For the first time in its 10-year history, the radio station operated by the nonprofit Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN) can be heard north of Pack Square thanks to a new frequency, 103.7 FM, granted last February by the Federal Communications Commission.
The station, known as MAIN-FM, is now heard throughout the greater Asheville area in a 10-mile radius from its downtown transmitter location. Before the frequency change, the progressive news and music station could only be heard in parts of West Asheville and small areas south and east of downtown.
The 100-watt, low-power FM station first went on the air in October, 2003, only to discover that restrictive FCC rules limited its broadcast signal to one watt. Congress ordered the FCC to loosen restrictions on LPFM stations with passage of the Local Community Radio Act in 2010. The FCC’s new rules took effect last January.
“This power increase has been a long time coming,” said MAIN executive director Wally Bowen. “But it’s worth the wait. The difference in our signal is like night and day.” The progressive news and music station can now be heard in Weaverville to the north, Warren Wilson College to the east, Enka-Candler to the west, and Fletcher to the south.
Bowen said the power increase is critical to MAIN’s goal of creating a new business model for journalism by enabling citizens to spend their Internet dollars to support local news and information. MAIN has operated as a non-profit Internet service provider since 1996, hosting personal and small business websites and delivering wireless broadband service in Buncombe, Madison, Yancey and Mitchell counties.
MAIN-FM is the only local station with a live broadcast of Democracy Now!, the one-hour daily news program anchored by award-winning journalist Amy Goodman. Democracy Now! airs weekdays at 8 a.m., with re-broadcasts at 6 p.m. and midnight.
The station also features the Thom Hartman Program, one of the nation’s top progressive talk shows. The program airs live each weekday from 3 to 6 p.m. on MAIN-FM 103.7.
“Syndicated programs like Democracy Now! and Thom Hartmann are critical to our mission because Asheville’s citizens deserve to be part of live national conversations about politics and public affairs,” said Bowen. “But our ultimate goal is to bring more local voices to the Asheville airwaves.”
Local shows include “Asheville & the Arts,” “Our Southern Community,” “Veterans Voices for Peace,” “Drop Beats, Not Bombs,” and “Jazz Unlimited.” The MAIN-FM 103.7 schedule can be found at: http://main-fm.org/schedule
MAIN-FM is currently seeking proposals for news and public affairs programs on topics that are unique to Asheville, such as local food, sustainability, alternative medicine, and the environment. Program proposals may be submitted at: firstname.lastname@example.org. END