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This Saturday, October 21st, is a landmark day for CHIRP Radio as it ventures onto the broadcast airwaves for the first time at 107.1FM! It’s the end of a years-long journey to change the media landscape, and also the beginning of a new era for the organization.
While we’ll still be heard online, the addition of our broadcast signal is something we’re over the moon about. To help mark the occasion, here are five things about radio, and CHIRP radio, you may not have known…
1. Broadcast Radio is Still #1. Why all this fuss about radio, anyway? Isn’t that something that went out with roller skates and beanie hats? Not even close. There’s a reason commercial broadcast licenses still go for millions of dollars. According to Nielsen research, in 2017 broadcast radio is still the most popular form of media communication in America. Over 90% of adults in this country tune in to a radio at least once per week. The first radio broadcasts happened around 1906, and since then radio has survived phonograph records, movies, broadcast television, eight-track tapes, cassette tapes, compact discs, cable television, the Internet, MP3s, satellite radio, and on-demand streaming. It not going away any time soon.
2. CHIRP Radio Helped to Change the Radio Landscape in America. In the past, low-power FM broadcast frequencies were reserved for rural communities and other places that were sparsely populated and hard to reach. Large cities were left to be feasted on by media conglomerates like Citadel and Clear Channel.*
Thanks to the efforts of CHIRP volunteers such as our founder Shawn Campbell and Board members like Jenny Lisak, Washington finally changed the game. Over the objections of entities like the National Association of Broadcasters and National Public Radio, the 2010 Local Community Radio Act was signed into law by President Obama allowing LPFM licenses to be granted within big city limits. This doesn’t just benefit CHIRP Radio, but other organizations that seek to build local media communities in their cities and towns.
3. CHIRP Radio is NOT a freeform radio station. Listening to the vast variety of music played on CHIRP, one might assume that we follow the freeform station format adopted by legendary stations past and present. Freeform has a very specific definition in the radio world – it’s a situation where the DJs and hosts can play literally anything they want (within FCC guidelines). This is in contrast with modern commercial radio stations, many of which have playlists that are so limited and regimented they don’t even need live DJs to play them, not when voice-tracking daily shows is an option.
CHIRP Radio, while not freeform in the strict sense of the term, is a station with ensures a healthy mix of music from all over the place while highlighting local and independent artists and labels. And there’s actual real live people in the studio making the selections.
4. CHIRP Radio is not a college radio station, either. With its emphasis on local and independent music, CHIRP radio might come across to some as a “college radio” station, a catchall term that became popular with the emergence of bands like R.E.M. and the Alternative Rock movement of the ‘80s. But we’re not, because we are not supported by a university or any other larger organization. We are a community radio station, run by the people who volunteer their time for the benefit of the community. We have to pay our own way, which we do thanks to the greatest group of listeners and supporters in the world! [BTW, If you’re interested…]
5. CHIRP Radio is at the “wrong” end of the radio dial. Once upon a time, radio stations that weren’t multi-million dollar operations tended to cluster at the lower end of the radio frequency spectrum, the so-called “left end of the dial.” But It’s a new world. Times have changed, and the new style is over toward the other end at 107.FM. Join us, won’t you?
*They can call themselves “iHeartWhatever” all they want, but they’ll always be Clear Channel to me.
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