Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The FCC Won't Let Me Be

We have yet another example of Christians missing the point.

A high school radio station, WAVM (FM 91.7) in Maynard, Mass., faces the real possibility of being shut down because a Christian broadcasting company is trying to muscle in on the school’s frequency. Read the complete story here (requires free registration to read the second page of the story).

Basically, the high school station wanted to increase their wattage from 10 watts to 250 watts. According to the eSchool News article I linked, “According to FCC rules, when a radio station files a petition to make a ‘major change,’ it opens the rights to its frequency to be challenged.”

The FCC granted the frequency to Living Proof Broadcasting, a Christian company. Living proof muscled out a high school radio station. In their defense, they have done nothing illegal. They played by the rules. But even so, they are trying to put an educational radio station out of business. Is that really the kind of example a Christian company should be setting?

I’m not furious at Living Proof. (Don’t get me wrong. I am mad, and I will be sending letters both to Living Proof as well as to the FCC.) But the more I think about it, the more I feel sad for Living Proof.

If I had to guess, I would assume their motivation was simply to get a frequency in Massachusetts so that they could spread the Gospel through their radio station (we’ll save debates about the effectiveness of this for another time). So, if we’re being generous, we could say they were motivated by the Great Commission.

Unfortunately, their actions speak louder than their words. In trying to spread grace, hope and love, they failed to exhibit any of those traits. You can’t really blame them; that’s the example they see every week in church.


Kev said...

I used to be in radio. In fact, I got my start in radio at a high-school radio station (WPSR 90.7FM). But we had 14k watts of POWER! And, as fun as that was - I have to say... high school kids don't need to be live on the radio. They just need all the equipment to learn on. Maybe do their jocking over the PA system.
If it's meant to be a learning frequency, give it to a college where the broadcasting students will use it better and learn more.
And I can't fault Living Proof either. As you said, they played by the rules, and they won. Good for them.

Nikki said...

I have to disagree Kev -- I would argue that high school students do need to be live on the air. I worked in student-run radio stations for about 8 years through high school and college, and what better way to learn responsible journalism than to be live? Knowing that my voice (and music) was being broadcast into hundreds (dozens? I don't know) of homes and cars made me think twice about what I said and the music I played.

For me in high school, the radio station was everything. It was my niche, and was far better than other things I could have been involved with. I excelled at radio broadcasting, and went to college with the intention of being a professional broadcaster. If a Christian radio station had come in and bought up WRFT, I would have been crushed and extremely angry.

Let's also not forget that this school doesn't have a student newspaper -- so this radio station is the only way students are practicing journalism. If this radio station is closed, these students will be left with nothing in the way of journalism education.

--Nikki (Ben's wife, who has only posted one other time on his blog!)

wordgirl said...

Ahhh yes! The Great Commission. Nothing more than a carte blanc to do whatever, whenver, and however to whomever so that--eventually-we'll all think the same way without questioning.

So when Malcom X says "the end justifies the means", it's wrong.
When Christian extremists say it, it's okay.

Enjoying the site.

Recovering Southern Baptist