On an NAB Radio Show panel that included the news that LPFM licenses are, in some cases, holding up the processing of certain FM applications while solutions to potential interference to the LPFM station are sought (see out post here), a representative of the Audio Services Division of the FCC’s Media Bureau also revealed that the FCC is routinely accepting and processing requests for special temporary authority to allow AM stations to rebroadcast their signals on FM translators. Such STA requests must follow the guidelines that are contained in the Commission’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would authorize such use on a permanent basis (see out summary of that proposal here). We have seen some of these requests already granted.
So, AM broadcasters interested in FM translators should start looking for translator stations to use for such purposes realizing, of course, that any FCC authority is temporary and could be overturned when the FCC ultimately makes its final decision in the rulemaking proceeding. There is no window for the filing of new applications, so an AM licensee seeking to use the STA process must find an existing translator to use for this purpose. But the opportunity is there, and AM broadcasters can take advantage of it.