It might be a misunderstanding — a case of unintended whoopsie-daisy on the part of a new broadcaster. Or perhaps an unauthorized someone along the applicant trail was trying to make a comment. Or maybe our minds just slip into dark assumptions too quickly these days.
The Federal Communications Commission briefly approved call letters WFUK for a low-power construction permit at 103.9 MHz in Gulfport, Miss., before erasing them. The CP had been issued in 2014. In May the updated call sign was issued to the Islamic Center of Gulfport, a four-year-old nonprofit religious organization whose headquarters are in a single-story structure on a residential street in this seaside city of 71,000. According to the organization’s sparsely populated website (right), the center is in the midst of establishing a radio station as well as a burial ground.
When Radio World looked at the FCC database earlier this week, it listed an approved call sign change in May to WFUK. But now, according to the Media Bureau’s CDBS database, the moniker is no more; WFUK-LP has been returned to WAIP-LP. It also appears the record of the brief WFUK call sign has been erased from the commission call sign history. An FCC source tells us only that “this has been caught and fixed.”
Radio World reached out to the Islamic Center for comment and to verify that it did ask for those call letters. According to its original application, the mission of the Islamic Center of Gulfport Inc. is to “educate Muslims by promoting the progressive values and teachings of Islam and to advocate inter-faith harmony in a multicultural environment in accordance with the holy Quran and Sunnah.” It plans to broadcast using an OMB antenna on the roof of a nearby hotel, according to FCC filings.
Potentially offensive call signs, intentional or accidental, tend to be more of an issue in the world of amateur radio vanity call signs than in broadcast, though we know of some who still snicker at certain licensed calls like those of WSUX, which refers to Sussex County in Delaware.
Update: On July 19 an FCC official told Radio World that the change had been requested by the licensee: “Station call signs are assigned through our call sign system, and licensees are able to request changes to their call sign through the system. We wouldn't be able to comment on why a licensee made a request through the system to change their call sign.” The station did not reply earlier to a request for comment from Radio World.
What Those Letters Actually Mean
The Society of Broadcast Engineer’s Program of Certification began 33 years ago as a way to recognize and raise the professional status of broadcast engineers by providing a standard of professional competence. It has become recognized in the industry as the primary method of verifying the attainment of educational standards.