Jolly and other experts are predicting things will be very different this time around. "We're expecting [applications] certainly in the thousands," he says, and that the number of LPFM stations in existence will "double or triple."
In Connecticut, he says it's likely that various "organizations will apply for those available channels [and we expect several of those applications] to be granted."
The FCC originally set Oct. 15-29 as the window for applications for new low-power FM stations to be filed. That got screwed up by the congressional gridlock over Obamacare and the debt ceiling, so it's now expected that the FCC will extend the application deadline.
The feds are expected to take two to six months to make initial decisions on the applications, and another three months to make final rulings. There is also an appeals process for groups that might feel they were unfairly denied a federal license, according to Jolly.
"It will take at least a year or more" for a new licensee to get the necessary construction permits and buy the transmission equipment needed to get a signal out, says Jolly.
Connecticut radio experts weren't expecting all that many new LPFM slots to be made available in this state because the radio dial around here is already crowded.
Rice says there may end up being an unintended advantage for the big commercial stations in having more of these little, low-power FM operations out there.
"This kind of broadcasting can be a training ground," says Rice. People interested in radio and broadcasting in general will be able to gain valuable experience at these tiny stations, he says. And those commercial stations that were so opposed are likely to end up hiring some of those enthusiastic newcomers.
"Those people can grow into the industry," he says.