Labor Unions Hail Federal Sale of Low Powered Radio Frequencies

-By Warner Todd Huston

Labor unions and ACORN-styled community groups based in America’s big cities are hailing a new decision by the Federal Communications Commission to auction hundreds of low power FM radio frequencies in compliance with the federal Local Community Radio Act passed in 2010.

After a 15-year campaign to force the federal government to open up the dial to low power radio stations, the Prometheus Radio Project was finally able to convince Congress to pass the Local Community Radio Act (LCRA) which changed the law to allow more stations to be licensed by the FCC.

Originally new stations on the FM dial could only be licensed if the frequency requested was more than “three clicks away” on a digital dial from an existing station (for instance, from 96.1 to 96.3 is one click on the dial). The new law would allow for frequencies at three or only two clicks from existing stations with the stipulation that the new station would not cause interfere with existing stations. Hence why they would be 100 watt, low power stations.

The FCC has finally acquiesced to Congress’ law and will put thousands of new frequencies up for auction available only to non-profit groups between October 15 and October 29 of this year.

The FCC has posted the process it will use to decide who gets a frequency if more than one potential broadcaster is requesting it. For instance, “Points” will be awarded to the group that will pledge to air at least eight hours of local programming daily, if they are affiliated with a Native American tribe, if they will offer local community groups access, and other things. The FCC has also said it may require a sharing plan if applicants don’t prevail over competitors.

This move is being hailed by labor unions and inner city, ACORN-styled community groups as the “democratization of radio.”

Ash-Lee Henderson of Concerned Citizens for Justice recently noted what a propaganda coup this is for left-wing community groups like hers.

“We have to fight for those spaces,” Henderson told the liberal website Democracy Now!. “Like, we, as social justice movement builders, need to really own spaces and be able to control narratives, because we believe that, like, the people know how to tell their own stories, and they know the solutions to their own problems.”

Cam Tu Nguyen, of the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association, agreed saying that controlling the story is important.

When we don’t have the media and—or the media is controlled by another group that doesn’t have our side of the story, our perspective, our community interest, and other people hear from them, and we have nothing to combat that. We have—we don’t have our own radio station, our own newspaper, to put our truth out there, our version, our perspective, out there. Then, in a way, they control the battle.

Labor union groups are also hailing the move. Latino labor union activist Ramón Ramírez commented that it was a victory to “open up the airwaves to community organizations and labor unions and immigrant rights groups, so that groups can use it as an organizing tool.”

Once again it appears that liberal activists, labor unions, and left-wingers are ahead of conservatives on the curve for outreach and communications.
“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
–Samuel Johnson

Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s,, and, as well as,,,,, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.

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Copyright Publius Forum 2001