The hype surrounding Family Radio’s prediction of Judgment Day and the Rapture on May 21 (and subsequent pronouncement that the Rapture will be delayed until October 21, 2011) not only attracted the attention of mainstream media, religious scholars, and atheists; but it also has led to much conversation amongst proponents of non-commercial educational radio.
Before May 21, 2011 had come and gone, fans of beleaguered college radio station KUSF were suggesting that with the impending Rapture, Family Radio should simply turn over their local station to Save KUSF so that the staff of the formerly terrestrial KUSF could get back on the air.
Additionally, non-commercial radio supporter Michael Stripling Duncan apparently sent a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski on May 20, requesting that the stations owned by Family Stations be turned over to a college radio organization so that stations like KTRU could get back on the air. He writes:
“I am sure you are aware of the predicted events of tomorrow, May 21, 2011, and the certainty with which these predictions have been made by Family Stations Inc., of Sacramento, CA, aka Family Radio, holder of multiple FCC licenses for AM and FM radio and translator transmitters.
It has come to my attention that beginning on Sunday, May 22, Family Stations, Inc. will no longer have need for these licenses or transmitters, either due to lack of physical and metaphysical presence on earth of anyone previously owning, administering, or listening to the stations, or for ownership having been proved to be confidence men of the highest order.
I therefore petition the Federal Communications Commission to condemn these transmitters and reassign license and ownership of the stations to College Broadcasters, Inc. or other such organization dedicated to independent student media on college campuses for the purpose of providing student media outlets at Rice University and colleges or universities whose governing bodies have secretly liquidated student radio stations in the past. I further urge you and your colleagues to take such action in all due haste, lest the Commission finds itself unable to find a quorum after the Rapture.”
And, then today, on a more serious note, REC Networks Founder and LPFM supporter Michelle (Michi) Eyre posted a letter (PDF) that she had sent to Senators Maria Cantwell and John McCain (co-sponsors of the Local Community Radio Act). In her blog post about the letter, Eyre “points out the need for ownership controls on non-commercial educational (NCE) FM broadcast stations and FM translators” stating that “mega-ministries” are “precluding local organizations and local ministries from having a voice in their community.”
In her letter, Eyre writes:
“This past weekend’s ‘false alarm’ over this alleged ‘rapture’ that was predicted by Harold Camping of Family Stations, Inc. rekindles an issue that has been on my mind for years. That issue is related to the ownership of multiple non-commercial educational (NCE) radio broadcast stations. In the early days, NCE broadcast stations were mainly owned and operated by colleges and high schools as a training ground for students…”
She then outlines the operations of several “‘mega-ministries’ that operate hundreds of full power FM broadcast stations and lower power broadcast translators.”
Eyre explains that, “The recent ‘rapture’ hoax…was propagated through 55 FM stations, 12 AM stations, 89 translators and a shortwave broadcast station that can be picked up in many parts of the world…The hoax was picked up by other media sources around the world and the result was worldwide panic.” She points out that although she supports free speech, she is concerned when broadcasters don’t have a connection to their local community and when, in the case of Family Radio, work to “facilitate mass-hysteria.”
She also mentions the recent sale of KTRU and the pending sale of KUSF and argues that, “I feel the Federal Communications Commission needs to take accountability especially given the way that it has allowed these mega-ministries to expand, purchase failing college stations and file excessive applications in filing windows, sometimes through questionable means.”