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Support for C4: Expanding Opportunities for Small Stations

One in a series of articles exploring comments about the proposed C4 Class

WASHINGTON — We reported last week that an FCC Notice of Inquiry about the Class 4 station proposal triggered a commentary period, and supporters have been quick to share their thoughts about Docket 18-184.

To date, the majority of the comments have been positive. Read on for a sampling of why some advocates say the commission should move forward with this idea. Submit your own comment before Aug. 13.

A common theme was how the C4 class would benefit small stations that serve niche communities that have few or no opportunities for alternative media, due to geographic isolation or linguistic constraints.

Metro North Communications Pres. Mark Heller in Denmark, Wis., wrote, “The C4 power increase would especially help minority broadcasters in the southern United States, and those who are located as ‘rimshot’ facilities, outside of a standard market.” He continued, “Small market broadcasters, local owners and minority operators would benefit, and honestly, need this type of relief, if it becomes available.”

Another Wisconsinite, WCWI(FM) owner Joe Deschler, also weighed in. “After owning WCWI now for over four years, I’ve experienced many instances of businesses and individuals in our prime coverage area who want to, and try to listen to us, and cannot. We are battling concrete and steel buildings, as well as some rolling topography.” Deschler explained, “We would love to confidently be able to fully serve those listeners who depend on us as the only station in the county, and the only station in the area that is staffed with local personalities who keep central Wisconsin informed.”

A third cheesehead — Door County Radio Group Pres. Michael J. Mesic — chimed in. “My two stations [WLGE(FM) in Baileys Harbor, Wis., and WQDC(FM) Sturgeon Bay, Wis.] face a coverage challenge due to terrain, tropospheric ducting, and spread out population of Door County. A creation of the new Class C4 would greatly help us cover our home area with all of our local news, PSAs and community service.”

Georgetown, S.C.-based CRMC Pres./CEO Jeffrey M Andrulonis commented, “WXJY(FM) broadcasts an urban gospel format to Georgetown and Georgetown County, S.C. According to the 2010 US Census, Georgetown has a 56.7% African-American racial makeup, and WXJY is the only FM station with programming geared specifically to Georgetown County’s African-American population. … Many minority broadcasters need this relief.”

RadioJones LLC Pres./General Manager Dennis Jones is the licensee of 12 signals serving rural communities in south Georgia — super-serving them, according to Jones. He said, “The ability for me to upgrade my coverage areas would greatly assist me in providing quality and diverse programming to the various ethnicities and citizens of our rural areas which have become quite diverse over the years. Not only will the upgrade enable my signals to cover more physical territory, perhaps more importantly, it will improve the density and quality of my signal inside of homes, buildings, automobiles and businesses.”

Jones added, “Many small broadcasters such as myself truly need this relief and opportunity to improve our businesses. As you may or may not know (I hope you do know or will find out soon), the local broadcast business has never been more difficult. Our competition (and the general public’s perception of our competition) has greatly increased over the last 15 to 20 years.”

KDDK(FM) Pres./General Manager Ken Noble commented, “Implementation of the MB 18-184 proceeding would make it possible for KDDK(FM), the only Spanish-language commercial FM station in Baton Rouge, to serve more of the Latino community.”

Todd Laborde, owner of Bontemps Media Services and licensee of KAPB(FM), Marksville, La., wrote, “As an owner in a rural area, our station is committed to community service. Given this, we provide local content 24/7 to include local news, weather, obituaries, public service announcement as well as local sports and agricultural issues.” He added, “The proposed increase would greatly enhance our outlying listening area and continue to serve the community with local information. Larger stations in our area do not offer local coverage to our listeners as they are more committed to a wider audience.”

Jerry Lousteau Jr., current owner of Canton, Miss., station WMGO(AM) wrote, “In this area of the country, any boost in signal is welcome, as weather conditions often make signal reception difficult, especially for smaller station during the morning hours. The 100 kW stations are mostly unaffected by these unpredictable atmospheric issues, but for Class A stations, coverage can be reduced drastically. Any power upgrade would be a very beneficial development.” Lousteau noted that his FM translator would be unaffected by the upgrades and added, “Even though my station would not benefit directly, I also recognize that other small broadcasters need this help.”

Rayne, La.’s KSIG(FM) licensee Philip Lizotte commented, “While other signals focus on regional coverage, ours is targeted to local coverage. An upgrade to 12,000 W would significantly increase our signal strength and thus, local coverage for our citizens.”

Bold Broadcasting Pres. Matthew Glaser, licensee of WELJ(FM), wrote to support the proposal citing his own station’s popularity and location. “Given that Montauk [N.Y.] is the easternmost point on Long Island, our station’s signal is not equally strong in all areas in Suffolk County, even though our listeners live, work and travel throughout the county on a daily basis. We have heard from our listeners that they would like to be able to listen to the station all day long, no matter where they are located on the eastern portion of Long Island.” He continued, “Increasing power to 12,000 W, which would be possible only with the creation of a new Class C4 for FM stations, would enable the station to far better serve listeners in our community of license and the surrounding area.”

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