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More than Seven Dirty Words

Get to Know the Federal Communications Commission

The FCC is more than "Seven Dirty Words." It's over 1400 employees, 80 years of history, and countless untold stories and unsung heroes. The Official FCC Podcast will bring you those stories, featuring interviews with FCC staff and others in the communications space.


1 hour 2 minutes

Going Once, Going Infinitely

How the FCC went from "beauty contests" to spectrum auctions

Managing the airwaves is arguably the FCC's most important function. Nearly every commercial device that transmits a wireless signal on a radio frequency, from AM radios to satellites to 5G cell phones, must comply with our rules, from licensing to interference. The way the FCC manages and licenses the radio spectrum has changed dramatically since the agency's inception in 1934. And while today's spectrum auctions may seem logical and obvious to many, that wasn't always the case. How has spectrum management evolved over time and what has that meant for consumers and the development of technology in the U.S. and around the globe? Evan is joined by Evan Kwerel, Senior Economic Advisor in the FCC's Office of Economics and Analytics. (Disclaimer)

26 minutes

There Are Those Who Wireline

Get to Know the FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau

It may seem like ancient history, but there was a time when one of the FCC's top priorities was making sure landline telephone service reached every American. And as technology evolves—from copper phone lines to fiber optic cables, from landline phones to 5G smartphones—so does the mission of the FCC and its various bureaus. Evan is joined by Kris Monteith, Chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau. They discuss the evolution of the Wireline Bureau's mission, the work the FCC does to bring broadband to more Americans, and updating regulations for the modern marketplace. (Note: This podcast was recorded in early 2020) (Disclaimer)

22 minutes

The FCC's Lawyer

Get to Know the Office of General Counsel

They say that every major decision made by the FCC results in litigation. And while the FCC has many lawyers across various bureaus and divisions, it's the Office of General Counsel (OGC) that represents the Commission in court. So what's it like being the FCC's chief lawyer? Evan is joined by none other than Tom Johnson, General Counsel of the FCC. They discuss their support for New York-area sports teams, what it's like to defend the FCC in court, and how OGC plays a role in nearly everything the Commission does. They also discuss how governments at the local, state, and federal level interact when it comes to telecom law, and how that interaction has evolved over time. (Disclaimer)

38 minutes

Pirate Radio

How is the FCC cracking down on illegal radio?

One of the FCC's top enforcement priorities is cracking down on pirates. No, not the Pirates of the Caribbean or East Africa—we're talking about pirate radio. Across the country, FCC officials are working to identify and take action against unlicensed radio operators that illegally use the frequencies allocated for legitimate radio operators. These pirate stations pose a host of problems for public safety, including interference with emergency alerts and air traffic control. But they also encroach on those legitimate stations that made significant investments and secured the necessary regulatory approvals to obtain a license. So what is the state of pirate radio in the U.S. and how is the FCC taking it on? Evan is joined by David Dombrowski, Regional Director for Region One in the FCC Enforcement Bureau. If you have information about a pirate radio station, you can notify the FCC by calling 888-CALLFCC or filing a complaint online at https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov. Note: This podcast was recorded on June 21st. (Disclaimer)

32 minutes

The FCC's Past, Present, and Future

An FCC Legend Shares His Perspective

The FCC is always adapting to new technology, and that was highlighted when the agency recently celebrated its 85th birthday. Exhibits in the Commission meeting room showed everything from a 1928 AM radio (that still works) to a 5G smartphone, spanning nearly 100 years of technology development. But as the old saying goes, "nothing is new." And it's often helpful to look back on some of the topics that dominated the FCC's attention in past decades, as they can inform its present and future. And who better to look back on the history of the FCC than Dale Hatfield, an FCC legend, former chief of the Office of Engineering and Technology, and, currently, a member of the FCC's Technological Advisory Council and a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder in the technology, cybersecurity, and policy department. Note: This podcast was recorded on June 21st. (Disclaimer)

24 minutes

Repacking the Airwaves: Is it Time to Rescan Your TV?

What should consumers know about changes coming to TV frequencies?

Do you watch free, over-the-air television using an antenna? You might have seen a notice from the FCC, a local organization, or your favorite TV channel that it's time to rescan your television. As the country moves through ten phases of the "broadcast repack," some stations are switching their frequencies to make more airwaves or "spectrum" available for wireless broadband and other uses. So which consumers are affected, and what should they know to make sure they can keep watching their favorite programs without interruption? And what sort of challenges are broadcasters, TV tower crews, and the FCC facing in this massive, nationwide undertaking. Joining Evan are Jean Kiddoo, Chair of the FCC's Incentive Auction Task Force, and Hillary DeNigro, Deputy Chair of the Incentive Auction Task Force. To find out when you should rescan your TV, go to FCC.gov/TVrescan or call 1-888-CALLFCC anytime from 8:00am to 1:00am ET and press 6 for rescan. (Disclaimer)

25 minutes

Engineering at the FCC

How has the agency evolved to keep pace with new tech?

It's a cliche, but that doesn't make it any less true: technology has changed rapidly over the past few decades. And the FCC has played a role in enabling the introduction of new services that we use in our daily lives. But few people have had the unique perspective of today's guest, who has overseen these developments for, um, quite some time. Evan is joined by Julie Knapp, Chief of the Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) at the FCC. They discuss the evolution of the OET from past to present—from the brick cell phones of the 1980's to the smartphones of today. And what technologies on the horizon are most exciting to the FCC's chief engineer? (Disclaimer)

26 minutes

For Tower Climbers, It's Safety First

How does the National Wireless Safety Alliance work?

As the demand for broadband and mobile data grows exponentially, so does the need for broadband jobs in every part of the Internet ecosystem—from the hoodie-wearing coders in coffee shops writing software to the tower climbers who deploy cell sites to the manufacturers who make steel towers and equipment. But no matter how high the demand for service, safety and proper training must always be front and center. Evan is joined by Duane MacEntee, Executive Director of the National Wireless Safety Alliance. They discuss the safety, certification, and coordination initiatives for tower climbers. In the past, far too many climbers suffered injuries, or, in the worst cases, paid with their lives. How did the industry get from the dark times of the past to the national safety and certification standards used today? What lessons can be learned and, as the race to 5G heats up, what new education initiatives are coming down the pike? (Disclaimer)

24 minutes

Experimenting with the FCC

How do new radio technologies get from the test phase to market?

So you want to try out a new technology? Where do you start? The FCC's experimental licensing program has played a key role in the development of new products and services—from smartphones to new 5G equipment. But how does the program work, and what sorts of technologies have come through it? Some we may be using in our daily lives. Others may have been a bit too wild to make it to market. From universities to hospitals, what sort of entities are taking advantage of this opportunity? And what should consumers and engineers know about the program? Evan discusses all that and more with Walter Johnston, Former Chief of the Electromagnetic Compatibility Division in the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology. (Disclaimer)

17 minutes

Women in Wireless

With sky-high demand for tower crews, what can be done to strengthen America's wireless workforce?

With the broadcast repack in full swing and the race to 5G heating up, tower work is essential to getting those efforts across the finish line. Demand for tower crews is sky high—whether it's working a 50-foot cell tower or a 2,000-foot broadcast tower. And it's easy to take for granted when our cell phones and televisions work, but it's not magic or pixie dust. It's hard, often gritty, and even dangerous work that ensures America's communications services continue to work well and are upgraded as technology improves. So what efforts are underway to develop and strengthen this vital workforce, particularly when it comes to women? Evan is joined by Andy Lee of Lee Antenna and Line Service and Chairwoman of the Women of NATE (National Association of Tower Erectors) and Miranda Allen of Radio Frequency Safety International and a member of the Women of NATE Committee. (Disclaimer)