Good advice for anyone starting a LPFM statiion. Unfortunately many stations including the LPFM's here at the Delaware beaches did the opposite...nothing! The key is LPFM's should serve the community not themselves or one or two people. You put a LPFM on the air with the community in mind. The FCC cracks down on technical rules but does not police content. If they did , the shutdowns and warnings would be numerous!
From the Newsletter at the free LPFM radio website: excelsiorradio.webs.com
ADVICE TO A GUY IN ALASKA IN A TINY TOWN
This guy wants a station in his tiny village. Here's the advice I offered.
Class D non-commercial is the way for you to go: Alaska has an exclusive on 99 watts or less and you can file anytime. Current thinking is if there is another LPFM filing window it won't happen before 2023. A study happens after you find your tower site and get the okay for that site. Use a name known to the FCC as doing good work (in other words they get granted quickly). That tells the FCC you want to do things right and they like that.
Don't be thinking tower at one place and studio at another. Why add to that cost? Go right in town where electricity is located and where you can use a roof or existing tower to set up. The less you have to pay on a tower, coax and such, the better. Anyway, that's where the people live. You don't want to be going out to point b in white-out conditions at 3 am when the transmitter goes down. Put everything at one spot. Your home is okay.
Don't be swayed by the latest and greatest. Spend on the transmitter, good antenna and coax then go cheap on the studio. A computer, decent sound card, consumer mixer and say, a MXL faux tube microphone (the tube is in it's own box) will deliver that warm sound for about $300 versus $4,000. A good transmitter will make a cheap studio sound the best it can sound but a great studio and lousy transmitter still sounds lousy. Not to mention the upkeep on the more expensive stuff. Behringer, Mackie and others are plug and play so no soldering or patch panels. Nautel makes a transmitter with processing by Orban. In essence you get a processor and a transmitter in one. Sure I paid $5,250 for the last one but I know people that paid $3,500 on a transmitter and then $2,500 on processing. There are free automation programs that will do what you need to do.
You could be on for $20,000 tops. Get to know other public stations. Get to know engineers. Try to find grant writers (maybe somebody at another station wants some extra work?). Talk to other non-profits, the city, county, etc. Monthly expenses won't be much more than $200 if you do it right...$300 at the top end. Engineers might be able to get you good stuff for pennies on the dollar. Make every dollar you spend do $10 in value. You have a very limited base and don't count on your mental image being reality...rather much less than you think you'll get in support. Plan for less.
Do only what you can do. In fact a bit less is good so you never take a step backwards. Humble beginnings are the key to success you build over time. Embrace your community and decide you are not building the station for you to enjoy but for your community to enjoy. This is a fatal mistake of many LPFMs. Simply put, you are to serve the community, not yourself. In a sense you are like the landscaper or interior designer that dreams of doing a certain layout but instead does exactly what the customer wants because that's how you stay in business. Even a chef at a restaurant creates dishes his diners want even if he adds his special twist to it. If you want to play alternative by unsigned bands but your town wants polkas you had better be playing polkas.