The FCC has granted AJG Corporation permission to a voluntary transfer of W221DR, a 250-watt FM translator at 92.1 MHz originally licensed to Wheeling, WV, from current trustee Lauren Kelly Driscoll to her successor trustee, Richard Cox Cowell Jr.
W221DR is considered an “instant station” by the FCC, and the silent transmitter is already en route to Morgantown, W. Va., where it will be used to rebroadcast WCLG-AM 1300, a Class D Classic Hits station with 1 tower that powers down during nighttime hours to just 44 watts.
According to the FCC, WCLG-AM is subject to a previously granted but not yet consummated assignment application that allows AJG to acquire the facility, along with Class A sibling WCLG-FM 100.1, from Bowers Broadcasting Corp. “While AJG Corporation is not currently the licensee of the commercial station being rebroadcast, it will be at some time in the near future,” the FCC notes.
Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, P.C. handled the transfer of trustee control for the FM translator.
At the center of the AJG operation and its acquisition plan for WCLG-AM & FM is John Raese, a perennial Republican candidate for U.S. Senator and West Virginia governor who failed to win any of the elections in which he has sought public office.
Exactly three years ago, Raese created AJG Corporation as a “spin-off” entity of West Virginia Radio Corp. At the time, eyebrows were raised as AJG announced that it had struck a deal with Bowers to buy WCLG-AM & FM. Raese was accused by the Charleston Gazette-Mail of making the spinoff to skirt FCC ownership limits in Morgantown, home of West Virginia University.
With WCLG-AM & FM, AJG operates four FMs in Morgantown as it already has WKKW-FM in Fairmont, WFGM-FM in Barrackville, and WFBY-FM in Weston, W. Va. But, West Virginia Radio Corp. also has WVAQ-FM, a heritage CHR/Pop station in Morgantown—thus raising questions by the Gazette Mail.
The Gazette-Mail noted that the address shown for AJG on official state business filings was the same as that of West Virginia Radio Corp.’s offices and radio stations. That same address was also shown as that for the Dominion Post newspaper in Morgantown.
John Raese’s brother, David Raese, is the publisher of the Dominion Post.
Meanwhile, the Gazette-Mail has its own controversies: Gazette owner Susan Chilton Shumate purchased the crosstown Daily Mail in 2004 with the intent of closing its competitor. That didn’t happen, with the U.S. Department of Justice in 2007 suing the Chilton family for operating in an uncompetitive manner. It was later found that the Chiltons applied for a loan based on plans to close the Daily Mail by the end of 2007.
A settlement allowed the Chiltons to shut down the Daily Mail on July 20, 2015. The owners did just that, with no prior notice to employees.
Former Daily Mail owner MediaNews Group then got involved, suing the Chiltons over failure to abide by intellectual property agreements forged should the newspaper’s dissolution occur.