What I Wish I Had Known About Starting a Low Power FM Station

So, you want to start a low power FM (LPFM) station.

I launched WJGR-LP in 2016 after three years of blood, sweat, tears (yes, there were tears), and numerous proposal meetings.

I took over an online student station with the expectation to turn it into a LPFM and a solid radio program. After 20 years in the radio industry, I thought this would be a small learning curve.

I was wrong.

There was so much to learn. While the end result was successful, there are things I wish I had known from the beginning.

Learn from my mistakes, young padawan, as you embark on your LPFM journey.

I Wish I Had Consulted Someone Early On

People are amazingly helpful. I learned this lesson many times.

I built a station for a university. I frequently asked media directors for other universities questions about their programs and gathered their recommendations.

Except when it came to building a radio station.

I should have consulted those who have gone on before.

If you have the luxury (and budget) to hire a professional consultant, this is the best options. However, it’s safe to assume that funds are limited.

An internet search and a phone call or email cost nothing. Yet, the wealth of information and experience shared is priceless.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek answers from someone else. If you work for a nonprofit, find a similar nonprofit.

Always seek out a working model.

I Wish I Had Hired An Engineer From The Beginning

I didn’t realize I needed an engineer before applying for the construction permit.

I know a few technical things. But can I adjust the polarity of an antenna? No.

Once I hired a certified engineer with experience building radio stations, the job became much easier. Even better, he was open to explaining what he was doing.

Sure, there are companies that offer application and surveying services. We used one. But it wasn’t as valuable as the engineer who was available onsite.

I Wish Resources Were Easier To Find

Google low power FM. I’ll wait.

How many resources did you find that were actually helpful? Did those resources use jargon you didn’t understand?

It’s easy to get taken by a consulting scam when you don’t have the knowledge readily available.

While I can’t fault people for teasing you with a little information to help them make a dollar, guides should be available to explain to technical concepts in a nontechnical way.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the Federal Communications Commission website is not the most user friendly.

That’s why I’m writing a series of articles in plain language and helpful links to make your job a bit easier.

Refer to our LPFM guide for the steps to launching a station. There is a special post for colleges and universities.

Most importantly, learn from one who has gone on before — heed my advice.

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