Mark-up for Local Community Radio Act of 2009

Graphic from the Future of Music Coalition.


My friends at Prometheus Radio are leading a campaign to get the Local Community Radio Act of 2009 (H. R. 1147) passed to local communities to set up low-cost radio stations.

Boucher's Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet issued a media advisory Wednesday, 07 October 2009 09:42 a.m. that it would be meeting at 10 am October 2009 to consider H.R. 1147, the Local Community Radio Act of 2009 in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

Sure doesn't give folks much time to weigh in, if they hadn't already. I had written Boucher April 7, but he's still not a co-sponsor. So, dear readers, weigh in if you will. Especially if you are represented by someone on this subcommittee.

I didn't think that Rick, given his stances, would favor new media outlets for those who want single payer health care or a stop to the destruction of mountains by MTR. So, instead I decided to advocate for old time music:

Dear Congressman Boucher,

As a fan of old-time music and your constituent I'd ask that you co-sponsor the Local Community Radio Act of 2009 (H. R. 1147), introduced by Congressman Doyle on February 24. This bill will implement the recommendations of the Federal Communications Commission report to the Congress regarding low-power FM service (LPFM.) LPFM has enriched this country's cities and towns- and has yet to reach its full potential. This bill has bi-partisan support and backing from the FCC, and responds to the conclusive results of the 2003 MITRE study which found that concerns of interference are not an issue.

As you noted in your address in Wytheville in 2007 at the "Putting Southwest Virginia's Unique Heritage and Culture to Work Conference," communities along The Crooked Road including Fries, Floyd and Galax "share a common musical heritage, each of them possesses a unique and interesting identity and heritage." Access to a locally-owned and locally-controlled radio station will enhance culture and public engagement in our community. More LPFMs in Southwest Virginia will mean more opportunities to introduce citizens to a wide range of Virginian artists, musicians, religious groups, cultural and business leaders, and government officials. Local broadcasting can also provide on-the ground content in the case of local emergencies, when on-the-ground content is essential for a rapid response.

The FCC established LPFM radio in 2000, when schools, arts organizations, churches, municipalities, and thousands of other organizations advocated for new radio licenses. The FCC began licensing 100-watt, noncommercial, local radio stations to churches, schools, local governments and community organizations across the nation.

WKJV-LP, licensed to Belle Meadows Baptist Church, and WRKE-LP, licensed to your alma mater, Roanoke College, are examples of community radio stations providing opportunities to learn the art of broadcasting, and an important forum for news, sports, culture and community. Unfortunately, two-thirds of the applications for LPFM licenses in Southwest Virginia remain unapproved, leaving out many such as one requested by Southwest Virginia Community College in Richlands, which hoped to include a student and community radio station in its new Learning Resources Center. Your support of The Local Community Radio Act, could drastically impact the community media landscape in our district, and beyond.

April 2, The Daily Yonder published Kate Blofson in an article, "Low Power Radio Turns Up Local Pride." Blofson quoted Shawn Dakin, a community member involved in a LPFM station in Newcomerston, Ohio: "As far as local news and sports coverage, we’re a forgotten step-child in this part of the county. Too often we only get coverage only if something bad happens, and then that's the only impression that people get."

As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, you are in a unique position to advance Local Community Radio Act of 2009, moving towards a mark-up, hearing, and vote. I hope that this letter helps you consider the value of the LPFM radio service for communities throughout Southwest Virginia and across the nation and that you will co-sponsor this measure to utilize and enrich the radio airwaves.

Sincerely yours,

Beth Wellington