BREAKING NEWS: WJER-FM Move To North Canton Approved

Oddly enough, we were just talking about this in the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) this week.

The FCC has approved the requested move of WJER-FM/101.7 Dover’s community of license to North Canton, step one of a process that will eventually bring it into Clear Channel’s Akron/Canton cluster.

In agreeing to move the 101.7 allotment from Dover to North Canton, the FCC did note some opposition, from local resident Edward Cox and in a petition from 12 Dover residents. It notes that it didn’t directly consider these petitions because they didn’t follow filing time deadlines and other FCC guidelines for filing opposition, but the order also says that the commission would have ruled in favor of the move anyway due to other factors.

Those include something called “Tuck factors”. (It’s a reference to an old case which provides the FCC precedent for such moves.) The FCC ruled that Clear Channel showed North Canton’s independence from Canton in a few ways, including the presence of a monthly newspaper, a municipal government, numerous businesses and significant in-city employment. (Clear Channel can thank whatever’s left of Hoover’s operations for much of that.)

Even if it took Cox’s petition into consideration without the technicalities that stopped it from doing so, the commission says the move represents “a preferential arrangement of allotments”, giving North Canton its first local service (yeah, we know), and keeping WJER(AM) Dover-New Philadelphia as a local service in Dover.

How long will it take – from now – for 101.7 to become a Canton market station?

The order notes that Clear Channel has to file for a new construction permit within 90 days specifying the new facilities. Clear Channel will then have up to three years after that CP is approved to build it out…so today’s approval doesn’t mean that a new 101.7 facility will pop up within three months.

What it does mean is that CC is now within its own timetable to get the station going, now that it has the federal green light.

We’ve heard out of Dover that CC’s reverse LMA with former WJER owner Gary Petricola to run both the AM and FM stations may actually be renewed for a period of time while CC makes those preparations. Now, the decision will be steered by such things as building the station’s new format and place in the CC cluster…oh, yeah, and building a new tower site…

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