The most interesting tidbit of information to be found in the pending FM translator petition is not even about the proposal itself. It comes from the owner of a translator station in New Jersey which rebroadcasts an in-state gospel-caster. According to these comments, the “capture and substitution” of the FM translator station’s regular programming with Howard Stern’s uncensored Sirius radio show is a “daily occurrence.” One day Howard’s broadcast overrode the gospel music uninterrupted “for over twenty minutes.” Continue reading “Translator Hijack Involves Howard Stern Show”
A couple dozen folks filed comments in the FCC’s proposed rulemaking to allow FM translator stations to originate their own programming. Several of the commenters are long-time LPFM activists, and many of them support the proposal provided that a translator’s license status is not used to bump LPFM stations off the air, and that the FCC be diligent enough to prevent this type of abuse, especially in light of the speculation and trafficking in translator station construction permits that’s gone on in recent years. (Conspicuously missing from the initial comment round is LPFM’s largest institutional proponent, the Prometheus Radio Project.)
Other supporters of the proposal include local owners of single translator stations, who believe they could be used to replace full-power stations in smaller communities that have since been bought out by broadcast conglomerates and moved closer to larger markets (“rimshot” stations). Continue reading “Translator Petition Attracts Scant Comment”
Major-league bad blood is now gushing over at the Calvary Satellite Network, the Clear Channel of godcasting. A couple of months ago a civil suit surfaced, filed by Michael Kestler, pastor of Calvary Chapel of Twin Falls, Idaho, against Jeff Smith – son of Chuck Smith, founder of the Calvary Chapel fellowship itself. Kestler accused Smith and several anonymous accomplices of siphoning money from CSN to finance other projects, like Chuck Smith’s syndicated radio program, The Word for Today.
Smith et al. have now responded – big time. In a 112-page counter-complaint, it is as if Kestler’s accusations are thrown back at him, amplified. Before getting into the dirty details, though, a bit of back-story is required. Continue reading “Glass Houses, Etc.”
A recently-filed petition for rulemaking asking the FCC to change the rules governing FM translator stations in order to allow them to originate local programming has been formally accepted for public comment.
Comments on the petition can be filed via the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System, and will be accepted through June 9; use the Proceeding number RM-11331. It’ll be interesting to see who chimes in on the idea.
A small-town broadcast concern in Illinois has filed a petition for rulemaking with the FCC asking it to allow FM translator stations to originate local programming. The only substantive difference between a translator and an LPFM station is that the former can be up to two and a half times more powerful than the latter, though it is required to rebroadcast another source or station; LPFM stations are explicitly encouraged to be live and local.
The petition, filed by the Miller Media Group of Taylorville, IL, owner of seven full-power AM and FM stations, would allow FM translators to broadcast original programming from any point located within 25 miles of its transmitter. It notes the “thousands of FM translator stations authorized, and many more thousands of translator applications awaiting FCC action. [These] could be used for a variety of different programming but for the restrictive FM translator rules now in effect.” Continue reading “Unleashing Translators for Local Programming?”
Very interesting dirty laundry now flaps in the wind.
Until about two years ago, the translator station-mongering Calvary Satellite Network (CSN) was apparently run by a two-person board of directors. Now, one director is suing the other, alleging all manner of fiscal and managerial impropriety, among other misdeeds.
The accused is one Jeff Smith – son of Chuck Smith, founder of the Calvary Chapel brand of megachurch and media empire. Continue reading “Calvary Satellite Network Lawsuit Schism”
The Columbia Journalism Review has just published “Out of Thin Air,” which is without a doubt the most comprehensive treatment done by a mainstream media outlet to date on the on the speculation and trafficking of FM translator stations. The 3,600-word piece does an admirable job of unpacking some of the technically-challenging aspects of this complicated story.
However, it is not without its share of mistakes, some of which are big enough to somewhat obscure the real nature of the story at hand. Continue reading “CJR On Godcasting Invasion”
It’s a sickening benchmark to behold, and yet it represents only a fraction of an overall speculation and trafficking marketplace in-progress for FM spectrum ostensibly for noncommercial use.
Here is where our story left off last: Radio Assist Ministry and Edgewater Broadcasting (which are actually one and the same) filed more than 4,000 FM translator construction permit applications during a 2003 FCC filing window for new FM translator stations. In less than two years RAM/EB booked more than $800,000 in revenue by selling batches of translator construction permits to evangelistic mega-churches in the South and West (although a host of smaller transactions also took place).
These churches, in effect, bought permission to build state-wide or regional networks through speculators who snapped up the permits en masse, just for this very purpose. Continue reading “FM Translator Speculators Become Millionaires”
This week NPR’s All Things Considered aired a story on the plight of WAVM, a 10-watt FM radio station run by the local high school in Maynard, Massachusetts. The station stands to be forced off the air by Living Proof, Inc., an evangelical broadcast outlet based in California. WAVM is the only local radio station available in Maynard and enjoys wide community support.
NPR’s Andrea Shea got totally hoodwinked about the interloper kicking WAVM off the dial.
Shea set up WAVM’s vulnerable situation by mentioning the demise of the 10-watt Class D FM station license, calling WAVM one of the “predecessors of today’s low power FM stations.” She says the FCC did away with Class D licenses in the 1970s the after the FM band “became crowded.” Continue reading “NPR Punts on Godcaster Proliferation”
The New York Times has just published a piece on the trend of evangelical broadcasters forcing smaller non-commercial stations off the air in order to squeeze more proselytizing-nodes on the dial. It demonstrates increasing interest in the proliferation of translator stations by religious broadcasters.
On the translator front, the FCC’s temporary freeze on processing the avalanche of applications from 2003 has had no effect on the selling of translator construction permits: REC’s Traffic Report shows deals every month throughout the summer and fall. Continue reading “Godcasting Gets Closer Scrutiny”