'He Signed You, Bill. Now You're a Law.'

Yesterday, President Barack Obama signed the Local Community Radio Act into law.

This decisive victory caps a ten-year struggle for communities looking to grab a slice of the local airwaves. In the eleventh hour of the 111th Congress, the Local Community Radio Act sailed through the House and the Senate and made its way to the president’s desk yesterday. The new law will open up hundreds of new potential frequencies for licensing low-power FM radio (LPFM) stations -- noncommercial, hyper local radio stations that are run by non-profits.

What the bill does is very simple: It removes previous restrictions on the licensing of tiny, local radio stations, called LPFMs. But by getting this one small change on the books, the effects will be massive. Hundreds, potentially thousands, of new stations can take to the airwaves.

Just think about that for a second –new stations popping up across the country with a motive beyond selling advertising. Stations that can play local music. Stations where DJs and show hosts talk about things actually happening in our neighborhoods, and in fact, even live in those neighborhoods. Stations with programming in languages other than English. Stations as eclectic and diverse as the communities they are licensed to serve.

I got involved in media reform after working with my own local LPFM station. As a faithful supporter of free speech and diversity of views, art and culture, community radio was like a dream come true. Though I started attending meetings because I’d always wanted to be a radio DJ, I quickly fell in love with the motley crew of volunteers, radio enthusiasts and others that the station attracted. Along with cultivating a deeper understanding of my community and our collective challenges and victories, I met people I never would have crossed paths with if it weren’t for the station.

I have been fortunate enough to work the last four years alongside incredible organizers, radio technicians, community media enthusiasts and policy experts (like those who have been leading the fight at the Prometheus Radio Project) who have been fighting to pass this bill for a decade. Here is a victory that shows the impact of fiercely and doggedly fighting for better media.. It points to what is possible. It took ten years to win this fight for more local radio, and we need it now more than ever. When we are organized, we can beat the odds and we can win.