Nashua radio station TheBeat 87.9 has no FCC license
NASHUA, Jul 28, 2012 (The Telegraph - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Downtown radio station TheBeat, 87.9 FM, may have spent the last year and a half building popularity with the city's youth and enough presence to sponsor an annual charity talent show, but it's lacking one thing that stations should have: an FCC license.
"No, we don't have one," said Antoine Anthem, owner of the station and its parent company, Media57. "If a commercial station wants to complain and push us away, they can. ... It hasn't been a problem because we're not interfering with any other broadcasting station."
The Federal Communications Commission issues licenses for anybody who wants to broadcast over the air in the frequencies reserved for TV and radio, largely to keep them from interfering with each other.
Scores of such licenses, for specific frequencies and power levels, have been issued in New Hampshire to groups ranging from public radio to private broadcasting firms to colleges and churches -- but none for 87.9 megahertz, which is slightly below the low end of the FM broadcasting spectrum and therefore apparently not a legal radio broadcast band.
The FCC is looking into the situation, according to the Washington, D.C., office, but it doesn't comment about ongoing cases.
Broadcasting without a license, sometimes called "pirate radio," can lead to fines and confiscation of equipment, although action against pirate radio stations are rare, judging from news reports. Cases such as TheBeat, in which the station makes no effort to hide, are even rarer.
TheBeat has a professional website and is the prominent sponsor of the "Who's Got Talent Showcase" at the Radisson Hotel in Nashua on Saturday.
One person irritated by the situation is Jerry DiGrezio, general manager for Monahan Cos., which owns Absolute Broadcasting of Nashua, which in turn owns AM talk radio stations WSMN, WGAM and WGHM.
"The big deal is we're playing by the rules and someone else isn't," he said.
He said TheBeat's signal sometimes interferes with his stations' signal, despite the fact that one is FM and the other AM.
DiGrezio pointed out that TheBeat -- which has no call letters because it has no FCC license -- doesn't pay fees to music-publishing groups such as ASCAP and BMI.
"We have to pay the fees, and we don't even play any music," he said.
WSMN is talk radio, while WGAM and WGHM are sports-talk stations.
Anthem said TheBeat doesn't pay a music-publishing fee because it doesn't play contemporary hits in "heavy rotation."
TheBeat broadcasts out of offices at 115 Main St., using an antenna elsewhere in the city. Anthem, aka DJ Antoine, said he didn't know exactly how much power it uses -- "We don't really have that type of equipment to measure it" -- but he suspected it was above the 100-watt maximum of so-called low-power FM stations, which have fewer licensing requirements than commercial stations. Even low-power stations require an FCC license, however.
TheBeat started as a hip-hop station but has expanded its repertoire over the last year to include Latin, house music and more mainstream popular styles, Anthem said.
He said that by playing music popular with younger audiences and participating in local events, the station was serving a need.
"We're not up just to be up; we are doing something with the community," he said.
The "Who's Got Talent Showcase" will be from 3-7 p.m. The station said 25 percent of ticket profits will be donated to the Atlantic Regional Firefighters Burn Foundation.
Last year, the show drew an estimated 1,200 people to Greeley Park.
David Brooks can be reached at 594-6531 or email@example.com. Also, follow Brooks' blog on Twitter (@GraniteGeek).
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