Sometime Tuesday the station’s signal went dark, and the cause has not yet been fully explained. Co-owner John Underwood said he was unable to provide any background on the outage.
However, Greg Detscher, also a co-owner in the radio station, said he discovered the station was no longer broadcasting when he was driving home from work. He said he drove up to the station and found that equipment was missing from the building.
“I had nothing to do with it. I had no idea anything was going on, but the other two partners apparently decided to give up and I wasn’t aware of it,” Detscher said.
Detscher, who owns 50 percent of the NewsTalk Corp., and John and Brandi Underwood, who each own 25 percent of the business, have been involved in a series of legal disputes since mid-2013 focusing on how the station should operate. Following a Sept. 18, 2013, hearing, Bartow County Superior Court Judge D.Scott Smith issued an order on Oct. 1, 2013, stating all the owners had a right to be on the businesses’ premises, that Detscher and his company Clarion Communications had the right to supervise the radio station and that no one would be allowed to remove any property from the premises except for personal property.
Additionally, the order put constraints on who had access to the station’s finances, what would be paid out of the business accounts, that no firearms would be allowed on the premises and that all the involved parties should “maintain peace, civility and professionalism in running the radio station,” among other instructions.
The Underwoods and Detscher returned to court Nov. 6, 2013, for another hearing. Two days later Smith issued a court order naming attorney Marc Clark the receiver for WYXC, effectively giving him control of the station.
“The Receiver shall attempt to salvage NewsTalk Corporation and to operate the broadcast facility in such a manner as to preserve its business and good will in the community, make any decisions that might affect the relationship between NewsTalk Corporation and its Lessor, and conform to all applicable local, state and Federal laws and regulations,” the order reads.
During the Nov. 6 hearing, Smith said he did not wish to appoint a receiver, but he believed there was no other choice.
“There have been a multitude of filings back and forth in this case. And which the Court finds the Court does not have the time to babysit continuing litigation between people who are acting like children,” Smith said in a transcript of the hearing. “So when I find that a party cannot conduct their business in an appropriate way, which I knew would probably happen in this case, although I felt under law and equity it deserved a chance, and it failed miserably, it is time for the Court to exercise it’s [sic] equitable powers.
“... I know that this is a rare opportunity, but I have done this twice before. And both times that I have appointed a receiver, those situations have turned out to be better for everyone involved. In fact, it’s the only thing that saved a couple of corporations that were in big danger of collapsing upon themselves, which I see this corporation doing. I don’t see how any rational decision can be made at this point because of the fifty-fifty split and the difference of opinion between Mr. Detscher and Mr. and Mrs. Underwood. For that reason, the Court feels it has no other choice but to appoint a receiver in this case.”
Clark, Smith explained during the hearing, operated a radio station when he was in college and has knowledge of what is required to run a station. Clark took over operations effective at noon Friday, Nov. 8, 2013.
When asked about the signal going down, Clark said he could not provide any background at that time, citing the situation’s ongoing nature. He hoped there would be a resolution to the situation within the coming weeks.
“Likely in just a meeting between all the parties and the court. I don’t know that there’s going to be a formal hearing, but I think there’s going to be a meeting of all the parties and we’re going to come up with a solution,” Clark said. “The community needs the radio station, I think. I think everybody agrees on that. ... There’s differing opinions on how to bring that radio station back to the market, but we’re going to hopefully resolve that. I don’t think there’s a good guy here. I don’t think there’s a bad guy here. So I just think it’s one of those thing we all need to sit down and get on the [same] page.”
When broadcasting resumed Thursday it did not feature any local content. John Underwood explained a straight satellite feed broadcast does not have any local breaks, live programming or local commercials. As of press time the station was not streaming online. Broadcasts are coming from the 1410 Highway 411, Cartersville, location.
Clark said running a small AM radio station in a market such as Bartow County comes with its own set of challenges.
“It’s tough to run a small town AM radio station. ... You have to remember, this radio station is in the same market as stations like WSB. So when you go out to sell advertising, a regular radio station guy from WSB goes out, pulls the ratings book out, flops it out on the desk and says, ‘Look, we’re No. 1.’ Well, you know, a small town, low-power station — I’m not talking about this station in particular — but any small town radio station in the same market as those people, they don’t have the ability to pull out a ratings book,” he said. “So it’s more about community involvement, things like that. I say all that to say this: it’s a very difficult thing to run a station like that, keep the station viable.”
Earlier this month WYXC won three awards from the Georgia Association of Broadcasters: best short form feature, best live talk show merit award and best radio personality for Berry King.