Dropped Translator Application Hinders WTMJ’s FM Expansion.

The owner of a disputed FM translator set to move into Milwaukee has dropped an application to change its feed from one Milwaukee talk station to another, according to online publication NorthPine.com. The application’s dismissal impedes plans by E.W. Scripps news/talk/sports WTMJ (620) Milwaukee to expand to FM—at least for now.

As Inside Radio reported July 19, W277CV at 103.3 is owned by Frank McCoy and currently licensed to Waukegan IL. McCoy has a construction permit to move it to Milwaukee, and the now-dismissed application McCoy filed with the FCC would have modified the CP and moved it to the Scripps tower in Milwaukee. There, it would have had comparable coverage to some of Beer Town’s Class A FM signals.

Eager to make its programming available on FM, WTMJ earlier signed a deal to lease the signal from McCoy without knowing McCoy had business issues with Michael Crute who owns Milwaukee liberal news/talk WRRD (1510), a daytimer licensed to Waukesha, WI. For his part, Crute says he filed a joint application with McCoy at the FCC to move the translator into Milwaukee and that a construction permit was granted to McCoy on June 22. But then McCoy had a change of heart, Crute says, emailing him that Scripps “came at me hard with more money and an agreement to build the translator at their expense and give it a rent-free home on the WTMJ-TV/WKTI-FM tower.” Crute says McCoy told him, “It was just too good a deal to refuse.”

One day later (July 19) Crute filed an objection with the FCC, claiming the CP specifically states that McCoy, as permittee, is bound to rebroadcast WRRD on the translator for four years and can’t assign or transfer the CP to another party.

Crute has positioned WTMJ’s agreement with McCoy as an “attempt to crush lefty competition” and a battle between a corporate-owned 50,000-watt Class A vs. an independent Class D. WTMJ has stayed out of the fracas and maintains that while it was aware the translator had been connected to Crute’s station through a CP, it had assurances from McCoy that he and Crute were agreeable to the plan that was presented to WTMJ.

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