Silent Station List

It’s been many months since I’ve looked at the data the software downloads from the FCC each night. As long as this website has existed, which is almost 20 years, the FCC has maintained a list of radio stations that have officially applied for and received silent status.

Normally, if you believe your radio station is going to be off the air for more than 30 days, you need to notify the FCC within 10 days and get permission, in theory.  You have to state a reason why you’re not fulfilling your obligations as a radio station’s license holder. It used to be that it had to be something that was beyond the control of the licensee, like a hurricane, tornado, a truck accidentally toppled your tower, your building burned down, etc.

During the Obama years, the FCC relaxed these rules very much and would accept reasons like we have no money, all our employees quit, the owner died, we don’t have any source of programming, we can’t get spare parts for our ancient transmitter.   I noticed the pattern that they’re especially lax on stations with minority owners or women owners, as the FCC and Democratic politicians have been trying to solidify the notion that everyone is equally capable of running a radio station.

If a station fails to resume broadcasting in one year, they automatically forfeit the license, unless there’s some really extenuating circumstances.  A few examples of that are that the license is tied up in bankruptcy. Bankruptcy judges are the most powerful people in the federal government and can override other government agencies.  Sometimes the licenses get tied up in probate Court when an owner dies.

Lots of games are played with this rule, especially as it relates to newly issued licenses. Despite the efforts of the FCC, people get awarded licenses who have absolutely no intention of ever actually building and operating a radio station.  They get the licenses on the hope that they will be able to resell the license at a profit.

When you’re awarded a new license, you have three years to build the station and begin operations.   People have been known to take a portable 10 watt transmitter in the back of a pickup truck, go to the theoretical Tower location, turn it on for 10 minutes, and then declare that the station has been on the air, then immediately request permission for the station to be silent.  People might transfer the license to their wife, with the idea that now it would be a woman owned station, that would reset the clock. A federal judge shut down that way of beating the system sometime after 2008.

The FCC has stored its information related to radio and TV station licenses in a thing called the CBDS database.  This reflects the organization of the FCC, where the licensing of broadcast stations was one of the very earliest activities when all the information was maintained on index cards and filing cabinets.  Prior to the creation of the FCC in 1934, licensing was handled by the Commerce Department in the federal radio administration (FRA).

But the FCC has gained a lot of responsibilities over the years. In addition to broadcast stations, the FCC licenses amateur radio operators, CB radio operators (no longer), business communications, paging services, state and local government radios, airport radios, train communications (like PTC), cell phone towers, microwave relay towers, satellites, etc.

Over the years, there have been multiple efforts within the FCC and their beltway consultants to create the Nirvana of a single Central database of all licenses, which is total nonsense. While an AM radio station has data related to the power of its transmitters being reduced at sunset, that has nothing to do with the height of a TV station transmitter or the specific frequencies used by a cell phone tower.

Starting several years ago, the most recent attempt is called LMS (License Management System).  I wrote at the time that this conversion would doom this website because streaming radio guide was built around the cdbs database extract each night.  That update has not stopped, which is sending a huge signal that the FCC decided they can’t turn off their old database because it does so many things that the LMS does not understand.

So now to the point! The FCC has maintained a list of officially approved silent radio stations.   I used to pull that data down about once a month to find out what radio stations had asked for silent permission, and those that had been silent which had returned to the air. The FCC had a 2-month delay before a station would appear even appear on the list.  Most legitimate silent stations try quickly to return to the air and never appear on the list.

So here is the caution you now see when you visit the list:






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2 Responses to Silent Station List

  1. Fred Stiening says:

    The possibly not obvious point is the last time this list was updated was May of 2022. It’s just another little crack in the evidence that Civilization is crumbling

  2. Fred Stiening says:

    The old list has been completely removed and it suggests that you go to the LMS query page in order to acquire a list of licensed but silent stations

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