Snags in system put WBFH in a bit of jeopardy




By: Mike Austerman

On The RadioPaperwork and electronic filing problems are likely going to cost high school radio station WBFH-FM (88.1).

The Federal Communications Commission served the Bloomfield Hills station with notice that late license renewal filings, unauthorized operations and incomplete records in its public file were severe enough violations to result in $17,000 worth of fines. The owner of WBFH, the Bloomfield Hills School District, identifies Peter Bowers as the station's general manager.

The good news in the FCC’s ruling was the official renewal of the station’s license.

WBFH, along with all the other radio stations in Michigan, was required to renew its license in 2004 to continue operations. But problems using a new electronic filing system at the FCC caused the station to miss a June deadline and then have its license lapse in October 2004 before the situation was corrected. The combination of the late filing and operations without a license drew $7,000 worth of fines.

Those problems drew the attention of Ed Czelada, co-founder of the contemporary Christian “Smile FM” group of stations in Michigan, who inspected and then reported problems with WBFH’s public file, a required set of paperwork that each station must maintain. While a petition to deny the license renewal for WBFH filed by Czelada was denied, the FCC did add on a $10,000 fine for the problems with the public file.

A petition from an out-of-state religious broadcaster to force WBFH to share the 88.1 frequency also was denied in this real-life radio soap opera.

It’s pretty clear just how cutthroat radio can be when seemingly simple mistakes result in a station putting its very existence in jeopardy. While the folks at WBFH are undoubtedly relieved to have kept their license, those fines are no doubt going to be a big downer for a station that has scored numerous awards for its on-air work.

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After completing a nearly two-week vacation that covered much of the Lower Peninsula, the one thing I missed the most was being able to easily listen to Detroit Tigers broadcasts.

The AM band has become nothing more than an after-thought along the Lake Huron coastline, with the closest Tigers affiliates in Saginaw and Charlevoix, neither of which provides much of a listenable signal if you weren’t tuned in on a car radio. I didn’t fare much better near Grayling, especially after dark.

The bright spot of my journey was that the west side of the state serves fans much better with FM affiliates broadcasting the games in Muskegon, Big Rapids and Manistee.

When all else fails, the backup plan is XM satellite radio — but that plan is compromised when the team is on the road and you don’t get the call of the games from the Tigers’ Dan Dickerson and Jim Price.

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Rock WRIF-FM (101.1) will experiment with some sports broadcasting of its own Sept. 2 when it carries the action of the 2007 Detroit Indy Grand Prix from Belle Isle. Coverage will start at 3 p.m. and will include pre-race activities with the race itself scheduled to start at 3:45 p.m.

WRIF will be broadcasting live from Belle Isle throughout the weekend, giving listeners highlights of the events on the island, traffic updates and more.

”We feel the return of the Grand Prix to the city of Detroit is another positive step toward re-energizing the downtown area and we wanted to get on board to show our support,” said operations manager Doug Podell. “We’re very proud to be airing the race.”

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Steve Courtney will be back in his shorts no matter what the weather is on football Saturdays as he returns to hosting tailgate shows for WJR-AM (760).

Courtney will be on the air for two hours prior to each Michigan State home game with the first show set for 9 a.m. Sept. 1.

Previously, Courtney hosted WJR’s tailgate show for University of Michigan games before WJR opted to carry the Spartans at the start of the 2006 season.

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Major kudos to soft rock WMGC-FM (105.1) and its listeners in showing tremendous support the station’s Breast Cancer 3-Day team.

Earlier in the month, WMGC was leading the nation in pledges raised with more than $250,000 in commitments for the annual walk, far surpassing the original $205,000 goal. The Magic 105.1 team has since set a new and unprecedented team fund-raising goal of $500,000 for the Sept. 28-30 event that will begin at Oakland Community College’s Orchard Ridge Campus in Farmington Hills.

More than 200 individuals are registered to walk with “3 Days of Magic,” led by Fay Samona, producer for Jim Harper & the Magic Morning Show, and four-time walker Sandra Bourdeau.

To further support the effort, JD’s Key Club in downtown Pontiac will be hosting an Aug. 23 happy hour fund-raiser. Doors open at 7 p.m., and a $10 donation will cover admission, food, entertainment, raffles and more.

More information on other upcoming fund-raisers and the “3 Days of Magic” team is available at morningshow/3-days-of-magic.

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Set your dial: Native Detroit jazz artists Regina Carter and Barry Harris will be featured on WRCJ-FM (90.9) next weekend in separate programs. Pianist Harris performs and shares his musical knowledge during “Jazz at the Center,” a two-hour broadcast produced in association with Michigan State University, airing 7 p.m. Saturday. Violinist Regina Carter, meanwhile, is special guest of hosts Karen Dumas and Oliver Ragsdale on “ARTifacts,” airing 6:30 p.m. Aug. 19.

Also, Tom Wilson and Heather Novak feature the music of Wild Bill Davidson on “Somewhere in Time” at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5) and WRDT-AM (560).

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Mike Austerman is the founder of and has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, August 12, 2007







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This page contains a single entry by Mike Austerman published on August 12, 2007 11:11 AM.

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