Translator-mongers Brag About Gaming System

Eleven years ago, one wily guy made a spectrum-grab on the FM dial of unprecedented proportions. Using a custom program and a bank of computers, Clark Parrish filed for more than 4,000 FM translator construction permits during a short application window for translators in 2003.

Operating under two corporate identities, Edgewater Broadcasting and Radio Assist Ministry, Parrish put the permits on the market. In fact, his gambit created an entirely new market for FM translator stations. Over the last decade, that’s netted RAM/EB and other religious broadcasters who got in on the game millons of dollars from hundreds of sales, many involving the nation’s largest broadcasters, who deploy FM translators as automated outlets typically fed by out-of-market or HD2/3 programming. Since translator stations are considered a secondary broadcast service, they don’t count against the FCC’s radio ownership caps. Read More

CJR On Godcasting Invasion

The Columbia Journalism Review has just published “Out of Thin Air,” which is without a doubt the most comprehensive treatment done by a mainstream media outlet to date on the on the speculation and trafficking of FM translator stations. The 3,600-word piece does an admirable job of unpacking some of the technically-challenging aspects of this complicated story.

However, it is not without its share of mistakes, some of which are big enough to somewhat obscure the real nature of the story at hand. Read More

Press Review: RFB Follow-up and The Power of God(casting)

More newspapers now have articles on the raid of radio free brattleboro, and V-Man has an interview with station co-founder Larry Bloch. It sounds like the station is still absorbing the shock of the raid, especially since it was conducted during a time when the station was automated, thereby avoiding the outright conflict most raids cause. (FCC agents have already had one run-in with Brattleboro citizens before, which they didn’t seem to enjoy.)

The government estimates it stole about $15,000 worth of gear; the station had no backup cache. If I remember correctly rfb runs on a pretty involved consensus model, which means a rebound might take some time. Read More

Press Corrections: Pod/Godcasting

A couple of noteworthy but skewed articles published this week. USA Today picked up on the FM translator spectrum trafficking scandal and, like the caricature of journalism that it is, talked with “both sides” for “equal time.” This allowed Radio Assist Ministry/Edgewater Broadcasting president Clark Parrish the chance to tell some tall tales unchallenged.

Parrish claims the call for an investigation into his trafficking operation is “sour grapes.” He says he plans to start a new nationwide religious broadcast network via FM translator, which may rebroadcast American Family Radio (another translator-monger). And, most importantly, the small number of construction permits he’s sold to others (for $800,000+) were just chaff – leftover permits he’s since decided not to build as part of his network. Read More