*Of the 2,800 or or so applications that poured into the FCC during the low-power FM application window in October and November, only 305 were filed in the nine states that make up NERW-land. Over the last few days since the applications made their way to the FCC’s online database, we’ve been digging through that pile and trying to make sense of it all – and in this special issue of NERW, we’re pleased to present NERW subscribers with the first rough analysis of what might be in store for broadcasters and listeners as these proposals make their way through the pipeline. (Not a subscriber? Don’t forget that you can get one-time access to the entire fybush.com site for as little as $5.99 and a year of access for as little as 23 cents a week, just by clicking here…)
Before we dig into the list, NERW’s occasional editorial cartoonist Jason Togyer offers his own observation of the lower-than-expected application totals in this window that was delayed multiple times before it finally creaked open in October:
*And with that, we plow into the pile, with a few caveats: we haven’t had time yet to review all these applications for technical grantability. In particular, we note that many of these applications in crowded urban and suburban areas take advantage of the FCC’s new rules allowing LPFMs to exist on second-adjacent channels to full-power stations. That, however, requires a waiver, which in turn requires an engineering showing that didn’t always accompany a lot of the applications that needed one, and that is likely to cut out a lot of applications that would otherwise end up in mutually-exclusive (MX) groups once the FCC starts to process these applications.
Remember, we’ve partnered with Radio Insight and The Archives @ BostonRadio.org to put of all those applications nationwide into a single searchable page that we published over the weekend, so you can dive deeper into any of the applications listed below…
*In CONNECTICUT, 24 applications were filed for LPFMs, roughly half of them religious and the rest about evenly divided among community groups, schools and government. That includes the Simsbury Fire District, which covered all its bases with three applications for 94.1, 107.5 and 103.5. Those last two channels will be flashpoints for MX, with a total of four 107.5 applications and fully ten of the state’s 24 applications calling for either 103.3 or 103.5, including a trio of 103.5s in New Haven.
NERW projection: 11 new LPFMs
*Of nine applications in RHODE ISLAND, six call for the same channel, 101.1 (and that’s not even counting one more 101.1 application just over the state line in Attleboro, Massachusetts that will join the same MX group!) Among the 101.1 applicants are Brown Student Radio, which was an unsuccessful applicant for 96.5 in the last window, as well as two Providence Community Radio applications, the “Marconi Broadcasting Foundation” in Cranston and the AS220 arts collective. Another likely MX group will include Bryant University’s application for 95.1 in Smithfield (for a student station replacing WJMF 88.7, which Bryant now leases to Boston’s WCRB) and the Rhode Island Alternative Media Foundation’s application for 94.9 in West Warwick, if it’s not tossed for being filed in the name of an individual. And then there’s Westerly, where the DiPaola family’s Washington County Chamber of Commerce is seeking 92.9, where it will be MX against an application across the state line in Connecticut. That’s the same licensee that used to have another LPFM, what’s now WSUB-LP (96.7 Ashaway), but WSUB-LP has been moved to a different nonprofit under another family member. (And neither LPFM has an attributable ownership connection to Chris DiPaola, who’s now the licensee of commercial WBLQ 1230 in Westerly, which shares a studio with WSUB-LP and would share a tower with the new 92.9 if granted.)
NERW projection: 3 new LPFMs (give or take a messy share-time in Providence)
*We count 69 MASSACHUSETTS LPFM applications, and there’s a common thread to many of them: 13 of those applications seek 94.9 in or around Boston, while eight more are looking to operate on 102.9. The 94.9 applications (which have to clear second-adjacent issues with Boston’s WJMN 94.5 and Cambridge’s WHRB 95.3) won’t all be mutually exclusive: the Town of Acton, for instance, could probably share the channel with the Boston Public Schools’ application in East Boston and with “Good Neighbor Station Inc.” up in Salisbury. Other 94.9 applicants include longtime community broadcaster Steve Provizer, whose Numix group wants the channel in East Boston. On 102.9, applicants include the City of Boston itself (or at least its cable TV office), which wants to transmit from a Fire Department tower in Roxbury, as well as Lasell College in the Auburndale neighborhood of Newton.
There’s MX action aplenty brewing on several other frequencies, too: south and west of Boston, five applicants are seeking 96.5, including Massasoit Community College in Brockton and Wheaton College in Norton. (There’s also an application for 96.3 in Hudson, right next door to WSRS 96.1 in Worcester; it’s exceeded in ungrantability only by the husband-and-wife pair of applications for 88.1 in Fall River, a channel that’s not open and that can’t be granted to individuals anyway.)
It will be easier for the FCC to pick out grantable applications in outlying parts of the state: applications in distant corners such as Nantucket (where the police department wants 105.5), North Adams (where the cable access channel wants 107.1) and Huntington (where something called either “Wham for BB” or “Whab for BB” wants 104.7) should be singletons, though the Nantucket application could conflict with two 105.5 proposals on Martha’s Vineyard. One of those Martha’s Vineyard apps comes from our old friends at “M&M Community Development,” which was responsible for a pile of what turned out to be ungrantable applications in the last LPFM window.
One more note on the Boston/Brockton area LPFM apps: many of them are on channels now staked out by powerful pirate stations, and whoever gets those channels will have the additional burden of finding a way to get the pirates off of them. (We understand that some of these apps, including a batch in the Springfield area on 101.7 and 102.5, may even be coming from current pirate operators…)
NERW projection: 18-20 new LPFMs (including sharetimes in Boston and Springfield)
*There were just seven LPFM applications in all of VERMONT, more than half of them coming from Burlington on 99.3. The four contestants for that slot will be Vermont Community Access Media, St. Francis Xavier Parish, Chittenden County Government Access Channel Trust and Regional Educational Television Network. Down the road in Colchester, St. Michael’s College is applying for 92.5, presumably to free up its existing full-power WWPV 88.7 for full-time use by Vermont Public Radio. Royalton Community Radio wants 96.5 there, and Mountain Top Community Church wants 106.7 in West Brattleboro.
NERW projection: 4 new LPFMs (and a sharetime in Burlington)
*In contrast to Vermont, neighboring NEW HAMPSHIRE drew 23 applications, six of them clustered around 94.9 and 95.1 on the dial in the population corridor from Concord south to Nashua. Yes, that’s either co-channel or first-adjacent to the mammoth signal of WHOM (94.9) from Mount Washington, but at least on paper it’s outside WHOM’s protected contour, which reflects only what a standard class B would be allowed to use from up on the Northeast’s highest peak, not WHOM’s actual 48 kilowatts from up there. If any of those applications end up being granted (applicants range from Manchester Public Television Service to the ALERT group in Londonderry to the Town of Pelham to some guy named Jason Kates in Nashua), they’ll likely have an even more restricted signal than the usual 100-watt LPFM.
There’s actually a small MX group in Littleton, where Radio America Media and North Country Community Media both want 103.1. And on the Seacoast, the relocation of a first-wave LPFM, WXGR-LP Dover, from 101.5 to 103.5 opened the way for a new Portsmouth application on 101.5 from Cultural Media Connection.
NERW projection: 12-14 new LPFMs
*MAINE drew 17 applications, including a rarity at the easternmost point in the continental United States. One of the quirks of the LPFM rules is that they provide a path to a power increase for some of the few remaining class D noncommercial FMs. Those stations, largely founded in the 1960s and 1970s by high schools and colleges, were limited to approximately 10 watts transmitter output power when they were grandfathered in if they chose not to seek higher power during a rules change in the early 1980s. Among them was WSHD (91.7 Eastport) – but now licensee Shead High School has figured out it can jump from its present 13 watts on 91.7 to 100 watts on 93.3 if it can transform into an LPFM with a new license.
There’s only one potential MX group in the spread-out state: in southern Maine, there are four applicants for 104.1, including the Fifties Preservation Society in Biddeford, the Franciscan Fathers in Wells and the Kennebunkport schools.
NERW projection: 12 new LPFMs, including WSHD’s conversion
*As big as NEW YORK is, it actually drew fewer applications than Massachusetts, with a total of 65 across the Empire State and surprisingly few vying for space in the crowded New York metro area.
On Long Island, 104.7 was a popular channel, drawing applicants in Babylon, Farmingville, Sayville, Manorville and two at Ocean Beach, including a group called “EPIC” that wants to build an entire radio station to raise awareness of autism spectrum disorders.
Moving closer to New York City, 105.5 appears to be the channel of choice in Nassau and across the city line in Queens, with applicants in Huntington, Bethpage, Rockaway Beach, one in Queens from the Diocese of Brooklyn and one from the Living Water Seventh Day Baptist Church of Christ that specifies “200-02 Linden Blvd.” as its proposed community of license.Then there’s the Flushing application from “The Global Service Center for Quitting Chinese Communist Party,” which will actually be over in Great Neck and at least submitted a comprehensive second-adjacent waiver application.
As sloppy as that Linden Boulevard application may have been, it was nothing compared to the one from Grace Deliverance Tabernacle Church for 92.1 in Brooklyn, where it would be first adjacent to full-power WNOW-FM (92.3) a few miles away at the Empire State Building. (Good luck with that one, and good luck, too, to Fausto J. Ortiz, who submitted an application for 102.3 from his basement apartment in Washington Heights, complete with an “engineering exhibit” that shows he’d be not only second-adjacent to WWFS and WFAN-FM but also significantly short to co-channel WBAB-FM on Long Island and WSUS in New Jersey. He’s competing against another 102.3 application in “Brooklyn,” which would actually be on Staten Island.)
The greater Hudson Valley, choked with drop-ins and translators, drew only a handful of applications in Amenia, Peekskill, Pawling, Palenville, Port Jervis, Middletown, Monticello and Whttp://www.fybush.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=7080&action=edit&message=10oodstock, but to the north there’s a MX group brewing with five community applicants in Troy seeking 92.7, including one from “Troy Bike Rescue.”
Can SUNY Oneonta make up its mind? The state school was a first-wave LPFM operator when it put WUOW-LP (104.7) on the air almost a decade ago, later transitioning from low-power to full-power on WUOW (88.5 Milford) and an Oneonta translator. It’s been only a few short months since SUNY sent those licenses back to the FCC when it shut down its small public radio operation, but now the school is back with LPFM applications for 104.7 again in Oneonta and 101.5 in Cooperstown.
There are also MX situations likely in Syracuse (92.5s in Dewitt and in Syracuse, where Syracuse Community Radio says it would divest its rimshot WXXE 90.5 Fenner if it’s granted the in-city LPFM) and in Binghamton, where the Bundy Museum’s application (which would prominently feature historical Binghamton radio) competes with one from Mt. St. Francis Hermitage.
Here in Rochester and vicinity, six applicants spread out across the dial, with the only MX potential being a 97.1 application from Rochester Community TV and 97.3 from New Day Mission, as well as a 97.1 for “817 East Main Street” from the Ibero-American Action League. The MuCCC community arts group is seeking 104.3, while a bunch of local radio folks have teamed up as “Rochester Free Radio” with an application at 106.3.
There wasn’t much LPFM action in Buffalo – two applications at 103.7 and one at 102.1 from community groups, plus an ungrantable 88.5 that’s first-adjacent to local WBFO (88.7).
NERW projection: 30-35 new LPFMs
*As crowded as the NEW JERSEY dial is, 27 applicants think they’ve found room for LPFMs, including a half-dozen seeking 95.9 in various spots in north Jersey, including Kearney, Orange and Passaic. There are potential MX conflicts on 102.3 in the area, too, as well as several 107.9s in central New Jersey. Who needs an LPFM out in Hackensack? A Spanish religious group that’s applying for 94.3, where it will likely end up MX’d to “South Bergen Community News” in Wood Ridge.
NERW projection: 15 new LPFMs
*There were 64 LPFM applications along the length and breadth of PENNSYLVANIA, and precisely 25% of them were in Philadelphia, with that number growing from 16 to 18 when you include the apps for “N Phila 19132” and “4431 Walnut Street Phil.” Among those applications, 92.9 and 106.5 were the hot frequencies. On 92.9, eight Philadelphia applicants (including at least four Germantown community groups – “G-Town Radio,” “Historic Germantown Preserved,” “Germantown Life Enrichment Center” and the “Germantown United Community Development Corporation”) are all fighting it out. Another seven Philadelphia community applicants and several more in the suburbs are competing for 106.5, and at least five applicants are going for 98.5, including three proposals from Montgomery County, which is also one of the 92.9 and 106.5 applicants, as well as an applicant for 92.1 in Fort Washington and 105.7 in Plymouth.
There are three potential MX applicants (including the City of York) on 95.5 and 95.7 in York and Middletown, another potential MX on 99.1 and 99.3 in Hazleton and two more on 96.7 and 107.9 in Erie and nearby Girard and Union City. Among the churches, community groups and governments that are likely singletons in rural Pennsylvania was this one that caught our attention: up in the hills near Meyersdale, not far from the Maryland state line, the Mount Davis Militia Association wants 102.3 in Elk Lick Township, telling the FCC it will provide programming “with a particular emphasis on American History, U.S. Constitutional Law, Health, Public Safety, Current Events, Disaster Preparedness and Self-Defense.”
The Pittsburgh area appears likely to get several new LPFMs out of this window, with likely singletons on 92.3 in North Versailles, 100.3 in Greensburg and 102.1 and 107.1 in Pittsburgh.
NERW projection: 30-35 new LPFMs, including share-times on several Philadelphia-area channels
*In all, then, our initial review of these applications suggests that out of the 305 filed, there are likely to be no more than 140 LPFM construction permits that result, and maybe even fewer once the FCC applies its own technical scrutiny.
That doesn’t mean, of course, that the 2800 or so nationwide applications will lead to 1300 or so new LPFMs: some areas saw much knottier MX clusters, including some wildly big ones in Houston and Portland, Oregon. In other less-dense areas, a larger number of applications appear to be grantable singletons. And of course there’s no saying how many of these applicants will have the tenacity and the resources to follow through even if they do get CPs. If we were in a betting mood, we’d guess that fewer than 1000 new LPFMs will actually result from this window when it’s all over.
The next steps for the FCC will involve dismissing clearly defective applications like the 92.1 in Brooklyn and 88.5 in Buffalo and then identifying the hundreds (and maybe even into the thousands) of applications that are grantable as singletons. As those get reviewed, they’ll get posted for public notice, at which point they’ll be granted in 30 days unless petitions to deny can be filed against them. The FCC says it’s hoping to get all of the remaining singletons posted within a few weeks – and only then will it begin to address the piles of MX’d applications. We’ll be following the process all the way through..
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