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Executives at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), the lobby group representing large commercial broadcast stations across the United States, were surprised to look out their windows on Monday to see a veritable circus of community radio supporters. Dozens of people hula-hooped, juggled, and asked NAB chief Gordon Smith, former Senator from Oregon, to stop blocking a bill that would expand access to 100-watt low power FM (LPFM) noncommercial community radio stations across the US – the Local Community Radio Act, HR 1147 and SB 592.
They cheered at the NAB, “Stop making us jump through hoops! Support low power FM radio and the Local Community Radio Act!” They also asked their Congressional leaders to pass this widely loved and bipartisan bill before the end of the 111th Congress.
“Low power FM radio stations not only put local music, news, and political debates on the FM dial, they saved lives after Hurricane Katrina because they put up-to-the-minute local information on the air – and they are small and flexible enough to keep running with a car battery when the power goes out,” said Pete Tridish, an organizer with the Prometheus Radio Project, a nonprofit that supports low power FM radio stations nationwide and friend of CHIRP. “By passing this bill today, Congress will be supporting thousands of constituent organizations instead of bowing to one big broadcast lobby’s wishes. Gordon Smith is silencing voices across the country by opposing the expansion of community radio. So we’re here to say: Gordon Smith, don’t make a circus of our democracy – stop making us jump through hoops; work with Congress to pass this bill.”
There are about 800 stations on the air across the US, but thousands of other groups were unable to get licenses when LPFM was established in 2000. The Local Community Radio Act, which would expand LPFM, sailed through the House in 2009, and has broad bipartisan support in the Senate. Unfortunately, new reports showed that NAB CEO and former Senator Gordon Smith is organizing secret Senate holds on the bill to kill it. The NAB claimed that they were working to compromise or negotiate on expanding low power FM radio, but as of Monday the 13th, they had rejected every offer that Senate sponsors and LPFM advocates have brought before them.
Hundreds of diverse groups, including CHIRP, support expanding low power FM radio nationwide, including emergency responders, national civil rights and faith-based organizations, and many others. They have waited years for the opportunity to serve their communities, but the FCC has been unable to give out licenses to them because Congress restricted LPFM.
Now is the time to act! Watch the hula hoopers below, and then send an email to Senator Durbin asking him to help bring the Local Community Radio Act to the floor for a vote.
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