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North Adams seeks FCC permit to launch radio station

October 11, 2013

    The North Adams Community School's board of education on Tuesday gave its blessing to an application to begin a radio station conducted by students and used for educational purposes.
    Tom Rentschler, who teaches a communications class at Bellmont High School, along with Jovan Mrvos presented the information on the steps needed  to acquire open frequencies from the Federal Communications Commission. The men were there to ask for the board's permission to apply for bandwidth. The application process would place the school district as the sole applicant.
    The FCC has given a small window of application time from Oct. 15-29. The FCC  however, currently is not in operation due to the shutdown of the federal government. Rentschler said is assumed that the deadline will be extended and the application will be ready when the government reopens.
    Three area schools hold similar radio stations: Columbia City, Homestead and Huntington North. The proposed station at Bellmont would have a five-mile bandwidth and will be commercial free. Funds would be raised through no-ad sales and PR-style communications. The station is not intended to compete with any local radio stations, the men said.
    Rentschler said the educational value of the radio station is immense and will teach the youth how to run a business and also will teach fundamental skills for telecommunications. When the students leave the high school, he said, they will be qualified to work for a college radio station and know what is going on.
    Currently their are eight students from Bellmont High School attending Ball State University for telecommunication. The Prometheus Radio Project would allow for bandwidths to be licensed for eight years, with the possibility of renewal. The last time bandwidths were available to be used by the school was in the year 2000.
    Not only would the radio station attract more students, but also more vocational funds. The school board members were excited about the opportunity and voted 6-0, with one member absent, to go forward with the application. Superintendent Brent Lehman said a radio station would be a good way to get the community involved, announce events and sports, and would result in good public relations for North Adams.   

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