Dozens of Sacramento-area groups apply for new low-power FM radio licenses
Here’s the run-down on the crop of potential new broadcasters
Gina Spadafori lives in a pretty unique community. “I can see the dome of the state Capitol from my backyard. But I’ve got goats and chickens. I can ride a horse in my neighborhood.”
If you guessed West Sacramento, pat yourself on the back. Spadafori is a writer of books and columns about animals, she’s a former Sacramento Bee reporter and had a long-running column there on pet care.
Since West Sacramento sort of gets short shrift in the regional press, Spadafori has teamed up with likeminded folks to try to enhance local news and community-affairs reporting. As part of their effort, Spadafori—along with West Sacramento News-Ledger editor Steve Marschke, former West Sacramento city council member Wesley Beers, and some others—are applying for a new low-power FM radio license, at 92.9 on the dial, so they can build a station to help cover West Sac. If successful, the station would be part of a media effort Spadafori describes as a “tiny ProPublica, but in West Sacramento.”
“It has to serve the community, and inform and engage the community,” she says.
Spadafori and her neighbors are just one of more than a dozen groups in the area vying for new LPFM licenses. As Bites wrote a few columns back, nonprofit organizations around the country are right now making their pitches to the Federal Communications Commission for the right to build new community stations.
The FCC recently released all of the applications and supporting documents to the public. You can sift through all the info at the link provided in the column note, if you’re into that kind of thing. If not, Bites has done it for you. Here’s the run-down on the crop of potential new broadcasters:
In Davis, a group called Solar Garden Learning and Entertainment has applied, promising public-affairs programming, “dealing with art, environment, current affairs and media education.” They want a station at 93.1.
Another Davis group, Music Only Makes Sense, has applied for a license at 102.9, which will support local live music performances, broadcast artists that don’t get regular airplay elsewhere and help train youth in radio production.
On the Sacramento side, applications have come in from an array of groups. The Sacramento Old City Association, Ubuntu Green and Sacramento Area Peace Action have all applied for a license at 95.7. And the Verge Center for the Arts, Sacramento French Cultural Society, and Sacramento Bicycle Kitchen have all applied for a license at 103.1. Bites knows that most of the above groups have been working with another nonprofit called Common Frequency, which helps would-be community broadcasters. And even though all those applications are separate, there may be more cooperation going on there than competition for these spots on the dial. Also applying for a station at 103.1 is the Women’s Civic Improvement Club of Sacramento Inc., which submitted a broadcast schedule of gospel music, youth radio, and local talk radio.
Each potential broadcaster specifies a transmitter location and an estimated service area. Most of the potential Sacramento stations would cover downtown Sacramento and the inner neighborhoods nearby. Some are more centered on South Sacramento, some on North Sacramento, you get the idea.
The FCC got applications from the Process Theater Inc. and the Sacramento Blues Society for 93.3, and each has submitted similar-looking programming schedules heavy on the blues and rock.
Two church groups submitted applications for LPFM licenses. Williams Memorial Church of God in Christ applied for a license at 99.1, which would cover much of the Florin, Parkway, Valley Hi, Laguna areas. North Sacramento Community Radio has applied for 104.7. Bites called the number on that application and was told by a nice man in Texas that North Sacramento Community Radio is a project of some local pastors.
Finally, the community media organization Access Sacramento has applied for a license at 96.5, which would cover an area roughly from West Sac to Sacramento State, Natomas to Mack Road.
For the last 30 years or so, Access has helped community members produce public-affairs and educational programming via cable channels 17 and 18, and trained citizens in TV and radio broadcasting skills. The new director, Gary Martin, told Bites the LPFM is a natural extension of their mission, and Access is fortunate in being the only applicant at that particular frequency. “It’s encouraging that we’re a solo requester. But it’s a bit frightening no one else has applied for this frequency. Maybe they know something we don’t.”
So, there’s no guarantee that Access Sacramento or any other group will get a license. If Access is successful, Martin says, “For anyone who doesn’t get that chance, if they still have a message they want to share, come to Access Sacramento.”