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What low power FM radio offers

This is an unprecedented opportunity granted to the people of this country. In a time when high technology is permeating our lives, low power radio allows us to take control of a small part of the information gathering and dissemination processes for a given constituency. In the last five years, we have witnessed the consolidation of radio ownership and further homogenization of program formats. With low power FM radio and its limited broadcast range, weêll have to identify our audiences, know exactly who they are, and remain attentive to them. We will discover who are our neighbors, the people who comprise our communities, and we will begin to relate to them in an electronic coffee klatch kind of way.

Filling the minimum hours of programming a week will be a shared responsibility. We trust that local community groups, and churches will use their imagination in establishing their identities, offer a menu of programming choices and formats; and use this medium in new and creative ways never before contemplated.

The new voices will be heard with regional or linguistic accents, reflecting a variety of cultures, community values, traditions, and distinct experiences of millions of people who are or desire to be active participants in this society. And low power radio will be an effective training ground for new generations of people for the communications and information industries.

The experience of establishing community radio should also demystify the workings of the Federal Communications Commission for many of us. It is perhaps the first time in the history of the FCC, that there is an intentional partnership with the people of this country, and not just with big business and the ever-consolidating national broadcasting industry.

The decision by the FCC (Jan 20, 2000) to move forward with low power licensing allows it to meet its statutory mandate embodied in Section 307(b), that has been at the heart of the Communications Actês public interest goals. A letter expressing your appreciation for this decision should be directed to the FCC immediately, as well as copies to your local congressional representatives. The purpose of low power radio is not simply an exercise in radio development, it is the instruction and praxis of a communications model for building communities and strengthening social interactions.

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