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No Main Studio Staffing Means Fine

AM daytimer faces $10,000 penalty

The FCC fined the licensee of radio station WQOR, Olyphant, Pa., $10,000 for not maintaining a management and staff presence at its main studio.

The AM daytimer, licensed to JMJ Radio, is in a building belonging to St. Joseph Oblate Seminary in Pittston, Pa. During an inspection in November 2009, a church employee escorted the FCC agent to the station’s main studio, which was locked. When the employee opened the door, the agent found no station personnel present. The church employee told the FCC that no one associated with WQOR works at the main studio location and the room is always locked.

In response to questions about staffing at the main studio, the station engineer told the agent the room was always locked and there were no designated full- or part-time personnel at the main studio. The engineer also reported that he usually came to the main studio once a week to review Emergency Alert System log printouts and perform any necessary maintenance, according to the commission’s summary of the case.

The agent then contacted an officer of JMJ Radio, who acknowledged that the main studio does not have designated personnel, according to the commission’s account.

In a follow-up inspection that December, agents still found no station personnel at the main studio, though the field agent had explained the main studio staffing requirements previously.

Although management personnel need not be “chained to their desks” during normal business hours, they must “report to work at the main studio on a daily basis, spend a substantial amount of time there and … use the studio as a ‘home base,’” the commission stated in its decision.

Though the base fine is $7,000 for violation of main studio rule, the commission found JMJ Radio’s failure to correct the violation after receiving a warning during the first inspection was “egregious” and warrants a higher penalty, hence the $10,000 fine. The agency also ordered JMJ Radio to submit a sworn written statement within 30 days that it is complying with the main studio rule.

Within that 30 days, JMJ can still ask to have the fine cancelled or reduced.