Comment: Our local radio stations are valued community members

As a mayor, public safety is a top concern. Whether the threat is man-made or natural,there is a plan in place and our local radio stations are a key part of that plan. Emergency responders and other public officials relay information to radio stations and they share it with listeners.

Depending on the urgency of the situation, they will interrupt programming to ensure listeners get information in real-time. Most importantly, they are dependable with or without electricity. Our radio stations are truly lifelines.

According to the Free Radio Alliance, radio stations in California collectively contributed over $696 million to their respective communities. Roughly $135 million of that went to charities, $68 million went to disaster relief, and $493 million went to donated airtime. Additionally, according to the National Association of Broadcasters, the economic impact of radio in California translates into almost $59 billion and 122,000 jobs.

The future of our local radio stations is uncertain. During the last Congress, the recording industry and its allies pushed legislation that would have hurt local radio stations like those in our community by forcing them to pay a performance tax on recorded music. Stations that couldn’t afford it – especially smaller ones that are already on the brink of collapse in a tough economy – would have likely shut down, laid off staff, or changed programming options. All of these possible outcomes would have been detrimental, as radio stations would have had fewer resources at their disposal to benefit the community.

While this Congress is not currently considering performance tax legislation, there is no guarantee that it will not surface again. For that reason, I would like to thank members of the California Congressional delegation who have shown their commitment to the continued vitality of radio by supporting the Local RadioFreedom Act. I would also like urge members that have not signed on to consider doing so – especially members representing our city and neighboring communities.