Open up the airwaves

Ask Rep. Herger to support a bill that would increase the number of community radio stations

Ever listened to Hmoob neej shiab? If you’re not Hmong, probably not, but for the local members of that community, the Saturday-morning radio program—the title translates as “Hmong New Life”—and the two other Hmong-language programs broadcast on KZFR/90.1-FM are crucial sources of information and music.

The programs testify to the importance of Chico’s only community radio station. No commercial station would broadcast several hours’ worth of Hmong programming, not to mention the other diverse offerings the station carries. From Teen Talk and Chico Butter to Ecotopia and the inimitable Señor Felipe’s LA Sounds, KZFR presents a range of unique, community-generated programming that can’t be found anywhere else.

The same is true of KRBS, Radio Bird Street, the low-power community radio station serving Oroville. Like KZFR, it is a largely volunteer organization whose programmers come from and relate to the community. It, too, is an invaluable addition to the radio mix.

We mention these stations because Congress is now considering a bill—the Local Community Radio Act of 2009 (H.R. 1147)—that would open up the airwaves to more low-power FM stations in communities across the nation. Passage of the bill would inject new blood into a radio system dominated by a few corporations that feel little or no responsibility to the communities they supposedly serve.

Contact your congressman, Wally Herger, and let him know you support H.R. 1147. You can e-mail him via or write to him at 242 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C., 20515.