Eligibility

Though we are still waiting to hear from the FCC, here are some of the likely requirements for being eligible to obtain a low power FM radio license.

You must:

 

Be a non-profit
Only incorporated, non-profit organizations such as schools, churches, Native American tribes, local governments, and community groups can apply for licenses. Your organization need not be a 501c3, but must be registered as a non-profit with your state. If you are not affiliated with a non-profit, consider reaching out to your local representatives and community leaders about your idea for a station, and they may be able to direct you to a local group to serve as a parent organization. If you can't find a preexisting non-profit to partner with, you can always start a non-profit of your own, just be sure to check your state's rules for registration here.


Have an educational mission

The FCC requires that every low power station have an educational mission. However, the FCC does not define what constitutes an educational mission, so many LPFMs create missions that relate to the educational value of their programming, including local music, news, or public affairs. As a result, stations can have educational missions related to anything from jazz preservation to environmental stewardship. Furthermore, a clear mission isn't just an FCC requirement, it's also an important tool for effective fundraising, volunteer recruitment, and community engagement. To get an idea of what an educational mission might look like, take a look at a few examples of other mission statements here.


Be local

Community radio applicants must be designated as local by the FCC, which can be achieved in a few ways. Applicants will be deemed local if their headquarters are within ten miles of their proposed antenna site in the top 50 urban markets, and within 20 miles outside of these most populous regions. Applicants can also fulfill this requirement by demonstrating that 75% of their board members reside within ten miles of the proposed antenna site in the top 50 urban areas, or within 20 miles outside of these markets. The FCC has also given preference in the past to organizations that have an established local presence of at least two years, though this duration could be increased to four years. The FCC's proposed rules also suggest placing additional emphasis on localism, by giving further preference to stations who pledge to produce local programming or even by making local programming an eligibility requirement.

 


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