Arlington Independent Media‘s low-power FM station was approved by the Federal Communications Commission for 96.7 on the dial, with call letters WERA-LPFM. As part of their FCC approval, the radio station must be broadcast-ready by Dec. 9, according to AIM Executive Director Paul LeValley.
When the radio station does launch — and LeValley has no doubt they will be ready to air by the deadline — it will be a platform for anyone interested in broadcasting to get real, on-air experience.
“We’ll train [the community] on how to do it, how to produce a radio program, and they will produce the programming,” LeValley told ARLnow.com this morning. “There’s an interest group among just citizens, people who for years have been lobbying for low-power FM around the area and just in Arlington. The Arlington portion of that group is starting to coalesce, and they meet independent of my board, independent of my staff. And they’re saying ‘What kind of stuff do we want to do?'”
The FCC requires that any low-power FM station operate only for educational, noncommercial purposes.
LeValley said the low-power FM committee of the AIM Board of Directors is meeting to determine what kind of programming mix the station should have. When it’s live, the station will reach most of Arlington and stretch into parts of the District.
AIM received a construction permit to build a radio tower in June, but it’s still in the process of figuring out where the tower will be located. LeValley couldn’t disclose which sites he was looking at, only that it would be “somewhere toward the center of Arlington, on a multi-story building.”
AIM’s LPFM committee chair Andy Rosenberg has worked for years in public radio and has lived in Arlington for more than 40 years. He said he’s thrilled to see how the community gathers around its own radio station.
“There’s a bit of controversy about whether radio is a dead medium, but I think with these LPFM stations, there’s a chance to build community,” Rosenberg said. “Radio is immediate and flexible and there’s so much you can do with it to engage the community. That’s exciting to think about it.”
WERA-LPFM has the capability to broadcast 24 hours a day and the studio will be in AIM’s headquarters on N. Danville Street in Courthouse. Eventually, Rosenberg said, radio programs will be able to be recorded in satellite offices, sent to the station and transmitted through the tower.
Over the next few months, while the tower site is chosen and construction begins, AIM will hold community meetings to try to determine who and what the community wants to hear on the radio, Rosenberg said.
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