Plan Now to Start a Local Radio Station

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November seems like a long way away, but we’re approximately six months from radio’s most important date of 2021.

The Federal Communications Commission has announced that it will accept applications Nov. 2-9 for new full-power noncommercial radio stations. It is the first time since 2010 that the FCC has accepted new full-power noncommercial radio applications. It is anticipated to be even larger than the 2007 window, which saw the launch of scores of stations.

A variety of nonprofits are already mobilizing to participate in this fall’s application window. If neighbors want to start a community radio station in your town, this summer is the moment to get your technical, financial and administrative records in order.

Here are a few resources for those aspiring to launch a community radio station locally:

  • Why is the application window relevant? Free Press offers sobering charts and data for download here. Communities across the United States have shrinking access to media as well as to diverse voices on the TVs and radios. This bleak look may help you educate your prospective listeners about how important community radio is in many states.
  • NFCB hosted a webinar on the application process, which may be the best place for a prospective licensee to begin. From accounting requirements to engineering information, the presenters cover the intricacies of the FCC application. In addition, the presenters will update this session in July.
  • Your next go-to is the FCC’s website. FCC Form 340 is the document you’ll use in November; you might wish to familiarize yourself with its requirements. Form 340 may be accessed using the Media Bureau’s Consolidated Database System. Learn about the filing process here.
  • Where can stations go? Due to a lack of availability of FM spectrum, the top 150 metropolitan markets are largely out of this year’s application window. Now online, NFCB allies at REC Networks have a preliminary channel search. You can enter where your proposed tower will be, the city and other details to get a sense of the viability of your application.

If you are in a community where spectrum is available, and you intend to apply in November, NFCB strongly encourages you to get organized now. Please contact us if you need guidance or have questions about community radio. Reach out here.

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