Silence prevails on local airwaves
The Williams radio station, KYET 1180 AM, went off the air March 12. Hopes are to breathe life back into the station — that is if owner Joe Hart can cut through all the red tape.
“We really don’t know what’s going on,” said Frank Long, who ran the boards for the station. “He (Hart) had me call everybody and tell them we’d be back on the air in 10 days.”
That was over a month ago, Long said.
“Finally I just got disgusted and said ‘the heck with it,’ — I just got tired of the bull,” he said.
The station originally went off the air because the downtown location was sold. A temporary location was set up, but the station never returned to the air. Hart said it was because he received a letter from the City of Williams.
“The city manager sent me a letter to cease and desist,” Hart said. “He said the lease was not negotiable.”
Hart said there hasn’t been a issue with the lease since he took over the radio station under his company name Grand Canyon Broadcasting. That was until a few months ago.
“There seems to be a problem with the city,” he said. “They’re going to raise the rent.”
Actually, Hart has been getting away with free rent since he bought the station, said city manager Dennis Dalbeck, who said the cease and desist letter Hart is referring to was actually a lease agreement.
“In no way did we tell him to cease and desist,” Dalbeck said. “I investigated the arrangement with the radio station and the city and did find out the original lease agreement with Gyula Szoelloesi was non-transferable and that the radio station has had several years of free rent.”
Item 12 of the lease agreement with former owner Szoelloesi states, “Lessee (Szoelloesi) shall not have the right to assign or sublet the leased premises without the prior written consent of Lessor (City of Williams).”
Without a lease agreement, both he and the city can agree upon, the station is in limbo, Hart said.
“If I don’t get a good lease, I’ll have to move,” he said. “If I’m forced to move, I’ll go east.”
Currently, Hart said he is looking into four other locations, Flagstaff is one of them. He added the Williams site has some problems that need to be addressed.
“I can’t see putting $100,000 into it (the station) and then have to move it,” Hart said. “I’d hate to see Williams lose the AM station.”
The question about the lease arose after the station’s manager, Richard Kaffenberger, started harassing Dalbeck on the air.
“When I started becoming the butt of their jokes on a daily basis, it prompted me to see what arrangement they had with the city,” Dalbeck said.
Dalbeck said the tower sits on 2.5 acres of prime commercial property at the north side of the rodeo grounds. He said a digital station wanted to come to town, but Hart’s tower would have interrupted the reception and broadcasting of the digital tower.
“They were going to pay the city $750 monthly for a 60-foot by 60-foot area of land,” Dalbeck said in a letter to Hart.
Dalbeck said he used this agreement to write a new lease for Hart back in December.
“If we compare your $800 monthly cost for 2.5 acres versus $750 for a 60 foot by 60 foot plot, you can easily see the value you will be receiving,” Dalbeck said in the letter.
The issue is still up in the air, Dalbeck said.
“Mr. Hart has not signed the lease, and we’re now nearing the end of April,” he said. “But what we’re doing is sending him an invoice each month, starting in January, for the $800.”
Dalbeck said he resents Hart telling the Williams-Grand Canyon News, or any citizen, the city issued a cease and desist notice. He said that type of notice is a job for the court system.
“I wouldn’t do that unless I had instructions from the council,” he said. “Hart sold the building — that’s why they are off the air.
“They have themselves to blame.”