This article was updated with additional information about WDAV’s February FCC filing.
WADV, an AM radio station that broadcasts a Christian and Southern gospel program to the Lebanon County area, has been off the air for more than five months.
Without an obvious social media or other online presence to let listeners know why AM 940 has gone silent, some people are wondering if WADV — like local talk radio station WLBR, at AM 1270, earlier this spring — was sold to a larger company, or if it has simply ceased operations.
The phone number listed for the radio station, 717-273-2611, is no longer in service, fueling rumors that WADV is gone for good.
Another rumor in the community is that the station is simply off the air until a new transmitter can be installed.
Station management could not be reached for comment.
Anne Goodwin Crump, an attorney representing station owners with Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth in Arlington, Va., said she passed a request for an interview to her client early Thursday afternoon, May 21, but no response had been received as of publication time.
“My understanding is that the rumor you heard is correct,” Crump said in response to the inquiry. “I have not had any word recently as to the status of the transmitter order.”
Read more: The state of local radio, post-WLBR pivot
The current transmitter is at 720 E. Kercher Avenue, at Prescott Avenue, although the radio station’s physical address is listed in various locations as 152 S. Spruce St., Lebanon, and 152 S. Spruce St., Birdsboro.
Birdsboro was the hometown of longtime station owner and radio personality Earl Kochel Jr., who died in 2005, and is apparently still the home of his son, Earl Kochel III, who is listed in some FCC documents as part owner of the station along with Julie Kochel and Jennifer L. Taylor.
Radio-locator.com, a website devoted to radio stations throughout the United States, lists WADV’s status as “Currently Off the Air.”
The FCC, the independent federal agency that regulates television and radio communications, lists WADV as “licensed and silent” on its website.
The agency notes that WADV’s current operating license does not expire until Aug. 1, 2022.
In fact, a letter available on the FCC website, dated March 25, 2020, and signed by attorney Victoria McCauley representing the FCC’s Audio Division, notes that Crump had filed a request on Feb. 28 on behalf of WADV for “Special Temporary Authority … to permit AM Radio Station WADV to remain silent.”
The station, according to McCauley’s letter, “went silent since December 5, 2019, for technical reasons.”
The request to remain silent was granted, McCauley said, for a period “not to exceed 180 days from the date of this letter.” WADV is required to notify the commission when broadcast operations resume.
However, the FCC letter also chides WADV for failing to notify the commission of its silent status in a timely manner.
According to an FCC filing dated February 28, the station had gone silent on December 5, 2019.
“WADV initially was on and off the air due to problems with the station’s transmitter,” reads the filing. “WADV engaged an engineer to come and fix the transmitter. The engineer needed to order parts in order to attempt the repairs and then became very ill with an illness that lasted throughout January. It then became clear that the transmitter could not be repaired and that a new transmitter is required. The licensee is ordering a new transmitter and will return WADV to its license operation once that transmitter is received and installed.”
Radio broadcasters may “temporarily discontinue operations for good cause, and for a period not to exceed 30 days without further authority,” the letter states. The rule, McCauley said in the letter, requires the broadcaster to notify the FCC by letter within 10 days of discontinuing operations.
“WADV failed to submit a timely request for (a Special Temporary Authority) to permit Station WADV(AM) to remain silent beyond January 5, 2020, and the action taken herein shall not be construed as authorizing the station to remain silent between January 5, 2020, and February 28, 2020,” McCauley wrote.
It was not clear from the letter if WADV faces any penalty for the violation.
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Thanks to Paul Walker of the I Take Pictures of Transmitter Sites group on Facebook for sharing the February FCC filing with us.