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Radio station getting static
JOHN LATIMER. The Daily News. Lebanon, Pa.: Jul 27, 2006. pg. n/a

Abstract (Document Summary)
That type of programming is exactly what the Neatrours said they had in mind in 2000, when they invested their time and money to apply for a low-power FM license from the Federal Communications Commission. They received the license in 2003 and changed format from a commercial AM station to a nonprofit, educational FM station broadcasting as WOMA-LP at 93.1.

As part of the requirements to receive the license, the radio station was required to be run by a nonprofit, educational organization, so the Neatrours established Latino America Media Organization of Pennsylvania Inc. and created a five-member board of directors. The Neatrours are on the board, as is George McCrory, a Harrisburg radio executive. The other two seats are vacant.

About a month ago, however, many of the volunteers and their radio programs were put on hiatus after the Neatrours required that in addition to just broadcasting shows, the volunteers also assist with the other menial tasks of running a station, including cleaning chores and translating public service announcements into Spanish.

Full Text (702 words)
Copyright Lebanon Daily News Jul 27, 2006
Lebanon's only Spanish-language radio station is facing criticism from a citizens' group, but the station's operators say they don't understand who is behind it or why.

Doug and Dalila Neatrour are the station manager and program director of Radio Omega, a low-power station that has broadcast locally since 1998, first on AM and now on FM.

Recently, the couple said they became aware of a petition that is being circulated in the Latino community by a group calling itself Movimiento Hispano Progresista -- or Progressive Hispanic Movement.

There are also rumors, according to the Neatrours, that the radio station's offices at 750 Willow St. will be picketed by the group.

One city resident, who asked not to be identified, said an organization opposing some of the station's practices has formed, but it was not ready to come forward with its complaints at this time.

A copy of the petition obtained by the Daily News does not identify the members of the organization, but it contains the following statement:

"We protect the interests of the people. We demand a noncommercial radio station that is conducted with the highest standards and professionalism and it is an asset to the community of Lebanon educationally, culturally and socially following the regulations of the FCC and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

"With this petition we ask the change of administration of Radio Omega to Movimiento Hispano Progresista."

That type of programming is exactly what the Neatrours said they had in mind in 2000, when they invested their time and money to apply for a low-power FM license from the Federal Communications Commission. They received the license in 2003 and changed format from a commercial AM station to a nonprofit, educational FM station broadcasting as WOMA-LP at 93.1.

As part of the requirements to receive the license, the radio station was required to be run by a nonprofit, educational organization, so the Neatrours established Latino America Media Organization of Pennsylvania Inc. and created a five-member board of directors. The Neatrours are on the board, as is George McCrory, a Harrisburg radio executive. The other two seats are vacant.

The station, in the midst of the FCC license-renewal process, has been the target of a written complaint sent to the FCC by a group called Concerned Citizens of Lebanon, Doug Neatrour said.

Neatrour said he has yet to see the letter, but he is convinced it and the petition came from the same group of people, some of whom may have worked as volunteers at the station.

The group has no legal grounds to take the station away from its current administration, Neatrour maintained.

"I just wish I knew what was in the letter and why they didn't come to us directly," he said. "We are certainly willing to listen to any constructive criticism."

From the outset, the Neatrours said, they have encouraged local residents to volunteer at the listener-supported station and help guide its growth.

About a month ago, however, many of the volunteers and their radio programs were put on hiatus after the Neatrours required that in addition to just broadcasting shows, the volunteers also assist with the other menial tasks of running a station, including cleaning chores and translating public service announcements into Spanish.

Family and other time commitments prevented anyone from doing that now, according to the Neatrours, so the volunteers were let go.

Currently, the radio station is operating almost around the clock, seven days a week, broadcasting popular Latino music and news reports from a Spanish-language public broadcasting company. But its local programming is limited to just a few shows, including a children's show on Sunday and a Friday night informational program run in cooperation with Hispanic Outreach and the Latino-American Center.

While much of the programming is on hiatus, Doug Neatrour said, he and his wife are taking the time to make some "mid-course corrections" and plan to report more local news in the near future. He also said they welcome the return of volunteers who are willing to make a commitment to the full operation of the station.

"We look forward to getting back good volunteers ... well-rounded people willing to do everything, not just put on a show," he said.

JohnLatimer@LDNews.com

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