Return of DC-area WAGE-AM getting pushback


The effort to bring WAGE-AM (currently dark) back to Loudoun County, VA (suburban DC) is meeting with some resistance from the county’s planning staff, as well as some members of the public. Potomac Radio, which ceased transmitting WAGE from Leesburg, VA in 2008, is seeking permission to establish a 50-kW AM transmitter on a 7.5-acre leased property in the county. The site is owned by Loudoun Water and is next to a property planned for the mixed-use development, reports Leesburg Today.

The station will consist of three 195-foot self-supporting lattice towers with a buried grounding system of 120 equally spaced copper wires extending in 200-foot radius around each tower. A 20-foot by 25-foot transmitter building, satellite dishes and auxiliary generator with above ground natural gas tank will be located in proximity to the proposed antenna arrays near an existing gravel road. The proposal would require ground-disturbing activities within the floodplain as well as the removal of approximately two-acres of forest cover, requirements that have raised concerns of county staff members and the public, particularly with regard to the nearby heron rookery on the Kincora property. Project manager Pat Giglio acknowledged that Potomac Radio has submitted a series of conditions to mitigate the potential impacts.

Michael Friedman, of the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, noted that the heron rookery includes 50 nests spread over a grove of sycamore trees on the property.

The only other speaker on the application at last week’s public hearing was Ernest Mayer, who lives “within direct eyesight” of the proposed towers and noted they would be an “intrusion of the sky line” and would “lower the value of nearby homes and property.”

J. Randall Minchew, the attorney representing Potomac Radio, told the paper his client would continue to work on all the concerns that were brought up at the hearing, including the potential impacts to the heron rookery. Minchew noted that the plan was to bring Loudoun-based programming back to the airways in a way that all residents can access it.

“A bringing back of Loudoun County’s only radio station that came on in 1958, and then went silent as part of it’s overall business planning to expand in August 2008, really can come back this October with 50,000 watts with a firm beacon so it can provide programming to all of Loudoun County,” he said.

There is no proposed date for the commission’s work session, but Minchew said he expected it would come forward some time in the next few weeks.

RBR-TVBR observation: We should, of course, note that the “Heron Rookery” is also likely in the path of the bulldozers that will develop that mixed use property…