1) Briefly introduce the work of the Peoples Press Project and describe the region you're located in, Fargo-Moorhead.
The People’s Press Project (also known as PPP) was created as a new organization in April 2010 to address the lack of media access and equity in rural ND and MN. The PPP is located in Moorhead on the Border of Minnesota and North Dakota in the region known as the Fargo-Moorhead (F-M) community. Although this area is considered to be the largest metropolitan community between Minneapolis, MN and Spokane WA, we are still considered a rural community (F-M) metro area, which is uniquely positioned to have great impact to activate and engage community in media access and justice issues in this region. PPP received its nonprofit status from the IRS in May of 2012.
The PPP is Fargo-Moorhead’s only non-profit dedicated to empowering the community to become savvy media creators and consumers, rather than merely being consumers. We stand for the development and proliferation of Independent Media and the creation of new community based journalists to inform the community of the real news by the people and for the people. We do this through training, access to equipment and strategic opportunities to develop media through independent news sources, social networks and through the web. The PPP trains people in media skills which increase access to media for the public and teaches people about their communication rights and empowers them to exercise them.
2) What is the state of the media and communications infrastructure in Fargo-Moorhead? Who owns and controls the local media? Are there community and independent media outlets?
Quick Look at Local Media Consolidation in the F-M Area Media. 1 daily newspaper, 6 weekly newspapers, 4 Network TV stations and 27 FM Radio Stations. The Majority of this Media is owned by 4 Major Corporations and only one is local company.
Of the 6 weekly newspapers, two are independent and cater mostly to business and the arts. Cable Access Television has very limited government programming however lacks any real access for the community to produce media because there are not any studios designed for the community to have access to.
There are several LPFM stations that focus on college student constituencies as well as Christian based programming but really have no outreach to help train people to create and broadcast their own content. The local PBS affiliate has a North Dakota statewide radio station, however does not broadcast in the Fargo-Moorhead region. Given the limited access to the few forms of independent and locally created media, there are also few opportunities for the community to be involved in producing their own media in the Fargo-Moorhead region.
3) PPP applied for a Low Power FM Radio License and got it! Congrats! Why did you all decide to apply?
We knew there was a problem with media access in our region for a long time. We actually started the PPP after trainings and workshops with Consumer’s Union where we were first connected to Malkia Cyril from Center for Media Justice and Joel Kelsey (formerly with CU and later with Free Press), who pointed us toward exciting new developments in community radio and the Prometheus Radio Project. We were excited to tackle the issue of media justice and access in our Fargo-Moorhead region so as soon as we got back home we organized and started the PPP.
We began by doing research of the local media landscape and campaigns and collaborations to increase access to equipment, training on media use, and outreach to inform the community of where access issues are a problem. Then, when Prometheus announced that the application process was finally in place, we continued our work in media access outreach by providing trainings on how to apply for a low power FM station license in the community and online in webinars. Finally, as we prepared and filed our own application for a license, we held community planning meetings to get people involved in in its development.
4a) What is your vision for this radio station and who will it benefit? (b) Are there plans to take on other programs in addition to radio production?
(a) The low power radio station (KPPP-LP 88.1 FM) will be located in Fargo and has an anticipated reach of 2-5 miles. This coverage gives our radio station the potential to reach over 156,000 people in the FM community every single day. The station’s focus, as the slogan says is to “Add local color to your airwaves”. And that is exactly what KPPP-LP will do. This means that you will finally be able to hear community radio that takes into account all audiences in the FM, including immigrant communities, communities of color, low income people, nonprofits, community groups, faith groups, organizations and students. All community involvement will involve free training in broadcasting, radio show programming, computer skills and internet training. Business management will also be an area where station constituents will learn marketing, fundraising and proponents of business management and the radio broadcast and media industry.
The educational program and individual skill development by PPP will be utilized through the radio station to create equity in communication/media/information for all members of the community to equally share in the community’s development. PPP’s training programs will be enhanced and furthered through the operation of the radio station.
The development and use of radio production and programming will result in the immediate impact of an engaged community and the benefits of communication rights and multi-media access/skills to traditionally disenfranchised communities (immigrants, new Americans, communities of color, LGBTQ, people with disabilities, youth, blue collar and working poor, rural communities, single parent households, homeless, elderly, etc.), as well as students, nonprofits, small businesses, churches and faith groups, artists, and new journalists. Having a radio station combined with the training program will have a great beneficial impact on the community by putting community members in the driver’s seat of their own media production.