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Methodology

This study’s methodology is based on analysis and data developed from station lists, mapping software, maps and the 2000 Census as described below.  An attempt was made to replicate the 1989 study Public Broadcasting Coverage in the United States when possible but several differences are noted.

Criteria for Station Inclusion

The 1989 study limited inclusion to stations meeting the funding criteria of CPB, membership in NPR or the NFCB, or having received a NTIA/PTFP construction grant.  Other stations, including those which may have offered a public service commitment to their communities, were excluded.  A total of 476 full-power FM, 34 AM stations and over 300 translators were mapped.  (For the purposes of this report, all licensed stations which are not translators are referred to as “full-power.”)

The present study also used the 1989 qualification standards, but meaningful changes are noteworthy.  First, the qualification requirements for stations to receive CPB funding have changed during the past fifteen years and the number of stations meeting CPB qualification has increased.  Second, during the same period, NPR changed its categories of membership to create a segment of stations without membership rights but with a legal agreement to carry programs.  All noncommercial radio stations authorized to broadcast NPR programs, whether an NPR member station, a station in a non-member status, or a station with a Local Management Agreement (LMA) are included in this study.   NFCB participant members are again included in the report.   

Since 1989, NTIA/PTFP has also funded over 550 new broadcast facilities, including full-power stations and translators.  Facilities funded by PTFP are included in the study unless those facilities no longer provide a public broadcasting service.  Several of the state narratives identify stations which were included in the 1989 study, but are no longer providing a public radio service. 

The lists from the national organizations were cross-referenced and compared to FCC records.  Some of the databases consulted contained incorrect information.  Several stations were called to verify whether stations were actually on the air even though they were still in the FCC database as construction permits (CP’s) or to provide missing information.   Due to time constraints and frequent changes, translator CP's were not similarly investigated.  Station Internet sites were another source of information and were particularly useful in describing repeater and translators networks.  Updated station lists were also provided to national and many state organizations for further verification. 

By the end of the study, a total of 875 full-power stations (including 7 booster stations), 59 AM stations and 739 translators had been included.

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