Access Sacramento’s radio operation “The Voice” may begin broadcasting over-the-airwaves from downtown Sacramento in late 2014 if the FCC approves an application filed last week to operate a Low-Power FM (LPFM) radio station.

The application-filing window closed Friday for non-profit groups to submit an on-line request for the rarely offered LPFM broadcast frequencies.  The last opportunity was a decade ago.

Access Sacramento has a Letter of Reasonable Assurance from the tower owner for the building where the transmitter would be placed in downtown Sacramento as an extra component of its FCC LPFM application.

Access Sacramento has a Letter of Reasonable Assurance from the tower owner for the building where the transmitter would be placed in downtown Sacramento as an extra component of its FCC LPFM application.

“Because a LPFM station like this broadcasts less than 10-miles in any one direction, the programming is acutely local,” said Shane Carpenter, Access Sacramento’s radio coordinator. “Because our programmers are already used to serving Sacramento County on cable, this would be a great opportunity for additional outreach.”

Currently, radio programmers from Access Sacramento are heard as a backdrop to the community message bulletin board on our two cable channels and on the Internet.

The LPFM station application, if approved, would become a training ground for community producers who want to share their messages and programming simultaneously on cable, the Internet and over the airwaves.

Access Sacramento provides radio and television programing that is unique in Sacramento County, serving the community with its mission by “giving voice to the thoughts, dreams, opinions, and community events not otherwise seen or heard on commercial or public, TV, radio or other popular forms of media.”

Access Sacramento’s “The Voice” radio service has been in operation from the organization’s beginning 27 years ago and originally was heard as a second-audio-channel for cable subscribers in Sacramento County.

An unknown number of non-profit organizations will have applied for the available frequencies across America, and Access Sacramento expects to learn in the next few weeks who else has applied for a frequency in this area.

Radio programmers work from two radio production and broadcast studios at Access Sacramento inside the Coloma Community Center.

Radio programmers work from two radio production and broadcast studios at Access Sacramento inside the Coloma Community Center.

Experts from Common Frequency, an engineering firm hired by Access Sacramento to help with the technical specifications of its application, predict a minimum of two frequencies are likely for the capital region.

Frequency locations with only one applicant are scheduled to be notified in early 2014 of their approval for a construction permit. For frequencies with multiple applicants, an opportunity to partner will be encouraged by the FCC before any allocation decision.

LPFM station applications became available after Congress directed the FCC to create more broadcast opportunities for community-based radio in the Local Community Radio Act of 2010.  The rule expanded the availability even more by including larger urban areas that had been restricted under an earlier law.

According to the Prometheus Radio Project, there are more than 800 LPFM stations already on the air with programming from non-profit agencies, churches, colleges and emergency responders.

Access Sacramento is a non-profit 501(c)3 foundation providing video services on Comcast and SureWest Cable channel 17 and 18 and on AT&T U-Verse Channel 99.  Both the video channels and “The Voice” can be heard by clicking on the appropriate link from www.AccessSacramento.org