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FM acquisition bid challenged

| Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, 4:01 a.m.

A bid by Tri-Borough Communications to acquire non-commercial low-power FM 92.3 in North Versailles Township was challenged by an entity with a name similar to McKeesport's Tube City Community Media.

Tube City Community Public Radio's “informal objection” was filed with the Federal Communications Commission by a law firm that represents Broadcast Communications Inc., applicant for an Irwin commercial low-power station on FM 92.1.

“The (Tri-Borough Communications) application should be dismissed as it is defective and violates the commission's LPFM rules,” Tube City Community Public Radio attorney Aaron P. Shainis wrote. “(Tri-Borough was) not a valid nonprofit organization at the time that it filed its application.”

The FCC accepted the Shainis filing, though it came when a 30-day period for comments on Tri-Borough's application had expired.

Tri-Borough partner Larry Gerson admitted that his group was not a nonprofit.

“I want something that would benefit the community,” Gerson said.

His wife is a volunteer for White Oak Animal Safe Haven, which would be a beneficiary of the station according to Tri-Borough's FCC application.

In a response to the FCC, Tube City Community Media president Jason Togyer objected, saying that it is an attempt “to trade on Tube City's name and goodwill, established since 1996 as a result of many long hours of volunteer public service to the community.”

Togyer said he took no position on the merits of the case.

“Because the informal objection itself was submitted under a confusing and misleading name, a name that was perhaps deliberately chosen to create confusion, the informal objection is fatally flawed,” Togyer said.

Shainis is a partner in Shainis & Peltzman, which represents Broadcast Communications and its three radio stations based in North Versailles — WKHB-620, WKFB-770, and WKVE-103.1. Its management could not be reached for comment at presstime.

The FM 92.1 sought for Irwin would boost WKHB's night coverage.

Shainis said he could not divulge any information about Tube City Community Public Radio.

He said it changed its name to Mon Valley Community Radio when Togyer raised his objection.

Shainis said Tri-Borough is not an incorporated organization, and that his client's objection “speaks for itself.”

Gerson has more than three decades in radio, much of it at old WTAE-1250 where he worked on Larry O'Brien and John Garry's morning show.

Gerson said he will respond to the Shainis filing, which covered North Versailles and two applications Gerson made in Western Maryland. Gerson said the Maryland applications were dismissed by the FCC.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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