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Subject: [IP] Student-run radio station fighting for air

  • From: David Farber <dave@farber.net>
  • To: ip@v2.listbox.com
  • Date: Fri, 16 Dec 2005 15:56:34 -0500



Begin forwarded message:

From: Bob Frankston <Bob19-0501@bobf.frankston.com>
Date: December 15, 2005 12:52:17 PM EST
To: Dave Farber <dave@farber.net>
Subject: Student-run radio station fighting for air

This is an interesting story in a number of ways. First is the basic problem of how to allocate scarce resource while protecting minority voices &#x2013; in this case the school.



It&#x2019;s also another painful reminder of the problems with the whole (obsolete and now whacky) idea of frequency allocation.



I wonder if the &#x201C;radio&#x201D; station is also available over the Internet. The answer should be &#x201C;of course&#x201D; but there seems to be a cultural abyss.



It&#x2019;s the same one that keeps community TV stations confined to a cable Ghetto instead of having their content available on a server. If they really wanted to provide a service other than play &#x201C;pretend TV broadcaster&#x201D; they would want to have the town meetings simply available. For local availability there should be no cost for gigabytes of traffic but that&#x2019;s another issue &#x2013; the question why local traffic has to be priced as if it were using scarce transpacific cables &#x2013; I plan to write more about that issue separately. The short form is that telecom prices for the worst case while the Internet allows the best case &#x2013; no wonder we get broadband instead of connectivity. It&#x2019;s like assigning the railroad companies to operate (steam-powered) airplanes.



There would be little extra cost to adding a small 802.11 receiver chip to radios and cell phones these days &#x2013; especially considering the size of the marketplace. Then we wouldn&#x2019;t have this scarcity. Notice I said &#x201C;receiver&#x201D;. It&#x2019;s far too easy to fall into a broadcast mindset. With 802.11 I could just listen but I could also participate if I chose because it&#x2019;s inherently two-way.



But instead we wind up fighting over an artificial scarcity that we&#x2019;ve internalized &#x2013; confined to a prison of our own devise.





http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2005/12/15/ student_run_radio_station_fighting_for_air/




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MAYNARD

Student-run radio station fighting for air
By Melissa Beecher, Globe Correspondent  |  December 15, 2005

For the last two months, Joe Magno has been inundated with questions from the Associated Press, every local television station, bloggers from around the country, and half a dozen newspapers.

The media blitz came on fast and hard when it was learned the Federal Communications Commission had all but pulled the plug on Maynard's student-run radio station.

Two months after the questions started, ''Mags&quot; and the 186 students of 91.7 FM still have no definitive answers.

The station is in a holding pattern waiting to see if it will have a frequency come April 6 -- the day its license expires.

''I'm very concerned. The FCC made a big mistake. I hope they fix it,&quot; said Magno, faculty adviser to the station, from behind his desk recently as teenagers, teachers, and alumni rushed in and out of his room during a typical broadcast day.

Since October, the FCC has been reviewing public comment after it tentatively awarded WAVM's frequency to Living Proof Inc., a Christian broadcaster based in Bishop, Calif.

The FCC was reviewing the license because Maynard High wanted to increase its power signal from 10 to 250 watts, to reach more listeners. That inadvertently triggered bids on the frequency, and Living Proof came away the top candidate.

A spokesman for the FCC, Alan Schneider, said last week he did not know when the agency would review the appeal.

More than just the Maynard High students are awaiting the outcome. Politicians, former students, teachers, residents, and other stations have rallied around WAVM, thrusting the little station into the national spotlight.

''It's been exciting to see all these people coming out, but the truth behind it all is sad . . . that we might lose,&quot; said 18-year- old Ben Kelley, one of three general managers at the station.

''I have kids coming in here asking if they'll still have a show next year, or if they'll be on tomorrow. I keep saying that until we hear otherwise, we'll be on the air.&quot;

Scott Fybush, editor of the NorthEast Radio Watch, an industry trade newsletter, said the suspense could last a while.

''There are no deadlines,&quot; said Fybush. ''It takes as long as the FCC wants it to take.&quot;

Fybush predicts that the amount of attention this story has garnered will be in Maynard's favor.

''There is a tremendous amount of bureaucracy over who occupies your dial,&quot; said Fybush. ''But in this case, it's far from over for Maynard. My gut tells me the FCC will find a way out.&quot;

Industry analysts are closely watching WAVM, he said, noting that low- power Class D stations like Maynard's have been increasingly squeezed out by religious and commercial interests.

Maynard can take some solace from Mercer Island High School, near Seattle. After a two-year battle, its student radio station persuaded the FCC to reverse a decision awarding its frequency to a commercial station.

Senator Maria Cantwell, a Washington state Democrat, has filed the Educational Radio Protection Act to make Class D stations less vulnerable.

Meanwhile, the students are growing more frustrated. They have tried to plead their case with Living Proof Inc. directly. Their calls went unanswered until earlier this week, when Magno received an e-mail from an attorney representing Living Proof. Although Magno says the initial conversations give him cause for optimism, a resolution is still far from being reached anytime soon.

According to the FCC, Living Proof Inc. has eight licenses or construction permits throughout the country to expand their broadcasts of Christian music and Bible study. Headed by Daniel McClenaghan, pastor of the Calvary Church in Bishop, Calif., Living Proof operates two FM radio stations in California.

FCC spokeswoman Rebecca Fisher has said the agency picked Living Proof, which plans to broadcast out of Lunenberg, as part of a policy to promote noncommercial licenses in areas with limited or no noncommercial stations.

When contacted by the Globe, a woman who answered the phone at Living Proof said no one at Calvary Church was ''authorized to make any comment at this time.&quot;

WAVM has continued business as usual with its 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. slate of student shows, local sports games, community events, and services from four Maynard churches. This past weekend, the station held its annual marathon broadcast to raise funds for needy families. It brought in $40,688.

When WAVM isn't on the air, the frequency is used by WUMB, a station based out of the University of Massachusetts atBoston campus in Dorchester. Students at UMass and other colleges and high schools can hold internships at the noncommercial station.

Like many students, Maggie Rolla, 17, became involved with WAVM as a freshman, running a show in the not-so-coveted Friday night time slot.

''My parents would sit at home and play cards, call up, and request songs,&quot; said Rolla, adding that she had played ''Hey Jude&quot; -- a tune picked because her father plays in a Beatles cover band -- more times than she could count.

''Parents love listening to their kids on the radio, because in Maynard, chances are, they were involved with WAVM when they went to school,&quot; said Rolla, who is one of the station's general managers.

''WAVM is something everyone can participate in, not just jocks or the top kids in the class. &quot;

Although students are exploring webcasting in Maynard, the traditional radio station is where their hearts are.

''I haven't allowed myself to think this might all be over on April 6. I can't imagine not coming in here,&quot; Kelley said in the bright orange halls of his studio around the corner from a banner that reads ''WAVM: Voice of Tiger Town.&quot;

Magno, the adviser to the station, was one of its founding members when he started the program in 1973. Sitting in his classroom, where posters of Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden, and the Doors hang overhead, Magno reflected that the school just wouldn't be the same without it.

''If this thing goes against us, it's going to be chaotic in here,&quot; Magno said. ''If it goes for us, it's going to be even more chaotic.&quot;

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&#xA9; Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company


Bob Frankston http://www.frankston.com





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