In 2000, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opened the first new window in 10 years for new LPFM radio station licenses. Burlington, VT’s “The Radiator” WOMM – 105.7FM was licensed during that time.
Early in 2012, the FCC announced a second window for LPFM licenses and each of the three community media and public access TV (PEG) stations (Vermont Community Access Media (VCAM), Regional Educational Television Network (RETN) and Channel17/Town Meeting TV with the help of a few community media minded locals and the Prometheus Radio Project, worked to prepare to submit applications. Over the course of 2013, each PEG station worked on their applications, submitting them late in that year. Much of 2014 was a waiting process, as the FCC reviewed single and competitive frequencies across the U.S. Learn more about the process here.
In early September 2014, we got word from the FCC that we were moved into the “timeshare” round of applications. This meant that we needed to work with the one more more of the four applicants to share the one frequency. Over the next couple of months, we worked to create a working memo of understanding between three of the applicants (VCAM, RETN and Channel 17/Town Meeting) to share the station’s airtime and responsibilities. Part of this process involved dropping from three applicants, to just one (owned by VCAM). The fourth applicant, St. Xavier’s Catholic Church in Winooski, opted to pursue an alternate frequency, which they were granted.
In December 2014, we were granted the call letters WBTV-LP for 99.3FM and began working toward station building including final mission & vision, governance procedures, and the tech building.
From the start of this process, a core group of PEG staff and community members have worked to learn and apply for the FCC LPFM process. Known as the LPFM Core Group (aka the Red Tape Committee), these people were:
Once we reached the “timeshare” status, we started gathering a growing group of community members to assist with fleshing out the station mission, vision, and governance process.
During 2015 we built a network of over 200 local Vermonters who became donors, supporters, and more. A dedicated group of about a dozen community leaders and RETN & VCAM & CH17 staff worked on a variety of committees all year to establish a WBTV-LP education committee, do community outreach, create policies and procedures around programming and governance, and secure the funding needed from RETN and VCAM to fund the tech build out.
In 2016, we began construction on the studio space, recruited nearly 50 local programmers for our first schedule. We launched online streaming in early 2017, and hope to have terrestrial radio service available at 99.3FM by mid-September 2017.
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