- January 8, 2019 at 5:11 pm #108613
For any of you out there who have run their LPAM station as a business, can anyone speak to running, or trying to run, a LPAM station as a 501(c) nonprofit business? How would this play against being Part 15 vs. being FCC recognized?
I figure if it’s cool that you could ostensibly run your Part 15 as a for profit business, I would think being a nonprofit wouldn’t make a difference.
Thanks in advance for all reflection!January 8, 2019 at 5:23 pm #108614
Carl Reflects on 501(c)
Anyone could file with the IRS to form a 501(C3) not-for-profit corporation as the basis for operating a part 15 radio station. There is a waiting period after filing during which the IRS “decides” whether to grant the status.
You used the term “LPAM” in your question, and to me that describes a category of station different from part 15 but not officially sanctioned by the FCC. For years several groups have pushed for a licensed status for LPAM stations but the FCC has taken no action. These stations would potentially be lower in power than any presently licensed category, where I think the lowest allowed daytime power for AM is 250-Watts.
The amount of organizational and fund raising work would be formidable, as 501(c3) requires a community board of directors and filing of quarterly tax reports disclosing finances.
Unless you really make a sale to some rich folks to contribute to the effort it might turn out to be impractical, but it could be done.January 8, 2019 at 5:58 pm #108615
I don’t see the sense in bothering to go about it in that way.. it seems kind of pointless really. It sounds like you’re wanting to have your station supported by local businesses and/or originations and individuals, but not by running ads which avoid having to get local business licenses — Which is absolutely fine, but it seems like you may be over complicating the matter… But, maybe I’m wrong.
What you want to do is basically.. well, exactly actually to what part 15 Radio Sausalito has been doing for 20 years, and just based on what I know of the station history, it certainly doesn’t appear he ever wrapped it up in any 501c hoopla or anything along those lines.
However they do air frequent announcements saying something like “We’d like to thank so-and-so Jewelers for their support”. (I tend to listen to them online) They do not run commercials and do not “charge” anyone any fees, nor ever haves. He’s never been required any city licensing, although the city did for a time provide him a license to utilize a section at city hall for his operations, and they didn’t even charge him for that.
If you were operating as a business than it’s a whole different thong, but your not.
If you want your station to be donated supported than just do it, I really don’t think it’s necessary to be jumping through some imagined legal hoops for a 0.1 station – But let me just shut up now, because it might be I’m way off base and don’t know what the hell I’m talking about.
I will say this much though, if I wanted to operate my part 15 as a non commercial station solely supported by donations, then I would fire that transmitter right up up without contacting or seeking permissions from anybody… because your not required to!January 8, 2019 at 6:34 pm #108616
Another Big Step of Complication
It’s been many years since I was involved in founding a 501(c3) “friends organization” for a public FM station, but since we’re talking about it I remembered this:
Corporations are subject to state regulations and are registered with the secretary of state. But once they exist become subject to federal tax law the same as individuals, which is where the 501(c3) comes from to become tax exempt and allow donors to declare tax deductions. You pretty well need a full-time office staff to keep things moving on schedule and maintain the bookkeeping.
Then you’ve got a board of directors who sometimes get political and start playing politics to take control away from you.January 8, 2019 at 6:39 pm #108618
Your talking a licensed station Carl, not a flea thrower that will be lucky to cover a mile radius.January 8, 2019 at 6:49 pm #108620
LPAM is Only a Wish
R. Powers is correct: “Your talking a licensed station Carl, not a flea thrower that will be lucky to cover a mile radius.”
The people that have petitioned the FCC for a LPAM license-category want power higher than part 15 but less than existing license categories whose minimum daytime power is 250-Watts. So that means more than 100-mW but less than 250-Watts. The FCC has shown no interest in LPAM.January 8, 2019 at 7:41 pm #108621
I know that! It was reference to filing all those legal papers to qualify for his non profit part 15.January 8, 2019 at 7:51 pm #108622
You were talking about your involvement in founding a 501(c3) “friends organization” for a public FM station, and all bullcrap that it involved. but a part 15 station is a non regulated, non licensed and not far reaching device, reach is not one it’s attributes, and incorporating 301cs or whatever for it’s operation seems a drastic overkill.January 8, 2019 at 7:58 pm #108623
You got to excuse me. I’m drunk.January 9, 2019 at 3:57 am #108626
Thanks for all the feedback. My curiosity gets the better of me.January 9, 2019 at 5:33 am #108627
Putting It Away
End 80 Radio says: “You got to excuse me. I’m drunk.”
To which Carl replies: “My glass is empty. Can you spare a bit?”
Keith admits: “My curiosity gets the better of me.”
Carl, one glass in, says: “Curiosity is the start of invention.”
After a long time of staring at a blank wall, Carl adds: “You can run a non-profit station without the 501(c3) designation… your donors couldn’t deduct their taxes, but you would have what is called ‘a hobby’.”January 9, 2019 at 5:24 pm #108656sparepartsParticipant
Total posts : 52
Funny that this should come up – Our Makerspace/podcast studio that transmorgified into a Part 15 station is going down this road right now.
The number is going to vary state to state, but the filing fees and cheapest attorney we could find is going to be about $1200. Filing the 990 (the nonprofit tax return) is projected to cost $660 a year.
SPJanuary 10, 2019 at 3:42 am #108663
Can’t speak to lawyer’s fees, however, in NC the filing for nonprofit is $400. Not sure what the yearly stuff is after that. I assume that the $1200 you have includes lawyer’s fees?
Can you provide any other insight into the process?
kcJanuary 12, 2019 at 4:57 am #108705sparepartsParticipant
Total posts : 52
$600.00 IRS Filing Fees
$359.00 Legal Prep fees
$125.00 State of New Jersey Filing fees
$116.00 Corporate seal, letterhead, and business cards
We are using LegalZoom for the filing. They have an on-line cost estimator on their website.
SPJanuary 12, 2019 at 6:29 am #108708
During the 1980s when I was involved with a public radio friends group setting up a not-for-profit corporation I called upon an attorney I knew but who was unfamiliar with the broadcasting law and his inexperience resulted in a written description in the application form that the IRS did not understand, but the gap was covered by a communications professor in our group who spoke by phone to an IRS agent and was able to clarify the situation.
Attorney specializations vary, so be sure to find one with expertise in the appropriate area of law.
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