The ‘local’ in local radio

Story by Chris Graham

The Federal Communications Commission is opening a window for local groups across the country to apply for full-power FM-radio noncommercial educational frequencies.
A Valley-based chapter of the OrangeBand Initiative is aiming to bring one of these stations to Western Virginia – but it is running out of time.
“This is a very rare opportunity to bring a full-power community radio station to Harrisonburg,” said Brent Finnegan, the editor of, which has been the host of some of the discussion involving the effort to bring a full-power station to the Valley.

Hburgnews contributor Kai Degnan is leading the charge – which specifically would locate a full-power educational FM station in Rockingham County. Degnan and Finnegan also envision a companion website that would bring the content of the over-the-air station to listeners in Harrisonburg and surrounding areas via the Internet.

“I think this would be a really cool opportunity to get the community involved in sort of user-generated content – because almost everyone has a PC or a Macintosh with a microphone where you can do a podcast,” Finnegan said.

“The idea that we’re trying to develop is that people from their home can submit their own content – submit either their own talk shows, anything of local interest or national interest. It could be a political talk show or whatever. I like the idea that users can generate this content – and it kind of has a crossover with the website as well,” Finnegan said.

“There’s no monopoly on information and the dissemination of information – which is something that I talk about a lot on hburgnews. And it’s something that I believe strongly in – that there is a possibility of user-generated media. You don’t have to have a degree in journalism necessarily to do this.”


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Chris Graham is the executive editor of The Augusta Free Press.

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