12 April 2004
The grass is browner on the other side
Terry Keith Hammond owns a little 6,000-watt FM in Shamrock, Texas, just over the state line on I-40. MonsterFM is moving over one channel, from 92.7 to 92.9, and jumping to 50,000 watts, but if Hammond can help it, he's not staying in Shamrock. Here's why (his story starts in 2002, when he bought the station):
I was immediately branded an "outsider" and (after a nice memo from the local chamber of commerce director was circulated) virtually every local business stopped advertising on my station, virtually killing it for all practical purposes.
Now, we're ready to go back to full power (after an upgrade) and full service facility as a 50,000 watt class C-2 FM on 92.9. However, as the "Texas reception" hasn't gotten any better (we were even subjected to an armed robbery literally and recorded the entire incident on both video and audio to only be told by local law enforcement that it wasn't a "crime" but was a "mistake"), I'm seriously wondering if I shouldn't consider moving the entire operation into nearby Oklahoma as it's only 14 miles east of our current site and is definitely a minor move in the eyes of the FCC.
Bottom line: Previous station management (under an LMA) had borrowed money from the local Economic Development Board and defaulted. The Economic Development Board is sore because they THOUGHT the station license would be collateral and they'd end up owning a radio station (such as WRR in Dallas). Then, they found out that, not only is a city not allowed to become a broadcast licensee but, the "defaulters" weren't even the licensees (their "attorney" didn't properly research the situation beforehand) and they've loaned money to people who didn't "own" what they'd wanted most to use as collateral. (BIG MESS THAT HAS *NOTHING* TO DO WITH ME!!!)
Their solution: Back out of our negotiations to purchase the building and tower site (by paying off the loan the other folks had defaulted on) and steal our equipment at gunpoint (the other guys emptied the station on their way out). We finally managed (after almost two years and with the help of the local courts) to get our equipment back but, only after we'd built a new studio and transmitter site north of town.
My question: Do I want to build a new 50,000 watt FM facility near this town that is so fast to knowingly STEAL an entire radio station and repeatedly ignore numerous court orders to return what they've stolen? Or, do I want to move my entire operation into neighboring Oklahoma and hope the people there are more friendly?
The FCC will not likely approve a move that removes the signal from Shamrock entirely KBKH is the only station licensed to Shamrock but the station might be able to relocate to, say, Sayre, Oklahoma, just inside the state line; they would still easily reach Shamrock, they'd be far enough from other stations on this frequency to avoid interference, and they might be able to pick up an audience in Elk City, fifteen miles away.
Were I this guy, I'd be sending off an application to modify the station's license this week. Texans tend to be friendly folk, but some Texans (and, for that matter, some Oklahomans) insist that you do bidness their way or else, and sometimes "else" is the better choice.