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Low-Power Broadcasting Proponent Nick Leggett, N3NL, SK


ARRL has learned that Nickolaus Leggett, N3NL, an early low-power FM (LPFM) broadcasting proponent, civil libertarian, and inveterate commenter in a variety of FCC proceedings over the years, died on April 26 after a long illness. An ARRL member, he was 72. Hardly any FCC petition or proceeding escaped his attention, and Leggett often was listed among those who had expressed their opinions. A recent remembrance in Radio World magazine described Leggett as “an electronics technician, analyst, technical writer and inventor who held multiple US patents,” but pointed out that he would be best known within broadcasting circles as one of the original petitioners for a super-local radio broadcasting service, which grew into the LPFM initiative. Leggett and co-petitioners — his wife Judith, and attorney and friend Don Schellhardt, KI4PMG — in 1997 sought to have the FCC establish a microbroadcasting radio service to give a voice to individuals and small groups.

“The microstation broadcasting service,” the petition said, “would also provide direct opportunity for citizen involvement in broadcasting,” which, the petitioners contended, had been left in the hands of wealthy corporations.

Although the FCC did not go along with Leggett’s vision for 10-W “micropower” LPFMs, he never gave up on that notion either. He also hoped the FCC would expand low-power broadcasting to the AM band. In 2013, Leggett urged the FCC to consider the value of AM broadcasting in emergencies and the establishment of neighborhood AM radio broadcasting outlets targeting specific communities.

Commenting on Commissioner Michael O’Rielly’s 2015 FCC blog entry about pirate broadcasting, Leggett reiterated his micro-broadcasting philosophy.

“Another way to displace pirate radio is to license small (10 W) individual and community broadcast stations on a night-time basis on frequency bands that provide day-time short wave broadcasting,” he wrote. “When the daytime short wave broadcasts are not being propagated by the ionosphere, the nighttime local broadcasters would be on the air. This would provide a nice set of frequencies that could be received by simple radio sets made locally by Boy Scouts or obtained from discount stores. This approach to spectrum usage would allow inner city residents and communities to set up their own local radio stations.”

Leggett and Schellhardt also lobbied for reform of rules regulating the erection of Amateur Radio antennas in neighborhoods governed by deed covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs). Schellhardt credits Leggett with strongly encouraging and assisting him in becoming a radio amateur.

Leggett’s wife is establishing the Nickolaus Leggett Memorial Fund, with contributions going toward the promotion of technological innovation.




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