Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Community Group Asks Cumulus To Donate FM License

Air waves: A group going by Galveston Community Radio is seeking to revive local station KSTB at 101.5 FM.

The Crystal Beach station has essentially been off air since Hurricane Ike struck in 2008, destroying its transmission facilities.

Laura Elder at galvestondailynews.com reports Galveston Community Radio has asked the station’s owner, Cumulus Broadcasting, to donate its Federal Communications Commission license to the group. Cumulus so far hasn’t agreed, but Galveston Community Radio will keep asking.

“We’re not going away,” Sandra Stern, operations director for the nonprofit, said.

Atlanta-based Cumulus Media Inc., which owns 525 stations in 110 metropolitan areas, has restored the station since the storm, but uses a temporary antenna to broadcast the minimum number of days required to keep its license.

Operation of the station isn’t financially viable, Cumulus has informed the commission. The Houston-Galveston market is so saturated with radio stations, the commission isn’t granting new licenses, Stern said.

Galveston Community Radio hopes public support via petitions and letter-writing campaigns to the company and the FCC would persuade Cumulus to donate the license.

If Cumulus agreed, Galveston Community Radio would create a station offering local news, emergency information and a mix of music with broad appeal, Stern said.

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On September 13, 2008, the transmitter facility and all of the transmitting equipment were "washed away" by Hurricane Ike. Cumulus has filed for permission for the station to cease operations and has no specific plans on whether it will attempt to rebuild the station given the scope of the disaster and the poor economic conditions, according to the FCC filing.  The FCC has accepted the filing, but not approved the request as of January 2009. FCC's standard position is that if a licensed facility remains silent for a year, the license expires as a matter of law, although some exceptions are made.

Prior to its country format, KSTB played an adult contemporary format under the brand "Star 101.5" (or "The Star Of The Bay", referring to Galveston Bay), and was owned by Galtex Broadcasting.

In August 2010, KSTB briefly returned to the airwaves as "Energy", playing music from the 1990s. It was running at very low power, and was thus only receivable in Crystal Beach itself. It is possible that this was simply a transmitter test or a temporary broadcast to keep the station's license active.

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