|WOBC Slapped with $1,000
Nov. 7 order from the Federal Communications Comm-ission in
Washington, D.C., Oberlin College’s popular student-run radio
station WOBC-FM was charged with a $1,000 fine for “willful and
repeated…failure to maintain operational Emergency Alert System
According to the FCC, the equipment “is designed to
provide the President with a means to address the American people in
the event of a [local or] national emergency.” David Solomon, Chief
of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, said, “…The Rules [require]
broadcast stations to install and maintain operational EAS
equipment, so that monitoring and transmitting functions are
available during times when the station is in operation.”
March 12 of this year, however, an agent from the FCC’s Detroit
office paid an unexpected visit to the network and discovered WOBC
was not only out of compliance with the Federal Commission’s
regulations, but had not maintained working EAS equipment in the
station office since at least New Year’s of 2001.
Freeman, WOBC’s current station manager, blamed the network’s high
rate of turnover for the problem.
“[The system] wasn’t functional
because, at some point in the ’90s, there was a breakdown in
communication between station leadership from year to year,” he
said. “If you have new people every three or four years, then you
can’t really preserve any of the knowledge that you learn.”
was originally fined a much greater sum of $8,000 on May 23, which
it then appealed, claiming that the network could not afford such a
According to Freeman, the summer station manager,
senior Michael Gallope, along with the help of the station’s faculty
advisor Tom Lopez, sent in documents attesting to the station’s
fiscal situation for the past several years and pointing out that
the station had, since the inspection, installed the necessary
equipment so as to comply with regulations.
As a result of the
appeal, the original charge was then reduced to $1,000. Yet
according to Freeman, this figure is still too great a price to pay.
WOBC’s annual budget is less than $20,000 per year, covering the
salaries of four student staff members and a monthly retainer for a
professional engineer, as well as licensing fees and equipment
upgrades. The station plans to request the necessary funds from
Student Finance’s Ad-Hoc Committee, Freeman said.
suggested that in the future WOBC will do its best to make certain
that a similar violation does not occur.
“We’re trying our best
to keep the station as together as possible and to improve
continuity between years,” Freeman said.
Yet he seemed to shy
away from taking full responsibility for the legal breach.
an organization is in disarray, and a lot of things need to be
fixed, then it is easier to focus on non-technical things like
energizing membership, the physical organization of the station and
getting people involved, rather than the technical things like FCC
compliance,” he said.
“We’re all just college students, too. It’s
impossible to be an expert on something you only entered into a few
years ago,” he added.
has 30 days from the order’s release date on Nov. 7 to either pay
the full amount demanded or to request permission to pay under an
installment plan. Otherwise, the case will be sent on to the
Department of Justice.