Translator-Traffickers Mint Another Million

Since 2003, the unscrupulous folks at Radio Assist Ministry/Edgewater Broadcasting/World Radio Link have sold hundreds of FM translator station construction permits scarfed up in a questionable fashion to mostly-religious broadcasters looking to establish or extend turnkey radio networks on the cheap.

Horizon Christian Fellowship was one of RAM/EB/WRL’s biggest early clients. It bought 20 FM translator construction permits along the West Coast from Radio Assist and Edgewater in a series of deals worth $219,000 in early 2004. Horizon has loose ties to the Calvary Chapel fellowship of churches, and many Calvary Chapels are well-known for their abuse of FM spectrum. Horizon, like Calvary, grew from a single church in California to a network of churches throughout the U.S., Mexico, Japan, and Russia. Read More

Translator-Monger Runs Afoul of Piracy

Earlier this month the FCC issued three Notices of Apparent Liability to a “Best Media, Inc.,” whose primary business model involves throwing up FM translator stations and then leasing them out to interested broadcasters. It would seem that Best Media is relatively new to this game: the licenses of three of the translators it received permits to operate in 2003 expired in 2004, and the company forgot to renew them for more than a year.

When the FCC twigged to the problem and opened an inquiry, Best Media sheepishly filed for license renewals. Not quick enough to avoid $21,000 in judgments – of which $9k is for muffing the paperwork and the balance for technically running pirate translators. Operating three unlicensed translator stations, therefore, is somewhat less egregious than running a single live-and-local pirate station, for which the FCC’s base fine begins at $10,000.

Translator Hijack Involves Howard Stern Show

The most interesting tidbit of information to be found in the pending FM translator petition is not even about the proposal itself. It comes from the owner of a translator station in New Jersey which rebroadcasts an in-state gospel-caster. According to these comments, the “capture and substitution” of the FM translator station’s regular programming with Howard Stern’s uncensored Sirius radio show is a “daily occurrence.” One day Howard’s broadcast overrode the gospel music uninterrupted “for over twenty minutes.” Read More