Five Casper radio stations temporarily go quiet

2011-08-19T06:00:00Z 2012-11-20T16:58:57Z Five Casper radio stations temporarily go quiet

By TOM MORTON

Star-Tribune staff writer

Casper Star-Tribune Online

The five radio stations in Casper owned by Mount Rushmore Broadcasting went off the air Wednesday for technical reasons, the company president said Thursday.

“Like K2 or any other station, there’s a technical or mechanical problem, and we’ll be back on the air [today] or Saturday,” Jan Gray said.

“Voluntarily, we took the stations off the air,” Gray said. “Well get it back very soon.”

Gray disputed listener reports that some of the stations had been off the air sporadically for at least several days.

Besides the temporary shutdown, an agent from the Denver office of the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday conducted an inspection at the company’s offices at 218 N. Wolcott St., an FCC spokesman said in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C.

The results of the FCC inspection, such as technical or legal violations, remain private for the time being, Eric Bash said. “It’s an open matter; I can’t discuss it.”

Bash could confirm the stations — KHOC, KASS, KMLD, KQLT and KVOC — had gone silent, but not as a result of the inspection or commission action, he said. “If they’re off the air, it is not because the FCC has ordered them off the air.”

In general, if an FCC agent finds alleged technical or legal violations, the commission will send the radio company a “notice of apparent liability,” Bash said. “‘You did this wrong on this date and we will fine you a certain amount.’”

The company then has 30 days to respond, he said. “We evaluate that and make a decision.”

Gray said the FCC inspection was routine, and the FCC agent’s only finding was the mechanical issue that resulted in taking the stations off the air. “In general, it went fine,” he said.

Gray’s Mount Rushmore Broadcasting and its stations have weathered FCC and other legal problems in the past.

In late 2008, the FCC announced it would fine Mount Rushmore Broadcasting $20,000 because two of its stations in Rawlins had not maintained their Emergency Alert System and violated other rules, according to FCC records.

The FCC also has issued forfeiture orders for the Rawlins stations in 1998 amounting to $4,000; a Custer, S.D., station in 2002 amounting to $10,000; and a station in Hot Springs, S.D., in 2002 for $3,000.

In these cases, the Wyoming U.S. Attorney had to sue Mount Rushmore Broadcasting in federal court to recover the fines, according to U.S. District Court records.

Wyoming U.S. Attorney spokesman John Powell said Thursday his office has not been contacted regarding the FCC inspection Wednesday at Mount Rushmore Broadcasting.

Besides the FCC, BMI and ASCAP — representatives of artists such as Garth Brooks, Barbra Streisand and Mick Jagger — have sued Mount Rushmore Broadcasting and some of its stations for playing their music without paying for the right to do so.

Gray recently has been in litigation with a former employee who won a judgment for withholding wages and over contract disputes with companies claiming he did not pay them for musical programming.

Lawsuits happen, as do technical problems, he said.

“We’re alive and well,” Gray said. “We’ll have this resolved very, very soon.”

Reach Tom Morton at 307-266-0592, or at tom.morton@trib.com. You can read his blog at trib.com and follow him on Twitter @GTMorton.

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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