Moneychangers In the Temple

REC Networks makes some remarkable math: the entity doing business as translator-mongers Edgewater Broadcasting and Radio Assist Ministries is cleaning up on the FM dial. Combined, Edgewater/RAM currently hold 1,026 construction permits for translator stations. This is of more than 4,200 license applications filed (~2,300 applications still pending).

Of these, REC then lists (in an e-mail) 83 sales or transfers of Edgewater/RAM construction permits – the recipients of whom just happen to be other translator-mongers, like the American Family Association and Calvary Chapel Church, Inc.

Three multi-translator transactions involved Edgewater/RAM handing over 26 construction permits in Florida to “Reach Communications (Calvary Chapel Church, Inc.)” for $326,500. The total revenue generated by the 83 transactions is just over $800,000. Read More

March of the Low-Band God Squad

This article was initially written for/published in the Wisconsinite, a now-defunct alt-biweekly newspaper in Madison, WI.

Under the guise of evangelism several religious broadcasting entities are mounting a full-scale invasion of the FM dial. This invasion exploits a couple of little-known provisions in FCC regulations that provide these broadcasters the opportunity to flood open frequencies with low-power transmitters. In very real terms these “godcasters” are crowding out the potential growth of new community radio stations.

Key to this ploy is a type of FM radio station known as a translator. Translator stations range in power levels from 1 to 250 watts and cannot air locally-produced programming. The FCC created the translator class of FM radio station initially to serve as a booster for full-power FM stations that operate in areas where terrain (like mountains) may block their signals.

Over the years many individual radio stations have applied for and received licenses to operate translators to extend or fill in gaps in their primary coverage area. In Madison, for example, Wisconsin Public Radio maintains a 10-watt FM translator station on 90.9 since WHAD-FM, The Ideas Network’s primary FM outlet (based in Milwaukee), does not provide adequate coverage to the Madison area and the next-closest nearest Ideas Network FM outpost, in Highland, cannot be reliably heard in Madison at all. Similar translators help boost or extend the reach of other WPR stations around the state. Read More

Translator Crusades Update

The final total on the number of FM translator station applications filed in March is 13,345. Of those, nearly one-third were tendered by just two groups – Radio Assist Ministry and Edgewater Broadcasting, Inc. – who filed more than 4,200 translator applications between them.

Other known abusers of the translator service are also in on this, like the Educational Media Foundation (875) and the Calvary Chapel syndicate, who applied for 385 stations under at least two names (Calvary Chapel of Twin Falls and CSN International). Read More