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Revocation of Roger Wahl’s FM License Is Upheld

The FCC affirms its earlier ruling that convicted Pennsylvania felon is unqualified as licensee

The FCC has denied an application for review from Roger Wahl, the owner and operator of 93.3 WQZS(FM) Meyersdale, Pa., and a convicted felon.

It has upheld its Enforcement Bureau’s decision last year to revoke the license of his Class A FM station, finding Wahl unqualified to be a licensee. The license of WQZS is revoked as of April 4.

In July 2020, Wahl pleaded guilty in Somerset County court to five crimes, including taking nude photos of a woman inside her home using a hidden camera and using the pictures to solicit requests for sexual advances on her behalf via an online dating site. The Pennsylvania State Police report stated that Wahl later deleted the nude photos from his phone and deleted the communications he made via the online dating site after learning of the police investigation.

In April 2023, the FCC revoked Wahl’s license following an order from Administrative Law Judge Jane Hinckley Halprin terminating her hearing into his qualifications to be a licensee. She ruled that Wahl had waived his right to a hearing because he had not met the hearing obligations.

Wahl filed an application for review (AFR) a month later and said poor health had caused him to miss multiple deadlines during the proceedings before Halprin.

He also argued that his community advocacy and public service fulfill the criteria to remain a broadcast licensee in good standing. He said that if given the opportunity to present evidence, he’d demonstrate “his past meritorious service.” He said that his offenses had amounted to an isolated crime of passion.

The commission dismissed Wahl’s attempts to bring new evidence.

“While Mr. Wahl asserts that his health issues merit reopening the proceeding so he can introduce evidence, he had ample opportunity to request additional time from the ALJ and failed to do so,” the commission said.

But the FCC also analyzed the rest of Wahl’s argument, including the seriousness of his felony.

Wahl argued that his convictions did not involve fraud, bribery, perjury or bodily injury. “On the contrary,” the commission replied, “the facts surrounding his convictions implicate both fraud and bodily injury.”

It said Wahl’s lack of candor in tampering with evidence is a form of fraudulent representation. And while his victim did not suffer bodily injury, Wahl placed her at the risk of sexual assault by impersonating her on the online dating site, the FCC said.

The commission weighed other factors, including any efforts Wahl made to remedy the wrong, his overall record of compliance and any subsequent rehabilitation efforts. On balance, the commission found the factors to weigh heavily in the revocation of the license.

“His misconduct was recent and willful and involved multiple criminal acts. Additionally, he inflicted emotional harm and the risk of bodily harm — including sexual assault — to the victim and also committed fraud in tampering with evidence. Because Mr. Wahl is the owner and operator of the station, his character determines whether the license should be revoked.”

According to past news reports, Wahl’s daughter Wendy Sipple had asked that the license be transferred to her for the sake of keeping the station in her family. But now the license has been revoked.

The FCC told Wahl to shut down WQZS’ transmitter effective April 4 or face forfeitures.

(Read the decision.)