They have been trying to get this station since I was in undergrad when Dr. Omachonu was the department head.FVSU to Launch New FM Radio Station
Fort Valley State University recently purchased the rights to a new FM radio channel. Once FVSU has completed construction of the radio tower, the 6,000 watt signal will allow the university to broadcast to a larger audience than exists on its low-power campus radio station WFVS-LP 104.3. The station is expected to go on air by December 2014, and its call letters will change to WFVS-FM. The station will provide service to several thousands of people in Middle Georgia.
“This is a blessing,” said Shirley Ellis, director of radio and television in the Department of Fine Arts, Humanities and Mass Communications, who initiated the search to secure a powerful FM station with the former department head, Dr. John Omachonu.
Others who contributed to the project include current department chair Bobby Dickey and FVSU president, Dr. Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith. “The upcoming dial change is a result of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) awarding the university a permit to construct a full-power FM station. Like WFVS-LP 104.3, the station will be committed to community and public service and playing a variety of different music genres. We want to continue to maintain the sound that listeners became accustomed to hearing on Power Jamz 104.3.”
The process to attain the FM station began in 2009. WFVS-LP is a low-power radio station, meaning its broadcasting reach is only available on the university’s campus. The FM station would provide a stronger signal, allowing its reach to expand to a larger population in the Middle Georgia area.
Ellis and Omachonu secured the help of attorney Gary Smithwick. His firm, Smithwick and Beleduick, works with the University System of Georgia to handle FCC matters. Ellis and Omachonu also obtained the help of Gary Moor, a consulting broadcasting engineer with Bromo Communications.
“They came on board, and we became a team determined to make it happen, but I never thought that the process would take this long,” said Ellis. “Radio stations are entities of the government, so I thought it was worth the wait.”
According to Moor, the university learned that a company wanted to place a commercial radio station out in Butler, Ga. The university made the case to the FCC that it had a better idea: to use the radio channel for noncommercial educational purposes. The university would use the station to train its mass communication students, while providing a public service broadcast to Middle Georgia residents.
FVSU suggested that the station be placed in Roberta, Ga. instead of Butler. The FCC sided with FVSU to set aside channel 245, 96.9 FM for educational use.
But, FVSU didn’t immediately receive the rights to broadcast on the channel. Instead, the federal organization decided to open up the bidding process to the public, requesting bids from any educational entity wanting to set the facility aside for educational purposes. Two organizations floated to the top of the bidding process: Fort Valley State and Calvary Chapel Heartlands Baptist Church.
During the application process, the church explained that they should win, because they didn’t own any radio stations. The group argued that FVSU is part of the University System of Georgia, which already owned several radio stations.
The USG’s station ownership counted against Fort Valley State’s FCC application bid. In the end, the FCC granted Calvary Chapel Heartlands Baptist Church the right to construct a broadcast tower using the 96.9 FM/245 Channel within a three-year period.
When two years passed, it became apparent to FVSU administrators that the church wasn’t constructing a broadcast station, as promised. In 2013, FVSU approached CCHBC leaders to see if they could purchase the station a year before the deadline in June 2014. Church organizers declined the offer. Soon, FVSU and the church entered into a lengthy negotiations process to see if it would be possible for the university to purchase the license. Earlier this month, the church reached a decision.
“Calvary decided not to exercise their rights to build a station or use the license, so we negotiated with them to transfer the license to us,” said Charles Jones, FVSU’s chief legal advisor.
“When it was obvious that they weren’t building the station, they offered to sell it to us,” Moor said. The university agreed to the statutes that they cannot make money off the station. They also paid the church equal to their out of pocket expense for the station.”
The university paid the church $7,400 to cover the expenses they put into obtaining the channel.
Even though the church transferred the station ownership to FVSU, the university still needed to meet a critical FCC deadline to construct the tower before the end of June. FVSU needed more time to construct the tower, so they contacted USG attorney Gary Smithwick to meet with FCC officials in Washington, D.C., in order to attain a deadline extension. They agreed. The university now has until December 2014 to construct the tower.
“Gary is a miracle worker, because he got the FCC to agree on an extension,” said Moor, who explained that it was rare for the federal organization agree to any extension.
After receiving the thumbs up from the FCC, FVSU administrators started work on attaining the equipment necessary to put the station on-air.
Since the university received the rights to the new FM broadcast, it must give up the LP station, according to FCC regulations. The station will be officially retired as soon as the new FM station is complete.
According to Dr. Dwayne Crew, associate vice president of business and finance, the university is currently looking for a transmitter, and is looking to lease a tower. The university has until December 2014 to complete the tower.
Ellis says that the new station will continue to adhere to high-quality standards.
“The station will operate under the same standards as commercial radio stations, and will serve as a vehicle to prepare our students to become professional radio broadcasters by integrating hands-on experience with classroom instruction,” Ellis said. “Students will receive hands-on training in all areas of radio broadcasting such as on air personalities, production assistants, programmers, and editors.”http://review.fvsu.edu/content/fvsu-launch-new-fm-radio-stationthat's all…