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Friday, February 09, 2007

Reid helps resurrect closed Goldfield radio station

Unbelievably, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada has somehow turned a pirate radio station into a legal low-power FM station, even though the Federal Communications Commission is not currently entertaining any applications for new LPFMs.

From the Pahrump Valley Times:

GOLDFIELD -- Chalk one up for the little guy in a battle against the federal bureaucracy. Rod Moses, owner of Radio Goldfield Broadcast Inc., was given special temporary authority to go back on the air with his low-power radio station in a Jan. 29 letter from the Federal Communications Commission.

Moses said it may be a couple of weeks yet before he hoists the 90-foot radio tower which will permit him to broadcast at 100 watts, enough to penetrate parts of Tonopah and maybe as far south as Lida Junction. The frequency this time, however, will be 106.3 FM instead of the former 100.3 FM. Moses credited Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., with pressuring the FCC.

FCC enforcement agents came to Moses' trailer, which also houses his radio station, June 9, 2006, and shut him down for operating without a license. They based the action on a complaint filed with the agency. Moses had been running Radio Goldfield since March 2005, broadcasting community news as well as oldies from an MP3 player. However, he was informed by the FCC that the period to apply for a low-wattage FM radio station license had expired. "In support of the request, RGB states that the station provides current road conditions, information on local law enforcement and public safety," states the letter from James Bradshaw, FCC deputy chief of the Audio Division Media Bureau.

The letter cites Section 309(f) of the Communications Act of 1934, which authorizes the commission to grant the temporary allowance in cases of "extraordinary circumstances requiring temporary authorizations in the public interest." A letter from Sen. Reid dated Sept. 1, 2006, to FCC chairman Kevin Martin states that Radio Goldfield made significant public interest contributions to the Goldfield community. "Radio Goldfield programming brought regular weather reports to this high-desert area of Nevada, where conditions can abruptly change in often times dramatic ways," Reid's letter states.

Reid added, "Radio Goldfield programming also included timely and reliable information on law enforcement, public safety and school activities that helped the residents of Goldfield stay informed and engaged in their community. Moreover the station broadcasted Sunday religious services that were listened to faithfully by those living too far from a place of worship or those simply too feeble to make a weekly journey there practicable." Moses said letters protesting the shutdown were sent to all the members of the Nevada congressional delegation, but all of them, except Reid, declined to take action after receiving a letter from the FCC stating that Moses was operating illegally. The FCC threatened a $10,000 fine.

Moses, a radio broadcaster for 40 years originally from Fresno, Calif., also circulated a petition around Goldfield that compiled 180 signatures requesting the station be kept open. But Moses said his compliance with the FCC agents helped him when it came time to restart the station. "We shut down immediately and that was the key to the whole licensing issue, is that when the FCC comes out you have 24 hours to shut down or you'll never get one (license)," Moses said. He told the agents, "It'll be off (the air) by the time you get to your car."

Reid, himself coming from another small town, Searchlight, sympathized with him, Moses said. Moses also credited Esmeralda County Commissioner R.J. Gillum and local Goldfield activist Virginia Ridgeway with helping his cause. Moses said a friend who used to run a 50,000-watt radio station in California informed him that because of his protest, other hopeful radio station operators are bringing up a resolution to ask the FCC to offer low-power FM licenses again. "What they do is, they paint it with a broad brush because of the metro areas," Moses said. "We'll probably operate under an STA until they reopen the filing period for low-power FM. There's thousands of stations and thousands of towns in the country that are like Goldfield. They have little or no stations around them. They (the FCC) finally discovered through us they messed up." Another low-power radio station operates out of Tonopah at 92.7 FM with no commercial interruptions, not even station identification, but a limited music selection.

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