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Radio Power Told to Take Translator Off Air

Unresolved interference to WIOT cited

The FCC ordered Radio Power, Inc. to take translator W284BQ in Detroit off the air because of unresolved interference to co-channel WIOT(FM), in Toledo, Ohio.

WIOT licensee Citicasters, a subsidiary of ClearChannel Communications, identified nearly 30 complaints from listeners within the station’s protected contour in the Ypsilanti, Belleville and Taylor, Michigan area, describing difficulties in receiving the station in their cars and homes.

In July, the FCC gave Radio Power 30 days to resolve all the interference complaints or suspend operation. Radio Power did try to resolve the interference, including modifying the antenna to suppress radiation to the south.

RPI, based in Reno, Nev., offered those listeners a smartphone with an iHeartRadio application installed, enabling the listeners to receive WIOT programming over the Internet.

According to the FCC: “RPI indicates that as a result of its efforts, the interference complaints of five complainants have been resolved, four complainants have declined to meet with RPI, five complainants have stopped responding to correspondence, one is no longer a WIOT listener, one did not give sufficient contact information, three did not respond to any inquiries, eight have accepted smartphones offered by RPI and one complainant has declined the smartphone.”

However the phones require a paid data plan to run the iHeartRadio application, which Clear Channel argued made the “solution” unworkable and did not solve the interference.

Radio Power disagreed, saying the use of a smartphone improves the reception of WIOT and eliminates the interference.

Clear Channel provided general information about 58 other interference complaints, but the FCC says the broadcaster won’t provide Radio Power with the contact information for these listeners because Radio Power previously posted the information of those who earlier complained on its website.

The FCC said in its order released today that providing a smartphone to complaining listeners does not solve interference and that Radio Power’s attempted remedy does not fulfill its obligation to suspend operations until the interference has been eliminated.

The agency was also unimpressed that Radio Power put the names of those who complained on its website, which the FCC called “an action that will necessarily serve to discourage the filing of future bona fide complaints.”

In the order signed by Jim Bradshaw, deputy chief of the Audio Division, the agency ordered Radio Power to take the translator off the air immediately.

— Leslie Stimson