[Updated 8/17/23] Statement of REC Networks regarding Greenville, South Carolina (WMXP-LP & WLTE(FM))

Updated August 17, 2023

This original article was written based on the facts on July 14, 2023.  Under substantial pressure from WMXP-LP regarding this article, we agreed to unpublish this article.  Now, one month later, after careful reconsideration, we have decided to republish this article.  Since the original writing, WMXP-LP has voluntarily taken their station off the air and is currently working with a different highly respected consultant in the LPFM community to find options on getting back on the air.  REC hopes they can find a way to get back on the air.  

This article is relevant to the history of the LPFM service and demonstrates the risks of being a secondary service and vulnerable to move-ins from primary stations, which has always been the nature of the LPFM and FM Translator services.  With that said, in the long run, we cannot erase history, even if that history is uncomfortable or unfavorable.  What happened to WMXP-LP can happen to any LPFM station, regardless of the demographics of the people who run the station.

Despite the accusations that REC was "siding with Salem" or working with Salem on this, REC works on the side of maintaining the integrity and reputation of the LPFM service through encouraging compliance with regulations.  While each service has their own "glass houses", the LPFM glass house is the most vulnerable and most oppressed because of the pressure of the more influential glass houses in the broadcasting ecosystem.  I want to see a time when LPFM can finally have "good things" (like LP-250), but the community as a whole must do the right thing for the betterment of the LPFM service.

There are appropriate ways to protest laws or regulations.  This includes working towards changes in these laws and regulations through appropriate channels such as rulemaking proceedings (on issues that can be changed within statute) or through Congressional legislation (for statutes that need to be changed).  Do the laws and regulations regarding LPFM stations need to be changed?  Yes, they definitely do.  However, at the same time, the regulations we have now need to be respected while efforts to change these regulations continue.  

Original article from July 14, 2023 follows:

In 2021, Salem Media's WLTE was granted a minor modification construction permit to change community of license and to move to a transmitter site closer to Greenville, South Carolina.  On July 11, 2023, Salem filed a license to cover that construction permit, which was routinely granted on July 13, 2023.

On July 12, 2023, Salem filed a complaint against Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, licensee of LPFM station WMXP-LP, Greensboro, South Carolina, claiming that the LPFM station was causing harmful interference and requesting action pursuant to §73.809 of the FCC Rules.  

Since WLTE came on the air from the new site, WLTE has been experiencing substantial interference.  This interference has been verified by spectrum scouts in the area, so we are satisfied that the allegations of interference are true.  

LPFM is a secondary broadcast service, plain and simple.  When organizations applied for their LPFM station licenses, they should have been fully aware of this.  Secondary service simply means that the station is merely a "guest" on the dial and must make way if the spectrum is needed for a primary spectrum user, such as a full-service FM broadcast station, as is the case here.

§73.809 is the rule that addresses interference protection to full-service FM broadcast stations.  In paragraph (a), it states:

(a) If a full service commercial or NCE FM facility application is filed subsequent to the filing of an LPFM station facility application, such full service station is protected against any condition of interference to the direct reception of its signal caused by such LPFM station that operates on the same channel or first-adjacent channel provided that the interference is predicted to occur and actually occurs within:

(1) The 3.16 mV/m (70 dBu) contour of such full service station;

(2) The community of license of such full service station; or

(3) Any area of the community of license of such full service station that is predicted to receive at least a 1 mV/ m (60 dBu) signal. Predicted interference shall be calculated in accordance with the ratios set forth in § 73.215 paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(2). Intermediate frequency (IF) channel interference overlap will be determined based upon overlap of the 91 dBu F(50,50) contours of the FM and LPFM stations. Actual interference will be considered to occur whenever reception of a regularly used signal is impaired by the signal radiated by the LPFM station.

In this case, it is very clear that the move of WLTE has created a situation where the interfering contour of WMXP-LP has overlapped into the 3.16 mV/m (70 dBu) contour of WLTE.  Likewise, WLTE is rightfully subject to protection per subparagraph (a)(1) as WMXP-LP is severely interfering into the 70 dBu community coverage contour of WLTE.

At REC, we have been saying for many years now that while we are a national regulatory advocate for the LPFM service, this does not mean that anything with a "-LP" in their callsign receives a "get out of jail free" card from us.  If anything, one of our primary missions is to educate LPFM stations, many of which are operated by organizations with minimal or no previous broadcasting background to assure that their stations are operating in compliance.  As such, REC is not afraid to call out an LPFM station when we feel that the LPFM station is in the wrong.  

This is the case here.  While WMXP-LP did not take a specific action to cause the interference, their lack of action in response to the WLTE construction permit grant and eventual lack of action after WLTE came on the air afterwards is not in the spirit of the LPFM community, which seeks to assure that all rules, even ones that they may not agree with, are properly followed.  Despite outreach attempts from Salem, REC and others in the LPFM community, WMXP-LP has ignored our warnings and remains on the air.  We are not sure whether they are just ignoring our advice or if they are doing this under protest.  Either way, this is not appropriate.  Commercial gain aside, this type of interference prevents the general public from receiving Emergency Alert System activations and creates a radio environment that is unsuitable for listening and may result in more people giving up on listening to the radio in favor of competing "non-radio" services such as streaming.  One of our missions at REC is to help keep radio relevant, not just for LPFM, but assuring that radio, as a communications medium, remains a relevant part of America's daily life.  

REC Networks joins Salem in calling on WMXP-LP to abide by the regulations that the organization agreed to when they applied for a new LPFM station in the First Generation LPFM Filing Window Series and to immediately cease operations on their current facility.  Doing so, would only solidify your support for the LPFM community as a whole and would be for the greater of radio.  WMXP-LP can contact REC in order to see if there are any other options available from a different transmitter location.  

We do not like to hear when an LPFM station goes away.  In many cases, the operators of the station just abandoned it or they lost a site or funding, etc.  In this case, while it was because of the lawful actions of a primary spectrum user, we don't like to hear about stations going away under these circumstances, we acknoweldge that this is a natural part of the American broadcast ecosystem.  

We wish the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement the best of luck with their overall objectives as an organization and we hope that they can use their other available media sources to continue to educate the community.  Perhaps someday, that educational mission may include radio in some way, shape or form.  But for now, the sad reality is that radio is no longer an option.  Again, REC or a consultant of your choice may be able to assist you.

While we are not yet aware of any official notice from the FCC to WMXP-LP, we urge them to heed any notices that come from the agency.  Unauthorized operation is a violation of Section 301 of the Communications Act and can lead to fines and/or other actions against the station license. 

There have been developments since this article was first written, see the August 17 update at the beginning of this article.