Another day on the Soapbox

My third and final Soapblog talks about how WVQC will fill a void in Cincinnati’s radio station. The whole article is reposted below.

Soapbox Blog 3: The Alternative Alternative

There’s a lot that’s missing from the radio dial in Cincinnati. Few stations play bands like Jake Speed and the Freddies, The Seedy Seeds, Eclipse, The Faux Frenchmen, the artists from Lyrical Insurrection and all the other talented musicians and spoken word artists from our city.

It’s also tough to hear the news from the latest city council meeting, or in depth discussions about issues that affect your neighborhood. Cincinnati has a growing Hispanic community, but they can’t turn on the dial and hear news in their own language.

WVQC-LP, Radio Free Queen City, which signs on the air August 1, 2009 at 95.7 FM, is your radio alternative. We’ll air the quality, local, independent programming that you can’t hear on Cincinnati’s mainstream radio.

Radio Free Queen City, and low-power FM (LPFM) stations like it, are inspired by pioneering micro-radio stations like Radio Free Berkeley. In the 1990s, dozens of these small pirate stations popped up around the country, airing independent content and protesting radio consolidation, corporate playlists and syndicated programming. These stations didn’t have a broadcast license, but they often had the support of their communities and even local legislatures.

The strength of the pirate radio movement, along with concerns about the decline of local radio, influenced the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) 2000 decision to legalize LPFMs, small, non-commercial, FM radio stations operated by non-profit groups and dedicated to airing local content. Media Bridges, which operates Radio Free Queen City, applied for a low-power license in January 2001.

The FCC’s ruling met powerful opposition. Organizations like the National Association of Broadcasters fought to keep the low-power stations off the dial and succeeded in getting strict restrictions on where they could be located.

The legal battles held up the LPFM movement, but in 2008, seven years after submitting our initial application, WVQC-LP, Radio Free Queen City was granted a permit to begin constructing a low-power station.

Cincinnati is lucky. Since 2000, less than 1,000 LPFM licenses have been issued across the country, and the FCC is not currently accepting applications for new ones.

LPFMs are almost always in rural areas. Due to placement restrictions and the crowded radio dial, few cities are fortunate enough to receive a license. Cincinnati is the largest radio market in the country to have an LPFM station.

The name, Radio Free Queen City, is a tribute to the micro-stations that started the low-power movement as well as a description of our content. We’re free of format restrictions or playlists selected by out-of-town focus groups or faceless corporations.

We’re also committed to the Queen City. Our goal is to represent the diversity of Cincinnati and to weave together the cultural fabric of its 52 neighborhoods.

We need your support to bring Radio Free Queen City to Cincinnati’s airwaves. Our license requires us to begin broadcasting by August 2009. Missing our deadline would be a loss for the city. If we lose our license, it would be difficult, if not impossible for Cincinnati to get a new one.

Radio Free Queen City has just launched our Free the Airwaves Campaign to raise $127,000 by our launch date of August 1. The money will purchase necessary equipment and cover the station’s operating costs for the first year. Donations can be made at our website, www.wvqc.org.

Don’t miss this opportunity for our city. Help bring WVQC-LP, Radio Free Queen City, local, independent, community radio, to Cincinnati.

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