For three years, a member of the national association for amateur radio has been evading the FCC with illicit broadcasts at 90.9 MHz in a Northern New Jersey city close to New York.
The Commission in April was finally able to act on the matter by issuing a hefty Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture to the individual determined to be running the pirate radio stations.
On Wednesday (10/31), the Enforcement Bureau moved forward with a Forfeiture Order.
As such, Winston Tulloch is on the hook for a $25,000 fine for his unlicensed radio broadcasts.
It codifies the April 25 issuance of an NAL in that amount. And, the Forfeiture Order from Dave Dombrowski, Regional Director of the Enforcement Bureau’s Region One, was a no-brainer: Tulloch didn’t file a response to the NAL.
There’s no guarantee Tulloch will pay up, however — a weakness in how the FCC goes after pirate radio operators and seeks to squelch them. Despite handing its maximum financial penalty by law to the North Miami, Fla., operator of “Radio Touche Douce,” the illegal Haitian-language offering at 90.1 MHz is still on the air at various times and at varying power output — a sign that Commission enforcement requires law enforcement, or more.
Across the Hudson River in New Jersey, WFUV-FM 90.7 is supposed to enjoy a city-grade signal over Paterson, just west of Paramus and Hackensack.
That’s been a problem for ‘FUV, thanks to Tulloch’s first-adjacent rogue operation that bills itself as “Rewind Radio 90.9.” With streaming on Radionomy.com, the unlicensed broadcast facility has been offering a mix of reggae, dance hall and Caribbean roots music.
The FCC first became aware of the unlicensed facility in Paterson in February 2015, via a consumer complaint about “several” unlicensed stations operating in this Northern New Jersey city.
On May 18, 2015, two agents from the FCC Enforcement Bureau’s New York Field Office started to investigate the complaint. Using direction-finding techniques, the agents determined that the source of a signal at 90.9 MHz was a multi-family dwelling on East 30th Street in Paterson; the agents observed and photographed an FM broadcast antenna
located on the building’s roof.
Return visits on October 27, 2015; January 20, 2016; and April 20, 2016 by the agents found the pirate radio station still on the air.
On each of these occasions, the agents recorded a portion of the station’s transmissions, during which the announcer stated parties wishing to advertise on the station should call “Charles at Rewind Media Group” at a specific telephone number. The agents
subsequently determined that Tulloch was the account holder for this phone number. Further, the agents discovered that a car parked outside the dwelling on their October 2015 visit was registered to Tulloch.
On Oct. 25, 2016, nearly 18 months after the investigation started, agents found the unauthorized station at 90.9 MHz still on the air. However, the source of the signal was now at a multi-family dwelling on East 26th Street in Paterson.
This proved to be the billing address for Mr. Tulloch’s telephone number, which was announced on the air as the telephone number for the station on October 27, 2015; January 20, 2016; and April 20, 2016. There was Tulloch’s car; a transmitter was mounted on the building’s roof.
Finally, a Notice of Unlicensed Operation was released. But, it wasn’t directly given to Tulloch. Instead, the agent posted it on the exterior door to the East 26th Street edifice. It warned that continued unlicensed operations could result in additional enforcement action. A month later the New York office mailed Tulloch the letter.
What happened? Nothing … until May 2, 2017, when an agent drove back out to Paterson and found the 90.9 MHz signal still on air — and back at East 30th Street.
This led the FCC to issue a second Notice of Unlicensed Operation. This one came from the Columbia, Md., regional office, on June 8, 2017 — more than two years after the pirate broadcasts were first detected.
On June 12, 2017, Rewind Radio was still on the air, from East 30th Street. Here came another NUO, posted to the exterior door of the building; on June 30, an NUO was mailed to Tulloch.
Finally, on Sept. 15, 2017, some progress was made. No unauthorized signal was detected by field agents. This resulted in the April NAL.
The $25,000 fine is the second to be handed to a Paterson-based pirate. In June 2017 Enforcement Bureau Regional Director Dave Dombrowski sent a Forfeiture Order to Conroy Dawson for his unauthorized operation of “Big Link Radio“, which had been using the 97.5 MHz frequency in Paterson for a Caribbean R&B and hits presentation.
The affirmation of the fine came five months after the issuance of an NAL to Dawson.