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FCC: No Problems at WOKR Tower

UTICA-ROME — An FCC investigation says radiation levels at WOKR 93.5FM in the Town of Floyd are within legal and safe limits.  But neighbors are disputing the report — claiming they saw engineers performing work at the tower on at least two nights before FCC inspectors could get to the scene.

Those disputes didn’t stop WOKR’s owner, Educational Media Foundation, from issuing its second press release within 24 hours on the issue.  Earlier, the company stated it was cooperating with the FCC, and it was confident the station would not be at fault.  Here is the full text of that statement:

EMF Issues Updated Statement Regarding FCC Review of Floyd, NY Signal

Rocklin, Calif., June 26, 2009 – In response to one or more Floyd, NY residents that have asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to investigate concerns about Educational Media Foundation’s WOKR (FM) signal, Educational Media Foundation (EMF) is issuing the following statement.

EMF is a not-for-profit music broadcaster with signals in communities across the country, including its station WOKR(FM) in upstate New York broadcasting from a tower in Floyd. EMF is a tenant on the tower, which is owned by American Tower Corporation, the largest communications tower owner in the country.

All FM radio station stations are licensed and regulated by the FCC. Earlier this year, the FCC licensed EMF to broadcast a low-power FM radio signal (3,000 watts), from the tower in Floyd. As it does with all broadcast applications, the FCC analyzed the RF radiation that would be produced by the operation of WOKR from this tower to ensure that it would not create a hazard to persons living, working or visiting areas near the tower site. The FCC’s approval of the application confirmed the analysis that the operations from that site would not be of concern under any applicable safety limits.

EMF constructed its station according to the specifications approved by the FCC. According to EMF’s own testing after its construction of WOKR, its Floyd-area signal is functioning properly and is meeting all FCC requirements, including those involving public safety.

EMF has been in communication with the FCC about the Floyd resident’s concern, and is fully cooperating with the FCC in its review. On June 23, 2009, the FCC performed an on-site inspection, and their measurements, like EMF’s, indicate that WOKR is operating within the FCC’s rules for RF in publically-accessible locations, with RF radiation at the site only a fraction of the FCC’s limits for publically-accessible locations.

While this independent analysis of the RF radiation by the FCC confirming that there is no radiation risk to nearby people should be sufficient, in an abundance of caution, EMF has made arrangements for additional independent testing and will make the results public once those measurements have been completed.

EMF President Mike Novak stated, “EMF always makes every effort to follow all FCC requirements for safe broadcasting and will continue to do so.” He expressed concern for the health of the Floyd residents and said that he hopes they will soon discover the true cause of their problems.

That original complaint came from, Steve Lloyd, a neighbor of the tower.  Earlier this month, he told the Utica Observer-Dispatch that he and his family started getting sick shortly after WOKR re-located to the Floyd site in mid-April.  He claimed that WOKR’s audio could be heard on a television set that was turned off, and it could be heard on all of his radios, regardless of the dial position.

Even though the FCC gave WOKR a clean bill of health, neighbors now tell the paper they believe EMF and/or American Tower Corporation made some quick fixes before inspectors arrived.  One woman who lives across the street from the tower says she spotted crews working past midnight at least twice last week.  She claims she has also recently experienced fatigue and diarrhea recently — similar to what Floyd and his family have reported.

A spokesman for American Tower told the paper he was “not aware” of any work being done at the tower, but wouldn’t definitively deny it, either.

Floyd Town Supervisor John Buczek says he may consider legal action to shut the station down.

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