Updated January 6, 2023
REC frequently receives questions about where to go for various products and services. This is a list of such products and services that we recommend. These recommendations are based on personal experiences or based on the comments of REC clients and others. If you have an experience with one of these recommendations, whether it was positive or negative, please let us know how it went.
REC is very supportive of the efforts of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Over the past couple of years with changes in leadership and staff, NFCB has stepped-up to identify ways that their membership organization can be more accommodating to LPFM stations. Membership dues start at $500 annually but if you take into consideration the various group buys (music licensing, station insurance, etc.) that are available as well as the vast library of reference materials, especially related to fundraising and underwritng and access to a collective of seasoned veterans in non-commercial community radio, the membership fee is definitely worth it, especially if you take into consideration the risks of running underwriting messages where one word could lead to a fine. Access to the NFCB's materials can help you and your staff properly write underwriting copy that meets federal guidelines and will also make your underwriters happy. REC recommends that all LPFM stations that use the donation, pledge drive and underwriting business models of funding should seriously consider joining NFCB.
Pacifica Network is the premier source for intriguing, thought-provoking and diverse short-form and long-form programming including access to the popular program "Democracy Now" with Amy Goodman. Through Pacifica's AudioPort, affiliate stations has access to thousands of hours of programming that they can use in their broadcast day. While local programming is important to your local community, your community also benefits from compelling programming that brings them an exciting worldview that the news networks are unable to deliver. REC strongly suggests an affiliation with Pacifica Network.
FCC Filing/Engineering Exhibits
While there are many out there who consult broadcast stations, there are very few who have been actively involved with LPFM since "before day one". Michelle Bradley at REC has that experience and because over 95% of REC's work is LPFM, we are the most experienced in the service and we don't charge "big broadcast" rates for non-commercial LPFM stations. The next time you need to make a move, come to REC for immediate attention. 1-844-REC-LPFM
REC recommends the following products for LPFM stations:
- Transmitter: BW Broadcast TX300 V3 (This is an LPFM certified transmitter with a built-in stereo generator and audio processor. Operation at 300 watts will permit stations to operate with a single bay and still be able to achieve a full 100 watts ERP.). We note that due to the recent deaths of the founders of BW, BW may not be actively manufacturing transmitters at this time. Please inquire with BW or SCMS for updates. For stations considering to deploy HD Radio, you can us the GatesAir Flexiva series or the Nautel VS300LP and VS-HD. We also give an honorable mention to Bext, a company that went out of their way for an LPFM client that REC works directly with to resolve an issue. For LPFM stations, their 300-watt class transmitter is the Bext XT300 FM. REMEMBER, ANY TRANSMITTER YOU USE IN LPFM, MUST BE FCC CERTIFIED.
- Antennas: Nicom BKG-77 (You really can't go wrong with the Nicom BKG-77 which is the most popular antenna used by LPFM stations. REC always recommends the use of circular polarization so you can reach as many listeners within your 3-mile zone as possible. Sure, there are less expensive vertical antennas out there but not everyone's receiver has a vertically polarized antenna. The antenna is the most important part of your station so why skimp there? For best results, use the BKG-77 in a two-bay configuration, not only will it help you get more "outward" at 100 watts, it will let you be ready in the event the FCC ever approves LP-250. An LPFM station authorized for 100 watts and using the BW TX300 V2 transmitter and a two bay Nicom BKG-77 will usually only need to "turn up the power" if the FCC was to ever authorize LP-250. Nicom also makes the BKG-88, which is less expensive and some of the same characteristics as the BKG-77 except that it is fixed frequency, but it is also a much lighter weight antenna, which may make for an easier installation.)
- Emergency Alert System: Here at REC Networks, we have a Digital Alert Systems DASDEC-II in our lab. The DASDEC is a simple to use unit that includes a web interface. The DASDEC includes two built-in AM/FM radio receivers, which will work for most EAS plans. It is important to remember with EAS, you need to have a certified unit with the latest software. At this time, version 5 is the latest version that ships with new units. If you get a used unit, try to get one with at least software version 4. The upgrade to 4 is recommended by the manufacturer to assure that you have all alert codes installed and be "future proof" for any future changes in the CAP protocol or other procedures that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) may change. Running version 4 will be required after December, 2023 in order to assure that you have the new CAP Polling requirement.
For purchasing transmitters, antennas and other station gear, REC recommends using SCMS. SCMS has been a long supporter of LPFM and events such as the annual Grassroots Radio Conference. SCMS can get you what you need individually or perhaps also as a package deal. SCMS carries some of the individual products that are recommended by REC.
REC is interested in hearing about your experiences with various types of equipment at your station. These comments and testimonials can drive our future recommedations. Please use the "Contact REC" link and have your say!
REC invites our readers to check out PlayoutONE, which is now a part of the Aiir product portfolio. REC has PlayoutONE Standard in our lab. Standard is designed for small internet stations and program producers. For stations that need more sophisticated features, we would suggest PlayoutONE Pro.
REC's J1 Radio and Delmarva FM has been successfully using the Rivendell open-source radio automation system for several years now. Because it is open-source, it is free to obtain and install. The installation can be a bit intimidating, especially if you are not very familiar with Linux. But once it is up and running, it is rock solid. Rivendell includes the ability to download programming from other sources and add it to the schedule as well as schedule music on its own or through a third-party scheduler. Rivendell does have the capability to report current track being played to your Shoutcast or to music reporting services like Spinitron. We note that recently, support for Rivendell has been on the decline and those who need a more stable well-supported solution for single stream stations should consider PlayoutONE as a paid software solution.
For those who need an accessible solution for blind users, we would recommend using Station Playlist as the software is compatible with major screen reader software such as JAWS.
Our streaming service, REC Delmarva FM has been successfully operating ATMOS by Summit Technologies Group. This software will generate a very impressive text-to-speech weather report for your area and puts it into a format that can fit into your automation. REC has worked with them to assure that it would work with Rivendell. There is no monthly fee, there may be a one time start-up fee. For noncommercial stations, they are currently running PSAs, but they plan to have NCE safe underwriting messages air.
Mobile Apps/Station Websites
REC recommends Aiir. Aiir provides comprehensive solutions including mobile apps, websites and smart speaker integration. Aiir is LPFM aware and REC has negotiated special offers for Subpart G licensed LPFM stations for a single station mobile app for Android and iOS.
Aiir also provides a hosted web CMS solution. For those seeking to host their own CMS, we have not been able to find a stable solution for Drupal. There are a couple of solutions available for WordPress. In the past, we have used OnAir2, which we found to be very cumbersome to administrate, especially if you are not a WordPress guru, but is a nice presentation to the listeners. The Aiir CMS though, surpasses OnAir2 and the other WordPress solutions by leaps and bounds and if you have the budget for Aiir, I would strongly suggest it.
While REC does file informal objections against certain broadcast applications, those objections are done as a part of REC's advocacy efforts and not on behalf of a paying client. LPFM stations needing assistance in filing or responding to any legal actions such as an informal objection, petition to deny, petition for reconsideration or application for review should contact one of the qualified attorneys on this list. While REC will not draft or file a pleading, we will work with the attorney of your choice to prepare any technical exhibits necessary (a modest fee to REC may apply depending on the attorney).
Please contact REC Networks for a referral to an attorney.
When contacting an attorney, please let them know that REC referred you. We would appreciate it!