13 licenses have been granted to new low power FM stations in the Seattle area. Happy to see that the FCC is allowing LPFM to become a reality.
The bad news? Almost all the frequency assignments have high power FM stations that are presently using those frequencies and have a signal that is usable here in Seattle, most are Canadian, one is a station in Wenatchee. These stations happen to be my favorite radio stations to listen to in the car. Won’t be for long. Not a happy camper.
The side effect is that these low power FM stations will be very limited in range even if you own a good receiver and antenna because of the existence of high power stations on the same frequencies.
My take on this is that it was the FCCs way of giving these new LPFM stations a back-handed bitch slap. They knew the public and congress overwhelmingly support LPFM, so they couldn’t deny it outright, so instead they chose to assign it to already populated frequencies to minimize the reach of low power FM stations and maximize the interference they will cause to traditional broadcasters. This is an old tactic for getting people to agree to what you want, create a reason for them to want it, which is to say no LPFM because it’s not usable or because it interferes with something you want to use. This will of course get the NAB up in arms and cause them to ramp up their opposition to LPFM.
I can’t say there is much of anything the FCC does that I agree with. In particular, the choice of digital systems here in the United States destroys two adjacent channels, so now one high power commercial station essentially occupies three frequencies. If they had gone with Radio Mondale instead of this horrid IBOC they chose to use here in the states, we wouldn’t have destroyed the two adjacent channels with digital hash and those would then be usable frequencies, the audio quality would have been better and the usability in low signal areas would have been better.
Fortunately, most stations are online now and can be listened to from anywhere but not the case for the car until some form of affordable mobile Internet becomes available.