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KY station suspends three for hoax

The Lexington, KY Herald-Leader reports Cumulus' WXZZ-FM in that market suspended three staff members last week for perpetrating a hoax on air that said the Urban County Council had voted to prohibit smoking in vehicles.

Chris Clendenen, GM of the station, went on air during The Z-Rock Morning Show to announce the indefinite suspensions of Twitch, Mary Jane and Kyle, the show's hosts.

Clendenen said in an interview that the suspensions "at this point are with pay."

The hoax provoked hundreds of angry calls to the police and health departments and the county attorney's office, preventing legitimate business calls from getting through, officials said.

The city has said it plans to send a formal complaint to the FCC and to Cumulus.

Clendenen said the station would like to resolve the matter "to the city's satisfaction," but preliminary talks have not reached any solution.

Company wants time on school radio stations

The Detroit Free Press reports a Texas company with religious ties, R B Schools, is making waves through Suburban Detroit's community of high school radio stations by trying to horn in on the air time of a handful of stations.


"It has done so by filing an application with the FCC that would force students to share their section of the radio dial. It's a situation that has school officials scratching their heads. Some are hiring broadcast attorneys and fighting back.

"This is all new territory to me," said Peter Bowers, station manager at WBFH-FM (88.1), the radio station at Andover High School in Bloomfield Hills.

His school's station is one of those targeted. So are Southfield High School's WSHJ (88.3) and Plymouth-Canton Educational Park's WSDP (88.1), as well as high school stations in Flint and Saginaw.

The company wants the schools to agree to share their airwaves. If R B Schools' attempts to negotiate an agreement fail, the company wants the FCC to intervene.

Officials from R B Schools, based in Keene, Texas, did not return calls seeking comment. Nor did Donald Martin, the Falls Church, Va., attorney who represents the company.

The company's filing with the FCC indicates it intends to broadcast educational programming on topics such as literature, history, social sciences, health, hygiene, nutrition, child development, interpersonal relationships and civics.

But the company's president, Linda de Romanett, is also president and director of several companies that operate radio stations that have religious programming, including WBAJ (890), an AM station in Blythewood, S.C., that boasts on its Web site: "We broadcast about Jesus!"

"What this market doesn't need is another religious radio station," said Dick Kernen, vice president at Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts in Southfield.

Ryan Fishman, a junior at Andover High School and operations director for WBFH, says the issue is broader than one of having to share time with another company.

"This is a high school radio station. Our purpose is to broadcast educational programming," Fishman said. "To put on a religious program, after a student signs off the airwaves, seems like a conflict between the separation of church and state." R B Schools cites FCC policy that requires noncommercial educational FM stations to operate a minimum of 12 hours a day or be subject to a time-sharing agreement.

Automated technology allows the Southfield and Bloomfield Hills stations to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

"Someone at R B Schools didn't do their homework," Bowers said.

The Plymouth-Canton station operates from 6:45 a.m. to 10 p.m., five days a week, though it had plans to go all day long before R B Schools showed interest, said Patricia Brand, assistant superintendent of business for Plymouth-Canton Community Schools. The expansion of hours will happen in the next month or so.

The schools say they believe they already meet the minimum hours rules. And they say R B Schools didn't file its applications in time. But there is still concern, because the FCC is reviewing their license renewals. They also worry that the company will target other schools.

"I don't want to be too comfortable. You never know what can happen," said Julea Ward, director of the Southfield High station.

The Southfield district recently responded to R B Schools, telling Martin -- the company's lawyer -- that it has no interest in sharing time.

There are 16 operating high school radio stations in Michigan, according to the Michigan Association of Educational Broadcasters.

The stations give students an opportunity to learn all aspects of the radio industry, from behind-the-scenes work in production to crafting on-air personas.

In Southfield, the radio station gives up-and-coming rappers like Tiffany Lindsay, a senior, a forum for displaying their music.

WFAN realigns mid-days

Infinity's WFAN-AM "The Fan" New York is re-working its mid-day show, teaming Joe Benigno with Sid Rosenberg, who's been hosting the show since 2001. Rosenberg is known nationally as the sports anchor of the "Imus In the Morning" show, which originates from WFAN. Benigno won a guest host spot on WFAN in a contest back in 1994, which led him to a full-time radio job in New Jersey and back to WFAN as overnight host. WFAN Assistant PD Chris Carlin will replace Benigno on overnights.

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