A Lee County, FL man was arrested for broadcasting gospel and public service announcements over 107.5 mHz without a license. “Dunbar Community Radio,” which catered to the Dunbar, FL (Ft. Myers) area was shut down 12/9 after its operator, Al Knighten, was arrested for illegally broadcasting shows and music.
“I think it was worth it, letting people know we can create something in this community that we can be proud of,” Knighten told WBBH-TV in that market.
Knighten says he doesn’t have any regrets. Neither does Ron Jenkins, chairman of the Fort Myers Citizens Police Review Board. He says he hosted a show on the station: “Our community has to be educated. We have to have the opportunity to speak to one another. Otherwise, it’s going to be business as usual,” said Jenkins. “The FCC and local media outlets were not doing their job representing our community. Our community has been stymied and hasn’t been able to grow for decades because we haven’t been able to talk to one another.”
Fort Myers Police helped with the FCC bust and Captain Dennis Eads admitted it was a difficult crackdown.
“It is because they are providing a service. But the bottom line is that it’s illegal,” he said.
As for the several local leaders that appeared on the illegal radio station, police say they don’t expect anymore arrests.
Fort Myers Councilman John Streets, who appeared on the radio station as a guest, said that while he believes in the group’s message, the law is the law and they had to be shut down.
Now the question everyone is asking is why they didn’t they just get a license. Those WBBH spoke to say it’s all about money. They say they spent about $4,000 to get the station up and running and a license could have cost them a couple hundred thousand dollars.
RBR-TVBR observation: An LPFM license does not cost a couple of hundred thousand dollars. Yes, the gear has to meet some standards and stay within the coverage allotted, but the whole purpose of LPFM was to let community radio broadcast at a low cost. From the FCC website: “There is no cost to file an application for a permit to construct an LPFM station or a license to operate an LPFM station.” Perhaps there are no frequencies left or they did not apply during an LPFM window–and the ones that are already scooped up want the big money. Bottom line, if there’s no LPFM window in the area, an internet stream is pretty inexpensive, too–especially if there’s no music being played (SoundExchange royalty fees).