Oakhurst resident Peter Cavanaugh filed a formal complaint earlier this month against an Oakhurst radio station with Catholic programming, claiming the station is not complying to its Federal Communications Commission (FCC) permit requirements.
The 65-page complaint, filed March 10 with the FCC, seeks an investigation of station KOLS-LP (98.5 FM), which received an FCC license on July 13, 2015.
Cavanaugh is a Sierra Star columnist (For Your Consideration), although the complaint was filed as an individual.
KOLS is considered a “Low Power FM” station, defined by federal law as a non-commercial educational service, essentially for small community stations to broadcast content related to their area and its residents.
The primary concern in the complaint filed by attorney Aaron Shainis of the Washington, D.C. law firm of Shainis & Peltzman, is how the station rebroadcasts 100% EWTN Catholic Radio Network out of Birmingham, Alabama, and has not provided local public access to the station.
“A Low Power FM station is required to provide at least eight hours of local programming a day, and KOLS is not providing that,” Cavanaugh said. “Instead, all KOLS listeners hear on 98.5 FM is EWTN, which claims on its website that it reaches more than 230 million homes across 144 countries.”
Other concerns in the complaint include the station does not have a publicly accessible and staffed main studio in Oakhurst as required by law.
In two November columns in the Sierra Star, Cavanaugh claimed the station, headed by Father Daniel White who has a home in Los Angeles and in Cedar Valley north of Oakhurst, has never broadcast localized information, violating the terms of the station’s FCC permit.
Cavanaugh stated that White told him the station’s call letters (KOLS) stood for Our Lady of the Sierra, the Catholic Church in Oakhurst.
“Intriguingly, Father Joel Davadilla of Our Lady of the Sierra, told me he did not authorize the project when I brought it to his attention last September,” Cavanaugh said.
Cavanaugh said, after examining the FCC application in September, he invited White to be a part of a Nov. 7 “Community Radio” presentation before the Oakhurst Democratic Club, with which Cavanaugh is actively involved, to discuss local programing. Kevin Bowman, A representative of KRYZ LP, a new radio station in Mariposa, was also invited to take part in the presentation.
Cavanaugh said the invitation for White to speak at the meeting was to provide an opportunity for him to share his plans on providing local programming to the residents of Oakhurst, since that is a critical requirement being granted by the FCC to broadcast.
“Although Mr. Bowman made it to the Nov. 7 meeting and gave an informative presentation, Mr. White did not make it and further attempts at communicating with him were unresolved,” Cavanaugh said.
The original FCC application for the station named Radio Catholic as the applicant, Gerrit J. Allen of North Fork as the station’s Chief Executive Officer, Alan D. Wright of Mariposa as the board of director’s secretary, and Donald G. Landy of Oakhurst as chief financial officer. Five additional Mountain Area residents were named on the application as directors, including White.
“The immediate goal of my complaint, is to have the Federal Communications Commission launch an investigation into the origin and operation of KOLS-LP,” Cavanaugh said. “The end goal is to have the station yield to commission rules and regulations and operate as a community radio facility or surrender their broadcast license to open the frequency in Oakhurst for some other entity that would honestly and openly broadcast in the public interest as required by law.”
Cavanaugh has a five-decade career in radio, including 15 years as Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer of Reams Broadcasting, a seven-station radio group in Michigan. The recipient of numerous national broadcasting awards, Cavanaugh is also featured in the “Rock Radio” exhibit at Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
There was no set timeline for when the FCC will review the complaint, or whether an investigation will be conducted.
NOTE: To download the entire 65-page complaint, see sierrastar.com.