Low-Power FM stations in the United States received official government approval in 2000. President Obama then signed the Local Community Radio Act of 2010 into law in January 2011.
The first official record of people in serious dialogue about establishing a Low-Power FM station in Omaha is found in minutes taken at a meeting on March 5th, 2011. Already key players such as Walter Brooks, Jack Dunn, Frances Mendenhall, Mark Zimmerman, Doug Paterson, and Carlos Carr were meeting regularly. In this early meeting it is clear that the Malcolm X Foundation (MXF) is already playing a major role in providing institutional support for low-power a station.
By September of 2011, Clete Baker, a licensed radio engineer, is part of the discussions. Early 2012 sees the adoption of a working name (Community Radio Omaha – CRO) and even a working vision statement: “CRO aspires to be the leading source of dialogue among diverse communities in Omaha. We believe that we can enrich and enhance the foundation of social and economic justice through [the radio station] and through taking action in a collaborative way.” Karen Gamble joins the CRO Working Group in early 2013.
The task we set ourselves was to be ready to submit a proposal to the US Federal Communication Commission as soon as a Call for Proposals was announced. Preliminary research revealed that FM 101.3 was a good frequency for which to apply because of limited “adjacency”. Our application was submitted in late 2013 and we soon learned the 101.3 frequency had been approved for three applications including the Malcolm X Foundation and Love’s Jazz and Arts Center (LJAC). The third applicant discontinued their application, leaving the two organizations to compete or cooperate, and the decision was to cooperate.
After a year of negotiations, the FCC issued construction permits to both organizations in January 2015, giving the project eighteen months (to June 20th, 2016) to go live on the air. The MXMF Work Group of Six has worked tirelessly to acquire grants, gain permission and location for a tower, establish working arrangements with LJAC, and develop organizational structures for the station. At this current moment, we stand on the horizon of a new dawn of radio in Omaha, one dedicated to the interests of the people of North Omaha, Benson, and the larger Omaha community under the radio banner: KXNB, 101.3 FM.
– Community Radio Omaha 6
– Meet Community Radio Omaha 6
This has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’ve been fortunate to have worked with several start-up theatre companies and organizations, but working so steadily for half-dozen years on a project that has had this long prep period before “opening” is unique. The work has also brought a kind of unique urgency because KXNB promises to respond to needs – specifically in the North Omaha and Benson communities — that are articulated by the communities themselves. If our Working Group of Six is successful, KXNB will be an entirely fresh voice in Omaha radio, which makes endless hours of meetings, lists, dead ends, and even studio construction worth even more.
– Doug Paterson
I’m Clete Baker, and I got involved in talking about a low power FM station for the Benson community several years ago. We began our talks at the Pizza Shoppe, and over the next 5 years we had heard about, and included, Malcolm X Foundation’s committee. During that time my role has been that of a consulting radio engineer, weaving our way through the FCC’s regulatory framework to determine the proper frequency to apply for, plan where to put the transmitter for best coverage, and fill out the FCC’s application for a construction permit. When the permit was issued we found ourselves tied in with yet another institution, Love’s Jazz and Arts Center. The result, I think, will be a very strong community-oriented base consisting of Omaha art and entertainment, and Omaha food and drink, and Omaha culture and commentary. I can’t wait to see what KXNB-LP becomes, having spent the last 8 years planning for it!
– Clete Baker
When I look at the media landscape today I see on one hand larger and larger corporations controlling what we see and hear, with some companies owning hundreds of radio stations around the country. On the other hand technology and the internet have made it possible for almost everyone to have an individual channel regardless of quality. Community radio is, if you’ll pardon the pun, a happy medium. It’s small enough to care about local issues and tastes but big enough to attract an audience so we can share local news, opinion and music with our friends and neighbors. Our community is stronger when we can work (and play!) together. That’s why I got involved in this project and I hope you will too.
– Mark Zimmerman
Almost three and a half years ago Carlos Carr approached me about attending the meetings for the start of this radio station. Each time I would see him at the Malcolm X Foundation he would ask me again to attend and be part of the group. After many conversations with him about how Omaha could have a chance to have a low power station I decided to attend my first meeting, I was
hooked with the idea. With so many people hearing only about the negative things that happen in North Omaha, this station could really be up lifting for the community. I have always been someone that is up for a good challenge, always wanting to grow and learn new things and the idea of knowing I could be part of something that could be so powerful. There have been real challenges, but during the challenges I have learned how to do so many things, now I am even learning construction. I could not ask for a better group of people to work with and I am blessed to know everyone in the group.
I am at a point now that I beam with such joy knowing that I have followed through on to me the biggest thing I have ever been a part of. The goal is being reached and the station will be on the air sometime during June 2016. This has been such a wonderful experience and one that I have to contain myself from bragging to everyone one about. I am a part of the team that started KXNB-LP 101.3 radio station.
– Karen Gamble
The first thing I would like to do here is to said thank you to a few people starting with Jack Dunn, who brought the idea of Low Power FM radio to my attention and his commitment to the
project over the years, Clete Baker who engineer our application to the FCC, designed and help build our studio. Mark Zimmerman for volunteering his talents as a contractor to build the studio and his experience in community radio to help us with the process, Dr. Doug Paterson who researched, found and helps write the grants that were awarded to the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation and Karen Gamble for her dedication to this project and her research into possible grants. Last I would like to give a big thank you to the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation board for believing in this project and staying with me to see it completed.
It is very satisfying to see the project come to fruition and I am hoping the North Omaha and Benson communities will support this station and make it the voice of our community. With that said the concept of community radio is foreign to most but it is a concept that is growing across the country as people are growing tired of the commercial radio station format. Community radio allows us to format the station to the community needs and desires.
Our plan for the station is to play Classic Hip Hop, Classic R&B, and Today’s R&B, Jazz, Gospel, News and Talk. It took a community effort to get the station on the air and it will take a community effort to support the station and keep it on the air. Please enjoy the new KXNB 101.3 FM Mind and Soul!
– Carlos Carr Sr.