Community vs. corporate radio
I don't listen to radio much anymore. Back in the suburbs in my high school era of course we listened to radio while driving. Back then too were decent radio stations that were individually programmed, unlike the tightly programmed stations of today.
-- The Quieted Voice: The Rise and Demise of Localism in American Radio
So sometime in the late 1990s I stopped listening to "local radio" for music because for the most part (there are exceptions I will admit) I didn't find what they played very interesting--finally even the overnight hours of WHFS-FM were required to follow the programming dictates.
I do listen to NPR from time to time or CSPAN radio and maybe WPFW-FM when I am in a car. While cooking today we turned the radio on and happened onto WPFW's tribute to Prince, who died today.
Creating and delivering special programming like that, "on the fly," isn't something that radio stations owned by "corporate masters" are likely to do.
PFW has a troubled history like many of its sister Pacifica Foundation stations. We are lucky to have it. Pacifica stations play programming "more left progressive" than the center-oriented NPR.
Why not base community radio stations in central libraries? In my writings on re-creating the DC central library as a wide-ranging knowledge, media, and cultural asset I've suggested community-owned stations such as WPFW could be located within the library. An NPR affiliate in Salt Lake City, KCPW-FM, is located in the central library there.
Low power radio. Another opportunity for micro-community radio media are low power radio stations, which broadcast on lower power with a signal of only a few mile radius. In the 2013 licensing application period for low power community radio stations, Historic Takoma supported an application for the Takoma Park/Takoma DC area, and they were selected and the program for launching the station is moving forward.
-- Takoma Radio WOWD-LP FM
-- FCC Low Power Radio webpage
-- Prometheus Radio Project
"Student" college radio stations as community serving media. College radio stations not focused on the wide community (e.g., how many universities have NPR affiliates) but on music programming with students as DJs can be another source of community radio.
According to this paper, "Reinventing the Wheel vs. Grinding the Same Old Axe: An Ethnographic View of the Students and Community Members at a Massachusetts College Radio Station," what I thought of as a hybrid community-college radio station, WCBN-FM in Ann Arbor, associated with the University of Michigan, is atypical, a mix of student and community members, more like WPFW than a typical radio station run by college students.
Actually, UM had two radio stations, one was the more typical college station, delivered to dorms by what is called "carrier current" via electric wiring, and run comparatively "unprofessionally" while CBN was the one that had a mix of student and community DJs and programming.