WTF are those acronyms? LPFM stands for low-power FM radio, which I wrote about last month, and it's going to make an appearance in Seattle—and urban areas around the country—before you know it. These mini radio stations will be nonprofit media owned by people in the community, like Hollow Earth Radio or 206 Zulu, and they'll be right on the dial next to Clear Channel's top-40 crapcasts. But first, they have to get licenses from the FCC, when the application window opens in October. Those applications take time, and that's why Brown Paper Tickets is throwing a radio hoedown today at South by Southwest.
Brown Paper Tickets runs a program wherein a portion of their profits goes to pay a handful of employees who work full-time on non-ticket-related cool shit. In this case, Sabrina Roach, who works on public interest media for BPT, gets to run all over the city (and the country) helping people put together their applications for these LPFM licenses. Today, that means drinking Bloody Marys and eating breakfast tacos in Austin (hard work, but somebody has to—y'know) while trying to get the word out to folks who might want to make their own badass radio station. They're calling it the National Make Radio Challenge, and the goal is to "fill every potential Low Power FM radio frequency with a qualified applicant." This one application window will likely be the only chance to start one of these stations, given how full the FM spectrum already is.
"Our hope is that community groups take up the challenge and use the public airwaves for public good," Roach says in a press release this morning. "An additional benefit would be in helping to correct the lack of diversity in media ownership," she continues, pointing out that "87 percent of all radio stations are owned by Caucasians, 6 percent are owned by women, and 7 percent by people of color, which influences the programming heard on the public airwaves." Enjoy your media-equity booze and tacos, SXSW! I'm gonna go have a Bloody Mary in solidarity.