This story reminds me of the old t.v. sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati. You will recall that Terry Brown and his AM radio station WKMX was welcomed with open arms to our village. It was the first time in Wellsville history that we had a radio station within the village limits. When I read about it even I was excited. Being an old fart I was born and reared in the radio era. Seems I would rather have a radio playing in the background than sitting watching the boob tube most of the time.
WKMX was originally started locally by a fellow named Terry Brown. Mr. Brown first came to notice as the owner of Sitaclabs and opened a shop on 5th Street in East Liverpool. Sitaclabs performed such services as computer repair & sales. Later on they offered to sell items on e-bay for those of us that didn't want to go through the trouble.
Mr. Brown hit the ground running and soon after opening his shop started up WKMX in East Liverpool. He was hailed by the East Liverpool Business Association as a town hero when the powers-that-be converted WOHI to an ESPN station. Then he came to Wellsville and opened a station in town. He was given free use of the old liquor store for his studio. We even had our own Johnny Fever with popular local d.j. Skip Hamilton hosting "Skip's Diner" playing oldies two nights a week.
In an article by Youngstown Vindicator correspondent Gail White published on February 4, 2007, Mr. Brown was quoted as saying that WKMX was hosted by a server in the United Kingdom that he could control from anywhere via the internet. He also said he had a 10 foot antenna that could broadcast just under two miles on AM frequency 1620. The article went on to say that he petitioned the FCC for a license and WKMX was born.
On April 9, 2007, the FCC Enforcement Bureau, Northeast Rgion, Detroit Office, issued a "Notice of Unlicensed Operation" to Terry Brown, Wellsville, Ohio. The notice stated that the "Commission's records show that no license was issued for operation of a broadcast station on 1620 kHz..." It went on to state that the station was emitting far more power than what was permitted in Part 15 of the Commission's rules which "constitutes a violation of the Federal laws". In all caps the notice stated "UNLICENSED OPERATION OF THIS RADIO STATION MUST BE DISCONTINUED IMMEDIATELY'. The FCC is the Federal Communications Commission which governs all types of broadcast communications from television down to CB radios.
Even back in the 70s I recall that the FCC demanded that anyone using a CB radio be licensed. It was mostly ignored. Although I'm not an expert on FCC rules and regulations I find it hard to believe that they would issue the same call letters for two different stations. WKMX is the call letters of a long time established FM radio station in Enterprise, Alabama. Part 15 of the Commissions rules allows for a licensed station to broadcast using a maximum of 1/10th watt output. KDKA Radio in Pittsburgh uses 50,000 watts for their broadcasts. Legitimate Part 15 stations are called Low Power AM broadcasting stations that are mostly popular in small town communties by community groups or as toys for radio hobbyists. On the web site www.part15.us the comments stated that Mr. Brown was using a grossly illegal transmitter or antenna. The call letters could not be found in the FCC register for AM stations and he did a good job of fooling the people into thinking he was licensed.
So what's the story here? Did Mr. Brown bring a farce to town to exploit the small town bumpkins for a few advertising dollars? Did he mean to apply for a license and just forgot to mail in the paper work? These are probably questions we'll never know the answers to. Personally speaking I could never pick up the station on AM 1620 nor could I get the internet stream on my computer. After coming across the FCC Notice I noticed that the www.wkmxlive.com web site is gone along with the one for Sitaclabs. Once again Wellsville does not have a radio station to call our own. WKRP was always known as a fictional radio station created by writers for a television show. Now we can say we had our own fictional radio station.