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Anna G. Larson, Published March 04 2014

People's Press Project set to broadcast by end of year

FARGO – A Fargo-Moorhead nonprofit organization is poised to “add local color to your airwaves” by the end of 2014.

The Federal Communications Commission awarded the People’s Press Project a low-power FM broadcast station construction permit Jan. 28.

The group was one of 1,000 nationally to receive a permit.

“What the media justice organizations did is that they laid the groundwork for the community to be in charge of these radio stations, so to qualify, you had to be a community group, had to have people on the ground, be a nonprofit organization,” said the group’s founder, Duke Gomez-Schempp.

Although the People’s Press Project has 18 months to build radio station KPPP-LP 88.1 FM, Gomez-Schempp said the goal is to have it ready by year’s end.

He said it will be a vehicle for people to express themselves and hopes to increase the transparency of public groups.

“The idea behind a non-commercial community-owned station is that it’s for the community,” he says.

Participation in media, Gomez-Schempp said, is lacking in the F-M community.

“We have a few places where people can go, you know there’s a few radio stations but pretty much people get called and they’re on the air. This is the opposite. We plan it, we have people involved in it, people have leadership in it,” he says.

Cindy Gomez-Schempp, the program director and Duke’s wife, said the radio station will explore stories in-depth.

“Newspapers, a long time ago, and radio and television a long time ago, had a lot more local flavor. If you look back, you can even find stories about how a women’s group had a meeting at their house and who attended and what they eat,” she says. “It’s so much more detailed. Social media has kind of tried to fill that vacuum. Even social media is not accessible to everyone, especially those who don’t have access to high-speed Internet, for example, or no Internet at all or no computers.”

She said groups that’ve been “traditionally disenfranchised from being visible within our communities” will find a voice on KPPP-LP 88.1 FM, listing New Americans, communities of color, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, people with disabilities, youth, blue-collar workers, rural communities, the homeless, the elderly, faith communities, small businesses and nonprofits.

“There’s a lot of room for artists and new journalists and people in the community who are doing really exciting things to have a much greater depth of a platform with which to speak on,” Gomez-Schempp says.

Ethnic music and news, local government meetings and sports will also receive coverage.

“There’s a lot of different kinds of sports, like MMA boxing, that the regular, mainstream news has really never had a place for,” Gomez-Schempp says. “We’re going to be the place for all of those things that really haven’t had a place before.”

The People’s Press Project is currently seeking an office in downtown Fargo, and once the money is raised to fund rent, they’ll start broadcasting. Until then, KPPPFM.com will host the group’s media productions.

For more information about the People’s Press Project, visit ThePeoplesPressProject.org.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Anna G. Larson at (701) 241-5525