High school Superintendent Mark Masterson and faculty adviser Joe Magno are scrambling to keep WAVM, the school radio station, at the long-familiar 91.7 FM.Not only does Living Proof Inc. not answer their phones, but they have what seems to be no web presence whatsoever, which makes life difficult indeed for the average amatuer researcher and blog writer. (Namely, myself.) If the MetroWest Daily Herald, with an open Lexis/Nexis account can't find much about them, I don't feel bad about when my little googling fails miserably to find something. However, I did find the posted decision by the Federal Communications Commission (pdf).
The new owner of the frequency is a network of Christian broadcasting stations the Federal Communications Commission has ruled is a better use of the public airwaves.
"People are furious," Magno said.
The network granted the frequency was identified as Living Proof Inc. An Internet search found a group by that name in Houston, Texas. Phone calls to Living Proof were not returned.
WAVM, which has been broadcasting from the high school for 35 years, found itself vulnerable when it applied to increase its transmitter signal from 10 watts to 250 watts.
According to Magno, that "opens the floodgates for any other station to challenge the station's license and take its frequency."
Using a point scale that considers such factors as audience size, the FCC ruled the Christian broadcasting network the better applicant for the frequency. WAVM is given 30 days to appeal, which has been done. If the FCC refuses to overturn its decision, WAVM will fall silent.
"The little guy does not stand much of a chance. Legally, we don't have a leg to stand on," Magno said.
Five years ago, WAVM finally applied for an increase, which led to this week's ruling.
Along with the application to upgrade, WAVM also planned to share its frequency with the University of Massachusetts Boston radio station, WUMB. UMass-Boston and Maynard arrived at the shared arrangement when WUMB also applied for the 91.7 frequency.
The two stations agreed that if Maynard was awarded the power increase, they would share the frequency when the time came.
Roos said the agreement is derailed because the FCC awarded 91.7 FM to Living Proof Inc.
"As far as I know at this point, they (WAVM and WUMB) are not actually sharing frequencies at the moment," Roos said.
They cannot share it until the proceedings are over and the FCC rewards joint ownership to the stations.
Although WAVM applied for the power increase five years ago, the group just heard about the outcome of the application process and were told the frequency was designated to another applicant.
"The FCC has a set of regulations on its books. In terms of this particular decision, they have simply followed their own rules, which they are bound to do," Roos said.
Basically, I hate this concept. Since when is a multi-station religious conglomerate more important than an established high school public affairs station, and one that already broadcasts religious services, in addition to providing valuable work experience to the students, some of whom have gone off to highly successful broadcast media careers? The service to the local area is vastly important. They do good work. And they get an education at the same time.
Oh hell no. Blow up the Commission's e-mail addresses with a constant barrage of messages demanding that they change the ruling. Send your elected Congresscritters emails at the same time. And send the victims here as much support as you can. Let them know that we're behind them eight hundred and fifty percent. And if they still lose, then...
[Turn signal: Fiat Lux]