101.9 K-rock Cuts Staff, Flips to Country a.k.a. How the FCC is Killing Local Radio

New England-based Great Eastern Radio has flipped Keene rocker 101.9 K-Rock (WKKN) to a simulcast of KIXX Country 100.5 (WXXK) out of Lebanon and also cut staff dramatically, to where Elise Valentine is the only member remaining. Valentine will still be heard during 3-7p afternoon drive on the “new” country 101.9 in afternoon drive.

With at least three country stations broadcasting from the area already, is another one really necessary? Apparently Great Eastern thinks so.

Great Eastern’s other transmitter in the market, their sports talk station, “WEEI” 93.5 (WEEY) is a simulcast of Boston sports talker WEEI. It has zero local content and doesn’t even have its own website.

This means Great Eastern Radio’s stations “in Keene” are now being run by a skeleton crew of Elise Valentine and maybe a contract engineer. It’s sad, but that’s what’s become of corporate radio – constant cuts and consolidation.

National radio operator Saga does deserve credit for doing a decent job with their station cluster in town, the Monadnock Radio Group. If Great Eastern thinks they’re going to make compelling local radio by cutting costs and staff to the bone, they will probably learn their mistake hard and fast and possibly end up failing and sell the stations.

Meanwhile, local current-rock listeners are screwed as far as on-air options are concerned. Of course, they could always start up their own radio station with all the open channels on the radio dial in this area. All they have to do is apply for and receive a license from the FCC…

Oh wait – no, they can’t. The FCC, according to local newsman Brad Ryder, has been sitting on a couple of station applications for nearly a decade! Ryder reports that he and the Monadnock Radio Group had applied for the same open frequency and the FCC has yet to decide to whom it should be granted.

You may be asking, “Why did they both apply for the same frequency?” Well, it turns out the FCC, in all their centralized, bureaucratic wisdom have decided that only one new station will be allowed in Keene. Yes, in a market with only around a dozen locally-originating signals (most owned by the above-mentioned Monadnock Radio Group) and oodles of open airwaves, the FCC has deigned that there’s only room for one more, but the applications for it were submitted years ago, and no new station applications can be submitted at this time.

Just to clarify – no new stations, ANYWHERE – not just Keene. You can only apply when they say you can apply. Any time in the past five years that I have checked, the “application window” has been closed. If you do apply, get ready to hire lawyers and engineering experts to help you with the paperwork. Ryder has spent thousands on the process and has nothing to show for it.

Of course, Keene is not alone in this predicament – people all over the country have been trying to start local radio stations for decades and have been crushed by the FCC and its labyrinthine regulations and thug enforcers. Some brave souls heroically broadcast openly without a license, like 87.9 “The Beat” in Nashua, which actually has an office on Main St! Also, local activists are broadcasting LRN.FM, an international talk radio network that originates in Keene, on “Liberty 94.3” in Keene. Starting your own professional-sounding station with quality equipment costs less than just the station construction application at the FCC.

Others, not quite brave enough to flip on a transmitter, have been begging the FCC for years to allow them a special “Low Power FM” license. Finally, around the turn of the century, the FCC began offering LPFM licenses, but immediately began tightening restrictions. As mentioned above, no new applications are being accepted, not even for the LPFM service.

The FCC is nothing but a protection racket for established broadcasters, but what those broadcasters don’t realize is that the FCC is “protecting” them to death. The severe lack of competition in the broadcast radio market results in bland, centrally-programmed, national content being the majority of what is on the air in any local market, Keene included. Companies have been consolidating stations ever since the FCC’s “deregulation” in the 90s that made it easier for radio groups to own even more stations in the same market, while still keeping new entrants OUT.

That leaves us in Keene (and anywhere else) with a nasty predicament: radio groups cut staff and budgets over and over in hopes of servicing their debt and staying afloat, resulting in programming growing distinctly non-localized. All of that happens while the FCC keeps any new operators and voices off-the-air by strangling the competition before it can even begin.

It’s just another reason NH should declare independence and secede from the United States along with everyone else. It’s long past time, don’t you think?

Meantime, if you want to learn how to put your own station on-the-air for a few hundred to thousand dollars, LRN.FM has a good guide at Broadcast.LRN.FM, which is useful whether you decide to use their content, or program your own music station.

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13 Comments

  1. I hate to diss on one genre of entertainment that people enjoy over another, but there are some dark, tribalist themes in a great many country songs, to the point where some of the music is effectively nationalist propaganda. It’s a shame there isn’t variety on the airwaves for the people.

  2. Believe it or not, there are thousands of FM translator applications filed in 2003 that haven’t been acted on yet. The FCC is too busy with their hard-on for broadband.

  3. K-Rock was my baby…I built it from scratch. Jeff Shapiro and Courtney Galuzzo from Great Eastern Radio did give the station 5 years to become more profitable and they really believed in the staff and the station. It is unfortunate that the station never was able to be were we needed it to be….despite multiple different directions.

    The truth is that despite our best efforts we couldn’t get the sales where they needed to be.

    Also, Monadnock Radio Group is a well oiled machine….with years of local relationships. We had a much smaller and much less seasoned staff and local advertisers had their budgets set in stone….especially at first.

    Saga added even more signals with their HD sub-channels on translators…..with some deals at “a dolla’ – a holla”.

    From well known local restaurant owners, to surgeons, blue collar workers, and even a priest…..we would get great comments.

    Take a look at this article from the Keene Sentinel:
    http://www.sentinelsource.com/community/community_news/community-news-jan/article_61b55bcd-83d8-5c1a-a047-13869a4bc5fd.html

    For those who didn’t click….let me highlight:

    ==========
    Food drive nets 15,000 pounds
    K-ROCK Radio and The Fenton Family Dealerships recently teamed up with Market Basket of Keene for the second annual “Stuff-A-Truck” Food Campaign. From Nov. 17-23, the staff members worked from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. to collect food donations from customers at the store. Brick House Tile donated the truck, which then delivered more than 15,000 pounds of food to The Community Kitchen.
    ==========

    Personally, I’m very proud of some of the content that Topher Celigh and myself (as Parker Springfield) were able to put together.

    I wish them great luck! Justin Tyler from KIXX is an excellent programmer and Elise Valentine is fantastic and very adaptable.

    Great Eastern also offered me a position in Lebanon which I could not take. So, no….it wasn’t a “mass layoff” either. It was my choice to stop my broadcasting career.

    I will not get into any other reasons why I personally feel that K-Rock wasn’t financially successful….but I have great pride in what the station was.

    Currently, I am out of the broadcasting business for now.

    Scott Antonivich (formally Parker Springfield)
    santonivich@gmail.com

    ** Oh, Hi Eric Scott!

  4. Scott, thanks for the comments – I’d wanted to report that you’d been offered that Lebanon gig and declined, but couldn’t reach you prior to finishing the article.

  5. Hope you pop back up again on-air someday!

  6. For those of you who visit the radio discussion board located here:

    http://radiodiscussions.com/smf/index.php?board=222.0

    I added the same comments I posted here…with a couple of questions directed to a creeper993 whos seems to have a lot of his facts wrong. The folks at the radiodiscussion board BANNED me because they discovered I had multiple accounts which is a violation of their policies. I had a account with my stage name (Parker Springfield) and one with my actual name. In any event, they removed my posted response.

    Would anyone mind cutting and pasting my response from here to that thread on my behalf? I especially wanted to clear up the posters paragraph stating:

    Management (i.e. the General Manager and the Program Director) there were atrocious. Come on…the station was actually SUCCEEDING with Greg & The Morning Buzz and then decided that LOCAL was better and it did WORSE! In turn, we got two local guys who couldn’t put on an entertaining program for the life of them.

    That is simply ridiculous. The truth is….sponsors were not coming for Greg and the Morning Buzz either. Give Clif McNaughton and I some credit….we did not sit in my office and say “They…we are successful here…lets get rid of our morning show”. I think the posters “friend” is simply a disgruntled ex-employee….

    Also, feel free to attach my email address santonivich@gmail.com if anyone would like to reach me.

    Thanks

  7. Scott – I reposted for you. Those mods there are real heavy-handed.

  8. Ian…it appears they took your post down? Im not seeing it this morning…

  9. They sure did, Here’s their whiny email letting me know:

    Dear Ian,

    You recently posted the following:

    “Why couldn’t he post this himself? Well, he did, but then had his account pulled by the heavy-handed moderation staff here”

    If you have a problem with site administration, then please take it up with us. We’ve corresponded before, so you clearly know how to contact me. Radio forums are devoted to the discussion of the industry, not your opinions about how the boards are administered. Posting in this fashion is a violation of our terms of service. Your post was removed in response.

    Your criticism that our actions are “heavy-handed” is unjustified. Privacy concerns prohibit site administration from discussing the specifics of any actions taken against another party. We can’t even confirm whether or not someone has been banned. Claims of heavy-handedness are unfounded since you don’t have the facts. Generally speaking, accounts are not banned unless there is a clear violation of the terms of service.

    If anyone asks you to post on their behalf in the future, please direct them to my email address at managingboardeditor@in3media.com.

    Thank you for your cooperation,

    Managing Board Editor

  10. all government regualtion whether it be road laws, building regulations, licensing is to keep all but a few in particular positions then the others can be used as slaves for the few picked

  11. This changing to county music brainwashing is the worst idea someone could ever come up with.Really In keene we have 3 variety stations that don’t play anything close to good rock music and now have like 10 country stations. I’m very disappointed in this decision and so are a lot of hard working people around the the county that listened to k-rock EVERYDAY. Want a lesson on what a rock station should be listen to Lazer 99.3 in massachusetts greatest station around by far. I dont and will not listen to any station around here no more its disgusting.

  12. this sucks! i deliver for the keene sentinel in the keene area and k-rock is what got me through the day. the day i turned the radio on and heard country i was pissed. don’t we have enough country stations around here? now all keene has is classic rock, dont get me wrong i love the music i grew up with but i like a mix of old and new and k- rock knew how to mix it up perfectly.

  13. An update to this article: The FCC offered me the opportunity to continue my application at the cost of several thousand dollars in application and lawyer’s fees. I decided to give it up, so Saga Communications got the frequency 107.5 FM, where it now mirrors its WKBK 1290 AM. No hard feelings against Saga, for whom I worked for many years. However, the FCC really does make it difficult to impossible for the little guy to get a voice. I had intended to retransmit a Christian radio station.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  2. 101.9 K-rock Cuts Staff, Flips to Country a.k.a. How the FCC is Killing Local Radio | OccuWorld - [...] which is useful whether you decide to use their content, or program your own music station. Source RELATED NEWSNOB…
  3. K-Rock’s Parker Springfield Talks about the Free State Project - Free Keene - [...] Springfield” rocking the Monadnock area on 101.9 K-Rock. Sadly, the parent company flipped formats to country, as reported here…
  4. K-Rock’s Parker Springfield Talks about the Free State Project - Unofficial Network - [...] Springfield” rocking the Monadnock area on 101.9 K-Rock. Sadly, the parent company flipped formats to country, as reported here…

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