The Southside Pirate took one step closer to the FM dial Friday.
As I first reported on Twitter Friday afternoon, the Fort Worth-based, non-profit radio station, overseen by John and Sallie Rody, received its construction permit from the Federal Communications Commission. (The permit was submitted under the name “Southside Media Collective,” since, as John Rody put it, “I didn’t feel very comfortable going to the FCC saying, ‘We want to put a pirate on.’”)
Launched in early 2013, the station has been streaming its all-local playlists and shows online, but can now begin the process of becoming over-the-air broadcast-ready.
“We were granted ... a construction permit, which is standard in the industry that you’re given a construction permit to build an FM station, and that includes operating it,” John Rody said during a brief conversation late Friday afternoon. “After [the station has] been up and running for 18 months and you’ve successfully put it on the air, that turns into a broadcast license. So we’re ready to go. we could flip it on tomorrow, if we wanted to.”
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The approval to move forward came after some last-minute maneuvering on Christmas Eve, according to Rody.
“[The FCC] opened up a very small window for amendments — nine hours — [and] I had to file these technical amendments and move our application out of harm’s way to 97.5. So we are the only applicant that has that frequency ... we did some studies and proved we would not interfere with the two adjacent channels. Everything’s hunky dory.”
So while the Southside Pirate could now legally begin broadcasting on 97.5 FM — its future home on the dial — there is still work to be done on the Near Southside, LPFM (low-powered FM) station.
“The next step is we’re going to get a little fundraiser going,” Rody says. “We certainly didn’t want to buy a transmitter and ... an antenna and put up a tower until we actually had the FCC permit in our hands, so now, we can go shopping.”
Rody estimates the station needs “about $10,000” to fully realize its plans, and while he will be able to conduct some initial field testing with equipment he already owns, he says “we could go on ... but it would only be a quarter of its power, and not be acceptable to promote.”
When will listeners be able to hear the sounds of Fort Worth bands pouring from their radios?
That’s still to be decided, although Rody allows the Southside Pirate is eyeing June as a potential launching point for a maiden FM voyage.
“We’d like to do something kind of symbolic for the city — the call letters, when they’re approved, will typify Fort Worth, because it’s a community station,” Rody says, noting a city celebration is scheduled for June 6.
Still, that might be too far away, and the Southside Pirate could flip the switch sooner.
“I’m really looking to get [the station] on as soon as we can, because everybody’s been so excited about it,” Rody says.
Preston Jones, 817-390-7713