FM Broadcast Filing Windows are Approaching

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If you have seriously considered starting a radio station, it’s time to get moving.  FCC filing windows for FM Broadcast will be opening soon.  In 2021 there will be an opportunity to file for an NCE (Non-Commercial Educational station).  And somewhere between 2021 and 2022, there will be a window for Low Power FM stations (Reserved band 88.1-91.1).  

Here are some things to keep in mind when entering the world of broadcasting.

It's a Long and Winding Road

The road to owning a radio station takes time.  It’s common to expect 3 years to complete construction.  The permits themselves can take months to years to acquire.  Betty McArdle, of the Community Media Assistance Project (CMAP), says to “make sure the board is prepared for longevity of support for the project.”

Availability of Bandwidth is Shrinking

Radio Frequencies are a finite resource.  Therefore, FCC filing windows are rare.  The last window for reserved band FM stations was in 2007.  It is important to act swiftly when opportunity arises.   Michelle Bradley of REC Networks wants to remind people that “availability will be very little to none in urban areas.”

FCC Basics
  • Announcements on windows come from the FCC
  • The windows will be announced at least 30 days prior to opening
  • A window is open usually between 5-10 days
  • No early or late filing is permissible
Who is Eligible
  • Any state registered non-profit entity can apply.  501c3 status is not required
  • State recognized educational institutions
  • Religious organizations and congregations
  • Government entities including tribal entities
Other Important Points
  •  When applying for a permit, 75% or more of the board must be citizens of the United States
  • Applicants must be local when applying for an LPFM
  • Applicants do not have to be local when applying for an NCE, but it does help their chances
  • If you are interested in upgrading an existing LPFM, get started right away
Further Resources for Guidance

REC Networks


Tutorial on upcoming filing windows by Michael D. Brown of Brown Broadcast Services

New Pointers on the Point System by Michael Couzens