FCC rules commercial radio station can take over Wash. student station’s frequency

WASHINGTON — A high school radio station could be forced off the air by a Federal Communications Commission order that allows a commercial station to relocate into the high school station’s frequency.

On July 9, the FCC reissued an order that allows Mid-Columbia Broadcasting Inc. to relocate KMCQ from The Dalles, Oregon, to Covington, Wash. It states that the Mercer Island High School station provides a “secondary service” and is not protected from the commercial station’s status as a “primary function.”

If the school’s station, KMIH, which serves an audience of more than 40,000 listeners with music, local news and sports and entertainment shows, interferes with KMCQ, then “the interfering station would be required to suspend operation,” according to the order.

School station officials plan to continue broadcasting until there is an interference and will likely file an appeal to the FCC decision, said Howard Barr, an attorney for the school’s station.

“We think it fits the definition of arbitrary and capricious,” Barr said of the ruling.

The school station has also requested that the FCC upgrade their status from a Class D station to a more protected Class A, but commissioners denied the request.

The order had originally been issued on May 25, but was suspended on June 8 for unspecified reasons. The revised version does not include the claim that there are alternative frequencies for the high school station to relocate to, as the May 25 order did.

When Mid-Columbia first filed noticed that it wanted to relocate its adult contemporary station, the school hired McClanathan and Associates, an electrical engineering firm, to search for alternative frequencies.

“The only available channel is your existing frequency 104.5 mHz, channel 283,” wrote Bob McClanathan in a letter to the school that was included in a petition to the FCC.

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