Washingtonian: Why Is Radio One Trying To Stop This Low-Power FM Station?
February 24, 2015 at 8:50 AM (PT)
There's a DAVID and GOLIATH story happening in our Nation's Capital. THE WASHINGTONIAN tells the story, "Not far from the glass-and-concrete pile where broadcasting behemoth RADIO ONE has its headquarters in SILVER SPRING, WILLIAM TUCKER is readying a studio for a station called WOOK. TUCKER plans to play neo-soul, funk, and R&B, appealing to listeners of RADIO ONE’s WKYS and WMMJ -- if RADIO ONE doesn’t stop him."
LOW POWER FM ADVOCACY GROUP Exec. Dir. DAVE SOLOMON reached out to ALL ACCESS to help spread the story, telling us, "They have thrown everything at this station to force it to stop from being built; and, even after they have been awarded the CP is still harassing them with government actions."
WOOK Founder/Pres. WILLIAM TUCKER explained, "RADIO ONE's initial petition to deny made two claims: our non-profit group didn't legally exist, and we did not have a letter of reasonable assurance from the proposed tower owner. It's true they justified their petition as serving the public interest and that we represented 'competition' for their listeners. (This despite WOOK does not present itself as an 'Urban', 'R&B' or 'Black' station.) They based their argument for the nonprofit not existing on a cursory search of D.C. government's' online database of registered businesses -- a notoriously incomplete and ill-managed system where the records aren't up to date. We had attached letters from the IRS, and multiple documents from the D.C. government establishing the nonprofit's legal existence in the proposed community of license with the original application. My guess is RADIO ONE ignored these documents."
TUCKER continued, "The letter of reasonable assurance was also attached to the original application. Again, RADIO ONE ignored an item that was in clear view to the public. As the window for public comment closed, RADIO ONE continued to file petitions repeating their initial claims. At one point, they asked for a motion to leave in order to find something else. They came up with bupkis. The FCC dismissed their petitions in AUGUST and granted us our construction permit. You'd think that would have ended their interference. Yet RADIO ONE submitted another petition after the others were dismissed, again repeating their claim of nonexistence but adding an additional misrepresentation of the nonprofit's director. What's more amazing (or amusing, depending on your POV) is there is no RADIO ONE station on either of the 2nd adjacent channels to WOOK. So go figure. Knowing the history of the original WOOK and its rivalry with WOL (RADIO ONE's 1st property), I get why the company's executives continue to harass us as if we're about to out them as frauds."
THE WASHINGTONIAN adds some background, reporting "in AUGUST, WOOK became the area’s first recipient of a Low Power FM (LPFM) license under an FCC program that promotes stations broadcasting at 100 watts or less—enough to be heard within a 3½-mile radius. Most LPFM applicants have been community groups targeting a neighborhood. TUCKER’s station is a bigger project: an attempt to revive the spirit of WOOK 1340 AM, one of the first stations in the U.S. geared to a black audience. Founded in the ’40s, WOOK hosted religious shows and personalities such as 'SOUL PAPA' CAMPBELL that TUCKER listened to growing up in TAKOMA PARK in the ’70s."
An Open Letter To Radio One
SOLOMON has penned an open letter to RADIO ONE/TV ONE to Ms. HUGHES, Mr. LIGGINS and RADIO ONE/TV ONE Management. He writes:
First, I want to take this opportunity to say how I admire your company for how it has succeeded in a struggle that not all black-owned businesses survive. RADIO ONE is a model company. Thank you for being an inspiration to all of us.
Now, however, we at THE LOW POWER FM RADIO ADVOCACY GROUP (LPFM-AG), must inquire as to the methods in which and reasons that your company has chosen to attack the pre-granted and fully granted FCC license of brand new black-operated radio station WOOK-LP (103.1 FM), a small 100 watt FM radio station in the pre-construction phase in WASHINGTON, D.C.
If it is your company's intention to limit the choices of the black population of WASHINGTON, D.C., we at THE LOW POWER FM ADVOCACY GROUP wish you would say so. However, we must ask why? As we can tell, there are dozens of choices for the non-black population of our nation's capital; however, there are very limited choices for the city's black radio listener.
SINCERE SEVEN, the grantee of this radio station, has passed every hurdle THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION (FCC) has placed before it -- and even passed the numerous denied challenges & charges that your company has issued it. Yet, after their license is granted, your company continues to throw everything at them to stop their construction.
SINCERE SEVEN is a black-owned community group who has proven that its intention is to be non-profit and to serve the black community of a small portion of WASHINGTON, D.C. with hyper-local, community programming. That programming will include music, talk, news and other important information. They will be an additional asset to the community -- one who will edify the black population and provide additional programming that RADIO ONE's WASHINGTON, D.C. stations don't always provide.
Would a continued attack on WOOK not make your big company one that is unfairly attacking a small black-owned group?
Do your attacks not occur after you have won your struggle ... yet, while SINCERE SEVEN still fights for its own survival?
Are you not adding an unfair burden to someone who reflects your own early struggle?
When competition is mentioned in an official government filing as has been in these proceedings, it seems like a party is leaning on the US Government for preferential treatment and anti-competitive actions. Perhaps it's not true, but it certainly looks like it takes a very small amount of money/competition to empower RADIO ONE/TV One to attack a smaller black-owned good-will group. We feel that your action hurts the entire black population everywhere and all of America. We strongly beg you to stop today. Please do the right thing.
Contact SINCERE SEVEN and offer to help. The radio station they propose will be a living "history lesson" for the citizens of WASHINGTON. We join many in believing your company should support it. We feel that, to truly be a servant of the black community of WASHINGTON, D.C., RADIO ONE should be WOOK's biggest supporter. The black community would applaud an action like that. There is a lot of trust given your company by the black community. Please fulfill our expectations and call off "the dogs" who are attacking WOOK-LP, 103.1 FM in WASHINGTON, D.C. How can continuing be good for you?
Contact us directly at email@example.com to continue a dialogue. We want to help you through this.
Radio One Responds
RADIO ONE sent ALL ACCESS this in response to the above:
"RADIO ONE acknowledges the value of Low Power FM stations and the service they are expected to provide to the community. In fact, there are numerous Low Power FM stations in the fifteen urban markets we serve and we have never filed a petition against any of them. Competition is not the issue. We challenged the application filed by WOOK-LP as we do not believe the applicant is in compliance with the FCC’s rules for Low Power FM stations. The petition to deny, WOOK-LP’s response and related pleadings are public record. We welcome a review of these documents that clearly outline the basis of our petition."