Article in C&G newspaper chain, 2-24-99

Equal Time
Support builds for porposal to allow low power community radio stations 
By K Michelle Moran 
Arts & Entertainment Editor

If an unlikely coalition of religious and community leaders, entertainers and micro-broadcasters have their way, the radio airwaves could soon have many more offerings. The Federal Communications Commission is considering a proposal to re-legalize low power community radio stations, which were effectively taken off the air in 1978 when the agency stopped granting Class D broadcasting licenses to the stations. Until April 12, the FCC is asking for public comment on the plan, which is reportedly opposed by the National Association of Broadcasters but has considerable grassroots support in the Detroit area. The NAB could not be reached for comment before press time. The plan would allow for two tiers of Low Power FM
service that could create as many as 4,000 new stations. One tier would have a maximum of 1,000 watts of Effective Radiated Power and a range of roughly eight miles and another would allow for a maximum of 100 watts ERP and a range of nearly four miles. A 10-watt service is also under consideration. Proponents, including Tom Ness of Ferndale, say the proposal would permit broader political debate and improve cultural diversity on the airwaves. Ness is the publsher of the music-and-issue
newspaper Jam Rag and founder of the Michigan Music is World Class Campaign. And in communities like Detroit, where local bands consistently note the lack of radio airtime devoted to their music, Ness and others say the proposal would likely mean increased airplay for area acts. "I think its good for the local music community, good for the local economy, good
for democracy and good for culture in general," Ness said. "We fully back it," said Detroiter Sue Summers, a vice-president of the Detroit Music Alliance. "A lot of times, (major stations) are restricted as far as what they can play...I think it would be great to get community stations back." The proposal has gotten support from a number of area officials as well. U.S. Rep. David Bonior, D-Mt Clemens, was an early proponent. In a letter last July to FCC Chair William Kennard, Bonior wrote that he supported the small community stations because he felt that they would improve airwave access without harming existing broadcasts. "I am deeply concerned about the growing concentration of the media in this country and believe that as
we see tremendous consolidation within the industry, many voices and viewpoints are being priced out of the market," Bonior wrote. In recent weeks, Ness said officials in Detroit and Ferndale have approved resolutions in support of the plan. Earlier this month, Hazel Park Mayor Ben Colley submitted a letter expressing support for community radio on behalf of his community and council. At press time, Ness said more than two dozen other area communities were considering resolutions in support
of the proposal as well. Citizens interested in submitting their views on this proposal to the FCC can do so until April 12. For more information, log onto or contact the Michigan Music is World Class Campaign at 248-542-8090 or

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