If the Federal Communications Commission's "localism" proposal becomes reality, dozens of radio stations in Utah and hundreds nationwide could be forced out of business.
The FCC regulation would require stations to have broadcast studios in the city specified in the license, as well as mandating 24-hour staffing for all stations.
Currently, many stations rely on a consolidated cluster of stations to cut costs.
G. Craig Hanson, president of Simmons Media, which owns or operates 25 stations in eight states (including seven in Salt Lake City and five in St. George), is opposed to the measure. "There's a big emphasis in Washington to make sure broadcasters stay close to their city of license," he said. However, the FCC proposal "changes the economics of the business." "While the intent to provide services to smaller cities is worthy, requiring studios in the city of license would destroy the economic viability to provide radio service," Hanson wrote in a recommendation to the FCC.
Hanson said Simmons operates 25 stations from 10 studio locations. If the FCC proposal passes, Simmons would have to build and maintain 13 new studios. That, plus the 24-hour staffing, would cost the company $2.7 million more a year.
He said he believes most stations already serve the public interest and "these proposals would needlessly place excessive burdens on Simmons' radio stations and other broadcasters." As an example, Simmons cited its ownership of KEGA ("The Eagle," FM-101.5), which is licensed to Oakley, Summit County. While there is a part-time studio and office in Oakley, the company would have to operate it full time.
Hanson said he feels the station is serving the Oakley community. For example, the station is the primary sponsor of the Oakley rodeo. "Most stations along the Wasatch Front are licensed to some of the smaller communities," Hanson said. That's how the FCC allocated frequencies.
For example, KBZN and KBER are both licensed to Ogden but have studios is in Salt Lake City. KSL-FM is licensed to Midvale, and KXRK is licensed to to Provo.
"The (broadcast) signal doesn't know there's a boundary," Hanson said. The FCC's price for "localism" looks to be too expensive.
• RADIO LEGEND DIES David B. Smith, 61, who worked for about every radio station in Ogden and Salt Lake City, passed away June 26 from congestive heart failure.
He began his radio career at KVOG in Ogden at about age 12, helping out on his mother's radio show. He eventually got his own show on KANN. He later worked for KSVN, KLO, KZAN, KRGO, KSOP and many others. He most recently owned and operated stations in Price and Evanston, Wyo.
• NO MORE PAUL HARVEY KUTR (AM-820) is now a Christian talk station under its new owners The Truth Broadcasting Corp. of Winston-Salem, N.C. As a result, Paul Harvey is no longer heard in the Salt Lake area.Harvey's broadcasts can still be heard in Logan, Vernal, Richfield, Manti, Delta and St. George.