Low-Power FM Radio Resistance and Community
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The Telecommunications Act of 1996 deregulated broadcast ownership resulting in unprecedented media consolidation and greatly reducing the number and diversity of voices represented in broadcast media. Low-power FM (LPFM) is a radio designation established by the FCC in 2000 as an effort to create a space for different perspectives to utilize the publicly owned airwaves. LPFM stations have a small broadcast radius of 1 to 10 miles and must be owned and operated by non-profits. How can LPFM be used to create places of resistance against national media to preserve a local voice? Can LPFM also be used as a tool for creating community? This research explores how one LPFM radio station, Radio Movimiento (KPCN-LP) based in Woodburn, Oregon, creates community and delivers locally relevant content to its audience. Analyzing the station through Manuel Castell’s theorizations of communication power in the network society, this study shows how Radio Movimiento utilizes network-making power to create locally sensitive pockets of resistance to national media narratives. By connecting its audience to ideologies, cultural heritage, developing identities, and each other, KPCN-LP also develops community. The report includes recommendations for how LPFM radio operators can enhance their community development efforts, and suggests opportunities for planning practitioners to encourage and utilize hyper-local media for community development.