Career Capsule: Glen Dingley started his broadcasting career in 1978 at the age of 17 in the broadcast industry as a radio announcer at a full power FM radio station in Houston while still in high school. He then went to college to get a 2 year degree in electronics. Later after obtaining the prized 1st Class Radiotelephone FCC License, he went to work at NASA working at the Johnson Space Center in Mission Control coordinating space shuttle television and working with the major TV networks. After leaving NASA in 1986, he took a position with the Trinity Broadcast Network as Station Manager/Chief Engineer for their Chicago station.
Then in 1990 he went to work for the Home Shopping Network at their full power Houston TV station, Channel 67. In 1996 he left HSN to form his own Broadcast engineering company, where he designed and built out several radio and television stations.
He currently maintains and services approximately a dozen different full power radio and TV broadcast facilities in Texas. His company is called GMD Electronics that also does satellite, internet, digital signage, and more and now has 3 employees including his son Walter who serves as his lead technician. Recent projects have included designing, engineering, and licensing several LPFM stations throughout the US.
Glen, how did you first get involved with LPFM Radio stations?
Back in the late 1990’s a filing window opened and I assisted in several filings. Then in 2013 another FCC filing window opened up and I ended up filing 30 different applications all over the US. These filing windows only open about every 15 years, so there were a lot of non-profit organizations that contacted me due to the fact that my fee to perform all the engineering work and to file for the license was very low. I was doing it more for the ministry, then for the money and I had a lot of fun doing it too.
2) Second-quarter FCC data shows 1,565 LPFMs at the end of June – a jump from 814 two years ago. And just since last year, the number’s up more than 400, from 1,149 to 1,565. These are not all on the air but coming…
I have not checked the numbers lately, but what happened recently is a lot of non-profits actually obtained their CP (construction permit) from the FCC and was given 18 months to build them out and get them on the air, but they were never able to raise the money. Some of those CP’s were cancelled and went completely away.
What is the typical cost to build out and put a LPFM on the air.
As low as $20,000 up to $60,000 depending on several factors like if the station will be constructing their own tower or not.
Describe the reach of a typical LP station? Power output? Tower Height?
All LPFM radio stations are limited to 100Watts ERP. That puts transmitter power output at anywhere around 50 watts to 300 watts depending on line length and antenna type. Normally the tower height is 100ft up to 350 ft. The coverage area is 10 to 15 mile radius. The antenna must be an omni directional and can be 1 bay, 2 bay, or 4 bay.
Tell us the details of at least one station you put on the air.
KLJJ-LP is a station I designed from the ground up. I performed the study to locate a frequency in a very channel full metropolitan area in Houston (the north side). It took a lot of work to perform the 2nd adjacent and even 3rd adjacent channel studies. Then even after all those studies were done and the application was filed, it still resulted in a frequency sharing situation, so I had to start all over to locate another frequency. But it was all well worth the time and expense when the CP was finally issued for KLJJ at 101.5 FM. Mark Green with the Tribe of the Lion of Judah Ministries was elated. It was a dream come true for he and his wife to have a radio station in a large city. Then the next miracle of God happened when he got $16,000 in donations to construct the radio station. I donated all my time and expertise because Mark has been a friend for well over 25 years and I really wanted to use my talents and expertise for the Lord. I call that my ministry to help Mark and Wilda. He now has a great signal that covers The Woodlands, Conroe, Spring, and North Houston in Texas which has a total population count of around 650,000 people in the stations coverage area.
How many LPFM Christian stations have you put on the air? When do you typically get involved with a group to put a station on the air?
I have licensed about 55 different stations, but have built out only about 30 stations total. All of them different. Some were leasing tower space on existing towers, some wanted their own tower. I have a tower division of our company that actually builds towers. One tower was for my own church in LaMarque, TX Abundant Life Christian Center (Pastor Walter Hallam). The tower we built was a guyed tower at 200 feet with a 2 bay FM antenna, the station is KHEA-LP on 99.5FM and is located half way between Houston and Galveston right off the busy Gulf Freeway (I-45). It has been on the air now for almost 2 years and plays Praise and Worship Music and airs the church service on Sundays. They have also contacted the local City government to offer their station in the time of an emergency to disseminate urgent information to the public as it is located in Hurricane territory.
What do you see as the biggest challenge to owners getting a new low power station on the air?
Waiting every 15 years for a filing window to open. Or maybe approaching another LPFM that would like to transfer ownership to their non-profit organization.
As a believer, how do you feel personally after getting a station on the air? How do the owners respond to you after the station is up a running?
It is one of the best feelings in the world to hear a station get out for the first time. I love driving around and seeing how far out it reaches. KLJJ-LP plays a format that I love…. Christian Oldies Music. Yes, all the songs I remember from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. When I was in college, I used to listen to a radio station called KFMK in the late 1970’s here in Houston and it reminds me of that station. I continue to work with Mark Green and help him on a weekly basis with his station. Here is the link to listen to the KLJJ stream… http://streaming.shoutcast.com/KLJJ1015FMHouston?lang=en-US%2cen%3bq%3d0.5
Do you feel LPFM Stations are really needed and can really make a difference in the already crowed Radio Landscape? What do full power stations say regarding this?
The FCC created this segment of community radio because they saw the full powers straying away from serving the local community. They transpired into big bucks, ratings wars, and commercials galore.
LPFM’s can only be run according to FCC rules and regulations by a non-profit organization that pledges to serve and address the needs of the local community. Is that really happening out there? Well, sometimes. Money is the biggest challenge to these groups and are very limited to the extent to are able to do community events. Every single one of these stations I talk to have big plans but very small budget as sponsors are very hard to find. The non-commercial status of LPFM’s do not allow commercials, but only very limited sponsorship announcements and there are not very many companies that will waive “call to actions” in their spots.
How do you think the LPFM is really going to effect the primary stations in a local market? How many stations do you think will come on the air? Whats the impact to Christian radio?
There is a plan pending before the FCC to allow power increase for LPFMs. I think that would help a lot. If a station serves a small market, they have a much better chance to survive. In a large crowded market, there are a lot of obstacles to overcome. They must have a good source of income already and really need to advertise the station. Most people have their radio on presets. You have to give them a reason to tune around and find you.