Marion-Carbondale IL isn’t big enough for 810 WDDD-AM and 1690 WVON-AM. That’s because one is the original AM station from which the other was sprung under the FCC’s expanded band AM program to unclutter the band and allow many daytimers the opportunity to add night service. The program stipulated a five-year period during which the two stations could be operated simultaneously, at which point one or the other had to be destroyed and the license returned to the Commission. The deadline for this pair is 8/2/11. Recent FCC Radio Board Chair and group owner Russell Withers is asking that an exception be made in this case. WDDD was bought by Withers and serves its original market from Johnston City IL. WVON, however, has moved out of range of the small Arbitron market, to its new home in Berwyn IL by licensee Clear Channel, where it serves the western suburbs of Chicago, and is being operated by “well known African American broadcaster Pervis Spann.” Withers argues that the station’s continued existence serves the public interest, and in particular, serves a historically underserved audience.
RBR/TVBR observation: Withers makes a good case. This is not an attempt to increase ownership consolidation; it’s a chance to keep alive a repurposed station, with no physical, legal or business ties to its original twin. The FCC should waive this one through.