Storm Stalks KLSN Over Tower Use

UPDATE Last week, KLSN-LP in Oakley, CA reported tower site and studio vandalism to the FCC, as an explanation of why it went off the air. It appears there’s more to the story, as local news outlets report there’s a question about whether the station had legitimate access to the tower.

The East Bay Times and The Press report the low-power FM was in a rush to meet its FCC construction deadline last year and get on the air. KLSN GM Chris Ponsano asked Antioch Mayor Dr. Sean Wright for help getting the station’s antenna on a tower.

Emails obtained by the Times, show an exchange between Wright and Ponsano in which Wright believes there’s space on the city-used tower in Antioch. The city owns the land and American Tower owns the structure. However, the city’s attorney on cell leases told the Mayor then, that wasn’t accurate. The interim attorney recently confirmed to the Times, that KLSN’s equipment was not supposed to be on the tower. 

When the damaged transmitter took the station off the air, KLSN engineer Jeff Brown told the Press he went to the tower site and found a note from the towerco asking: “Who are you?” and requesting their contract number with AMT.

The GM told The Point he believed the station and the city of Antioch had an oral agreement via Mayor Wright to use the tower. Ponsano said: “My original understanding was based upon the conversation that I had with Sean [Wright] that it was ok to be on the tower. It was a verbal agreement. The problem came in that there should have been more follow-through on my side.”    

Wright refutes that, telling The Point he did not give Ponsano permission to be on the tower after city attorneys said no. Brown, meanwhile, told The Point Ponsano gave him an access code to get onto the site and KLSN operated for a year on the tower until the transmitter failed.

Ponsano confirmed he called AMT asking to look at the site to see if it suited their needs and AMT gave the station the code. Inside Towers efforts to reach AMT were unsuccessful.

Antioch interim attorney Derek Cole said he was unclear about any legal ramifications. Ponsano believes the situation will be settled with the city and the station will return to air.

March 12, 2018      

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