Wednesday, November 25, 2009

FCC SMACKDOWN

I'd like to quickly cover an event of note. The FCC deleted the KRAT calls and has ordered 97.7 in Altamont, OR to shut down. I've seen a number of shut-down orders from the FCC. They're not an every day occurrence by any means, but this one was exceptional.

It starts in 1988. Peter W. Moncure got the original CP for a 100k Kilowatt station broadcasting on 101.3 FF. It was assigned the calls KPMA by the FCC on August 8, 1988.Peter turned around and sold the CP to Western States Broadcasting on November 2, 1988. He took the cash and ran, with no idea of what was going to go down.

Western States filed to modify the CP to reduce the power to 60k watts and changed the Calls to KCHQ. The FCC granted the authority for these changes on August 1, 1990.

In March of 1997 you can see the first twist in the story. In the FCC Broadcast Applications REPORT NO. 23942. Under FM BROADCAST STATION APPLICATIONS ACCEPTED FOR FILING there is a single entry:
"OR BMPH-970218IC KCHQ GEORGE J. WADE MOD OF CP TO CHG HAAT, ERP, & TL 101.3 MHZ ALTAMONT, OR"
That's the FCC issuing a license for George J. Wade. He had filed for a license and they are granting it including a minor change in HAAT, ERP, and TL. Those are Height Above Average Terrain, Effective Radiated Power, and Tower Location. Then in 1996 they issued a construction permit.
"BAPH-960924GE KCHQ WESTERN STATES BROADCASTING VOLUNTARY ASSIGNMENT OF CONSTRUCTION PERMIT 101.3 MHZ ALTAMONT, OR FROM: WESTERN STATES BROADCASTING TO: GEORGE J. WADE (FORM 314) INFORMAL OBJECTION FILED 10-15-96 OPPOSITION TO INFORMAL OBJECTION 11/04/96"
That objection is from the Wynne Broadcasting Company. It was dismissed but construction did not begin. In 1997 KCHQ again filed to make a change. The new frequency of 97.7 and new calls of KRAT were also granted. In 1999 they received a license to cover. That meant they could begin broadcasting. But there was a problem. KRAT wasn't' paying taxes to the IRS, or fees to the FCC.

More interesting was that Mr. George Wade never bought the station. Wade testified in a court case that he was never the licensee and had no idea a license had been issued in his name until IRS investigators informed him. The real operator of KRAT was Sandra Soho. She had stolen his identity to hide income and assets while she was receiving welfare checks and food stamps from the state of Oregon under her real name. She was convicted of several felony counts of larceny and fraud and sentenced to 3 years in prison, fined in the amount of $499,308, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $8,746.79. Ouch.

Here's where that gets way more interesting. Most rags like Radio Ink stopped there. I went back and looked at other Western States Broadcasting properties. They also owned 1070 KWSA-AM. Soho was meddling in the affairs of KWSA as well! In 1994 Western States sold the then silent station to Sandra Ann Falk for $7,500. Wynne broadcasting objected to that one too. More here.

In 1996 she changed the calls to KRAM. Sandra Ann Falk died in June 2006 and her estate began trying to sell off the property. Then I found this. On On June 23, 2006, Falk passed away and Sandra Soho (Soho) was named the representative of Falk’s estate. Soho filed notice that she would be representing the estate in the appeal. The document further reveals that Ms. Soho works at KRKT which employed both Falk and Soho and that they were roommates. Furthermore that the owner of KRKT George Wade had loaned money to Falk to secure property to build KRAM. So it all comes full circle.