Bringing Radio Back to Life
Or, "Broadcasting for the masses!"

In our communities, there are a few individuals who have been brave enough to disobey the wishes of the issuers of prechewed lousy programming and the letter of the law, in order to bring us entertaining, interesting, and useful programming via unlicensed radio stations. To those the mass media likes to call 'pirates', I salute you.

I believe in fair and equal access to frequencies used for broadcasting. Currently, the broadcast radio bands are awash in the useless prechewed programming of just a few media conglomerates, who see the medium of radio as nothing but a chance to sell ad space.

Here's my idea: Analog television's supposedly on the way out, right? I know some stations have already been required to begin broadcasting in the digital HDTV format in addition to their conventional analog signal. Now, whenever all those analog television broadcasts get shut down, the radio spectrum left behind by them should be vacant. Of course, the FCC will want to auction this off to the highest bidder for commercial services, but I propose that some *somewhat* small segment be left open - say, 10 Mhz wide.

This 10 Mhz wide band, ideally where one of the UHF analog TV channels once resided (512-700 mhz range? ... too lazy to get frequency chart... aieee!), would be left open for use by noncommercial broadcast operations. The only requirements should be that the broadcast equipment operate within proper limits of power and spectral purity, and that they not cause interference to any other licensed or unlicensed radio services. Say, 15 watts, wideband FM (as is found on the current 88.1-107.9 Mhz broadcast band), with an option to use a digital audio system.

The advantages in implementing the service in this manner? First, since we'd use the same type of modulation as the existing FM broadcast service, adapting new and existing equipment to recieve these broadcasts would be a snap. A switchable downconverter could be added to new equipment, and an external downconverter can be added to existing recievers. Second, due to the use of UHF frequencies... the antennas can be much smaller and more efficient for the same physical size. Directional antennas would also be much smaller and more practical to use in recieving distant broadcasts.

As for regulations... well, I can see that the FCC might want to limit broadcasters using this system to type-accepted equipment. Effective radiated power and antenna height could also be limited to ensure that any user of the system does not monopolize available frequencies. In addition, commercial broadcasters would be allowed to use this system, but would be limited to only one transmitter site and frequency each. Hear that, Clear Channel? You go SHOO now.

Recently there's been a lot of stuff about inappropriate and indecent content in broadcast media. I believe the same standards should apply, unless there's some particularly good artistic reason for such content to exist.

Also, operators should not be required to register with anyone... if someone really misbehaves, it'll be easy to track them down by their signal and tell them to stfu.

Furthermore, I believe that unused frequencies on the existing broadcast bands should be eligible for free non-commerical station licenses... and unlicensed users shall be welcome as well on otherwise unused frequencies, provided that they periodically say "Arrrr" on the air.

Hmmm. Who else is with me here? I do believe this could be quite successful...