It’s simply a matter of accountability to our community.
In certain specific situations, the Federal Communication Commission licenses “Low Power FM” stations to provide geographically limited populations such as Oakhurst with local radio programming otherwise unavailable.
Such service is designed to offer area clubs, churches, schools, educational forums and other non-profit organizations an opportunity to discuss issues, promote events, and otherwise exchange thoughts and ideas on an interactive, participatory basis.
When the Local Community Radio Act of 2010 was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011 with strong bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said, “Low Power FM stations are small, but they make a giant contribution to local community programming.”
In comparative hearings for “Low Power FM” facilities, applicants are graded on such items as a commitment to “originate locally at least eight hours of programming a day” and “maintain a publicly accessible main studio that has local program origination capability, is reachable by telephone, and is staffed at least 20 hours per week between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.”
There are numerous other mandatory technical and regulatory responsibilities - particularly rigid requirements to maintain a public inspection file, make available for inspection a political file tracking requests for candidate and/or issue discussion, and to regularly file ownership reports in a timely manner.
The sudden, mysterious appearance of KOLS-LP (98.5 FM) last summer on our Oakhurst radio dials generated extended inquiry that had now culminated in the filing of a formal complaint with the Federal Communication Commission calling for a full investigation into the construction and operation of this station.
I have signed and submitted to the Federal Communications Commission a sworn affidavit stating the following:
“Peter Cavanaugh, a resident of Oakhurst, California, hereby states the following under penalty of perjury:
I am an occasional listener of radio station KOLS-LP. I have noticed:
A. KOLS-LP does not broadcast any local programming;
B. It does not have a main studio;
C. It does not have a political file;
D. It does not have a public inspection file and
E. It has not filed ownership reports.
I am disappointed that KOLS-LP is in flagrant violation of the Commission’s rules and urge that the Commission initiate an investigation.”
After considerable evaluation and review by Washington attorneys and several informal discussions with regulators, it was determined best to file an initial narrative limited to certain easily verifiable technical violations, leaving many other pertinent issues subject to eventual investigative inclusion. Even so, the complaint is 65 pages long.
KOLS-LP broadcasts from the roof of a vacation home in Cedar Valley, a full 7.5 miles from our Oakhurst town center at the junction of California Highways 41 and 49. Father Daniel White of Winnetka, California - a Los Angeles suburb - is said to own the home. White is listed as President of “Radio Catholic” - a self-created, nonprofit religious corporation. Although the KOLS-LP call letters are alleged to represent “Our Lady of the Sierra,” Pastor Joel Davadilla did not authorize the project and has stated he knows little about it. Nor does the Diocese of Fresno.
One hundred percent of current KOLS-LP airtime exclusively consists of national EWTN programming originating in Birmingham, Alabama - this fare already easily accessible in Oakhurst on Sirius/XM Radio, both Dish and Direct Satellite TV, and via the Internet.
Founded by 92-year-old Franciscan nun Mother Mary Angelica, EWTN - “Eternal Word Television” is the largest religious media network in the world, reaching over 230 million television households in more than 140 countries and territories. EWTN does not permit inclusion of non-Catholic religious programming in its broadcast day.
Repeating my closing words from a November column, we need “Community Radio” in Oakhurst to be truly “catholic” in nature, a word defined in Webster’s as being “of general scope or value; all-inclusive; broad in sympathy, tastes and understanding.”
That means for all people, parties, pursuits and persuasions.
This includes input from the 20-plus local churches of different denominations highlighted on page 6A of last week’s Easter issue of The Sierra Star.
And the 75-plus area groups and organizations listed on page 7A’s “Community Calendar.”