More radio stations coming

FCC approves 19 Alaska applications for low-power FM stations

Posted: Thursday, December 28, 2000

Two new radio stations soon will be coming to Juneau.

Stations belonging to the Calvary Fellowship and the Gastineau Broadcasting Corp. were among the 19 applications recently approved by the federal government for new low-power, noncommercial FM radio licenses.

A number of school, church, tribal, community and other groups around the state will use the stations for what they believe are gaps in local radio programming and to reach underserved audiences.

The Calvary Fellowship hopes its new station will help it attract a more diversified audience.

"We're thinking of it obviously as a Christian-oriented station, but to reach more of an alternative crowd than the two stations we have now reach," said pastor Brian Ewing. "Something that will reach the 16-to-30 crowd."

The station also will emphasize local involvement, he said.

"We just had ideas around maybe getting different folks around the town just locally involved in it, because the two Christian stations we have now are just downlinks," Ewing said. "It would have some local flavor."

The board members of the Gastineau Broadcasting Corp. - Steve Tada, Dan Dawson, Greg Morgan and Tom Willis - could not be reached for comment. Willis said previously their new station will be Juneau-based, with an emphasis on local programming, local events and local news.

The license applications were approved under restrictions Congress laid down in a wrap-up federal funding bill President Clinton signed late last week.

They will broadcast at power of 100 watts or less. The new signals will not interfere with current FM stations, officials said.

Six of the licenses are for schools or school districts at Bethel, Delta Junction, Eagle, Point Hope, Shishmaref and St. Michael.

Four are for churches or religious groups, including the Calvary Fellowship in Juneau and other groups in Fairbanks, Dillingham and Wrangell.

Other low-power FM licenses have been granted the Native villages of Savoonga, Gambell and to the Sitka tribe. Another has gone to the city of Sitka.

The others are going to community or incorporated groups at Juneau, Hyder, Galena, Tok and Ninilchik. The Gastineau Broadcasting Corp. is one of the community groups.

None of the licenses went to individuals or groups that have run illegal "pirate" radio stations.

A 30-day contest period is under way, so people objecting to the new Alaska licenses can raise their concerns with the FCC. Meantime, licensees can move ahead with construction and testing plans to get their new low-power stations up and running.

Alaska was one of 10 states chosen by lottery for the initial low-power FM radio broadcasts. The Federal Communications Commission is allowing two classes of low-power stations - 10 watts and 100 watts. The 100-watt stations were licensed in this first round of applications. The 10-watt stations will follow.

The 100-watt stations will be audible about 3 1/2 miles from the transmitter. The 10-watt transmissions will range up to 2 miles.

Other states in the first group were California, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Utah, as well as the District of Columbia and the Mariana Islands.

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