Indiana Daily Student

WIUS could benefit from FCC initiative

Campus radio could increase signal range

WIUS, the Alternative AM 1570, has long planned to make the jump to FM.\nAnd what has long been a distant dream for the student-run station may soon become reality.\nThe Federal Communications Commission recently launched an initiative that offers low-power FM access to local non-commercial stations. During an application period in July, WIUS filed a request for one of the three low-power FM licenses available in the Bloomington area.\n"We are beginning a process that offers access to the airwaves to local nonprofit groups," said FCC chairman William Kennard in an issued statement. "This is all about bringing new voices to the airwaves." \nThe license would allow WIUS to broadcast at 100 watts, which would extend its signal range to about 3.6 miles. By contrast, the University-run National Public Radio-affiliate WFIU broadcasts at 34,000 watts. \n"We see this leading to increased listenership," said WIUS station manager Cody Leitholt. "We've had that somewhat with RealAudio, but not like this. We can reach out beyond the campus, to the general community."\nWIUS started out as an Associated Press carrier-current station in Wright Quad in 1963. After receiving student activities fees, it hit the AM airwaves in 1994. But its signal ' at 3.7 watts ' only reaches across the campus.\nLeitholt said WIUS would be ready to make the transition to FM within 18 months, because IU Student Assocation approved funding for the necessary broadcasting equipment about a half decade ago.\n"We've already got the basic timetable worked out," he said. "And we're ready to go. We'd basically continue with the broadcasting we have, though we'd have to polish it up a bit."\nWIUS is applying for the 100.4 FM slot, against competition from the Bloomington Cultural and Community Radio Corp. The Church of the Good Shepherd and Center for Sustainable Living are vying for the 98.7 slot, and the Monroe County Public Library is the lone applicant for the 97.5 FM slot.\nBut Leitholt said he isn't worried about local competition. He said his only fear is opposition to FCC initiative by commercial broadcasters.\n"The broadcasters aren't very happy with this," he said. "They could lobby to kill the whole thing in Congress."\nBob Ford, president of the Indiana Broadcasters Association, said the FCC didn't adequately research signal interference before moving ahead with the plan.\n"The FCC has changed the interference rules and by doing that, they will create interference with current commercial broadcasters," he said.\nBut Leitholt said he entertains a tempered optimism.\n"It's hard to say what will happen until it actually happens," he said. "And, even if we get a license it wouldn't be a revolution. I'd say it would just be a change for the better ' it would open us up to more people."\nThe Associated Press contributed to this report.

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