Friday, July 28, 2017

PA Radio: Judge Tells Simpson Heir To Avoid FCC Contact

The Late Cary Simpson
A Pennsylvania county judge has directed the son of the late broadcaster Cary Simpson to avoid further contact with the Federal Communications Commission and to make no additional social media postings about his father’s estate and pending sale of a Tyrone AM radio station.

According to The Altoona Mirror, Judge Jolene G. Kopriva advised John F. “Ted” Simpson that he has avenues within the county court system to raise objections and concerns about management of his father’s estate and its pending sale of  WTRN 1340 AM.

Use them instead of turning to the FCC or social media, the judge said, because this is a fragile time.

The judge offered her comments to Simpson last week while explaining why she will issue an order as requested by attorney Edward S. Newlin and executor Thomas J. Hoyne, representing Cary Simpson’s estate, and by Matthew Lightner of Claysburg, who is in the process of buying the station.

WTRN 1340 AM (1 kw)
Newlin asked Kopriva to intervene because of a letter Simpson wrote to the FCC and because of recent comments Simpson posted on a social media website. In the letter, Kopriva referred to Simpson’s report of the station having been sold without his knowledge or permission, something Kopriva told him isn’t required for the sale to be completed.

The judge also mentioned Simpson’s postings about the sale being “bad for the community” and being “done by people who don’t like me.”

Simpson testified that he has a longtime love and support for WTRN where he started working in 1981. Simpson also said he wants to see the radio station remain a valued local asset and supports Lightner’s pursuit.

Kopriva pointed to the contrast between Simpson’s testimony and what he wrote to the FCC and on social media.

“You are damaging the relationship not just with the estate but also to the radio station your dad loved,” the judge said.

Attorney Steve Passarello tried to convince Kopriva that Simpson has the right to file public comment with the FCC about pending sale of the radio station. It’s up to the FCC, Passarello said, to further investigate what Simpson says and determine if it’s reason to influence the sale.

Newlin countered that Simpson’s actions are a basis for “irreparable harm” that could halt the sale, harm the estate and leave Lightner with a loss on the investment he’s making to buy the station and to upgrade its equipment.

Lightner told the judge that for the last two years, WTRN has been at risk of losing its FCC broadcasting license for lack of equipment upgrades. It’s been on “low power” with limited range for broadcasting, Lightner said.

Hoyne told the judge the estate put the station up for sale because it was losing money and had trouble paying bills. He also revealed that the estate had a higher offer for the sale, but it was to be paid over 20 years. Lightner offered to make the purchase for $90,000 and to spend more money on upgrades.

Simpson said he believed the radio station was profitable in 2016, based on his work there during the last last four or five months before his father’s Dec. 29 death.

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