Local government looking at financing radio deal


Eleven jobs could be created and civic pride enhanced if a new owner can be found for WRGC-AM Sylva NC. Actually, a potential new owner has stepped forward seeking to buy the station from Georgia-Carolina Radiocasting Company – but finding financial backing is the sticking point.

According to the Smoky Mountain News, the potential buyer is Roy Burnette, a former employee of WRGC and other local radio outlets. The group considering offering the cash to get the deal done is Jackson County, which views the establishment of a new business and the restoration of the station to the airwaves to be worth dipping into is economic development fund.

In fact, is has already approved a $179K loan for Burnette’s acquisition. What’s on the table now is provision of another $289K.

The sticking point is collateral – the nebulous nature of an FCC broadcast license makes it insufficient for the purpose (not to mention that it a license cannot be used for security purposes). They are looking at alternatives, including exploration of the possibility of becoming a co-licensee to establish a firm stake in the station.

The establishment of a going concern that provides employment – the 11 job estimate comes from Burnette – and also provides essentials such as emergency weather information – is tempting to the County, however, not to mention that it sees the existence of its own local radio station to be a matter of “civic pride.”

WRGC is licensed to operate on 540 kHz with 4.3 kW-D and 142 W-N. Sylva is due south of Cherokee territory and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, far from any Arbitron-rated territory.