Monday, January 08, 2007

The largest-ever College Radio Fine

WSUC has always been a hard luck station. Before 1976 the Station used the calls WCSU and was an AM carrier-current station. When they went legit they hoped to retain the WCSU calls but legally had to submit 5 choices to the FCC on their application. Their picks were WCSU, WMLF, WCJL, WRTC and finally, as a joke, WSUC.

As lit turns out the first four call-letters were already assigned. It turns out that the FCC at least once had a sense of humor.

Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 1464, prohibits the utterance of “any obscene, indecent or profane language by means of radio communication.” Consistent with a subsequent statute and court case, the Commission's rules prohibit the broadcast of indecent material during the period of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. FCC decisions also prohibit the broadcast of profane material between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m...

On June 21, 1992, a student DJ at SUNY-Cortland's WSUC played Kid Rock's "Yo-Da-Lin In The Valley," which explicitly describes one of the Kid's favorite sexual acts. All it took was this one mid-afternoon lapse in judgment, and the school owed the US government $23,750.

It was the largest ever fine the FCC ever had levied on a college radio station. Though the base fine would normally be $12,000, the FCC initially adjusted the figure upwards, explaining "the egregious nature of the material exacerbates the violation." Fortunately, after months of bad press the FCC eventually dropped the fine altogether.

Years later, WSUC's current station manager Christopher Ortega can't take any chances. "I'd rather have a boring station than no station at all." With 13 years of hindsight he still well remembers the single song that caused so much trouble.