A tiny nonprofit organization operating a national campaign from the basement of Calvary United Methodist Church in Philadelphia for 12 years to get more non-commercial radio stations approved may soon see its dream come true.
On January 4, the nonprofit Prometheus and other groups seeking to diversify media ownership, scored a victory when President Barack Obama signed into law the Local Community Radio Act. It directs the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates the national airwaves, to allow more low-power stations access to the FM radio dial.
Once implemented, the law is expected to result in as many 2,000 new stations, beginning in about 2013. That would more than double the approximately 800 low-power stations currently in operation, compared with around 13,000 commercial stations nationwide. “It makes a lot more room on a medium (FM radio) that a lot of people still use,” said Prometheus founder Pete Tridish.
An increase in community stations could mean more coverage of local issues such as school board meetings, high school football games, health, education, local music, and literacy campaigns. Since about half the existing low-power FM stations are owned by churches, some of the new material is also likely to be religious.