Update: Why We're Not on the Air

WYGG wants to boost its power to 1500 watts. The station was granted the power hike. (See separate story on this site.)

The current signal is admittedly rather weak from its perch on the church, adjacent to Library Square, at 100 watts. WYGG Station Manager Jean Henry has felt that our talk show would be better off waiting until he had all the approvals for the increase.

Now Henry has asked us to discuss resuming Asbury Radio, while the station tries to raise the money to outfit the studio for the higher wattage ­-- an expense that could range from $25,000 to $75,000. Obviously, a nonprofit station doesn't have those kinds of reserves. Henry wants to hold some concerts and shows to help raise some of this money. If you know of a venue we could use or would like to help in any way, please drop me an email at asburyradio@aol.com. And stay tuned…

Maureen Nevin, Host, Asbury Radio

(See the earlier posting on how we got knocked off the air below.)

WYGG Gets Approval for 1500 Watts

WYGG gets its approvals. As Mike Hemeon says, the FCC doesn't grant application approvals if they plan to fine a station. So why were we thrown off the air? Check the FCC database for the approval information (may be slow to load).

Why We're Not on the Air


As a journalist, I'm trained to hold off publication until all relevant facts are in. Well, in this case, after nearly seven months off the air (nine months as of August 2007), at least an update of the situation, with all the questions still there, is required.

There are three major players in this story --­ the 100-watt station, the FCC, and Asbury Radio. Let’s start with the station.

WYGG was based at 601 Bangs Ave., Asbury Park, for the entire 6 1/2 years that we were on the air. In the early years, it was apparent that although the station had moved from a lower site before we signed on, its signal seemed to be reaching way beyond the listening area that a layman might expect. Sure enough, one day a listener informed Asbury Radio that a fine had been levied on the station by the FCC. However, that fine and the violations that caused it were remedied years ago.

One remedy was that the station reduced its power on the transmitter to reduce the signal, to allow for the increased height of the antenna's base.

What I know about the following is from WYGG Station Manager Jean Henry. Last November (2006), the station manager got a call that a cable guy needed safe access to the roof at 601 Bangs. The manager explained that building management would see that his needs were met. The 'cable guy' became increasingly agitated, citing the danger of radiation --­ despite live cell phone transmitters in the same space --­ and demanded the manager come to the roof.

When manager Jean Henry arrived on the roof, the 'cable guy' insisted that Henry turn off, as opposed to power down a little, the transmitter for the station. With growing intimidation, the 'cable guy' revealed himself to be an FCC field engineer by the name of Steven DeSena. DeSena told Henry he happened to be driving by 601 Bangs, a building at least 12 stories high, and noticed that the antenna atop the building was not positioned correctly. He demanded to know why the 100-watt station was broadcasting at 50 watts. DeSena's offices are on Varick Street in the southern section of New York City. Henry explained the height-to-power adjustment heretofore agreed to by the FCC.

Failing to get Henry to turn off the station's transmitter, DeSena turned it off himself. We are told from radio professionals that this in itself is a violation of FCC rules. There are examples on the FCC's own Internet site detailing pirate ­ (unlicensed) ­ radio stations that have been asked repeatedly to turn off their transmitters. Note: No violation has ever been posted by the FCC regarding this event, and, in fact, the commission granted the application for increased wattage, something it wouldn't do if it planned to fine the station. So the reason for the agency turning off the transmitter has never been officially reported. The official reason given to Congressman Frank Pallone was that the matter was still under investigation. ­(Click here for the letter.)

The station remained off the air from before Thanksgiving until February, during which time the station owners, mainly Haitian ministers, moved the station into a renovated little house owned by and adjacent to a Haitian church, on Library Square in the city. The station had earned a temporary permit allowing it to return to the air for a few months. There was a party and much celebrating of the anticipated reairing of the station. Asbury Radio was there and photographed the new studio, posting the pictures of friends and previous on-air guests in the new digs on our web site.

The FCC engineer returned again. According to Henry, this time there were questions about Asbury Radio in particular. The statement, "It may be the public's right to talk about this stuff, but they don't like it," was attributed to DeSena by Henry. The local paper, The Coaster, had run a story about the station and DeSena. DeSena asked Henry why he said certain things about him. They had caused him problems with his boss, DeSena said. Henry stuck to his interpretation of the events -- words to the effect of "You did say this. You did do this." The upshot was that Henry, awaiting permanent approvals to resume broadcasting, was not about to rock the boat by putting Asbury Radio back on just yet. The decision would cost the station several more months without the $700 a month in fees for air time.

Meanwhile, Asbury Radio was waiting for a reply from Congressman Pallone, who was making inquiries for us with the FCC. Here is the resulting letter.

Thanks for your time and understanding.