He hopes his foot power can keep radio station on air
February 22, 2009
There are about 3,000 miles between Boston and Los Angeles, and Charles Clemons intends to walk every one of them. By his estimation, the trip will take 155 to 200 days if he travels between 20 and 25 miles a day. To fortify himself, he will start each day with a two-hour constitutional of stretching and reading from the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, and the dictionary. He has titled his long march the "Walk 4 Power."
Clemons is the owner and founder of TOUCH 106.1-FM, Roxbury’s low-power unlicensed radio station. He is setting off on his quixotic quest to protest the fact that the Federal Communications Commission doesn’t license stations with broadcast signals under 100 watts in crowded radio markets such as Boston’s – a prohibition Clemons says puts stations owned and operated by African-Americans at a disadvantage. He hopes to bring attention to the issue with his long march, and to raise support for the Low Power Radio Act, which passed in the House, but not the Senate, in 2000.
TOUCH-FM itself has run afoul of the FCC. The station was fined $17,000 in June for broadcasting without an FCC license. TOUCH-FM hasn’t paid the fine or stopped broadcasting, and the issue is ongoing. If a congressional act like the one Clemons supports were passed into law, his station could obtain a license and operate legally.
Clemons’s trip is long on faith, short on details. He plans to start walking from Unity Plaza in Grove Hall at noon, March 2, and call in to TOUCH-FM to report on his progress. Beyond those details, few things have been planned. Clemons doesn’t know where he’ll sleep each night, or who he’ll meet with. He is still searching for sponsors and logistical support. "It’s hard to find sponsors for something positive," he says.