Low Power FM (LPFM) radio stations are truly local in nature, requiring local ownership within the communities in which they serve. They were introduced by actions of Congress and temporary filing windows and application processes with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Educational and religious organizations use their own resources to build and operate local radio stations with about as much power as a light bulb. Some LPFM stations, usually owned by a local munipality provide public safety and transportation broadcasts.
LPFM broadcasts are commercial free, very much like PBS, where you may occasionally hear limited underwriting messages about organizations who have provided financial funding to the station, commercial advertising is prohibited by current FCC rules. This does however make it difficult for many LPFM stations to survive. While these low power stations have to meet most of the same expensive compliance rules with the FCC as full power stations, they must self finance their operations and mostly depend on contributions to their organization in order to stay on the air. Most people who work at these stations volunteer their time rather than receiving comparable salaries available at commercial stations.
Limited windows were available to apply for these stations, all of which are now closed with no known date when new applications will be accepted. A great percentage of those who have applies were either unable to afford the construction or operation costs and are not on the air. Others who faced competition for a local frequency may have entered a time sharing agreement and split their broadcasts between multiple organizations.
Currently, there is a push to expand the power available to LPFM stations up to 250 Watts. At 100 watts, signal penetration into homes are much more difficult to achieve, especially in larger rural areas and where large buildings or hills exist.
Despite the operating hardships endured by low power FM stations, these broadcasts are probably the closest in truly serving the listening needs of the public audience with local news, weather and content most communities do not receive from full power stations run by organizations that can be up to thousands of miles away.
"Low Power FM Radio Stations - LPFM"