Low-power, noncommercial radio broadcasting is waiting to be taken advantage of in Kansas.
That's why a church-affiliated group in Oregon is conducting statewide workshops Friday about how low-power FM radio stations can be used to benefit communities and nonprofit organizations.
"We're just trying to get the heads up to people in Kansas about this opportunity," said Andrea Vargas, director of the Microradio Implementation Project.
MIP is a national initiative to promote low-powered radio stations. It is operated under the Office of Communication Inc. of the United Church of Christ.
The initiative is designed to allow community organizations to operate radio stations with ranges of no more than five miles.
The workshop will be shown via closed-circuit television to other classes in Chanute, Dodge City, Norton, Salina and Wichita.
Only a couple of inquiries about the workshop have been made from Lawrence, according to Don Miller, special projects coordinator for the city of Topeka.
One of them was from Dennis Highberger, who works in Topeka as an attorney. Highberger said he is working with a group calling itself Lawrence Community Radio.
Some of the people in the group were associated with the former Lawrence low-power pirate station KAW-FM, but none were owners or on its board of directors, Highberger said.
KAW was a 10-watt station that shut down in 1998. The FCC threatened some of the station's founders with arrests and fines.
According to Highberger, KAW shut down voluntarily after the FCC assigned the FM frequency it was operating on to a Christian radio station near Topeka.
"It was a good station and I started listening to it," Highberger said. "They had some good programs and some special music programs."
In January the FCC created low-power radio service, and has since issued licenses in 10 states. Applications in Kansas will be taken during a five-day period sometime in August, according to Highberger and Vargas.
Highberger said he wasn't sure how long it would take to get the application processed and then for the station to go on the air.
Many of applicants in other states have been church groups and related public-service organizations, Vargas said. They are using low-power radio stations to present information to the public and to neighborhood groups.
"It's really exciting to see the types of groups that are coming to the workshops," Vargas said. "We're telling people that you're not getting into sales radio, you're getting into community radio."