By Lori Spencer
The Federal Communications Commission created the Low Power FM (LPFM) radio service in January 2000. Also known as “micro” FM radio stations, broadcasters on these frequencies are authorized for noncommercial broadcasting only, and operate at low power to serve a small geographical area (usually less than 10 miles). LPFM stations are available to nonprofit educational groups, public safety, and transportation organizations. They currently are not available to individuals or commercial entities.
Despite these barriers to getting low-power FM stations on the air, the microradio movement continues to grow, and new “pirate” stations pop up faster than the FCC can shut them down. If your organization wants to start a legal micro station, lots of help is available from the micro broadcasting community.