Thursday, June 14, 2007

The curse of KKOL

First: Credit where credit is due. I read about this first on Blather watch. A fine site specializing in the scrutinization of talk radio.

Second: Welcome to Post #500!

Up in the Northwest they say that the constant overcast weather makes peopel depressed, ill-tempered even. It might be an aggravating factor in this case. Well, doubtlessly it was another crappy rainy day when 1300 KKOL-AM owners were informed this March by Coast Guard that they needed to shut off their radio station. This was another painful notch in the history of a station that somone was clearly trying to kill for nearly a century.

The irony here is that back in 2002, KKOL became the only US radio station operating from a ship. That january they'd been approved to operate at 1000 watts with temporary facilities to be installed aboard the 175 foot cargo ship, the "Coastal Ranger," in Seattle’s Elliott Bay.

KKOL-AM, first went on the air back in the 1920’s as KOL-AM. One of the first radio stations in Seattle. In the begining the station’s studio and transmitter were located on Harbor Island, just south of downtown Seattle near the ports shipyards. Fifty years later the station left there Harbor Island studios for the Northern Life Tower, downtown Seattle and dropped their historic KOL call sign. But they continued to transmit from the 400-foot tower on the Island.

In the 90’s, the Portbegan expanding their shiping operations as they "containerized" the port. This expansion on Harbor Island encroached on and eventually occupied by the transmitter and tower facilities. In the summer of 2001, the Port came to an agreement with KKOL to abandon the Harbor Island transmitter facility hence the Coastal Ranger install... It was to be temporary, An application was filed with the FCC for a new 50,000 Watt replacement facility about 15 miles south of the Harbor Island site. In 2003 a pier fire nearly took them out again.

Fast forward to today. KKOL-AM finally moves off the boat. Alan Cabodi, VP of Manufacturing for U.S. Oil said in a statement to the FCC that that refinery is now investigating reports of sparks while working with cranes.and that they blame these on the proximity to KKOL's brand new 50k signal. He also said that KKOL-AM was only AM radio station in North America that was operating at high power near a refinery. KKOL retorts that that previously KJR-AM had operated within a couple of miles of the refinery for over two years with its blanketing contour over the refinery with no ill effects other than some telephone interference. More here.

At the request of the FCC, KKOL continues to operate at 25 kW using their nighttime pattern to reduce the signal at the tanker dock while a permanent solution is found. U.S. Oil says they remain unsatisfied with the KKOL owner’s response to the risk of a potential catastrophe and the corresponding hazard to the public safety. More here. The local SBE has a little to say as well.