There is a great deal of demand for vacant FM frequencies to establish new radio broadcasting stations, but unfortunately this demand is matched with a very limited supply. During last year’s open application filing windows, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) received around 30,000 inquiries, which were competing for handful open FM radio frequency slots. So just because you apply for an FM radio slot, it by no means guarantees you are actually going to get it. Still, you have to begin somewhere. Before you can apply for a vacant FM radio frequency, you have to know what frequencies are available.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Internet access
Go to the “FM Radio Database Query” page in the FCC website. The FCC is, in part, responsible for licensing and regulating all of the broadcast stations in the United States. Any available FM radio slot will be listed in their records.
Select the state you’d like to find a vacant slot in. Under “Record Types” choose “Vacant Allotments.” Search for FM stations in “All Frequencies/Channels.” Then “Submit Data.” Leave all the other fields in the search form, such as “city” and “call sign,” open. With this type of search, it’s better to cast a wide net than it is to try to narrow the field from the onset. Start wide and see what is out there. Then you can narrow your focus.
Check out the competition for the open FM frequencies you may be interested in by selecting “Pending Applications” under “Record Types.” Then highlight your frequency of interest in the “search for FM stations” field.
Tips and warnings
- Bear in mind that FM commercial radio stations are only authorised to broadcast in the range of 92.1 to 107.9 megahertz. The 88.1 to 91.9 megahertz frequency range is strictly reserved for noncommercial FM radio stations. So while some noncommercial (educational) radio stations are authorised to broadcast in the commercial radio frequency band, if certain criteria are met, this crossover does not apply to commercial radio stations.
- While it might seem like a sensible strategy, finding an open FM radio slot in your area is a more involved matter than simply flipping through the FM frequencies on your radio dial. This method of vacant slot hunting is not productive. Radio stations are licensed to broadcast at a certain power wattage. Some of the vacant frequencies you might come across on your radio dial may be open to prevent signal interference with an already licensed radio broadcast station.
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