In The Forgetting Curve, the MemeCast is an underground radio show broadcast by a low-power FM transmitter. Today’s commercial FM radio stations transmit their programming over thousands of watts of power. This requires big money (and a big transmitter) and can reach hundreds of miles (without interference). Low power FM stations (LPFM) are broadcast at around 100 watts of power, which means they can only cover 10-15 miles. You can build one yourself, and yes you can fit one in a lunch box. (See below.)
We actually have hundreds of low power stations across the country. Most, if not all, are community-based or individually run stations. (That is, they are not corporate controlled stations.) They talk about interests specific to a community, play music, etc. These LPFM’s can play a really important part in the community.
For instance, after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the area’s communications–radio, tv, phones, internet–were almost eradicated. A few hackers set up a LPFM (among other things) called Algiers Radio 94.5 to serve the community. The photo below is from Jacob Applebaum’s Post-Katrina blog.
For more info on LPFM:
- Low Power FM.com
- Prometheus Radio
- How Stuff Works – Low Power FM
- The Local Community Radio Act of 2010