Community radio inches closer to reality

In cities and towns in every US state, community radio advocates are (figuratively) holding their breath as the Local Community Radio Act inches slowly towards passage in the Senate. The bill, which will allow a dramatic expansion of the Low Power FM (LPFM) community radio service, was approved by the House of Representatives last fall. Under the dedicated leadership of Senator Maria Cantwell, the Senate Commerce Committee has also passed the bill, leaving a final Senate vote as the final hurdle to clear. That vote could happen very soon, according to Senator Patrick Leahy, one of the bill's initial cosponsors (along with Cantwell and John McCain). Leahy sounded confident about the bill's passage in a discussion with Vermont weekly Seven Days, even while flagging the obvious difficulty the Senate has apparently had recently passing much of anything in the margins of large-scale debates over health care and financial sector reform.

We'll keep our fingers crossed for some good news soon on this bill which has been some eight years in the making. When the expansion of LPFM becomes law, it will give a powerful voice to thousands of communities currently without access to the airwaves. It will also be a significant victory for the national media democracy movement. Thanks to Senator Cantwell for seeing this through!

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey