Music IndustryRadio

The Future of Radio Is…Low-Power FM?

[Amber Healy from brother website Geeks&Beats recently attended the Future of Music Conference in Washington, DC. Here’s another report of what she saw and heard. – AC]

“Local” isn’t just a buzzword for food anymore.

Big companies keep getting bigger, it seems, and smaller mom-and-pop establishments struggle to keep up. That’s not true just for stores and restaurants but also for radio stations. Across the United States, however, there’s a new, burgeoning market for low-power FM (LPFM) stations, which tend to be community oriented, centered and supported, with a broadcast radius of less than five to 10 miles.

As of 2000, there were 500 licenses issued to LPFM stations across Canada by the Radio Communications and Broadcasting Regulatory Branch of Industry Canada in conjunction with the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission, across the low (50 watt) and very low (10 watt) markets. Generally, LPFM station licenses are only granted in remote areas.

In the US, the Federal Communications Commission—the same folks behind the net neutrality regulations safeguarding the fair and open Internet—first authorized LPFM stations in 2000, issuing more than 800 licenses across the country, mainly to organizations like churches, community centers and civil rights groups. There was pushback, of course, but these stations have continued to gain ground over the years, according to As of September of this year, there are more than 1,364 licensed stations in the US, an increase of 215 stations since June 2015, reports Jennifer Waits for Radio Survivor.

Read on!

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38343 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “The Future of Radio Is…Low-Power FM?

  • For a long time, the Prometheus Radio Project in the US has been working on local radio stations using lower power FM waves. More about them can be found here:
    I didn’t realize that there were so many in Canada, but I would certainly LOVE to see the emergence of even more public-use, lower power stations in Canada, with content supported by social-driven feedback and headlines and distribution powered by easy-to-implement apps.


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