Some commuters hoping to ease into their day with National Public Radio or Christian broadcasts are hearing shock jock Howard Stern instead.
Their favorite stations aren’t broadcasting Stern’s show, which has moved to satellite radio provider Sirius. Instead, poorly installed or defective satellite radio units, which act as mini-FM transmitters, are being blamed.
“Usually they’re upset, because they don’t know what’s going on. This isn’t what they tuned in to (hear),” Charles W. Loughery, president of the Word FM Radio Network, a group of contemporary Christian stations in eastern Pennsylvania, told The (Baltimore) Sun.
Some of the units use FM signals to broadcast the satellite signal to the car’s audio system, using frequencies low on the FM band such as 88.1, often reserved for noncommercial, religious or educational stations. The signal from the satellite system can sometimes override broadcasts from those stations for listeners in nearby cars.
Anthony Brandon, president and general manager at 88.1 WYPR, a National Public Radio affiliate in Baltimore, said he has sent 60 complaint letters to the Federal Communications Commission, which says it is investigating.
Neil Hever, program director for 88.1 WDIY, an NPR affiliate in Bethlehem, Pa., said he has forwarded 38 letters to the FCC.
“Back in December, a gentleman called from Warren County, N.J.,” Hever said. “He said, ’I’m not going to turn you in, but I take offense to the rap music you’re playing.’ We said, “We don’t program gangsta rap.”’
“We’re upset because we know it’s aggravating our listeners, and we know (interference with a licensed broadcaster) is against the law.”