Part 15 Broadcasting vs LPFM
... and other licensed broadcasting ventures.
Part 15 broadcasting is a unique undertaking. It's generally attempted by individuals, and programmed usually not to make money, but to play what you want to listen to. If someone else 'out there' wants to listen, so much the better.
These other licensed radio ventures usually involve groups of individuals. In the case of LPFM, you have to have a non profit set up, with a Board and everything that entails. Expenses are much higher and you need to pay for them, so money and ultimately, listeners, becomes a priority. That can mean that you have to sell your station's soul to survive, as you, even if you ultimately run the station, are answerable to others. And your station eventually becomes a mini-me for every other licensed station around, no matter how unique you feel your chosen genre is.
I'll stick with Part 15 (although I certainly respect those that go on to licensed endeavors). I've worked with, and for, enough people in my life. My station is for me (and those that are kindred spirits).
I have thought a lot about what you bring up, Artisan, the type of person attracted to Part 15 unlicensed broadcasting, and the types of licensed stations.
You are right on target regarding why we have these smaller stations - to program what we want to hear, no bosses or rules standing in the way. And yes, normally it's about the music. But if we were all that interested in music, we would become musicians, so in the end it's radio that comes first. We like music so we start a radio station. Perhaps operating a station for the sake of music makes us a form of musician. Perhaps a Part i5 transmitter is our instrument.
LPFM license radio and for that matter all so-called non-commercial stations are hampered by the rule that they cannot be owned, therefore no one can build one for himself as a hobby. They are "owned" by not-for-profit organizations, which amount to boards of directors who vote on and decide what the station will program. Although there can be a sole founder, he must assemble a group of like-minded people to elect each other to over-see and run the station. The original founder can eventually be voted out and no longer have any claim to the station. The board can decide to change the programming so it ends up being very different from what the founders had in mind. At any given time in the U.S. there are conflicted boards of non-commercial stations. The board can decide to sell the station to another organization. These stations do not air paid advertisements but this is not a real advantage to attracting an audience because lengthy sales campaigns come from two directions: pitches to promote the "underwriters", and pitches to promote the station itself.
Commercial licensed stations can be "owned", but are subject to a myriad of rules from the federal government. The only means of survival is commercial sales which puts advertisers in something of a control position. You've got to be a radio station the ad agency approves, and your tastes may not make the grade.
So, back to the original point, Part 15 radio gives the owner the only true freedom to broadcast.
Right on Carl! We are not dictated to by any corporation and their ads. As Artisan put it we don't have to sell our soul. We program for ourselves and an added bonus if we get some listeners.