The Low Power FM service was created to allow local community access to the FM broadcast band. Traditional broadcast radio stations use high powered transmitters and very high towers to broadcast over a large regional area. This is expensive and many of these stations are owned by large corporations that serve a national market. The purpose of LPFM is to put some of the power of broadcast back into the hands of the local people. LPFM stations are typically 100 watts with an antenna at 100 feet. There are different ways to arrive at this effective radiated power (ERP), but suffice it to say that a typical LPFM station will serve a city. Do to the regulations resulting from the FM treaty with Mexico, LPFM stations along the border were restricted to a maximum ERP of 50 watts; but thanks to our friends at REC Networks, this rule has been changed to allow LPFM stations in the Mexican Border zone to use directional antennas. This is a huge win for community broadcasters. This makes it possible to focus full legal power over your community while still honoring the 50 watt limit toward Mexico. The license process takes longer on the border than elsewhere in the US because of the need to get Mexican concurrence on frequency coordination. It can take as long as three years to get a yes or no answer from Mexico’s communication authority so be patient.
Because of the relatively lower cost of construction and operation, LPFM is a great community resource. Some of the licensees offer learning opportunities for aspiring broadcasters to get experience on the air. Some stations are a sounding board for community issues and others offer a forum for local bands to share their music. For more information about LPFM, visit REC Networks https://recnet.com/
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