FM Too Crowded? Unlicensed FM too risky? Try Low-power AM

  • FM Too Crowded? Unlicensed FM too risky? Try Low-power AM
    Breefree has assembled the start of a low-power AM broadcasting site. The rules for legal unlicensed broadcasting (Part 15) are somewhat more relaxed for the AM dial than FM. This makes it potentially easier to run a station that reaches a decent audience without the risks associated with running unlicensed FM stations over the Part 15 limit (typically just a fraction of a watt of power).

    One group using this method is Allston-Brighton Free Radio, in Allston, MA, which used to run an unlicensed LPFM operation as Radio Free Allston, but decided to stop when contacted by the FCC. The Boston Globe reported on them last month.

    WY2K is another legal Part 15 LPAM station in Springfield IL, put on the air by Billy Washington. Interestingly, Mr. Washington put the station on the air with the guidance and advice of the FCC, so that he could make sure he was operating within legal limits. I met Mr. Washington a few months ago when I spoke to the group organizing their Independent Media Center and he told me a little about his adventure, managing to even get an FCC agent to inspect his station and certify it as legal. Unfortunately, as he told the State Journal-Register, he considers his set-up a “trade secret,” and declines to share it.

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