Localism Backlash in Massachusetts

The Vox Radio Group is a regional player in the radio business, owning more than 30 stations in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. Like most broadcast companies it’s been culling staff over the last several years, but when it let go George Trottier, meteorologist of 32 years at WNAW-AM in North Adams, Massachusetts, some karmic line got crossed.
The station got pummeled with feedback from angry listeners – so much so that the WNAW’s general manager re-hired him less than a week later. Publicly: live, on the air, during the morning show. Continue reading “Localism Backlash in Massachusetts”

LPFM Day at FCC Confirmed; A Cocky Monkey

LPFM Day is February 8 at FCC headquarters. The event is akin to a “mini trade show,” a chance for advocates of low power radio to show off the technology and talk up its benefits to FCC staffers. The Prometheus Radio Project is organizing a mini-conference on LPFM for the day before. It is even rumored that Mikey Powell may grace the event with his presence – the least he can do for failing to accomplish anything substantive as far as advancing the rollout of LPFM stations.
SF Weekly has a new feature on Pirate Cat Radio. Since 1997 this “punk as fuck” station has, according to its founder, “Monkey,” received more than 120 warning notices from the FCC while operating unmolested in Los Gatos, Santa Cruz, and Los Angeles. So far it’s been on in the Bay area for some two years and nary a peep from the FCC. Telling tall tales? Consider this: he blames the October 2003 raid of San Francisco Liberation Radio on interference SFLR caused to Oakland International Airport – yet he chuckles about complaints from neighbors when Pirate Cat messes up TV reception, and it hindered reception of at least one Los Angeles station during its run there. Continue reading “LPFM Day at FCC Confirmed; A Cocky Monkey”

Like Food Stuck In Teeth

How to break news to a friend that they’re looking a bit uncouth? It’s not easy.
Recently I stumbled across the web site of a group called the National Association of Microbroadcasters. This sort of idea’s been tried before but, given the nature of the free radio movement in the United States, such groups have never lasted very long (and the few still in existence are very low-key). Not so the NAMB: boasting more than 40 “member stations,” “covering 194,000 [square] miles,” this is quite a boost from the blue, if true.
Further exploration of the site, however, tempered my enthusiasm. Specifically, the link off the front page labeled, “What is The Law?” This takes you to a page with eight links on it. Some of them are pretty benign, like links to the Communications Act of 1934 and various pieces of U.S. Code applicable to the FCC. Sprinkled in are links to dubious legal memoranda whose basic gist is that the FCC does not have the jurisdiction to license stations that do not broadcast over state lines. One link here even includes a scanned image of a letter one Eric Johnson of Everett, WA received from a functionary at the FCC: it claims that “intra-state radio communications may be regulated by individual states, and I would recommend contacting your State Utility Commission for further information.” Continue reading “Like Food Stuck In Teeth”

FCC Jurisdiction: Interstate Alone?

It should come as no surprise that broadcasters have thoroughly hashed the question of the FCC’s jurisdiction in the courts. The argument, in the context of unlicensed broadcasting, revolves around a single premise: the federal government is empowered to police all interstate activity while business within a state falls within the jurisdiction of the state. Broadcasters – especially microbroadcasters – have argued that if their radio signals do not cross state lines, they are not engaged in “interstate commerce” – and therefore don’t need a license from the FCC.
This particular challenge to FCC authority started all the way back in 1928, when the license for a radio station in Homewood, Illinois owned and operated by the American Bond and Mortgage Company was set to expire. The company went to court seeking to affirm its right to continue broadcasting, arguing that since its signal did not travel outside Illinois the Federal Radio Commission had no power to license it anyway. District court judge James H. Wilkerson disagreed: Continue reading “FCC Jurisdiction: Interstate Alone?”