With the clock ticking toward the end of this year’s Congress, the Senate on Saturday passed a new law which will enable community groups, churches and schools across the country to establish new non-commercial, low-power FM radio stations in their cities and towns.
The Local Community Radio Act, which will allow the FCC to issue possibly thousands of new noncommercial LPFM radio licenses, earned broad, bipartisan support after some ten years of organizing by grassroots media democracy advocates from coast to coast. Backers of the bill included a stupefying range of civil rights groups, religious organizations, musicians, unions and garage-bound radio dreamers around the country.
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The dream of anywhere anytime wireless telephony started over a century ago, as evidenced by newspapers and magazines of a bygone era.
Susan J. Douglas has a fascinating essay about early wireless telegraphy in the book Imagining Tomorrow: History, Technology and the American Future, which was edited by Paleo-Future Legend Joe Corn.
Douglas excerpts a prediction by Professor William Edward Ayrton that appeared in a 1901 magazine calledThe Century. In it, Ayrton said that wireless telegraphy would soon allow people to talk over long distances in a highly targeted manner. The phrasing of the piece is remarkably relevant to the mobile phone as Ayrton describes a person’s ability to “call to a friend he knew not where.”