Monday, August 11, 2008

Docket 80-90

The non-commercial FM radio band stretches from 88.1 to 91.9. This is a significant enough piece of RF real estate that exceedingly few non-com licenses have been granted outside it. In fact, I suspect that since the band was set aside, fewer than a dozen exceptions have been granted.In 1980, as the non-com band started to fill up in most major metropolitan areas there was a little pressure on the FCC and congress to make room. Their response was Docket 80-90, 94 FCC 2d 152, 48 Fed. Reg. 29496 (1983). The rule grandfathered the existing short spaced stations and reduced minimum mileage separation between new changes. It also limited new licenses to a maximum ERP of 3 KW, HAAT being 328' or 100 meters. Weaker stations = more stations crammed in. But it did not increase the spacing requirements between Class A and second- and third-adjacent channel Class B stations. Also interesting was that it allowed full-power stations to move-in on Class D stations. forcing some off air. Even though the stated purpose of the rules were to Increase the Availability of FM Broadcast Assignments.

The legislation was piece-meal, ugly and political. Politics make for poor engineering. Yet despite the encroachment on the non-coms, there are some class A, B, C and D operations still in the commercial band. Three class and A & B stations come to mind immediately
WBRU 95.5 in Providence, RI (Brown University)
WHRB 95.3 in Cambridge, MA (Harvard University)
WYBC 94.3FM in New Haven, CT (Yale University)

WPRB 103.3 in Princeton, NJ (Princeton University)

It's worth noting that there are college-owned stations with commercial licenses out there. I think KCFS, KMSM, and WHUR all fit that description. There's also stations like WOMR in Provincetown, MA on 92.1 that were originally in the NCE band (91.9 in this case) but agreed to change frequency to improve their signal in some way (avoid co-channel interference with WUMB in Boston, across Cape Cod Bay, in this case).