On July 26, 2017, the BSPA was granted a License by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorizing it to service the Brownsville area with a Low Power FM (LPFM) Noncommercial Educational Radio Station by under call sign KXIQ-LP on frequency 105.1 FM.
Since then, KXIQ (its informal call sign) has been on-air 24/7, broadcasting from our antenna and transmitter on Boca Chica Tower in Brownsville. We are most grateful to Lone Star National Bank, owner of the building, for allowing us to install our antenna on their rooftop and our transmitter within the building.
At this point in time, we are working on acquiring radio broadcast and production studio equipment. When our studios are installed and operating, we’ll have all the amenities of a modern, well-equiped radio station such as live broadcasting, scheduled programming, online streaming, remote broadcasting and a wide range of production capabilities. We hope to have our studios up and running sometime before the end of the year.
Until then, just dial your radio to 105.1 FM the old-fashioned way and enjoy our playlist of over 2,000 personally selected tunes in many genres played on random rotation. If your only radio is in your car, buy a couple of good radios for home and work.
Below a little more of how it happened:
After nearly ten years of studies, hearings, rule-making and continued resistance from the full-power broadcast industry, the U.S. Congress passed the Local Community Radio Act of 2010 authorizing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to license low-power FM (LPFM) radio stations to qualified community-based, non-profit educational organizations throughout the nation.
With a 24-year track record as a non-profit arts presenter, a clear educational mission, access to locally originated content and federal grant management experience, we met the criteria for applicants and decided to pursue this opportunity. During a short application window in late 2013, the FCC Media Bureau received nearly 3,000 applications for radio stations, including ours.
We expected some aspects of the application to be quite complicated but still managed to underestimate its true level of difficulty. In the end, with invaluable assistance from several radio engineers, consultants and community radio advocates, we submitted an application without technical mistakes that could have resulted in our prompt dismissal.
Eight anxious months later, on July 29, 2014, the FCC officially granted the Brownsville Society for the Performing Arts a Construction Permit to build a low power FM radio station to service Brownsville on 105.1 MHz of the FM band and, as mentioned above, we officially became an FCC Licensee in July 2017.
Unlike full-power commercial AM and FM stations, our FCC License does not go to public auction or require financial renegotiation during periodic renewals every four years. It cannot be sold, is unassignable, unlimited and granted to the BSPA free of charge. Experts on the subject consider this as possibly the last time the FCC will allocate additional frequencies in the FM spectrum. There is simply no more clear space available.
The implications are considerable. KXIQ-LP 105.1 FM will be the only secular FM radio station in Brownsville to broadcast day and night. Within our predicted service area, we expect to reach most of Brownsville and an adjacent portion of Matamoros with a strong, clear analog radio signal in stereo sound. The FCC and others calculate a population that exceeds 200,000 residents within the core of our service area, not including Mexico. Others point out that, with our flat terrain and lack of high buildings possibly obstructing the signal, our reach could be considerably greater, especially with the high quality transmission equipment we plan to use. Listeners with better radio receivers and reception antennae will enjoy our broadcasts well beyond the fringes of our predicted service area.
Like most community organizations in the area, BSPA has struggled to effectively promote its events, inform the public, generate interest in good causes and otherwise get the word out. No more. Tens of thousands of Brownsville residents of all ages and backgrounds will be soon listening to our radio station. Every day.
Insofar as programming, the BSPA simply intends to expand its core mission of producing quality cultural entertainment that is mostly inaccessible or unavailable to a large portion of our community. Rather than focusing on a certain genre or style of entertainment, the BSPA plans to broadcast a wide variety of recorded music, curated programs, live music events, concerts and festivals.
We will air news and weather reports, special interest and educational programs, emergency broadcasts and public service announcements. We’ll support healthy living, our museums, our zoo and our parks. We will hear music like never before. We will learn about community development, downtown revitalization and about the non-profits that enhance our quality of life. All you’ll need to do is to turn on the radio and tune it to 105.1 FM. That’s all.
To learn more about LPFM radio, you can find the FCC’s explanation if you click here. For a less cryptic but still technical overview, you can visit the websites of RECnet or Prometheus Radio Project, two of the nation’s most influential community radio advocates. Special thanks to Michelle Bradley of REC Networks, an expert on the subject of community radio, for providing the technical, legal and strategic guidance that made this possible. Thanks Michi!
Updated August 2017