Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

President of Voices of Oklahoma: Measure to Help Low-Power FM

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

President of Voices of Oklahoma: Measure to Help Low-Power FM

Article excerpt

The passage of the federal Local Community Radio Act will expand opportunities for local community radio stations, the president of a Norman community radio group said Tuesday.

Mary Francis, president of KVOY-FM and Voices of Oklahoma, said the legislation - which passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Dec. 17 and the U.S. Senate on Dec. 18 - will expand the low-power FM (LPFM) service created by the Federal Communications Commission in 2000.

Francis and the board of directors of KVOY recently obtained a license from the FCC for a low-power FM station in Norman. The group is currently raising funds to purchase equipment and office space for the station.

She said the bill was created to address the shrinking diversity of voices in radio.

"This is democracy in action," Francis said. "Community radio gives a voice to those who do not usually have a say on corporate media outlets. We want our community to have a voice and engage in civil discourse. That's our mission. There is a multitude of wonderful, compassionate groups in Oklahoma who work for the common good. They ought to be heard. Their good deeds need to be known and shared with the rest of the community. Bringing people of goodwill together, that's what we are all about."

Francis said the measure would give the Federal Communications Commission a mandate to license thousands of new community stations nationwide.

"The bill lets us take advantage of radio airspace that is essentially empty," she said. "That airspace hadn't been available because large corporations wanted to keep it empty so there wouldn't be any competition."

The bill repeals the Radio Broadcast Preservation Act of 2000, which limited low-power FM radio stations to mostly rural areas. Industry trade groups had claimed the limitation was necessary because the low-power stations could create interference with commercial broadcast stations.

That claim was proved false in a 2003 study, Francis said.

Currently, only about 800 noncommercial low-power FM radio stations operate in the United States. Those stations, records show, are owned by nonprofit organizations, local governments, churches, schools, and emergency responders, she said. …

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