Unattended AM-FM combo nailed by FCC


MoneyOn three occasions an FCC agent attempted to inspect KZMX AM-FM in Hot Springs SD, and found the studio location locked up with nobody home and without any guidance on how to contact station management.

The stations are owned by Mount Rushmore Broadcasting. The town of Hot Springs is in the southwest corner of the state.

The agent found the studio on 5/31/11 – it was clearly marked. But as the FCC noted, “The door to the main studio was locked and there was no staff or management present at the building. There was no contact information posted at the main studio location, consequently, the agent was unable to gain entrance to the main studio.”

The agent did have other phone numbers to try, but was unable to make any contact with a Mount Rushmore employee.

Another visit the next day yielded essentially the same results. This time, the agent added a trip to the FM’s tower site. The FCC said, “The agent observed that Station KZMX-FM was operating using a 4-bay, circularly polarized FM antenna, while a 4-bay horizontal FM antenna was on the ground near the KZMX-FM tower. According to the Station KZMX-FM license, it is authorized to operate using horizontal polarization only.”

The agent returned again on 6/2/11 and finally was contacted by an attorney for the licensee, who stated that the AM had been taken off air and an STA was being filed to take the FM off the air.

That of course did not take the stations off the hook for the unmanned studio and other issues. It said the standard charge for the main studio violation was $7K, and the failure to make the studio available for inspection was also $7K. The fine for operation of the FM with the wrong type of antenna was pegged at $5K – but the FCC found a prior unrelated violation attributed to KZMX-FM, and bumped it up to $7.5K. The result is a notice of apparent liability for $21.5K.