Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Nonprofits, "Once In A Lifetime" Low Power FM Radio Station Licenses Available To You - Reach Constituents Easily and Tell Stories Not Told In Traditional Media

Nonprofits need to reach their supporters (donors and volunteers), potential supporters, but too, their clients, and the community at large within which they provide their services to ensure their community knows what they do and why, what their successes have been most recently, their potential for success in the future, what programs and services they are providing, to whom or what, and why.

Radio is an excellent way to do that.  It's even a better way to do that when your nonprofit owns and operates an actual FM radio station.  But, how could a nonprofit do that?  They're very rarely even available.

Well, hundreds of new low-power FM radio station licenses are being offered to nonprofits and it is a once in a lifetime offering.  See Hundreds of Low-Power FM (LPFM) Radio Station Licenses To Be Awarded To Nonprofits If They Apply

To quote the article, "This will be the first time that [sic. Low Power FM] LPFM licenses will be awarded in large urban markets, and likely the last time that they will be awarded at all, making the Oct. 15 application window an important opportunity for nonprofit community groups to reach larger audiences. Some potential uses for LPFM would be for recruiting volunteer and financial support, organizing, telling stories that don’t make it to commercial media, publicizing meetings and events, serving as resource for youth education, hyper-local community news, exposure for local artists and musicians, and much more."

Nonprofits successfully operate low-power FM radio stations in several metropolitan areas in the U.S., already.

Further,“Now is the time for nonprofits to prepare their application to own a part of the public airwaves,” said Sabrina Roach, a Doer specializing in public interest media for Brown Paper Tickets. “Most traditional media have not included the LPFM application window in news coverage, and the majority of groups eligible to apply are not aware that this opportunity exists. This is a problem, because the application will take about three months to complete."

Why do this?  As the advocates fighting for nonprofits to get access to these licenses explain,“Our hope is that community groups take up the challenge and use the public airwaves for public good,” Roach said. “An additional benefit would be in helping to correct the lack of diversity in media ownership, in that 87 percent of all radio stations are owned by Caucasians, 6 percent are owned by women and 7 percent by people of color, which influences the programming heard on the public airwaves.” 

If you are interested in learning more or discovering what the next steps are to begin the application process, go to Brown Paper Ticket's (nonprofit advocates and fair trade ticketing solution) LPFM Next Steps and Resources Adobe PDF.

Brown Paper Ticket have taken up the mantle on getting the word out to nonprofits so they are made aware of the fact that this opportunity is available to them, out of the interest in seeing more nonprofits on low power FM, and increasing the radio stations' owners' diversity and also what information is disseminated publicly.  As I said in the paragraph, above, they also are being sure to let nonprofits know how to go about applying for low power FM stations.

To quote Wikipedia's article on the subject, in the United States,"Low Power FM, or LPFM is a form of FM Broadcasting that uses a low amount of energy to broadcast a signal that does not travel very far. FM, or frequency modulation radio is often transmitted on a higher frequency than AM radio. Because of the low power usage and short range, LPFM is often seen as a niche radio station that plays things that relate more to the small surrounding community."

Radio, in the United States is under the oversight of the Federal Communications Commission which has been criticized (at a minimum, and outright accused in other instances) of restricting the diversity of ownership of radio stations (in particular the coveted stronger signal FM stations) nationally.  In other words, despite public concern, the FCC appears to provide the better positions on the FM dial to only a few large communications corporations.  Meanwhile, licenses for any position on the FM dial in larger markets (metropolitan regions) are rarely available to the public.  Brown Paper Ticket's goal, in part, by heading up this campaign is to ensure nonprofits know this opportunity exists to them, and that some scope exists in the ownership of FM radio stations.

To learn more about this offering read:

Brown Paper Tickets National, "Make Radio Challenge" Launch Brunch and Panel

LPFM Advocates Are at SXSW

Don't Touch That Dial: Low-Power Radio Is About to Make FM Hot Again

From A Porch In Montana, Low-Power Radio's Voice Rises

On a personal note to my readers, if your organization does decide to proceed with the application process and if it first heard about this opportunity, here on Seeking Grant Money Today, and if you're alright with it, please let me know in the Comments section below and also share how I can get a hold of someone at your agency.  I would appreciate the opportunity to track what a nonprofit's experience is in this historic moment.

Update - Related 7/23/13 news item: In switch, U.S. military offers to share airwaves with industry which does not speak directly to what kind of industry (i.e. nonprofit sector as well as the for-profit sector) but this possibility will be one to request more information about from your federal representatives if you are interested to know.

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