In 1975, the National Alternative Radio Konvention, or NARK, resulted in a resolution to develop a national organization representing community broadcasters. The National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB) was founded shortly thereafter.

The initial mission of NFCB was to develop training manuals for stations, help stations obtain their FCC licenses, and set up the Program Exchange to facilitate sharing of programming tapes among stations. Tom Thomas and Terry Clifford set up NFCB’s national headquarters in a portion of their Washington, DC apartment.

Community radio experienced rapid growth in the late 1970s and early 1980s, as did NFCB. Membership rose to 75 stations.


  • NFCB published AudioCraft, a production training manual was used in college and university classes across the country.
  • The Public Radio Legal Handbook was also published, and it remains a standard public radio reference tool.
  • The Program Exchange became a national outlet for station programming, and provided independent producers a program distribution avenue.
  • NFCB played a key role in the development of national policies to enhance community stations. For example, NFCB helped make it possible for non-National Public Radio stations to receive grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).
  • NFCB was instrumental in bringing people of color into public radio. The organization staged the first-ever Minority Producers’ Conference in 1982.

1980s and 1990s

During the mid-eighties, many of the founding members and early staff of NFCB moved onto other endeavors. Many of the stations, mostly already on the air, struggled with internal conflicts of growth and development at the local level. The stations were faced with such difficult issues as creating a listener-oriented sound, moving from all-volunteer to professional staff, and purchasing buildings and adequate transmission and studio equipment.

The 1987 NFCB Annual Business Meeting proved to be a watershed for the organization’s future. The organization found itself in a significantly changed national arena, and it was vital to figure out where community radio fit into the national picture before moving on. Eventually Lynn Chadwick was chosen to head the organization. Chadwick’s longtime involvement in community radio and with NFCB earned her the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award in 1995.


NFCB relocated to San Francisco from Washington, DC in July, 1995, and shared space with Western Public Radio, a non-profit radio training and production facility. Chadwick departed in 1998 and Carol Pierson became President and CEO. Under Pierson’s leadership and with the able help of NFCB’s Vice President and Director of member Services Ginny Berson, the organization reached many milestones.

  • New publications were released, including A Guide to Underwriting for Public Radio, The Volunteer Management Handbook for Community Radio, and The Guide to Political Broadcasting for Public Radio Stations.
  • NFCB put together group buys of equipment and services at discounted rates for member stations.
  • NFCB launched the National Youth in Radio Training Project and the Rural Programming Initiative.
  • NFCB staged the first Native and Latino Radio Summits.

Maxie Jackson became NFCB’s leader when Carol Pierson retired in 2010. Jackson devoted his time at NFCB to developing the 5×5 model; a valuable tool for assessing and improving the capacity and effectiveness of stations and helping them develop best practices toward greater public service.

In 2014  Sally Kane took the helm of NFCB with a mandate to identify the essential services needed for stations navigating the technological demands and opportunities of the digital age and severe economic downturn. Kane’s background leading a rural service network in western Colorado brings many years of experience in hands on management grounded in core principles of serving the information needs of all the citizenry, particularly in areas with dispersed populations.

NFCB  has a strong voice at the national level, and plays a key role in partnerships with other national organizations on public broadcasting and other policy issues relevant to community radio.  The organization is also involved with the Low Power FM rollout.