FCC testimony on media ownership: Jeff Hoyt

Good evening, my name is Jeff Hoyt. I live just across the water, over there on Vashon Island. Seven years ago, when the LPFM program was first announced, we got a group together on Vashon to submit an application, and then it was promptly tossed right after the corporate conglomerates lobbied to get the spacing rules changed, as we all know.

We did not fold up our tent, however. We began webcasting in the hope that we could tread water long enough to finally get a license one day. Seven years later, Voice of Vashon is still there. We are a respected and vibrant community asset. We built a studio using all volunteer labor. We taught broadcast journalism in our local high school, and we continue to teach students and young people to create and distribute content.

If a major earthquake were to cut our island off from the mainland, and leave our friends and neighbors unable to receive critical information, the FCC would hear from us within one hour with a request that we need an immediate, emergency waiver that would allow us to broadcast over the air to our island community on a temporary basis while lives were at stake. The precedent was set during Katrina, and we would ask for that from the FCC. We have trained repeatedly for this scenario.

Despite, however, all of the work that we have done in all these areas, Voice of Vashon remains limited to a webcast operation, which means just a few listeners at a time -- no one can hear us on the radio in the cars or while sitting in the ferry line. Yet, we continue to serve our community ‘24/7’ as we have for seven years now. We have invested tens of thousands of volunteer hours toward our dream of reaching the airwaves. Part of what keeps us going is the FCC’s off-stated pledge to encourage community radio and increase localism in the media. So, if you ever need a poster child to attach this pledge, we will happily hop on a plane and head right to Washington for you.

Yet, we have been told that we are too close to Seattle to be considered for the upcoming non-commercial FM window… that we may not even qualify once the next iteration of LPFM appears. Now, if we cannot even get on the air in the current climate, then how does loosening the rules around media consolidation do anything other than just slam the door shut on us forever? Thank you for being here, for doing all your good work and thank you for continuing to give us reason to hope.

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