MAIN-FM 103.5, a low-power FM radio station licensed to the
nonprofit Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN), will temporarily
suspend its over-the-air broadcast Oct. 15. Listeners can continue
to hear MAIN-FM over the Internet via the station’s 24-hour webcast.
The temporary suspension of broadcast operations is a step in the
process of boosting the station’s signal, said Wally Bowen, MAIN’s
founder and executive director. He estimated the broadcast
suspension could last from two weeks to a month.
Last December, Congress passed the Local Community Radio Act, and
President Obama signed it into law. The law expands the frequencies
available for low-power FM radio stations. MAIN-FM is now eligible
for one of the new frequencies.
“This power-increase is a long time coming,” said Bowen. “Though we
would rather not inconvenience our broadcast listeners like this,
it’s a small price to pay for broadcasting at the full 100 watts for
which we were originally licensed.” He urged listeners to tune-in
to the station’s 24-hour webcast via the MAIN homepage at
www.main.nc.us during the broadcast suspension.
Since going on the air in 2003, MAIN-FM has been limited to
broadcasting at only a fraction of its 100 watts due to restrictions
promoted by the commercial broadcast lobby. Passage of the LCRA last
December removed most of these restrictions, Bowen said. The FCC
proposed new LPFM rules last July.
“While the new rules have not been finalized, they’re far enough
along for the FCC to grant us permission to move our transmitter to
a location where we can broadcast at full power,” said Bowen.
With the power increase, the station should be heard throughout
Asheville and Buncombe County, and as far north as Mars Hill and
south to Hendersonville. Currently, MAIN-FM’s signal is limited to
parts of west and south Asheville.
“This is a huge victory for listeners who want a non-corporate and
local alternative for news and public affairs, as well as voices
from the local music, arts and health-promotion scenes,” said Bowen.
Two of MAIN-FM’s most popular programs are non-corporate news and
public affairs shows, Democracy Now! and the Thom Hartmann Program.
“Neither of these nationally-syndicated programs were heard live in
Asheville until we began broadcasting them,” Bowen said.
Once a new transmitter site has been secured, MAIN will announce a
date for the resumption of its over-the-air broadcast. MAIN-FM’s
full schedule is available online at www.main.nc.us.
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