09/29/05 — Radio tower relocation may not be necessary

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Radio tower relocation may not be necessary

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on September 29, 2005 2:00 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- A family-owned radio station at the end of Center Street might have to move to a new place west of town to make way for the city's airport runway expansion. And then again, it might not.

However, Mount Olive officials say the relocation will not be necessary until the station's tower becomes a safety issue for the airport.

WDJS-1430AM owner Ann Mayo said Wednesday the family is in the early stages of looking at a new location for the station's transmission tower. So far, an engineer hired by the family tells them the Federal Communications Commission will probably approve the move. The FCC denied the family's request to build a new station east of town. Officials said night programming would interfere with other radio signals.

The town of Mount Olive asked the Mayos about a year ago to move their radio station by December because of the runway extension. The 200-foot tower at the station was grandfathered in, but the family wanted to put up three additional, shorter antennae to boost the station's signal. Town officials promised to help the family move.

The family found a new location and spent a year waiting for an engineer to make sure the new spot was suitable. After the initial location on the east side of town was rejected, the family is now trying for a spot of a little more than 10 acres on the west side of town.

But now, Ms. Mayo said town officials are telling the family the station can stay where it is, and are withdrawing their offer of assistance with the move.

"It's been a long hard struggle," she said.

Officials say they do not have the money to assist the station owners.

Airport Committee Chairman Bob Quinn said during the group's meeting Wednesday morning that officials have offered to help the family find funding to relocate the tower. The grandfathered tower is on the approach line from the south of the runway.

"The controversy came when they tried to expand," he said about the three shorter towers, which the town ordered the family to remove while they were erecting them.

Quinn said the airport can deal with the tower that's already there "until it becomes an issue."

He added the North Carolina Department of Transportation Aviation Division officials have told the committee the tower is a safety issue, and there is financial help available for removing obstacles that could pose a hazard.

The radio station was founded by the family in 1961.