The Fruit from the tree of LPFM

Congress authorized the FCC about 15 Years ago to hand out Low Power FM non-commercial licenses with a maximum power of 100 watts. The FCC dragged their tail, stalling for 10 years to give others a chance to jump in line for available FM frequencies. Because 100 watts goes no further than 5 miles, these require very little oversight and squeeze in between existing station.

There is a huge backlog now of these to research. Often, there is very little information to track down, and I can’t waste an hour on each one. But this one you might find interesting.

Cheryl Rilea was listed on the application of WCKP-LPFM in Ocala Florida, which is technically licensed to the “AGAPE WORLD CHRISTIAN MINISTRIES AND TRAINING CENTER, INC”

The organization and call sign was a dead end, but the phone number and address matches up with Ms Riley’s business as a nutrionist, dietician, massage therapist and colon cleaner. Poking around a bit more, I find a Seventh Day Adventist connection. There is some disagreement within SDA whether they are required to be vegetarians.

Massage Therapy

With a distinctive last name, it is easier to find out the religious beliefs which motivated her to start a radio station. She has YouTube videos!

Some times you have to crack some eggs. Enjoy!

Has anyone here ever listened to an LPFM station? Given their limited range, you are not likely to hear one in your car. My sister in New York lived about one block from one and was unaware it existed.

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8 Responses to The Fruit from the tree of LPFM

  1. Parrott says:

    LPFM is a total waste of time. They are even annoying to try and test. Clutter up the FM band making noise.
    Nothing ‘ live’. annoying

    • Fred Stiening says:

      They were designed to fail. The advocates of LPFM eschew the idea of making money, so fought hard to make sure LPFM stations would be not for profit. It is a rare situation where a station that reaches at most five miles can bring in enough revenue without running commercials to pay the music royalties, rent, power bills, etc – let alone employees.

      Because of the limited range, people will not listen in their car. If your commute is more than a couple miles, you lose the station. If your commute is two miles, you’re at work before the first song finishes.

      Some of the places where it might make sense are places where a lot of people are permanently in close proximity – a retirement community, a ski lodge, a shopping mall.

      The explosion in FM Translators for AM station shows there was a huge market for low power commercial FM stations. At 250 watts (vs LPFM 100 watts), the signal can go a bit further, wedging in between distant full power stations. It is too early to tell if they can get enough traction to pay the power bill.

      FM signals (and TV) are based on a measure called “Effective Radiated Power” which factors in an efficiency multiplier – so a 100,000 watt FM radio station isn’t actually burning 100 kW for the transmitter (~$15/hr). Because of the way signals spread out over distance, the further you try to make the signal reach, the more you are spending to excite electrons out in cow pastures.

  2. Parrott says:

    Yes VDOT has them, sometimes they actually work. You ‘ll see them sometimes on a rise in the medium or side of the interstate.
    Most of the time you can’t hear anything, and the AM radio works best in the
    truck ( diesel) .

  3. Fred Stiening says:

    Here is another interesting one in Dotham Alabama – it is an organization formed around the issue of restoring voting rights for citizens formerly sent to prison

    • Parrott says:

      Man, I live a sheltered life.
      There are a few LPFM in Roanoke VA I have heard them for a short bit driving through. Their modulation is always low,
      One of these days we’ll find one that all they do is just read Craigslist listings.

      • Fred Stiening says:

        I don’t know if they are still used, but they are a lot like the construction radio things on 1610 kHz on AM… they have a sweet spot about one mile on either side of the transmitter – not useful for normal mobile use unless you have a three block commute.

  4. briand75 says:

    I have, but only in testing. Most seem okay – I don’t hang around looking for conspiracies or whatever. Quite a few do not have a full broadcast day as the person who purchased the transmitter has a full time job (my guess).

    • Fred Stiening says:

      LPFM licenses basically have the same obligations as high school radio stations – they need to be on the air at least 36 hours a week, broadcasting at full power 6 days a week with at least 5 hours a day. It is fine to just have a computer playing recordings all day.

      In contrast, a fully licensed station must be on the air at least from 6 AM until 10 PM (sunrise to sunset for daytimer AM) 7 days a week.

      Since LPFM maxes out at 100 watts, keeping a transmitter on for the minimum time would cost maybe $1 a week.

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