Twitter and FB may rule the Zeitgeist, but an old-fashioned communications medium may be on the mend: low-power FM radio. A bill cosponsored by U.S. Sens. John McCain and Maria Cantwell -- the Local Community Radio Act -- would repeal some of the more draconian FCC rules and open up the field for small, local radio stations to obtain licenses more easily. And Lake Worth resident Nathan Hall is getting ready to do just that as soon as the bill is passed.
Hall, who lives on K Street, hopes to launch Radio Cambio in Lake Worth -- a radio station by and for the people,
which would have a broadcasting range of about 3.5 miles. With a degree in journalism and a day job in web design at the Palm Beach Post, Hall says he's been looking around for something to get involved in since he moved to Florida in 2005. His idea for a Lake Worth radio station "just happened to coincide with the Senate bill," he says. "This is the first time in ten years that the FCC is going to be issuing new licenses. It's a really big thing."
The FCC has a reputation for coming down hard on pirate radio stations, seizing equipment and essentially bankrupting stations operating on the downlow. But the new bill would allow small operators to broadcast quirky, pirate-style content -- talk shows, music, and local news, and commentary -- legally. Hall hopes to hold a first meeting soon to flesh out the details of how the station would operate and to gauge community interest. "We'd need to find either a building -- a church or a community center -- willing to let us put up an antenna, or we'd need to build a tower," Hall says. "Right now, it looks like we might be broadcasting out of my garage." A new Radio Cambio Facebook group will keep interested members updated about progress. Hall also runs a blog about Lake Worth, Wired Kingdom.
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The final product would be free radio run by volunteers. Community members could sign up to broadcast whatever content they wanted, Hall says. "It would be a very open and democratic approach to programming."