Permit for Bentonville Radio Station Antenna Tabled

Thursday, Mar 17, 2016

Plans for a community radio station to broadcast downtown have slowed as the Planning Commission tabled a permit for its antenna at its Tuesday meeting.

Getting the permit is the last major step in the station's creation, Garrett Brewer, the station's organizer, told commissioners at their Technical Review meeting March 8.

Brewer saw the chance to create a community radio station in Bentonville when he heard that the Federal Communications Commission was accepting low-power FM license applications in 2013, he said in July.

He formed the nonprofit group, Bentonville Information, which was an application requirement. The group has been raising money for the station.

The station, KOBV 103.3, will broadcast community events and an eclectic mix of music that's not on commercial radio. The plan is for it to broadcast out of the old projection room in the Meteor Guitar Gallery at 128 W. Central Ave.

Station organizers have applied for a permit to build a 40-foot antenna on top of the Meteor building. It would be 66 feet tall when the building's height is included, according to meeting documents.

Commissioners expressed concern at their March 8 meeting on how it would impact the visual aesthetics on one of the main streets that lead to the downtown square. They asked if it would be "an eyesore."

A simple illustration of the antenna shows a pole in the center with 36 feet of guy wire stretching from the pole to each of the building's four corners. The illustration includes the call letters vertically stacked on the pole, facing south toward Central Avenue.

The letters would need to be approved by the Traffic and Signage Committee, not the Planning Commission, officials said. Commissioners were encouraged to only look at the antenna when considering the permit, though some said the call letters did make it more visually appealing.

The Planning Department asked station organizers to see if using a pole that wouldn't require guy wires was possible, Troy Galloway, community and economic development director, said after Tuesday's meeting.

Organizers sent an email late Tuesday afternoon saying they needed more time to look into that option, he said.

No station representative was present at Tuesday's meeting, and the Planning Commission unanimously voted to table the item.

Brewer has said the antenna needs to be built by October or the FCC license may be revoked.

The FCC accepted low-power FM license applications from Oct. 15-29, 2013, according to a 2013 news release on its website. The last time an application window was open was in 2001.

The low power FM service was established in 2000 to create opportunities for new voices on the radio to serve communities and underrepresented groups, according to the FCC website.


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