Arlington May Get Its Own Community Radio Station

by ARLnow.com May 30, 2012 at 4:20 pm 5,089 49 Comments

Arlington may get its very own independent community radio station by the end of the year.

Arlington Independent Media is in the planning stages of what may eventually become a low power FM community radio station. AIM, best known for its local cable television channel (Comcast channel 69, Verizon channel 38), has already designated funds for the construction of an audio booth in its Clarendon studios to accommodate residents who want to learn more about audio production. The booth is expected to be built by this fall, and will serve as the production hub for a potential radio station.

The station will likely start out as an internet-only streaming station, but may eventually be broadcast on a low power FM frequency if AIM can obtain the necessary FCC permission. That permission is by no means guaranteed, AIM programming coordinator Lauree McArdle said, because extra FM bandwidth is scare in the D.C. area.

Even if special FCC permission is granted, the signal probably won’t reach all of Arlington County, since low power FM signals are limited to 100 watts, which can only reach a radius of about 3.5 miles and is subject to interference from larger radio stations. Given a choice, McArdle says the signal would likely be targeted at the county’s lower income areas.

McArdle says she’s heard from 20 to 30 people in who are interested in helping out with a radio station. With the help of volunteer DJs and hosts, the station would probably broadcast an assortment of live and taped programming 24 hours per day.

“I don’t think we’ll lack for programming, because I have number of people who are interested in talk radio and that sort of thing,” McArdle said. “I think it will be a mix of talk programs as well as, hopefully, some music.”

AIM will be hosting a meeting next week for anyone interested in being a part of a “vibrant and active community radio presence in the county.” The meeting will be held from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 5, at the AIM studio at 2701-C Wilson Blvd.

If all goes well, McArdle says the radio station could start broadcasting online shortly after the audio booth is completed this fall.

  • MC 703

    Hasn’t even launched yet and its already better than 106.7.

  • Andy

    108.1 may be available.

  • barry

    Do we really need more sophomoric entertainment and community information that supports the status quo?

    • Having fun yet?

      ArlNow is enough for you, eh Barry?

  • Arlingtonian

    I would love to do an advice talk show. I’m good at dishing out advice. 🙂

  • barry

    I thought 108.1 is reserved for aviation. How about 87.9?

    • Andy

      87.9 is occupied by TV channel 6 that leverages its fortuitous spectrum placement to be a de facto FM broadcast station. But next year it will have to go away with the required low power TV digital transition.

  • Roycroft

    How great would it be to actually hear some decent music on the radio?…..I shouldn’t get my hopes up on this as I am sure it will mostly be community info and such.

    • John Fontain

      such as?

      • SamsontheCat

        Something like Baltimore has with 89.7. On trips to MD, it’s such a wonderful moment when I get far enough away from DC with the exact same pop/rap/R&B stations repeated over and over to where WTMD gets picked up. Finally, something decent.

        A station like that would be an instant hit with the young and alternative and give Arlington a leg up on DC in coolness. Put it in the Artisphere to use up some of that space. If Arlington wants to establish itself as San Fran or Manhatten or even Topeka on the Potomac they need to put that stake down.

        This won’t be that. More public info most likely, but we need that. Something that say the scene in DC is commercial and establishment and Arlington is independent.

        • Roycroft

          I would love to have a show. I have been collecting music for years with well over 3000 vinyl albums 🙂 Lots of rare stuff…..

        • b0rk

          You can thank Clear Channel for that. The monopoly smothers this area.

      • drax


        • Jack

          Jack FM please

        • dk

          God, yes.

  • Arlingtonian

    Yes, a music show with a knowledgeable DJ would be ideal! How fun.

    • Cerph

      I’m available

  • Cakes

    Big O & Dukes!

  • Ben

    Please be like WEVL 89.9 in Memphis. People could volunteer for their own time slots and you got some really creative music out of it.

  • Aaron

    First, it was the trolley, and now this. When will the County Board stop targetting the county’s lower-income areas with their crazy schemes?

    • 1. AIM is years away from mairking a low power station happen — though it is a good idea and we are working toward it. 2. This isn’t a County Board initiative. They NEVER direct AIM programming in ANY way and they NEVER have. AIM is independent from all content control. You may be thinking of the public schools channel, or the county’s government channel.

  • Garden City

    All 80s, all the time. Your place for the Furs, Sticky Little Fingers, The Smiths, The Cure, The Cult, Prefab Sprout, Midnight Oil, Echo and the Bunnymen, and Thomas Dolby. All those bands you’ve been missing for the last 30 years.

    • Jack


  • Grease

    Ha ba do gee!

  • chas

    Yes, sophomoric entertainment and AVN-clone public service programs that hype the Zimmerfication of Arlington. Another County Board Charade. How much will it cost taxpayers?

    • Nothing. Nada. Not one cent. AIM is independent of Arlington County. Arlington County is paid rent by the cable companies for the use of the public lands that the cable companies use. A portion of that rent money is passed through to AIM. So NO TAX DOLLARS ARE USED TO SUPPORT AIM and it’s initiatives. Even so, this particular initiative is in the early planning stages and will take some time to design, test, and deploy.

  • ArlForester

    I can’t be the only person who laughed at the idea that it won’t be able to reach all of the expansive piece of land known as Arlington County.

    • That’s low power FM for you. It’s good for hyper local stuff but obviously it has limitations.

  • brendan

    * scarce in the area…. not scare

    not entirely against the idea…. think local media is clearly the way to go these days, tho don’t know if the internet only approach is the way to go. With so many stations, including several great independent ones across the country and globe that have their own address if not app, the competition would be a little tight. however, definitely sick of the music stations in the area and npr and wtop have increasingly irrelevant programming, so would be open to listening to another ‘hyperlocal’ outlet… arlnow has proven a lot of things, the main being there is an audience for geographic targeting.

  • julie

    Why do we need another county government propaganda outlet? AIM is run by county board facilitators. Includes local entertainment shows that are so bad they’re embarrassing. We already have enough stupid AM and FM stations that constantly air the same drivel.

    • You might be confusing AIM with AVN. AIM is independent of the county board and is not run by county board facilitators. It’s run by a small, poorly funded group of very dedicated and hardworking people who think that learning how to produce information and then sharing it with their community is a worthwhile activity. Some of their shows are better than others — they freely admit it. But they do it because they love it and because they think it’s important. The fact that they do it in public seems to make some people feel as if its OK to say stuff about them that is mean, ill-informed, and poorly written.

  • Vibrating

    Yes to habadogee, no to 108.1 as the FM broadcast band only goes up to 107.9 MHz.

    Anyway it will have to be an Internet station as the possibility of getting an FM frequency in our area is limited (unlike the situation with the County’s AM station at 1700. Or didn’t you know we had an AM station.)

    No to haters who suspect a County Board evil plot every time some project is described as “vibrant”.

  • EFC Observer

    The station’s opening line-up:

    AM drive- “Zimmie in the Morning” (host will occasionally be late, or not make it on-air at all)

    PM drive- “All Decisions Pre-ordained”, co-hosts Jay & Mary review the issues of the day.

    Evening – “The Tejada Factor” (format in development)

    Weekends – “The Spending Junkies”, with Libby and Abby.

    • HamDil

      I lol’d

      • EFC Observer

        Five more:

        Saturday evening variety show – “Clarendon Condo Companion”

        Late night Fri/Sat – “All That Jazz”, a mix of musical interludes and county/school staff explaining their respective budgets and capital improvement plans.

        Sunday AM talk show – “Meet the Depressed”, hosted by Jim Moran

        Early evening week nights – “The Five”, alternately hosted by the County Board and School Board, with a trail-blazing talk format where the panelists always all agree with each other.

        Followed by a game show,”The Price is Wrong”, hosted by Barbara Donnellan and Patrick Murphy, where contestants have to guess the construction costs of various capital projects and new spending initiatives, but with new twist – the winner has to guess how much over budget the projects will be.

        • sunflower

          best laugh of the morning!

  • don

    Yes, AIM is a non-profit AVN clone run by County Board facilitators. Entertainment shows are like bad jokes constantly repeated.

  • Donald F

    I look forward to jazz and conversation from the foot of Mt. Belzoni

  • Fishbone

    The most important question is, of course, the call letters.

    We submit the following options:

    The Cube

    Among others.

    • Cerph

      I vote W.A.N.K.

      • Fishbone

        We applaud you for thinking outside the box.

    • SNAFU


      • Fishbone

        Sorry, but this part of the comments section is now closed. Better luck next time.

        • To all of the above making snarky comments — why don’t you come by and check out the station. Then you could make informed comments that add something to the discussion. Give me a little notice and I’ll provide coffee or the beverage of you choice and a guided tour. You’ll quickly learn several helpful things — 1) The County Board is nowhere to be found in our facility (neither is state or federal government). NOBODY tells what the producers of the programming what to play and NOBODY ever prevents them from playing what ever they want as long as their programs meet some very minimal technical requirements and don’t violate the law. If and when we offer radio programming the same strategy will apply. We want everyone to have an opportunity to produce media about whatever they want. Even you.

  • give trevor his own talk show, plz

    • CourthouseChris

      This. This idea right here. This is the key to ratings. One of the best ideas I’ve come across in a while.

  • radio for the rest of us

    I moved to Arlington from Richmond, VA which has a great low power FM independent radio station: WRIR – Richmond Independent Radio (97.3FM). Check out http://www.wrir.org/ to see what great independent radio can look like.

    • I’d love to talk to the people at Richmond. If you could put me in touch with them, I’d appreciate it. You can find my email address on our Web Site,

  • barry

    Snarky comments? There’s a laundry list of topics that are not permitted to be addressed by AIM producers, who also just so happen to be facilitators of the County Board’s status quo. Most of the other local news media and blogs are the same. Please stop denying that AIM is the non-profit clone of AVN.


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