When KHSU shut down, Humboldt Hot Air was born in 2021 as an internet, grassroots radio station in Arcata. Now, Humboldt Hot Air is in the process of applying to become a low-power FM (LPFM) station–a licensed station to operate within 100 watts.
“We have existed since 2021, broadcasting through the internet with all sorts of different music and talk and we have really been operating as a community radio station,” said Neroli Devaney, Humboldt Hot Air station manager. “However, we haven’t been on the FM dial and I think that there’s a lot of value in being an FM station. So right now we are applying to become an LPFM.”
100 watts means that the radio station would have a reach of about three and a half miles. It has been 10 years since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opened the licensing window for LPFM stations.
Humboldt Hot Air is a program under the Playhouse Arts in Arcata with more than 60 DJs. If they receive the LPFM license they hope to do more.
“I’m really excited about the potential for us to be an emergency alert, a part of the emergency alert system,” Devaney said. “So that means that in any sort of crisis, you can tune into Humboldt Hot Air and we will be the ones reporting and letting you know where to evacuate to, stuff like that. I think that’s something Arcata could really use as people on the ground. We have a lot of amazing community radio stations in Humboldt County, but none based out of Arcata.”
The process of applying for this license includes hiring an FCC engineer. Humboldt Hot Air is working closely with the Prometheus Radio Project–they help low-power radio stations with guidance on their FCC applications. While Humboldt Hot Air reached a fundraising goal for an engineer, there are still other steps to become an LPFM radio station.
“We can always use more money, so that was just fundraising for the application itself,” Devaney said. “The next step would be building an FM station, which is going to be a lot more expensive than $600.”
People like Jacqueline Dandenau, one of the founders of the Playhouse Arts, look forward to Humboldt Hot Air becoming a licensed LPFM radio station, “I also just look forward to like going in stores locally in Arcata and hearing Humboldt Hot Air on the radio.”