On behalf of, and as a member of the Western Radio Group, an owner of WBTC Radio LLC 1540AM and 101.9 FM in Uhrichsville, OH, and as the one who has petitioned the FCC to allow the frequency of 102.3FM to be utilized as a full power FM 6,000 watt commercial station, we would like to clear up many misconceptions and misinformation being spread on radio, social media and published in local newspapers. There are several misconceptions and falsehoods permeating through a large majority of the negative comments submitted to the FCC regarding this application for the change of use request of 102.3FM.

Jim Natoli at the broadcasting console at WBTC and who originally started WBTC in 1963.
Jim Natoli at the broadcasting console at WBTC. Mr. Natoli original started WBTC in 1963 with his mother and WBTC stood for Beautiful Tuscarawas County.

In 1963 Jim Natoli and his mother started WBTC 1540 AM in Uhrichsville with the vision to use it as an educational opportunity to bring younger people into the art and business of broadcasting. In early 2022, my partners and I learned that WBTC-AM was for sale however WBTC’s sister frequency of WNPQ (95.9 FM) was already under contract to be sold to K-Love based out of Franklin, TN. We entered the purchase of WBTC with the stated goal to continue with Jim Natoli’s legacy of being a platform of opportunity for the next generation in radio broadcasting. The fact that there was no longer a full 6,000 watts station (i.e., WNPQ) as a part of WBTC did not deter us from wanting to keep Mr. Natoli’s dream and continue with his legacy.

Tuscarawas County used to have three locally owned 6,000-watt Class A radio stations. WJER (101.7) and WNPQ (95.9) were sold to large national broadcast organizations and today, only WTUZ (99.9) remains in existence as a Class A station. In WBTC Radio’s quest to continue Jim Natoli’s original vision for radio, the journey led to the discovery of a full power, Class A 6,000-watt available frequency. This frequency is 102.3 FM. The addition of another 6,000-watt Class A station that is locally owned will provide the surrounding coverage area with more choices and options. It will be an additional resource for local radio content, news and weather alerts for all of Tuscarawas County.

This search however did bring into conflict WDNP LP-FM which currently utilizes the 102.3 frequency. We feel it is necessary to issue this statement and clear up these falsehoods. Perhaps one of the biggest untrue statements we have heard and read is that this application to the FCC (to make 102.3 FM a full powered Class A station) that it will force WDNP “off the air” and “out of business”. We have heard it said that WDNP will be forced to close their doors and that WDNP would lose everything that they have worked for since their inception. These accusations and false claims could not be further from the truth as we will explain below.

WBTC and Western Radio have worked with Goldman Engineering Management group and our FCC attorney since we started the search for a full 6,000-watt Class A frequency. WBTC Radio has spent a lot of time and money on this effort to improve the availability of listener options in Tuscarawas County. Through these efforts, we found an extremely simple solution for WDNP to continue its operations as a non-profit station in the Dover licensed area should they choose to do so.

Per the attached Engineering Report there are two (2) open and available low power FM (LP-FM) frequencies for which WDNP could apply to use under an FCC Displacement

Application and thus they can continue operations without interruption. The only change would involve moving “up or down the dial” to one of the two available LP-FM frequencies. However, per the Engineering Displacement Study which WBTC Radio ordered, WDNP should apply for one of these two frequencies as soon as possible. Just like the commercial application is being made for the 102.3 frequency, both open LP-FM frequencies could be applied for by another entity. Our application for full use of 102.3 FM will not put WDNP “out of business”. WDNP failing to apply for one of the two open LP-FM frequencies could.  

Our understanding is that the FCC does NOT charge for a Displacement Request. It is just a filing to the FCC by WDNP to make the lateral move to one of those available frequencies. Once the new frequency is obtained via the displacement request, then WDNP’s current transmitter and antennae (per WDNP’s current FCC filings) could be easily we are told, tuned to the new frequency. 

All this could easily be done by WDNP no or minimal interruptions in their broadcast signal should they choose to continue operating as an FCC licensed LP-FM non-commercial station. The Engineering Study has already been completed at WBTC’s own expense by WBTC’s Engineering consultant and it is available for WDNP to review. The entire listener base of WDNP would not lose the broadcasting they currently enjoy nor the nonprofit educational offerings to the community. If the Western Radio Group/WBTC Radio is able to obtain the 102.3FM full power frequency from the FCC, we would be willing to work with WDNP in announcing their move to a new frequency when it officially goes live.   

We hope that the FCC and those who have taken the time to read this COMMENT submitted to the FCC understands that the Western Radio Group and WBTC Radio have the same commitment, desire, and determination to bring larger opportunities, not just to our Tuscarawas County communities, but also to those who desire to learn more about radio, broadcasting, and careers in this wonderful industry as does the non-profit behind WDNP. WBTC and WDNP are not competitors, we are two entities seeking the same goals of spreading the wonders and joys about broadcasting in radio to anyone who will listen.

For a much simpler, yet technically “dry” explanation, the Goldman Engineering Management report below explains the FCC allocations process and the displacement information necessary for WDNP to use for free if they choose to continue their operations as a non-profit radio station in the Dover-New Philadelphia area.



Brian Walker

WBTC Radio – December 5th, 2022