Written by Gregg Brekke
The U.S. House and Senate have both approved, and President Obama is expected to sign, legislation that clears the way for community radio broadcasts on the Low Power FM (LPFM) broadcast spectrum. The Local Community Radio Act has long been seen by advocates as a way for localized communities to connect and communicate using the public airwaves.
Former UCC communications director and past executive of the UCC's Office of Communication, Inc., the Rev. Robert Chase, expressed his appreciation for those who struggled over the last decade to see this legislation come to a conclusion.
"This legislation is a great testament to countless individuals who toiled behind the scenes for a decade to help give voice to local communities that have become increasingly marginalized by the consolidation of power within the mainstream media," said Chase. "Once again, the United Church of Christ took the lead, not only in the faith-based community, but in the civic arena as well, standing firmly on the side of the public interest in broadcasting."
He especially lifted up the work of OC Inc. policy director Cheryl Leanza and board members Andrea Cano and Brian Lapis - among others - to whom "a debt of gratitude" is owed for their work on behalf of many constituents.
For her part Cano, current chair of the OC Inc. board, celebrated the victory with gratitude for the many partners who worked with the UCC in crafting this legislation.
"We honor the extensive collaboration of efforts among LPFM advocates throughout the country that bridged media justice with social justice, and from us the historic legacy of the work of Everett Parker and the United Church of Christ," said Cano. "OC Inc. invites our UCC congregations and conferences, and our ecumenical and interfaith partners to continue being a part of LPFM stations now on the air, and to encourage and welcome new initiatives in their communities."
OC Inc. has issued a press release which is reprinted below in its entirety.
UCC Office of Communication, Inc. celebrates expansion of local community radio
Dec. 22, 2010
The United Church of Christ's media justice arm celebrated the culmination of ten years of policy advocacy in anticipation that the President will soon sign the Local Community Radio Act of 2010 into law. To reach this point, UCC OC Inc. joined with the Prometheus Radio Project in leading the effort with Congressional champions, other members of the faith community, the civil rights community, media democracy grassroots advocates and the music community to secure a pivotal victory in the effort to expand the diversity of views and voices on American radio.
Andrea Cano, OC Inc.'s board chair and former director of UCC's Microradio Implementation Project said, "After the UCC's ten-year campaign to be sure that ordinary Americans have an opportunity to control their own media outlets, I cannot contain my joy that this bill has become law. My personal experience with this service shows that these radio stations can have a transformative impact on small non-profit organizations that are otherwise not visible in today's media environment."
The Local Community Radio Act passed the House of Representatives and Senate over the weekend, thanks to the bipartisan leadership of Representatives Mike Doyle (D-Penn.) and Lee Terry (R-Neb.) and Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.).
The media reform community joined with the civil rights community and the faith community in an unprecedented effort on a media reform issue. In particular, Earl Williams of the UCC OC Inc. Board extended his gratitude to the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights for their help over the years, "The Leadership Conference's report on low power radio was instrumental in demonstrating the importance of low power radio to communities of color," he said.
Cheryl Leanza, UCC OC Inc.'s policy director highlighted the faith community's tremendous and unwavering support for the bill, "we were gratified that so many members of the faith community have supported this bill for so long—from the National Council of Churches to the National Association of Evangelicals to The United Methodists, everyone stepped up to the plate. We are particularly pleased that we were able to work so closely on a staff level with the U.S. Catholic Conference so closely on this issue."
Leanza continued, "the sheer number of groups over the years who have supported this bill is staggering – not only organizations specializing in media issues like Media Access Project, the Future of Music Coalition, Free Press and the Media and Democracy Coalition, but also large national organizations like US PIRG, the National Organization of Women and the Communication Workers of America—everyone has done their part."
After implementation at the Federal Communications Commission, this bill will allow the hundreds of communities waiting for this opportunity to build and operate radio stations around the country, laying the foundations for a new generation of local, community media institutions. Ms. Cano reminded all the supporters of the new opportunity ahead, "don't forget, passing this bill means that local community groups around the country now have a chance to control their own radio station—the time is now to start thinking about how you can make use of this victory."