Selma City Council meetings may be broadcast on FM

Published 9:52 pm Thursday, July 17, 2014

By Christopher Edmunds
The Selma Times-Journal

Selma residents may be able to tune in to City Council meetings on FM radio starting in October.

The council heard a presentation from Paul Alexander, president of Scott Communications, about broadcasting City Council meetings on WJAM 96.3 FM.

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The proposal stated the meetings would be broadcast without commercial interruption or sponsorships, and in a higher quality than the current AM broadcasts.

While the meetings are currently carried on a local AM station regularly, Alexander said interference levels have increased in recent years, causing static and distracting hums.

“Through the years, smartphones and other sources of interference have made listening to AM radio almost unbearable, especially at night with the added nighttime interference,” Alexander said.

Station manager Wayne Sharpe said the current meeting broadcast is difficult to understand.

“The meetings that I’ve heard, it’s hard to hear what’s going on,” Sharpe said.

During the presentation, Alexander cited Nielsen ratings showing 96 percent of radio listeners use FM radio instead of AM.

“We have listeners that don’t know there is such an animal as AM,” Sharpe said.

Alexander said the station proposed to broadcast the meetings covers all of Dallas County, so anyone within county lines should be able to pick up the council meetings.

Along with the new station to carry the broadcast to viewers, Alexander proposed the installation of a digital device within the council chambers.

The device would improve the audio quality by sending a digital signal, rather than analog, from the chambers to the station.

The city currently spends $6,800 to broadcast the meetings on AM radio.

City Council President Corey Bowie said the administrative committee would revisit the issue closer to budget preparation.

“It has been relegated to the administrative committee,” Bowie said. “In September we will revisit this during the budget process, and that’s when we will be taking bids.”

Bowie estimated the new broadcasting of the meetings could start as soon as October, at the beginning of a new fiscal year.

“This is another outlet that I believe municipal government can provide for our citizens to be engaged with the process for city government,” Bowie said. “I think it’s a great vehicle so citizens can listen in and be engaged.”