Tag Archives: LPFM

“How one tiny Ontario station keeps listeners tuning in”

(Source: TVO.org)

At Amherst Island’s CJAI 92.1 FM, volunteers host shows, work the mixing board, and woo advertisers — it’s just one of many small local radio stations across the province trying to do more with less

AMHERST ISLAND — Radio host Brian Little takes a quick break from playing hit songs from 1975 on his weekly Friday Morning Show to throw to Keith Miller and the CJAI traffic chopper.

“Thanks, Brian!” Miller yells over the sound of swooshing blades. “Your traffic update for Amherst Island: There are four cars in the ferry lineup. A few cars stopped at Concession Road 2 taking pictures of the snowy owls. This concludes your traffic update!”

Miller, an 78-year-old former dairy farmer, gives Little a satisfied grin as he pulls away from the microphone and puts down an oscillating fan with “CJAI Chopper” written on it in black Sharpie. It’s clearly one of Miller’s favourite gags.

CJAI 92.1 FM, a community radio station on Amherst Island, about 30 kilometres west of Kingston, in Lake Ontario, was created in 2006 by a group of residents — including veteran broadcaster Peter Trueman, who had retired to the island — to promote local content and community events. It now reaches roughly 10,000 listeners from Picton to the western edge of Kingston and airs more than 40 hours a week of live shows: Jazz Jim’s Vault (jazz classics and history), Saturday Night Barn Burner (lesser-known artists with a focus on rock), Sally’s Books (readings from selected books), and Birding (birding), to name just a few.

Like most of Ontario’s 54 campus and community radio stations, it relies on a team of dedicated volunteers to keep it running and is fighting to survive in a rapidly changing media landscape. And CJAI’s fight for survival has only gotten tougher since it learned that it may lose Dayle Gowan’s milk house — the building that’s been its home since the station’s inception.

“When they first started, they basically had no money, and this old milk house just had some junk, so I said, ‘Do you want to use it?’” says Gowan.[…]

Click here to read the full article.

Listen to CJAI live via TuneIn Radio:

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RIP Dr. Byron St. Clair: Father of low-power FM

(Source: TV Technology via Bill Patalon)

Dr. Byron St. Clair, president emeritus of the National Translator Association, died May 20 in Denver of brain cancer. He was 93.

St. Clair, who served as president of the National Translator Association for 19 years, is known as the “father of translators, LPTV and low-power FM,” the association said.

He worked to serve those living in the mountainous rural western United States with broadcast service and in so doing created a new class of over-the-air broadcasting, which has grown to more than 4,000 stations that serve millions of people.

“Byron was a friend and mentor to all, a man of immense intellect, wisdom, ethics, kindness and vision,” said NTA President John Terrill.[…]

Continue reading at TV Technology online.

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NY Times on the rise of low power community radio

When listening to marginal FM signals, the AR1780 can be set to mono mode instead of default stereo mode.

(Source: NY Times via Mike Hansgen)

As Low-Power Local Radio Rises, Tiny Voices Become a Collective Shout

SEATTLE — A knowledge of geography is essential if you are running a tiny, 100-watt radio station. Hills are bad, for example, as are tall buildings. Salt water, though, which lies at this city’s doorstep, can boost a radio signal for miles, like a skipped rock.

For a low-power FM radio station, anything measurable in miles is good.

But on a recent Thursday night, one station, KBFG, was struggling to even get on the air. The station’s signal, audible since November in an area measurable in square blocks, had flatlined. The Ballard High School basketball team was about to take the court and the live play-by-play was in doubt.

“We’re bootstrapping it,” said Eric Muhs, a physics and astronomy teacher. Headphones were slung around his neck, and a mop of unruly gray hair came further undone as he leaned into his laptop trying to fix a software glitch. But Mr. Muhs, 60, one of KBFG’s founders, admitted that the stakes for failure were relatively low. “Almost nobody knows that we exist,” he said.

Low-power nonprofit FM stations are the still, small voices of media. They whisper out from basements and attics, and from miniscule studios and on-the-fly live broadcasts like KBFG’s. They have traditionally been rural and often run by churches; many date to the early 2000s, when the first surge of federal licenses were issued.

But in the last year, a diverse new wave of stations has arrived in urban America, cranking up in cities from Miami to the Twin Cities in Minnesota, and especially here in the Northwest, where six community stations began to broadcast in Seattle.[…]

Continue reading at the New York Times.

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