A low power FM fell into a trap that can occur at any station at which there is only one person who understands how to stay in compliance with FCC rules and regulations. At about the time the station’s license was up for renewal, its one person became seriously ill, and as a result the matter slipped by the boards, and was not addressed until a notice of apparent liability was issued.
The renewal application is due four months prior to the expiration date of the license. The station, Whidbey Island Center for the Arts’ low power FM KWPA-LP continued to operate after expiration, which normally results in a $7K fine. In the case of low powers and translators, however, the FCC has taken into account the typical shoe-string budgets under which such stations operate and usually hits them with a $500 assessment, which is what KWPA-LP got.
The station pleaded that the failure was accidental, that the person responsible for filing the application was suffering from cancer and was forced to leave, and that paying the $500 would be a strain on its budget.
The FCC expressed sympathy for the station employee, but said that such an unfortunate situation does not relieve it of its obligation to maintain its license. The fine stands.
RBR-TVBR observation: We would suggest that the station hold a fine-paying party, put on some other type of local fund-raiser, or simply find 100 people who can kick in $5, or 50 who can kick in $10, or 25 who can kick in $20. And then make absolutely sure that there are two or more people on hand capable of dealing with FCC forms so this never happens again.