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Part 15 is the section of the FCC Rules and Regulations that deals with unlicensed transmitters–everything from remote controls to wireless microphones. Part 15 stations take advantage of provisions that allow very, very low power operation in the standard AM & FM broadcast bands. Generally Part 15 FM stations max out at a range of 50 to 100 feet or so. In my opinion, to get 3 miles (or for that matter, 10 blocks) legally without a somewhat complicated system of separate linked transmitters would be difficult at best, and most likely impossible.
Since you indicate your technical expertise in this area is limited, an effort to set up a network of synchronized FM transmitters would probably be a bit of a challenge.
Now, while FM may be the preferred mode of operation for many, it IS possible to get an almost 3 mile radius using AM. Reception will not be strong within buildings, but car reception over that range can and does happen. Check out some of the advertisers here on this page and get a feel for what is available and what the equipment would cost, and how it would be installed. Yes, there are “turnkey” transmitters that don’t require a great deal of set up, but even they will need a small amount of technical ability to get them to run at their best.
You could also consider running both AM and FM transmitters (plus Internet streaming for that matter) to get the most “bang for the buck”.
In addition to the transmitter, for live broadcasting you will need an audio mixer, microphones, audio playback sources such as CD players and a computer. Investigate some form of radio station automation software to handle playback of promos, commercials, station IDs, music, etc. If the station plans to air telephone calls, you will need some sort of telephone “hybrid”–a device that will allow phone audio to be played on the air. Ideally, you will also need some audio processing gear–either hardware or software based (requiring another computer)–so that audio levels can be properly controlled before they are sent to the transmitter.
If the station operators are currently on the air and covering the range you outline, they are likely operating outside of the law. Whether you choose to participate in this activity is up to you, but please weigh the possibility of any liability that YOU will have if you get involved and the station is shut down or fined by the FCC. If you operate legally within Part 15, there are no legal fees to get started, but if you operate illegally, you could face some real fees (like a $10,000 fine)!
While I know of no “Part 15 for Dummies”, there’s a wealth of information here and on other Part 15 related websites. Simply do a Google search for Part 15 radio stations, and I’ll bet you’ll find a bunch of info.