Ryan Lawless and Pablo S Paz are sick and tired of the corporate radio model. As the bottom line constantly takes precedence over any artistic vision or merit, and old-school tropes continue to dominate the medium, they feel it has become harder than ever to provide our community with the audience-worthy radio station it deserves. But now Lawless and Paz are on the cusp of launching a brand new
concept that may just be the coolest thing to happen to your FM dial since Victrolas roamed the earth.
As of Oct. 15, the FCC will be accepting applications for new low-powered FM stations (LPFM) across the country, and Santa Fe is eligible. These LPFM frequencies will reach somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 square miles, effectively providing a more than capable resource for Santa Fe radio enthusiasts to take over the airwaves and create original content. Lawless and Paz, veterans of the Santa Fe Community College’s Ground Zero Youth Radio program, will be applying for an LPFM through both
, a nonprofit organization that aids upstart stations in providing a platform for both social justice and community expression. Per their website, Prometheus envisions a, “nationwide community radio infrastructure made up of hundreds of independent, locally owned stations.”
But how will this benefit Santa Fe as whole? For starters, taking the corporate structure out of the equation makes way for radio purists to do what they love. Additionally, the facilitators of the frequency will be required to produce 36 to 40 weekly hours of community-focused content. This would provide a soapbox for local issues, a focus on local arts and music, and a means for interested youth to take part in the world of radio with the added benefit of a safety net.
“The biggest line that separates us and big, old-school radio models is that low-frequency seems to represent the death of radio to more commercial or mainstream communications people, whereas we see it as quite the opposite,” Lawless says. “These days, you have to include things like a Facebook presence or a YouTube channel to stay relevant, and these are things we will easily be able to handle ourselves while simultaneously training others to do so.”
“And I know there are so many people [in Santa Fe] who love music and radio and have the capacity to put in the work or host a show,” Paz adds. “I see this as an opportunity to give them—and teens—a voice that they feel is all their own and that they have a major stake in…it’s their radio station, run by them.”
Lawless and Paz are the first to admit that there are still many steps to take before the new home for the Ground Zero program is put in place. The concept is still facing hurdles such as W21 board approval, the acceptance of their LPFM application to the FCC and upcoming indiegogo.com crowdfunding efforts/underwriting from Santa Fe community members to pay for an antenna and to hire a master engineer to build booth space.
Regardless, some pretty major ideas have been put in motion, and there’s already been a fairly positive response from those in the know. According to 14-year-old W21 patron Camilo Trujillo, “It would be really cool to have something like this to listen to while I was on a break at school. Or maybe I could even learn how to have a show where I could play music that I like.”
Exactly. It’s no secret that Santa Fe could always use more community programs and events aimed at a younger demographic, and when a program aims to do just that while revitalizing a medium as cool as radio, there’s just no way it can be bad. Stay tuned to SFR for further details (stay tuned…get it?)