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Hank Brown Plans Radio Comeback – But Will Station Be Legal?

Updated at 10:00pm UTICA/ROME — Nearly eight months after his morning show on WUTQ/WADR was replaced by an extension of the station’s “Talk of the Town” program, Hank Brown is returning to radio.  While a local newspaper was first to report Brown’s announcement, we discovered something on the FCC website which seems to indicate Brown’s new radio home may not be legal, after a construction permit expired earlier this month.  

According to a story on this evening, Brown’s new show will air weekdays from 9am to noon on 1120 WKAJ, starting next Monday, January 2.

You might remember reading about WKAJ here on earlier this year — we told you the station’s owners asked for permission to move WKAJ’s construction permit from Little Falls, in Herkimer County to Saint Johnsville, in Montgomery County.  Although that move took WKAJ only a few miles eastward, the county border is also the line separating the Utica-Rome radio market from the Albany-Schenectady-Troy market, as defined by radio ratings giant Arbitron (map, PDF, 11MB).

As of Tuesday night, the FCC still has WKAJ listed under “construction permit” status, and there’s no sign yet of owner Cranesville Block Company requesting “license to cover,” the final stage of FCC approval.  Unless we’re missing something, it appears that the WKAJ construction permit expired on December 15, 2011.  That’s the same expiration date on the original CP from 2008, where Michael Celenza was listed as owner.

In the letter officially allowing the move from Little Falls to Saint Johnsville this past July, the FCC stated, “this construction permit will be subject to automatic forfeiture unless construction is complete and an application for license to cover is filed prior to expiration.”

Added at 10pm: Just to be sure, we checked with Scott Fybush, whom we consider to be much more experienced with interpreting FCC material.  He tells that “the FCC has been granting 18 month CP extensions when CPs are sold to qualifying small buyers.”  However, Fybush said he looked through WKAJ’s registration data as well and he concurs, “I don’t see any formal request for an 18-month extension.  But that doesn’t mean the station is operating illegally. It’s possible to get verbal extensions from the FCC, especially if your consulting engineer is someone like Bill Sitzman who’s very well known in Washington…and especially if it’s the end of the year and deadlines are looming.”

Our thanks to Scott for his quick and helpful feedback on the matter — we hope you’ll check out his site,, home of NorthEast Radio Watch and Tower Site of the Week, and order your copy of Scott’s 2012 Tower Site Calendar.  (The first part of NERW’s “Year in Review” went up today, and the rest will appear next week.)

Is there a chance the FCC’s website is late in making updates?  Did WKAJ get a verbal extension, which might not appear online?  Or will WKAJ’s owners have to beg the FCC’s forgivness when they explain why they missed this important deadline?  We’ll keep an eye on it.

Geographical Escapades

In the article, Brown is quoted as saying, “I can broadcast in Boonville and you’ll hear me just as well in Utica,” a statement which has your editor scratching his head, since the newspaper said WKAJ is based in Little Falls, nowhere near Boonville.  Even more confusing, is why the paper said Little Falls despite the fact, as we already mentioned, FCC records show WKAJ licensed to Saint Johnsville.

However, if WKAJ is indeed legal to broadcast come January 2, Brown may still reach much of the same audience he used to reach from studios in downtown Utica.  Even though the St. Johnsville transmitter site is even farther away from Utica than Little Falls, it was authorized to broadcast at much stronger levels.  The updated CP included approval to broadcast at 10,000 watts during daylight hours.  The original CP would have had WKAJ at only 1,500 watts.

3 Comments to Hank Brown Plans Radio Comeback – But Will Station Be Legal?

  1. I was also reading an article from a local, weekly paper near St. Johnsville, and the Mayor was talking about how great it’s going to be to have this new radio station. He also stated, it was set to begin airing, December 15th. Obviously, that hasn’t been the case.

    Speaking of Hank Brown…as a person, Hank is a great guy. As a business person, Hank is the master at stretching the facts and truth about many categories. For some reason, he seems to get plenty of attention, whether it’s due or not. But for someone who has never gotten above a 1-share in any rating book over the last 20 years or so, and only has a very limited audience of people from age 65 till?, why would he be big news.

    In addition, he says people will be able to hear him in all the same places as before. Maybe that’s true, but from what I read about the directional pattern of this station during the day, I do not believe you will be able to hear the station from just West of Frankfort, and if you can, it won’t be that tolerable. I give Hank credit….he has a super inflated ego, has to remind everyone that he is the best and most popular person in the country and in demand.

    Too bad for the poor, uneducated business person who buys airtime with him to attract an audience in the low hundreds, and, over 65, that no advertiser gives a hoot about. and they will probably fall for Hank’s line claiming he has the number one show in the area.

  2. In response to Adventures remarks: Hank gets plenty of attention because of his Twist-a-Rama TV program in the late ’60s. People don’t forget. He was popular on TV and he was popular on radio. He hasn’t gone away. He’s jumped around radio stations over all the years, but you have to give the guy credit for sticking with his career, and sticking with a depressed area of New York State. As for the ego, name one announcer in radio or TV that does’t have an ego, even an inflated ego. Those who don’t aren’t working in radio or TV anymore. As for the over 65 audience , those are the people with the money to buy the products. Young people don’t have much money, and young people don’t listen to AM radio, period. Uneducated business people wouldn’t be buying any advertising. If they buy Hanks ads, and 3 or 4 people come in the store telling him they heard the ad on Hanks show, I’m sure thats enough to keep the businessman happy. Give the guy a break, at age 80 lets see the average radio salesman pound the beat like Hank does. His work with community organizations also helps his image, and he’s been doing that since day one too.

  3. To amradioguy comments above…I guess we can agree to disagree, and I mean no disrespect to your thoughts, but am having trouble digesting them as making sense.

    1..You claim people don’t forget his Twist-A-Rama show. True, it was popular back then
    when there weren’t many other choices for TV in this area. For the people not
    forgetting…aren’tmost of those people either deceased or close to it?

    2…You also said he was popular on radio. Where? Except for a brief stint at WIBX when they
    were a talk format during the afternoon, I could count Hank’s audience on my fingers.
    Every radio station you claim he has jumped around too has never wanted Hank because
    of various reasons that most of in the business are well aware of. The only reason why
    Hank has been on various low rated, low powered stations talking basically to no one is
    because he offered to buy the time. Any smart business person with a low power, zero
    rated station would take the money too.

    3…I can name you hundreds of on air talent and management people that never did, nor, will
    never have a huge ego.

    4…As for your statement that the 65 year old audience are those people with the money to
    buy the products…where did that come from? The last time I checked the facts and
    figures from major companies, networks and agencies, that is the last age group
    anyone gives two cents about. And if they do happen to be well off, they are the ones
    who hound the poor workers at McDonalds, and Denny’s before they even get into the
    door too give them their 5-cent coffee discount. The 18-34 demo has plenty of
    spendable income.

    5…If an uneducated business person, was educated, they would never spend a dime on a
    show such as Hanks, unless it were priced in the single digits. Yes, 3 or 4 responses
    coming into a store is good, but for about the same as what Hank gets for his ads, the
    business person would get 20 times the result.

    This has nothing to do about giving Hank a break or, that he is in his 70’s. It just boils down to Hank as he always has, misleading the public and business people into thinking he has the number one rated show, the most listeners from 45 and above, etc. etc, when he doesn’t. Maybe in his mind he thinks so, but reality is reality.

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