Thursday, May 7, 2009

Nicole Atkins Blogs About LPFM

A handful of posts ago, we told you about how singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins came down to DC for a flurry of appearances on the Hill in support of Low Power FM radio. LPFM is something that an increasing number of artists care about, because it's a great way for a wider variety of music to be heard on the public airwaves. (Guess what? We've got a fact sheet all about it.)

LPFM provides a platform for minority, religious and linguistic groups and offers a forum for debate about important local issues. Then there's the emergency preparedness stuff, which is definitely important. But let's not forget about the music! These mini-stations can really make a difference for artists who otherwise wouldn't get played on the tightly-formatted commercial stations. LPFM stations can give a leg up to those genres of music — bluegrass, zydeco, jazz, etc. — that are identified with certain regions but aren't given much room on by the bigger broadcasters. Which is why we want to see (and hear) more of 'em.

Even singer-songwriters can get in on the action. Which is why Nicole came to town to advocate for more LPFM stations in towns like hers (Asbury Park, New Jersey, to be specific).

But we should probably let Nicole put it her own words. (Maybe she'll get around to putting it in a song, too — we'd love to hear that!) Check out her recent blog post about her adventures on Capitol Hill. And dig those snazzy pics!


Anonymous said...

It's great to have a forum, but owning a radio station isn't a blog. Someone has to run it and pay for it.

I lived near Asbury Park, and one of the big problems with a beach community is that most of the population is there for only a few months a year. The other problem with Asbury is the town is under urban renewal. So the issue would be how to pay for such a station. I've run LPFM stations out of schools and libraries, but Asbury's financial situation is such that the public institutions are strapped paying for the basics.

So even if a license was available, you'd be faced with a bigger problem of finding a base of operations and a regular source for money. Better to make occasional visits to the station at Brookdale Community College.

Radio stations aren't toys and they aren't free. Once you get the station up and running, there is a lot of legal paperwork for the government. So unless you're a lawyer or a person with a lot of free time on your hand, you'll be spending a lot of time doing things that have nothing to do with radio or music.

I've often wondered why the FMC doesn't actually start their own LPFM station. Pick a town, endow it with your funds, and show people how to do it. Experience is worth more than words.

FMC said...

So just because people have to run the LPFM stations means we shouldn't bother trying with them at all? Don't tell WRIR LP in Richmond VA, or WOMM LP "The Radiator" in Burlington VT — two hugely successful stations run mostly by volunteers. In fact, Liz Hume of WRIR recently said that community involvement at their station is off-the-charts, with people pitching in to do everything from taking out the trash to programming administrative duties.

Don't you think we should leave the decision about whether running an LPFM station is "too hard" to people in the local communities who have been shown time and time again to actively support community radio, if they're allowed by the government to actually have it?

Oh, and by the way — FMC would be happy to to be directly involved in LPFM, but we're DC-based, and guess what? We're not allowed to legally operate micro-stations in Metro Washington. Guess it's C-SPAN and "Fresh" FM for us.

Holler at ya later, "anonymous."

FMC said...

Another thing: we've definitely put our money where our mouths are re: community radio — you might recall our nationwide efforts to help non-profit arts and cultural groups apply for non-commercial Full Power licenses. We're no strangers to barnraising, either...

You'd be surprised what a community will pitch together to accomplish if they're provided the opportunity.