had dwindled precipitously since passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Kennard could not re-write the act of Congress that permitted further consolidation, but he could authorize low power radio licenses that might help to offset some of the harms from potential new media monopolies.  

Care to Comment?
The FCC has two main tracks for comment from the public.  Ordinary letters and phone calls are treated as informal comments, and are generally filed away and ignored.  Occasionally the FCC will respond to a flood of informal comments, particularly when it suits the political agenda of the commissioners or the administration.  Obscenity and indecency complaints are thus looked at more closely near elections, as exemplified by the moral panic brought about by Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl breast exposure that netted hundreds of thousands of complaints.  

The FCC also has a formal comment process that is used to actively solicit ideas for rule making.  Most people know little about this process.  It is generally used only by corporate lawyers arguing for certain rule configurations pertaining to their own narrow interests.  This process is very collegial and surprisingly open.  If a member of the public sends in a formal comment, it gets displayed on the FCC website, along with all the others, so everyone can read each other’s arguments.  The FCC is not legally bound to use your suggestion made in a formal comment, but they are required to say why they didn’t accept it.  If you put in a unique idea and it was ignored in the final order and explanation of the FCC’s rationale for adopting those rules, then you have standing to sue the FCC for disregarding your formal comment.

When it came time for public comments on Kennard’s proposal to establish low power FM, the FCC received more public comment then they bargained for.  A new record was set for public participation in the LPFM radio proceeding.  There were over 3,500 formal comments on docket 99-2515, overwhelmingly in favor of the new service.  This figure was just a fraction of the tens of thousands of informal inquiries the FCC generally receives each year about starting a local radio station.  The formal comments were often dozens and sometimes hundreds of pages long, with elaborate engineering schemes, a variety of suggested allocation methods and documentation of enormous support for the concept.  The staff at the Commission was excited at the prospect of such invigorated citizen participation at the FCC, and pledged they would make every effort to build such a service if the FCC’s engineers found it to be technically feasible.

As part of the formal inquiry, four engineering studies were conducted to research interference to incumbent broadcasters.  Interference had long been used as a red herring by the commercial broadcasters as a rationale for limiting access to unused spectrum on the radio bandwidth.  Earlier low power Class D licenses had been assigned to the portion of the FM bandwidth reserved for non-commercial broadcast, namely, the far-left hand side of the dial.  The FCC now considered opening up unused dial space situated between commercial channels, space the pirate broadcasters had demonstrated was accessible without causing interference to existing stations.

For Once, We Win!
After reviewing the results of the engineering studies, the FCC determined many of the empty spots on the dial the pirates had found could, in fact, be used without creating harmful interference to existing broadcasters.  The FCC understood it is common for those who control a communications industry to attempt to thwart new technologies or new stations by making claims of potential injurious interference.  In spite of the considerable power and influence of the broadcast lobby, the FCC decided that the facts weighed against the case made by the commercial broadcasters.  On January 26th, 2000, the Federal Communications Commission voted to create a new low power FM service.  The new rules allowed small non-profit groups, libraries, churches and community organizations to apply for licenses to operate simple, inexpensive non-commercial local radio stations.

Or So We Thought…
Not surprisingly, the only opponents of the new low power service were the people who already owned or worked for radio stations.  Incumbent broadcasters argued that any new stations, no matter how low their power, would dramatically increase interference and result in a loss of service area for their stations.  LPFM proponents claimed the amount of interference that could be caused by the new stations was so small it would make virtually no difference to the overall radio environment.

In lay terms, a low power radio station does not interfere with incumbent radio stations any more than a streetlight in the Bronx interferes with seeing the Chrysler building in the New York City skyline.  Would there be interference to your vision if you were standing five feet from the streetlight, if you were staring straight at the lamp?  Yes.  If you were standing a few hundred feet from the lamppost, and the streetlight happened to be lined up with your view of the Chrysler building?  Maybe, though probably not.  Should this be the basis for policy decision around streetlamp allocation?  No!  Yet, that is precisely the level of argumentation the commercial broadcasters relied upon in their quest to block community access to the airwaves, and it is this type of interference concern that swayed Congress to give special protection to the broadcasters.16

Congress never had the tools that the Commission had to understand the miniscule scope of the phenomenon under consideration.  The NAB tried to confuse the issue saying: "any interference is unacceptable interference,"17 but they would not be willing to live up to that standard themselves, since the interference a full power station creates as a matter of routine broadcast practice is far greater than anything that a low power station could cause.  And in fact, the broadcast lobby has been aggressively pushing for new uses of the broadcast spectrum such as digital radio that create demonstrably far more interference to existing FM signals than low power FM could.  With new digital radio equipment rolling out in 2004, existing stations have been authorized to add digital signals on the fringe of their main channel.  Many of these new digital sidebands will be more powerful then most LPFM station signals.  Broadcasters are thus willing to tolerate slight increases of interference from digital stations as it suits their own financial needs.  However, they remain adamant in rejecting the far smaller amounts of interference from LPFM in their efforts to avoid more competition in the FM band, even in the form of non-profit community radio.  

Dissimulating Simulations
Much of the scientific basis cited by Congress in opposition to LPFM was a compact disc distributed by the NAB to members of Congress.  This disc had the appearance of a scientific study, but it was in fact more of an "artists rendering."  It professed to be what two radio stations would sound like competing to be heard on the radio, but what was presented was actually the sound of two audio tracks laid on top of each other in a studio using a mixing board.  In doing so, the commercial broadcasters maligned the professionalism of the FCC engineering staff.  The FCC Chiefs of the Office of Engineering and Technology and the Mass Media Bureau, Dale Hatfield and Roy Stewart, responded with uncharacteristic candor:  "One particularly misleading disinformation effort involves a compact disc being distributed by NAB that purports to demonstrate the type of interference to existing radio stations that NAB claims will occur from new low power FM radio stations.  This CD demonstration is misleading and is simply wrong."18

The NAB eventually pulled the bogus recording off of its website, claiming it had clearly stated that it was a simulation.  Yet, they replaced it with alternate misleading examples of manufactured noise and hiss, or “white noise” distortion, over a recording of Mozart’s Symphony 25 and a Johnny Cash song19.  Though the NAB continued trying to make claims of interference, it became clear they were simply pulling at straws because they lacked legitimate ground on which to block LPFM.  Kennard summarized: “The FM service isn’t rocket science…it’s 50-year-old technology that we’ve studied exhaustively.  This is not about technical interference, it’s about incumbents trying to hoard their piece of the broadcasting pie.”20  
     
The NAB further resorted to emotional scare tactics about supposed threats low power stations could pose to Reading Services for the Blind.21  But the FCC had legally precluded low power stations from being situated near reading services long before legislation went to Congress.  To this day, broadcasters continue to cite this supposed problem to play on emotional sympathy for people with disabilities, without any basis in fact.

All Things Consolidated
Significantly, the NAB also recruited National Public Radio into the fray.  Though NPR reporters and affiliate stations remain divided on the issue, the top management of NPR went all out against LPFM.  NPR claimed to support the concept of LPFM, but they supported the NAB’s interpretation of the engineering studies.  Though NPR is public radio, they operate in many ways on a scale that makes them as cut-throat a competitor as any commercial station.  Kennard himself criticized the public radio network for their lack of support for community radio: “I can only conclude that NPR is motivated by the same interests as the commercial groups – to protect their own incumbency…that these people see LPFM as a threat is sad.  They’ve done much in the past to promote opportunity and a diversity of voices.”22  NPRs president, Kevin Klose, testified before Congress that NPR supported the Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act, legislation that would undermine low power radio.   

The FCC’s original rules for LPFM would have opened up thousands more frequencies to community groups – but Congress, under pressure from incumbent broadcasters, sneaked the Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act into a “must-pass” spending bill in late 2000.  Under the FCC rules, the largest ten cities in the country would have been granted a total of about twenty-five new stations.  Under this legislation pushed by the commercial broadcasters and passed by Congress, there were no new stations allowed in any of the top fifty urban markets.  The technical standards of required distance between stations were made so stringent that very few new stations were possible.  These standards mandate enormous separations between radio stations, far more than the FCC engineers concluded was necessary to prevent interference.  Smaller towns went from having five or six channels available to having just one channel that had to be shared by all the applicants.  LPFM was alive, but eviscerated.

Back In The Saddle Again…
Despite the loss in Congress, low power advocates dusted off and started to build these radio stations in small towns across the country.  These new stations are doing incredible things in their communities.  The Southern Development Foundation in Opelousas, Louisiana, for example, has become the first civil rights organization in the country to own a radio station.  They advocate on issues of school reform, community supported agriculture and neighborhood economic development, and also host the world's largest traditional Zydeco music festival- all aspects of their work are featured in the station’s programming.

Southern Arundel Citizens for Responsible Development in Churchton, Maryland is the first radio station owned by an environmental organization.  Based near the Chesapeake Bay, their station focuses on issues of the environment, development, and local maritime culture and politics, while broadcasting an eclectic mix of music played by enthusiastic DJs.  Some observers questioned whether an environmental group would run the station solely as a propaganda organ for their viewpoints.  WRYR, however, had a bigger plan.  They have used the station to put local government meetings on the air and given airtime to many different community interests, invigorating local political culture.  The group feels they benefit more from the respect it gathers by having brought the station to the community than it would by monopolizing it as a venue for their own ideas.

Another station is the Edinboro Early School, located in the Gold Coast shopping mall in Maryland.  This station’s goal is to recreate the flavor of an early 1950s radio station, with family-oriented programming focusing on music of the fifties and early sixties.  They have three hours of programming a day for children from three to five years old.  Other content includes real estate and finance talk shows; an inter-faith church news bulletin board; field broadcasts from historical sites; and a music show hosted by a former ABC executive who plays records dating back to the 1920s.  

As Any Tenant Can Tell You, Ownership Matters
In short, the FCC, at the behest of Congress, watered down its original proposal to establish thousands of LPFMs and instead granted limited access in rural communities. At the same time, an additional study on interference was authorized by Congress.  As a result, activists and organizations like Prometheus Radio Project did two things.  First, they began helping build what stations were granted licenses and facilitating hopeful applicants negotiate the process.  Second, they began to focus efforts on the broader issue of media ownership.  Low power radio is a crucial means of setting aside a small portion of the spectrum to communities, but does not resolve the larger problems stemming from a corporate controlled media system seeking further consolidation.  Playing an active role in the fight against further media consolidation was the logical next step towards fighting for citizen’s access to the airwaves and bringing together more allies in the struggle for low power FM.

Many community activists became deeply immersed in the politics of telecommunications through their participation in the fight for low power radio.  Having learned first hand the vast political power broadcasters had, low power advocates were keen to act when they caught wind of the far greater changes the FCC had planned.  When the presidency changed in January 2001, Democratic FCC Chairman William Kennard was replaced with Republican Michael Powell.23  Powell had shown little interest in LPFM.  His main focus was the cross-media ownership rules considered to be most burdensome by the media industry.  

Over the years, the Commission had enacted a patchwork of regulations designed to prevent monopolization of the media by a small number of corporate entities.  These rules included caps on the number of stations a single entity could own, rules preventing networks from merging, provisions preventing newspapers and broadcast entities from owning each other, and other similar restrictions.  Powell generally believed that none of these regulations were necessary anymore, due to the changing landscape of media created by the introduction of new technologies.  With the introduction of new competing means of delivering content, such as satellite, the internet, and cable, he argued it no longer mattered whether or not a newspaper and a television station were owned by a single owner in a given market.

The Washington, DC circuit court had supported Powell's position by striking down several related ownership protections.  The judges looked at the inconsistent mélange of communications regulations passed over the years and found some of the rules lacked a rigorous, coherent framework.  Because some protections were in place, while others were not, some companies ended up with strategic advantages over others. For example, broadcast TV would often complain that cable companies competed unfairly because they faced no indecency regulations, while cable operators complained that the broadcasters did not have to pay franchise fees to municipalities. Corporations used these imbalances to argue against any rule that they felt got in the way of their profits. Powell chose to interpret these decisions to mean that the law had a "deregulatory presumption"- and that any rule that could not be justified using empirical study had to be eliminated.

The precedent for Powell’s deregulatory agenda was the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which gave broadcasters the right to own up to eight stations in any single market, and unlimited stations across the country.  It should also be noted that until then, radio did not figure in the fiscal strategies of many large media corporations, because the financial gain of individual station ownership was just not great enough.  In fact, General Electric, parent company of NBC, sold its radio division to radio syndication company Westwood One Entertainment in 1988.  It was not until the limits on national ownership were lifted that the financial stakes were raised.  An acquisition frenzy ensued, resulting in increasingly standardized and centralized nature of programming and personnel.  Elimination of these protections invoked an unwelcome scenario of consolidated ownership, giving unprecedented power to media owners.

Media corporations are enormously powerful, and have other business interests and interconnects.  It is a strange idiosyncrasy of the American view of broadcasting that corporations can be impartial, disinterested managers and stewards of broadcast spectrum.  They have their own biases and have very large stakes in the outcomes of public policy debates.  These corporations control the channels through which most Americans understand these issues.  Media operates differently from other industries because it has a particular role and responsibility to a democratic society.  That is why the review of media ownership standards must not only be in terms of absolute economic dominance of a particular market, but also in terms of their impact on the interests of the public in general.

Care for a Light Bulb?  Or a Newscast?  Or A Bomb?
In particular, anti-war activists seized the moment.  Peace activists were angered by what they saw as manipulations of the media they believed had misinformed the American public during the war in Iraq.  If mainstream media had greater critical integrity, they argued, far fewer people would have accepted the misleading claims about weapons of mass destruction and war might have been averted.  The financial incentives armed conflict offers corporations provided fertile soil for a groundswell of opposition against further consolidation of media power to manipulate public opinion.

One example of this is General Electric, a major defense contractor who makes billions of dollars each year selling hardware to the US military. GE is the owner of the NBC television network, one of the major networks where Americans get their news.  The power of this corporation to affect public opinion about issues of war and peace has raised conflict of interest concerns since the purchase in 1986.  These anxieties are deepened when the corporate culture of General Electric is considered- General Electric has been convicted of seventeen felonies, ranging from tax evasion to financial impropriety on government contracts.24

Additionally, the wartime activities of companies like Clear Channel raised the ire of media activists and concerned citizens.  As described in detail by Dorothy Kidd elsewhere in this book, the combination of Clear Channel’s aggressive business tactics, union busting, and shock-jock style management practices created widespread resentment of the company.  Particularly chilling was Clear Channels  "Rallies for America.”  Clear Channel used its considerable publicity machine (over 1200 radio stations, over 550, 000 billboards, 40 television stations, control of hundreds of major live performance venues) to sponsor a series of rallies in support of the war in Iraq.  Clear Channel became the poster child for bad corporate behavior.  The support Bush received from the “Rallies for America” is being reciprocated in the broad deregulatory agenda that the FCC is pursuing, which could allow companies like Clear Channel to expand across other media platforms.25

With the organizing efforts refocused among low power activists around the dangers of cross-media ownership resulting from the loss of current FCC regulations, low power activists began focusing upon the massive dislocations in the radio industry created by companies like Clear Channel.

FCC, Under The Gun
The involvement of LPFM activists in the fight against media consolidation marks a shift in the nature of the social actors who were engaged in such battles.  These activists had backgrounds not in the traditional world of non-profit, media democracy policy and legislation, but were accustomed to taking people’s personal problems and recasting them as political issues.  The pirate broadcasters had gained invaluable experience using the court system to argue their case, and at the same time, these were people involved in direct action and civil disobedience who were willing to take advantage of the full range of tactics at their disposal.

One of the first public salvos in the debate outside of the Washington policy circle was a demonstration by "The Angels of the Public Interest, " organized by Media Tank, Center for International Media Action,  Prometheus Radio Project, Indymedia and others.  The FCC Chairman Michael Powell had expressed his fervor for media consolidation in decidedly religious terms with statements such as: "The market is my religion."  Going further in his dismissal of the relevance of public interest standards, he said at a meeting of the NAB: "The night after I was sworn in, I waited for a visit from the angel of the public interest.  I waited all night, but she did not come."26

According to Media Tank's website, "Since he had trouble seeing one Angel that dreadful night, on March 22nd, 2001, we shall descend upon him in droves.  Dressed as Angels with cardboard wings and robes with tinsel on them, protesters were turned away from the FCC by police menacing with riot batons. 27

Beyond simply raising awareness of these issues, anti-consolidation activists wanted to get the public involved in the decision-making process at the FCC.  Once again, the formal FCC comment process was used, given the earlier success LPFM activists had with it.  After mobilizing the relatively small mailing lists of media reform groups, several thousand comments had gotten into the FCC.  Seeing the high level of interest among this relatively small constituency, larger organizations started to take an interest and mobilize.

Over the next months, the AFL-CIO, the National Organization of Women, Common Cause, and other groups joined the outcry against media consolidation.  And eventually, the appeal of the need to block further media consolidation reached across ideological lines.  Brent Bozell, a prominent conservative cultural critic, brought his organization, the Parent's Television Council, to the fight.  He believed that obscenity and indecency in media were on the rise because of the unaccountable, corporate bottom line thinking about content.  Describing the left/right coalition against the new media rules, Bozell said: "When all of us are united on an issue, then one of two things has happened.  Either the earth has spun off its axis and we have all lost our minds or there is universal support for a concept."

Even the NRA (National Rifle Association) turned its political gunsights on the FCC.  The NRA had several times been refused the opportunity to buy political ads on major networks.  Many in the NRA’s membership perceive there to be a liberal bias in the media.  They did not want to see a media future controlled by a small handful of politically correct corporate types in Los Angeles and New York who would be in a position to censor their grassroots campaigns for gun ownership.  Once they became involved and their constituency mobilized, hundreds of thousands of comments came into the Commission.  By the end of the comment period on the proceeding MB 02-277, there had been an astounding new record set of more than 520,000 formal comments and millions more informal comments.

After several months, the comment period was closed and it was time for the FCC to render its decision.  On June 4th, 2003, they chose to almost completely ignore the public sentiment and the evidence presented by consumer advocates.  The new rules dismantled most of what was left of ownership limitations.  Under the new rules, in almost any city a single corporation could own up to eight radio stations, three TV stations, both competing daily newspapers (and the alternative newsweeklies), the local cable system, the billboards, the concert venues-- and even the nuclear power plant down the road.

So Sue Me 28
On September 3, 2003, the public interest law firm, Media Access Project, representing Prometheus Radio Project and its allies, sued for a stay of implementation of the new rules in Prometheus Radio Project v FCC.  The next day, the old rules would be swept aside and the new rules could go into effect.  Billions of dollars were set to change hands as newspaper corporations were positioned to buy TV chains, TV chains to buy radio chains, etc.  Public interest advocates argued that once the new ownership rules went into effect, there would be no means of repairing the damage done.  The Third District Court of Appeals, after many hours of testimony, issued a stay that evening and agreed to hear the case.  The mergers were stopped in their tracks, and could not go forward until the judges had heard the full evidence presented by both sides and rendered their judgment.  

The case was ultimately decided on June 24th, 2004, when the three judge panel ruled in favor of media activists.  In a lengthy 200 page decision, the court told the FCC that its attempts to further deregulate the American media system are unjustified, thus reversing the Federal Communications Commission’s controversial 2003 decision to allow cross-platform media regulation.  The court further determined the FCC relied on “irrational assumptions and inconsistencies” in determining the new cross-ownership limits, and ordered them to come up with a new proposal that adequately took into account the public interest.  The judges faulted the FCC’s methodology in measuring media concentration, and rejected the FCC’s argument that ownership limits should be removed unless evidence could be shown to warrant their retention. FCC Commissioner Michael Copps (who, along with Commissioner Adelstein, both dissented on the original FCC decision) said in a released statement: “The rush to media consolidation approved by the FCC last June was wrong as a matter of law and policy.  The commission has a second chance to do the right thing.”29

What this means is that the FCC has been sent back to the drawing board to come up with a new plan based on substantive research and statistics if they wish to pursue deregulation of media ownership.  In their ruling, the court said it may be possible to allow cross-platform deregulation of, for example, newspaper ownership, but that that the FCC failed to justify it was necessary at this time.30  

Plantiff’s argued their case on technical and methodological grounds, and around the importance of localism, specifically, the negative impact further media consolidation would have on local journalism and local news reporting.  In the lawsuit, Media Access Project argued: “Civic participation and democracy depend on citizen’s ability to find out what is going on in their home towns and cities.”31  Ownership matters, and with increasing consolidation of national and global ownership of local media outlets, community and neighborhood-based issues get left behind.
 
The FCC has belatedly attempted to respond to such criticisms through the creation of a task force to study localism in television and radio.  As a New York Times article states in its title:  ‘Facing Criticism, FCC is Thinking Local.’  The flaws of the FCC’s approach to localism can be found in their reading of local impact.  For example, FCC data pertaining to New York concluded: ‘the Dutchess County Community College television station is fifty percent more valuable for media diversity than the New York Times and equal weight with, and just as valuable as the local ABC television affiliate.’32  It seems implausible the FCC could sustain such logic that equates one of the most influential and widely read newspapers in the nation with a local public access television station.

But localism is not only a concern for commercial media.  By comparison, a typical NPR affiliate station broadcasts overwhelmingly national news and public affairs, and depending on the station, most likely features nominal non-music local programming.  For example, NPR affiliate KCRW in Los Angeles, arguably one of the most high-profile and well-funded public stations in the country, the station produces only three public affairs or talk programming hours per week to issues facing Southern Californians, aside from their weekly live coverage of the Santa Monica City Council meeting33.  Conversely, KCRW produces eighty-three hours of music programming a week and broadcasts roughly eighty-seven hours of nationally syndicated public affairs and talk.  Music is far cheaper and easier to program then resource-laden public affairs production, and often provides a welcome alternative to corporate radio music programming.  However, the disparity in these figures nevertheless resonates a growing move away from local public affairs and news content, and mirrors public radio around the country.

As Commercial Radio is Busy Dying, Community Radio Gets Busy Being Reborn
Commentators have been predicting the death of radio for over fifty years, ever since the advent of television.  But radio has proven more resilient than many of its critics.  The average American home has upwards of nine radio receivers, making it more accessible in more situations than any other medium.  Its renaissance has as much to do with the fact it is affordable to produce, easy to learn and widely accessible.

Community radio is a participatory medium.  It is a source of local, neighborhood-based news and information. It is media without intermediaries, a counterbalance to the world of corporatism.  It is radio run for its own sake, for the benefit of the community, rather then for the profit of station owners.  In the UK, current legislation to create an official third tier of broadcasting for Community FM, is tied in with lifelong learning initiatives and community regeneration efforts.  British government supporters and media activists argue community media benefits neighborhoods and can serve as an important training ground– the idea, as Zane Ibrahim of Bush Radio South Africa asserts, that “community radio is ninety percent community and ten percent radio.”

Radio is an easy medium for a group of enthusiastic amateurs.  Often, ordinary people can do a better job at producing informative and entertaining radio programming than the professionals, for all their training and high tech studios.  It can serve as a great training ground for youth to learn to speak publicly, to fix things, to raise money, to plan ambitious projects.  And every neighborhood has someone who can do a beautiful weekly serial reading of the Epic of Gilgamesh, someone with a giant collection of Slovenian music, someone who can explain the news behind the Western headlines about their home country of Egypt or Honduras or Cambodia.  It was not difficult for organizers to find a group in every town that wanted to start a radio station for their community.  

Non-commercial voices in media are similar to public parks, or public libraries.  They are public institutions that exist where the market cannot or will not provide for the common good.  These voices are needed to be the experimental edge from which creativity of the rest of the media can be drawn.  Young musicians that listen to Britney Spears on commercial radio will grow up to sound like- Britney Spears.  Young musicians exposed to a mix of Turkish folk and trance music on a non-commercial station may grow up better prepared to innovate, mix styles, and create the leading edge of music.

Low power FM gives a sliver of the spectrum to community groups.  These groups, while opinionated, tend to be more fair-minded and open to debate, and make much better stewards of broadcast frequencies.  They tend to run their stations in a way that more closely approximates an open forum for the community.  LPFM activists feel they have the best chance for social change in a more democratized society with a free flow of information- so even though they often have partisan perspectives on issues, they usually welcome programming from a diversity of viewpoints.  These groups also do not run on a speculative market model, and thus have much greater freedom in programming choices- and also freedom not to rely on the most titillating and pandering forms of programs to bump up their audience numbers.  Robert McChesney puts it this way:  

“Here you have something that to every community offers the opportunity for people to speak to each other that’s not going to be filtered by advertisers…a chance for ideas to be heard that wouldn’t pass the Rush Limbaugh/Howard Stern litmus test, and the Madison Avenue litmus test.  A chance for music to be heard that wouldn’t be played by robots that are responding to some demographic survey, but in fact by people who love music and enjoy playing it.”  Such stations would “bring some vitality back to the staleness of U.S. radio, which has all the charm of a second – or third-tier suburban shopping mall today.”34

Or, as former FCC Chairman William Kennard states simply: “[LPFM] is an antidote to consolidation.  It creates a vehicle to speak to folks that no one is speaking to."35

Don't Worry, Be Happy…New Technologies May Help, But Will Not Save Us
Up until now, the airwaves have been regulated as if they were scarce real estate- parceled off to different users with different compensations either through public service or auctions of leases on their use.  The scarcity model has been the excuse that corporations have used to preserve their exclusive use of communications channels, while ordinary citizens are excluded from the media.  There are currently much broader proceedings at the FCC that will decide the fate of how the entire electromagnetic spectrum is used, including radio, TV, microwaves, cellular phones, wireless internet and others.  The results of these decisions may be able to help dismantle the broadcast elite's excuse of limited available channels for citizen use.  If publicly-minded choices are made, we could see a future of radio that includes ubiquitous, free internet access (and thus free on-line radio/audio) over the airwaves that could replace FM radio.  If corporations get their way, new technologies will continue to be commodified, constricted, metered, filtered, and narrowed to increase commercial profitability, as happened in broadcast.

Access to communications for all citizens is at the heart of a democratic society.  There are those who claim Internet broadcasting and other digital formats will be the great leveler of access to the airwaves.  Satellite radio has already been divided up to the highest corporate bidder through a "below-the-radar" process between government, commercial broadcasters and NPR, before digital spectrum issues reached the popular vernacular.  Neither is Internet radio the panacea.  At present, Internet radio is nowhere near as ubiquitous as FM listening, especially among those with low incomes.  When Internet radio is offered as an alternative solution to the need for community radio on the FM band, it masks the fact that corporations are continuing to use their dominance of FM to prepare their brands for the future as they are distributed over new channels.  Communities are offered futuristic "pie-in-the sky" alternatives while the present continues to be dominated by corporate interests. As one student put it: “When you hear your neighbors volunteering on the air, you feel like you know them even if you don’t.  I’m gung ho on the Internet, but it remains to be seen if it can foster that same feeling of intimacy…Why should you use the Internet to broadcast the fact that the local church is having a bake sale or that someone’s dog is lost?  It just doesn’t make sense.”36  At its best, radio is a local medium.

Community radio is not just about content, but is about community access and participation.  The community radio institutions were built from uneasy alliances between people representing many different interests.  They had no other option but to share a channel because of the expenses and the scarcity of FCC licenses.  Perhaps technology may some day allow all of these people to operate a future equivalent of FM radio individually from their homes.  While this may create individual convenience and allow everyone to broadcast anything they want 24 hours a day to anyone who cares to listen, those who focus on these dreams of eliminating technical barriers and creating infinite bandwidth miss much of the point of community radio.  Ironically, the cosmopolitan sound stemming from the patched together coalitions may turn out to be community radio's greatest asset as corporate radio starts to fade.  The community form of radio will survive into the future because of the social benefits of working on projects together, co-operating, and intermingling in a community setting.

Enough of the Future, Back To The Present
The opportunity will arise to further open up the airwaves for Low Power Radio.  On July 11, 2003, the FCC released a long-anticipated study, analyzing the effect of new LPFM radio stations on existing radio stations.  The study, conducted by an independent testing company called the MITRE Corporation37, proves once again that LPFM stations do not, in fact, interfere with existing stations.  In addition, the study authors recommend the lifting of burdensome restrictions imposed by Congress on the new LPFM radio service as designated in December 2000.  In its testimony before Congress, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) complained that, if the LPFM service were launched, the radio dial would be drowned in “an ocean of interference.”  But the study authors found so little evidence of potential interference that they chose not to implement some later stages in the study, such as an economic impact study and subjective listening tests that would only have been necessary if interference had been proven.  

The release of this study is not an automatic win for community media.  Some full-power broadcasters, who bitterly fought LPFM in its initial form, continue their opposition against any expansion of the service.  Many members of Congress have backed the broadcast lobby- and the FCC, under Republican Chairman Michael Powell, until recently has not shown the commitment to LPFM demonstrated by previous Chairman William Kennard.  The FCC study could lead to increased citizen access to the airwaves– but only if the public is aware of the positive study findings, and is encouraged to use it as a tool to fight for an expanded LPFM service.  
 
Signs are promising for low power FM right now.  NPR has shifted its stance, and has recently stated that they do not plan further objections to the expansion of LPFM.  As a result of the massive coalition that came together against the new media ownership rules pushed by Chairman Powell, and no doubt having a bit to do with the lawsuit filed by Prometheus Radio Project and the Media Access Project against these new rules, the Commission has signaled it is ready to move forward on low power radio.  As part of his new “Localism in Media" initiative, Powell has promised more action on low power radio.  In February of 2004, the FCC requested permission from Congress to change its rules on Low Power FM, allowing hundreds of channels to be given out in the major cities across the United States.  At the time of this writing, Senator John McCain is preparing to introduce legislation repealing the Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act of 2000, which would return authority over LPFM back to the FCC, stating: The fate of low power radio is again in the hands of Congress.  Stay Tuned!


i Prometheus Radio is an activist organisation that promotes a more democratic media through the establishment of community radio stations.  Prometheus advocates for policies that will improve citizen’s access to the airwaves and builds stations with local community groups around the world.  Pete Tridish is one of the founders of the organization and is their technical director.  Kate Coyer is a refugee from corporate radio.  She is currently a volunteer with the organization and a researcher and tutor in Media and Communications at Goldsmiths College, University of London.ii CIW has organized a boycott of Taco Bell, and its parent company Yum Brands, the world’s largest restaurant company for their repeated refusal to take meaningful steps to improve labor standards and end labor abuses in their supply chain.  The Coalition has a growing list of organizations and churches supporting their efforts and college campuses following suit.  Information can be found at http://www.ciw-online.org/iii Walker, Jesse, Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America, New York University Press, New York, 2001.  For more history on community radio in the US, see also Matthew Lasar, Pacifica Radio: The Rise of An Alternative Network, temple University Press, Philadelphia, 2000 iv ibidv See FCC docket No. 20735, ruling to change rules related to non-commercial broadcasting: “This proceeding was…stimulated by a petition from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”  Source is Federal Register, Vol 43, No. 173, September 6, 1978.  vi By contrast, NPR  affiliates benefited the most from the obscure rules- almost the entire US population has access to a signal that carries NPR programming, and many towns have several stations that carry NPR but no community station that carries local news. vii Walker (2001)viii ibidix See Dunifer’s website for more at www.freeradio.org.x Pete Tridish was a self-proclaimed political pirate involved with West Philadelphia’s Radio Mutiny.  Kate Coyer has never made an unlicensed broadcast over 100 feet.  xi The source of this quote remains anonymous for obvious reasons.xii Photos and more on the demonstration can be found /pirate.shtml and http://www.sinkers.org/microradio/xiii Markels, Alex, “Radio Active”, Wired Magazine, June 2000 found at http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/8.06/radio.html?pg=1&topic=&topic_set=
xiv ibidxv Text of FCC docket 99-25 can be found at: http://www.fcc.gov/Bureaus/Mass_Media/Notices/1999/fcc99006.txtxvi Text of argumentation from the National Association of Broadcasters can be found at: http://www.nab.org/newsroom/issues/lpfm/responsetofcc/xvii It should be noted that arguments surrounding questions of interference are flawed to begin with.  Standards for interference date back to 1962, well before modern noise filters and digital program buttons on receivers were introduced.xviii From FCC news release located at: http://ftp.fcc.gov/Bureaus/Engineering_Technology/News_Releases/2000/nret0005.htmlxix Bogus noise distortion over Mozart and Cash remain up on the NAB’s website and can be found at: http://www.nab.org/newsroom/issues/lpfm/responsetofcc/noiseandhiss.asp xx Markels, Alex (2000) xxi The Reading Services to the Blind use "sub-carrier" frequencies on the sides of full power stations to carry audio programs for the visually impaired. Volunteers read the newspapers and books, and listeners have special receivers that can receive this hidden programming.xxii Markels, Alex (2000) xxiii Bush himself did not publicly speak out one way or another on the issue of deregulation, but the White House made several supporting comments towards Powell’s agenda.  More information on this can be found in the Media Activists Guide to the FCC at /media_activists_guide.shtmlxxiv Sam Husseini, “Felons Of The Air,” FAIR, article at www.fair.org/extra/9411/ge-felon.htmlxxv Eric Boehlert, series at www.salon.com xxvi Story found at http://www.mediatank.org/FaceOff.html.  Quote from Powell found in the text of a speech to the American Bar Association, April 5, 1998 located at http://ftp.fcc.gov/Speeches/Powell/spmkp806.html
xxvii Quote and story found at http://dc.indymedia.org/newswire/display/19876xxviii Hannah Sassaman especially contributed thoughtful analysis of the court decision to this section.xxix The FCC is comprised of five members, each appointed by the President, who is required to choose three from his own party and two from the opposing party.  Commissioner Copps and Adelstein are the two Democrats on the Commission.xxx xxxixxxi From statement found at www.mediaccessproject.org

xxxii ibidxxxiii See www.kcrw.org for program schedule and informationxxxiv Morgan, Fiona, “Pirate Radio Goes Legit,” Salon.com, found at http://archive.salon.com/news/feature/2000/01/20/radio/xxxv Markels, Alex (2000) xxxvi About.com’s John Anderson on the need for local fm radio xxxvii Study can be found at http://www.mitre.org/work/tech_papers/tech_papers_03/caasd_fm/