Country stations battle in Norfolk over new tower


Hampton-Norfolk, VA’s two Country FMs are battling over whether the more recent arrival to the format should receive FCC approval for a new tower location that would give it a stronger signal, reports The Virginian-Pilot.

Max Media’s Class B The Eagle (WGH-FM), until recently the market’s only country FM station, is challenging a bid by Sinclair Communication’s Class A WUSH-FM, US 106.1, to pluck off some listeners.
Bob Sinclair of Sinclair Communications, even took to the airwaves to drum up support from his side in the dispute—and on their website:

"What I did was tape an announcement running once an hour saying: ‘Hi, this is Bob Sinclair of US 106. As you know, we are in the process of upgrading our signal on 106.1. However, we have just learned The Eagle has filed an application to try to stop us from doing this. I think they are trying to monopolize the country music format in Hampton Roads’,” he told the paper.  “’If you agree with me, go to our website and sign a petition to the FCC and also call Eagle at 671-1000 and tell them what you think’."

Sinclair Communications, which owns several local stations, switched the format from AC to country in December. Eagle 97.3 scored high in the Arbitrons for much of the past two years.

When Sinclair filed a permit application with the FCC last summer, Saga, which owns local stations including WNOR-FM and WAFX-FM, filed an informal objection with the FCC. Max Media filed a similar objection.

"They filed an objection saying the tower site is too far from Poquoson to be allowed," Sinclair said. "To me, it’s an out-and-out attempt to delay our application. It’s using taxpayer money to fight competition."
Eric Mastel, president of Max Media’s radio division, told the paper: "Competition makes us all better. He was competition before on a 100,000-watt station and it didn’t bother me. From a standpoint that he is not following FCC rules and regs to get this done, I do care."