by Maren Tarro
New Mexico Compass
May 9, 2013
— Thirteen years ago the Federal Communications Commissionopened up the airwaves to small FM broadcasters, giving nonprofit groups a voice amid the megawatt cacophony of broadcast corporations.
Low-power FM stations—100 watts or less—were at first relegated to rural areas so as not to disrupt signals from full-power stations. They’re able to reach listeners within their community (generally within a 2- to 10-mile range) for reasonable start-up costs. The signing of the Local Community Radio Act in 2011 allowed LPFM to be expanded to more urban areas, but the window of opportunity is narrow and rare.
In October, the FCC will be accepting license applications for new stations, and local activist Autumn Chacon is touring the Southwest with Prometheus Radio Project to spread the word about LPFM. The Compass caught up with Chacon to chat about LPFM and Saturday’s workshop at the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice.
---How did you come to be involved with Prometheus and the campaign for community radio?
"I myself have had a few encounters with the non-permitted micro-radio scene that had and has existed in Albuquerque for decades and later spent years as master control operator at Albuquerque’s public access TV station, the former channel 27. At channel 27, Executive Director Steve Ranieri encouraged me not only to take an internship offered to me by Prometheus but considered it staff development and provided me with a consciousness of national community media desires, needs, movements and realities. For that, I thank him."