FCC to Consider Granting Hearing on WCAS Dispute

A spokesman for the Federal Communications Commission said yesterday that Cambridge radio station WCAS will probably not switch to religious programming if the FCC grants a public hearing on the sale of the station.

Carol Foelak, attorney for the FCC, said yesterday in Washington that if a hearing is scheduled, Family Radio Inc. will probably bow out of ownership instead of facing a long court battle.

Family Radio, a nonprofit religious company located in Oakland, Calif., bought the station from Oakland neighbor Kaiser Broadcasting Inc. in late January.

Harold E. Kamping, president of Family Radio, said yesterday, "I just don't have any opinion on the situation."

Protest

Local community groups launched a protest soon after the sale to keep the AM station in its folk/rock "progressive" format.

The civic groups--including Gay Media Action, the Sierra Club, and the American Friends Service Committee--say that Cambridge needs a public service format more than it needs religious broadcasting.

WCAS is the only station in Cambridge which does not have a university affiliation.

The FCC announced last week that it will decide within 90 days whether to grant a hearing on the case.

David A. Misch, coordinator of Citizens for Community Radio, said yesterday that he presented 7000 signatures to the FCC on petitions to prevent Family Radio from airing its program. He said that the petitions, in addition to over 100 personal letters, should send the case to court.

Public Not Informed

Misch said the fact that the FCC received only 25 letters protesting the sale in January compared with the quantity now, is "prima facie" evidence that the public was not informed of the proposed sale before it was approved.

By law, the public has a right to protest an announced sale before it is ratified.

"The only thing we have to prove to get a public hearing is that the public wasn't informed before the original sale," he said.

Foelak said yesterday, "The FCC is supposed to sit up and pay attention if there's a significant amount disagreeing with a sale."

Family Radio has given WCAS's current staff indefinite rights to keep the station until the matter is resolved.

"Every added day is another nail in the coffin of Family Stations's claim," Misch said.