Jabari Moketsi was a radio talk show host at WVGB until the struggling station was sold to a company that broadcasts classic rock. He had no interest in spinning songs by Boston and Bad Company, so he launched his own station, streaming online, to continue serving the African-American community.
He’s built up a national following in the four years since, with far more listeners in places like Houston and Seattle than the community he hoped to serve in Beaufort, South Carolina. That is why he, and thousands like him who broadcast online, are so excited by the opportunity to do something far more low-tech: broadcast over the air.
“I want to be on the dial because radio is free,” Moketsi said. “Having listeners in Houston or Seattle or New York, that’s good, but does that influence your community where you live? That’s what I’m about.”
Now he’ll have his chance. Later this year, the Federal Communications Commission will begin distributing licenses to registered nonprofit organizations that want to start low-power FM radio stations. The goal is to dot the country with 100-watt transmitters, primarily in urban areas, and restore some of the diversity lost to corporate consolidation of radio.
“It’s the largest expansion of community radio in this country’s history,” said Ian Smith, program director of Prometheus Radio, which has been lobbying the government for more than a decade to permit such stations. Broadcasting would, ideally, be done in addition to streaming, extending the reach – and effectiveness – of community organizations and activists, some of which also publish newspapers.
“Our vision is a nationwide network of multimedia centers that incorporate local radio,” he said. “For radio to maintain its relevancy, it has to be incorporated into a larger toolkit.”
This may well be the last distribution of FM radio licenses by the FCC, so competition will be intense. If there are multiple applicants for a single license that all meet the minimal requirements, the FCC will use a points system to help choose who gets a license. Points are awarded to organizations that pledge to air at least eight hours of local programming daily, offer a publicly accessible studio that is staffed 20 hours per week or are affiliated with a Native American tribe, among other things. In the event of a tie, the FCC will ask the two organizations to work out a plan for sharing time on the dial.
--- more at original post http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2013/02/the-reprise-of-radio/ ---