Archive | April, 2004

San Francisco Liberation Radio To Challenge the FCC in Court

This coming Friday, April 30, San Francisco Liberation Radio will meet the FCC in court to challenge the Commission’s raid on the station last October.

The foundation for SFLR’s challenge is that the station was denied due process, based upon the fact that the FCC never contacted the station or its legal counsel when it obtained a court ordered injunction against the station to halt broadcasts.

Unlike many unlicensed broadcasters, SFLR has applied for a license but they never received direct communication from the FCC, instead reading about the denial of their application two years later on the Commission’s website. So, the station also intends to challenge the constitutionality of two licensing rules that are apparently being used against the station: the rule barring the eligibility of former pirate broadcasters, and the Congressionally-mandated rule requiring low-power stations to be spaced on the dial just like full-power stations.

It’s hard to know how successful SFLR will be, since no unlicensed broadcaster has yet to win a case against the FCC, although several, like Free Radio Berkeley and Radio Free Brattleboro, have won temporary stays against being shut down. But I do think it’s a good thing that they’re keeping up the fight, keeping at least some of the FCC’s resources tied up in court while hundreds of other broadcasters continue their path of civil disobedience.

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Champaign-Urbana’s Community Wireless In the News

The Champaign-Urbana Community Wireless Network project got a big boost this year when it won a $200,000 grant from the Open Society Institute. The project is working to build a decentralized wireless mesh network that leverages lean Unix bootable CD-ROMS that drive nodes made out of otherwise obsolete hardware, like 486 PCs.

The guys behind the project are pals of mine, and I’ve had the pleasure to watch it take shape over the last few years — it was even the topic of the first mediageek radio show in 2002.

The OSI grant has given them an opportunity to really focus on the project with fewer worries about funding. Additionally, the project is getting more attention in the community wi-fi world and the mainstream press.

Wi-Fi Networking News posted about the project and a conversation with coordinator Sascha Meinrath, with whom I’ve worked extensively at the U-C IMC.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote a story on the project back at the end of March.

Mediageek radio show producer Drew Tarico interviewed the project’s co-founder Zach Miller on the Feb. 13, 2004 edition of the program.


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The State of LPFM — Just Putting It On the Air Isn’t Enough

Yesterday Wired News published a short article on the current state of low-power FM. The author attempts to compare reality with the hopes for LPFM, noting that half of the 710 LPFM licenses are for Christian stations featuring “extremely conservative” programming.

It’s relatively fine for such a short article, but the author gives the most space to one example low-power station, which is facing several unique challenges, including funding problems and having a commercial station try to compete with it. I don’t want to sweep these stories under the carpet, but it’s problematic when this is the most prominent example station cited, because it leads the casual reader to believe that this station is emblematic of systemic problems with many low-power FM stations.

However, the station’s principal employee herself admits that her expectations weren’t realisitic, saying:

“I thought the money would flow in…. I was so idealistic, and so was sure that community radio was such a wonderful thing to have in Salida. But people aren’t pouring their money into the station.”

Honestly, those are sentiments that have launched and killed thousands of small businesses, non-profits and radio stations. …

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I’m glad that I decided to take the afternoon off in order to get the A/V end of things prepared for Amy Goodman’s talk this evening, and my interview with her just before that.

Amy arrived around 4:00 PM with two companions, Dennis and Chuck, who are keeping close attention on logistics and details. She seemed tired, as her book tour has apparently been non-stop, with her still co-hosting Democracy Now in the morning from her remote locations.

They took a short tour of our IMC and caught dinner before coming over to WEFT for the interview. …

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