Friday, October 07, 2005

The short sad story of WASO

WASO opened its doors in early 1991 under the management of Robert Namer. He ran a mix of center-right and extremist conservative talk programs with shows by G. Gordon Liddy, Keith Rush, and of course Robert Namer himself. He archived his own radio shows here.

With a modest 250 watt AM signal and a viscous 25 watt PM power down they still reached the center of New Orleans, if not much else. But despite that valuable central coverage they never managed to appear in a single ratings book over the next decade. Things got weird in early 2002 when his own radio station (America First Communications) donated money at least 4 times to his own election campaign for the house of representatives. More info here. The AP wire, normally a source of excitement-free vanilla news took him down (clipped 6/29/2004) It was sketchy even for Louisiana.
"Conservative talk-show host Robert Namer used loans to his congressional campaign fund in 2002 to try to avoid paying $3 million owed the Federal Trade Commission, a federal court has ruled. Namer also illegally transferred money to companies owned by himself, his wife and their children for the same reason, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday."

In 2003 Namer lost a legal judgement for throwing his campaign money in the same side of his wallet as his WASO money. By 2004 Mr. Namer was requesting waivers on the late fees for that judgement. In 2005 Namer lost his FCC license for non-payment of that judgement and the station was taken off the air by the Federal Trade Commission. Ouch here.

But there was a silver lining for WASO. On September 2nd 2005 authorities of the St. Tammany Parish seized the abandoned WASO studios and began broadcasting emergency information for the public benefit of hurricane Katrina survivors in the New Orleans area.