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National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB) records

 Collection 0178-MMC-NPBA

The National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB), founded in 1975, is a national membership organization of community-oriented, non-commercial radio stations, producers, and broadcasters. NFCB was formed by a group of community broadcasters who envisioned creating a program-sharing cooperative for community radio stations, which would come to be known as the NFCB Program Service. NFCB's early mission also included publishing legal and training manuals for affiliates, assisting stations in obtaining Federal Communication Commission licenses, and promoting minorities and women's participation in public broadcasting.

The collection documents NFCB's administrative activities, its work with member stations and community groups, training and licensing work, and its advocacy work and radio awards programs. A significant portion of the collection comprises the audio reels and paper records of the NFCB Program Service, which promoted content sharing among community radio stations by collecting and distributing radio programs created by independent producers from across the United States.


  • 1969-2012
  • Majority of material found within 1979-1989

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open to the public and must be used in the Special Collections reading room. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

This collection contain series that are unprocessed. This means that materials are in the same state we received them and have not been reviewed for content or condition. The collection may need to be screened prior to use. Please contact us before visiting the Special Collections reading room to view those portions of the collection.

This collection contains audiovisual materials. Items that cannot be used in the Special Collections reading room or are too fragile for researchers require that a digital copy be made prior to use. If you would like to access these materials, please contact us prior to your visit, so we may determine the proper steps to be taken.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


94.25 Linear Feet

4,000 Tape Reels : open reel audio tapes ; tape width: 1/4"

138 Sound Cassettes : compact cassette tapes

Scope and Content of Collection

The National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB) records contain audio reels and cassettes, adminstrative documents, NFCB publications, legal documents, correspondece with member stations, member station program guides and catalogs, newsletters, photographs, and papers on the development of community radio. Materials date from 1969 to 2012, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1979 to 1989.

A significant portion of the collection comprises the audio reels and paper records of the NFCB Program Service, which promoted the sharing of content among community radio stations by collecting and distributing radio programs created by independent producers from across the United States. These reels are arranged under series 8: Audio Materials. Catalogs, indices, and descriptions of many of these reels are available in series 3: Program Service. Additional audio materials, including recordings of award ceremonies and programs nominated for NFCB awards, are arranged under series 1 and series 3, respectively.

Files on individual stations constitute another significant portion of the collection. While station files dating from 1971-1989 are arranged under series 2: Member Stations, the unprocessed materials in series 7 also contain station files. A preliminary inventory for series 7 is available and linked from this finding aid.

Administrative History

Community broadcasters first met as a group in the summer of 1973 in Seattle, Washington.Only a half-dozen community licensed stations were on the air at that time. Representatives from those stations, as well as representatives of another dozen groups interested in building stations, were present. In 1975, the National Alternative Radio Konvention (NARK) convened in Madison, Wisconsin. Representatives of some 40 community broadcast organizations gathered to discuss the future of community radio. The group agreed on the need for a national organization to represent community broadcasters and provide a voice for non-commercial radio in national policy. The National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB) was then founded in 1978.

NFCB's initial mission was to develop training manuals for stations, to help stations obtain Federal Communication Commission licenses, to promote the participation of minorities and women at all levels of public broadcasting, and to establish the NFCB Program Service, an effort to establish connections among community radio stations across the country and distribute community radio programs through a national cooperative of producers and stations. NFCB's national headquarters opened in Washington, D.C.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, community radio expanded rapidly. NFCB grew along with community radio, soon reaching a membership of 75 stations and broadcasting groups. The Public Radio Legal Handbook and Audiocraft, an audio production training manual, were published in the late 1970s. NFCB was instrumental in bringing people of color into community radio in the early 1980s, organizing the first Minority Producers Conference in 1982. NFCB also assisted in the development of national policies to enhance local community stations by helping to make it possible for non-National Public Radio stations to receive grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

During the 1980s, NFCB experienced several changes in administration. These changes came as NFCB and many of its member stations were struggling with internal conflicts and financial crises. NFCB survived this period, though staff was reduced from nine full-time employees to four. Administration of the Program Service was transferred to the Pacifica Radio Archives around 1986. 

An outside consultant was hired in the fall of 1986 to evaluate NFCB's situation. The consultant described NFCB's future as "in doubt." The period between 1987 and 1990 was a time of reorganization and redefinition for the organization. Due to financial problems, NFCB operated with as few as two staff members at times. In 1987, the NFCB Steering Committee was eliminated and the NFCB Board of Directors was formed.

By 1991, NFCB's financial and operational recovery was well underway. The organization's membership reached 100 in March of 1994, and has continued to grow. NFCB developed the Healthy Station Project, which was designed to support and create successful local stations. In 1995, the national headquarters of NFCB was relocated from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco, California, where the organization combined operations with Western Public Radio.

NFCB encourages community media to respond to changes in technology and culture, raising community service and inclusion as core values. As streaming, podcasting and online journalism rose to prominence in the 2000s, NFCB helped organizations understand new tools. NFCB also convened the first Native, Rural, African American, Low Power FM, and Latino Radio Summits. The Annual Community Media Conference focuses on operating, funding and programming locally-based community media, and draws an average of 300 participants each year. NFCB offers three annual awards, Volunteer of the Year, recognizing community radio volunteers; the Golden Torchlight, recognizing local impact; and the Michael Bader award, recognizing lifetime achievement.

NFCB, now based in Denver, Colorado, continues to represent the views of its members in such national arenas as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the FCC, and the United States Congress.


The records are organized into 11 series.

Series 1
Administrative Files
Series 2
Member Stations
Series 3
Program Service
Series 4
Series 5
Community Radio
Series 6
William D. Rogers Addition
Series 7
Audio Materials
Series 8
Unprocessed Accession 2013-161-MMC
Series 9
Unprocessed Accession 2018-033-MMC
Series 10
Unprocessed Accession 2018-059-MMC
Series 11
Unprocessed Accession 2020-0063-MMC

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB) records were donated to the National Public Broadcasting Archives, University of Maryland Libraries by Lynn Chadwick in December of 1993 and May of 1994. NFCB made subsequent donations to University of Maryland Libraries from 1997 through 2013. Additional materials were donated to University Maryland Libraries by the State Historical Society of Wisconsin in 2000. Those materials had been donated by a researcher, William D. Rogers, to the State Historical Society of Wisconsin in 1998.

Existence and Location of Copies

600 audiotapes have been digitized with funding from the Council of Library and Information Resources. Links to these recordings are provided at the item level in Series 8, Audio Recordings.

Processing Information

The bulk of this collection is unprocessed. Each unprocessed accessions is represented as it's own series. These unprocessed materials are in the order and condition they were in when they were transferred from the National Federation of Commuinity Broadcasters. A preliminary inventory for each accession is available under the Inventories/Additional Information section. (Preliminary Inventory for the Records of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB), accession number 2013-161-MMC etc). There is no inventory for accession 2020-0063 but the material is described in the series description.

Processed materials occur in series 1-5. These documents were placed in acid-free folders which were then put into acid-free boxes. Materials were divided into series and generally arranged alphabetically.

Guide to the the National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB) records
Processed by Heather L. Moore and Kristi Mashon. Additional material described and finding aid enhanced by Adam Gray and Jen Wachtel in 2018.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2007-04: Revised by Karen E. King.
  • 2007-04-15: EAD markup checked and verified using JEdit software by Karen E. King.
  • 2013-06-18: Additional content added to container list. Some series reorganization performed.
  • 2017-11-05: Finding aid reviewed and edited post ArchivesSpace migration by Rebecca Thayer.
  • 2018-03-16: Series 6, 7, and 8 added to series list, and minor updates made by Adam Gray.
  • 2018-08-10: Audio reels added to Series 8 with links to digitized material Bria Parker via the API.
  • 2018-10-26: Two new moderately processed series added, arrangement of Series 3 updated, deaccession statement added, and series extents verified and updated by Jen Wachtel.
  • 2019-01-17: Identifier changed by Duncan Griffin.
  • 2021-08-20: Jim Baxter re-wrote the collection abstract.
  • 2021-09-08: Marcella Stranieri added new accession series 2020-0063-MMC, and updated the extents, notes, and related accession sections at the collection level.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742