December, 2004 Update
Clear Channel Communications acquired an FM radio tower on less than one acre that gained approval of JeffCo in 1982. The site is a few hundred feet across the Lariat Trail from the Buffalo Bill Museum in Lookout Mountain Park. The historic park and road were established in 1917.
Members of the Antenna Tower Committee of Canyon Area Residents for the Environment (CARE) measured and reported radiation levels from the antennas exceed legal limits. The FCC ordered the company to reduce power. Former County Administrator Ron Holliday permitted Clear Channel to fence the half-acre site from public Open Space land. JeffCo Open Space also permitted access for Clear Channel to remodel the building, tower and antennas expanded service (and radiation) from one station to three stations.
Clear Channel filed for height above average terrain exemption, which the FCC denied based on the objections of CARE and other FM stations that were denied expansion by the FCC due to short spacing of radio signals. Clear Channel lost for now.
Clear Channel gets permanent construction ‘easement’ to expand use of tower 500-feet from popular Western history site
On April 4, 2002, with no public notice, Clear Channel Corporation requested JeffCo Open Space Advisory Committee (OSAC) approval for public land construction and ‘erosion control’ easements. Representatives of the $8 billion enterprise had already influenced Open Space staff with a colorful, bound presentation commiting to donate $70,000 to ‘repair’ erosion on public land adjacent to CCCs 0.2488-acre site. Staff seemed unaware of CCCs intent to add service for three more FM stations and expand the transmitter building.
The 160-foot tower site is adjacent to Windy Saddle Park Open Space Park, 250-feet east of the Lariat Trail, 450-feet from the Pahaska Lodge and 550-feet from Buffalo Bills Grave all listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Clear Channel has not informed the FCC or Colorado and National Historic Preservation officials of proximity to the sites that contribute to the economies of JeffCo, Golden and Denver.
OSAC Chair Greg Stevinson said he is a close friend with a CCC executive and turned the hearing over to Jim Johnson. CCC pitched the ‘donation’ as part of a facility ‘upgrade.’ There was no mention that citizens and neighboring KWGN engineers have questioned legality of the existing building that appears to be partially on public land. JCOS staff accepted the applicants survey without verification by the county surveyor.
At 10:30 pm, CARE attorney Deb Carney informed OSAC of Clear Channels plan to rebuild the required footprint of 800 square feet for a 3-story structure into bedrock. Carney also informed OSAC that CCC intends to operate a generator that produces 90 decibels of sound outside the building. This would be extremely disturbing for 500,000 annual visitors to the Western history site. A construction jackhammer produces 100 decibels.
Citizens who waited patiently from 7 until 10:15 pm to testify in opposition to the Clear Channel proposal were Carney, Plan JeffCo President Margot Zallen, Buffalo Bill Museum director Steve Friesen, Ann Bonnell and Carole Lomond. Jim Johnson interrupted citizen testimony often to argue his belief that ‘People have the right to make a profit regardless of adverse effects.’
Rather than delay the decision to give time for OSAC to learn more and take a field trip to the property, the committee voted 6 to 4 in favor of Clear Channel at 11 pm. Those who voted to deny were Dan Kimball of Wheat Ridge, Kevin Burke of Genesee, Teri Topolnicki of Littleton and alternate Jan Wilkins of Mt. Vernon. Approval was provided by Johnson of Conifer, Ken Morfit of Westminster, Don Eikner of Littleton, John Litz of Lakewood, newly appointed Richard Walter of Arvada and Planning Director Richard Turner.
Full OSAC attendance prevented a NO vote by alternate Wayne Forman of Genesee. Burke and Forman saw the proposal as self serving for Clear Channel and a burden for open space. They especially objected to the permanent construction easement as a dangerous precedent. ‘The erosion problem would not exist without the construction,’ Burke said.
Planned Development zoning does not automatically allow adverse effects on neighboring properties. Jefferson County, Denver and Golden have the power to remove land use that harms their adjacent property. The assessed value of the tower site is $50,102 which provides $896 in real estate taxes.
The initial tower was built in 1966. The first Windy Saddle Park acquisition of 321.6 acres, north and east of the tower, was acquired in 1981 from heirs of former County Commissioner Jack Browne. It was rezoned to Planned Development by County Commissioners Clement, Ferdinandsen and Stanbro for Doubleday Broadcasting in 1983. Ownership changes shifted to Clear Channel with acquisition of Jacor in 1998.
After confirming CARE engineer measurements on Open Space land in 1998, the FCC required the existing transmitter to operate at 39% capacity to comply with public radiation limits in 1999. Clear Channel influence of JeffCo staff began with former County Administrator Ron Holliday who approved a temporary plastic fence around the ‘hot spots’ without public notice. The Grand Prize for Broadcaster Arrogance goes to a CCC-Texas friend of Hollidays who believes broadcasters built the Lariat Trail.
The ‘monopolistic, multimedia empire’ (Westword), ‘King Kong’ (Denver Post), Clear Channel is being investigated by the FCC and Justice Department for ‘tower abuse’ of neighboring properties in Ohio, Fort Collins and California and anti-trust control of performers and the rock concert industry.
Denver CCC disc jockeys were recently cited for dropping a chicken from a 10-story office building and promoting a ‘mudfest’ that damaged wetlands near Boulder. Investigations have uncovered performing artists ‘bullied’ by Clear Channel Entertainment to contract concerts only with them. Artists who chose competitors are said to be blacklisted on Clear Channels 1,200 radio stations in the U. S., including eight in Colorado.
According to Westword (8/23/01) ‘Taking on the EMPIRE,’ Clear Channel also owns hundreds more radio stations in 45 countries, 19 television stations, over 700,000 billboards and related advertising forums. CCE books 26,000 events annually.
CCE controls over 80% of concert bookings at Red Rocks Park, Fiddlers Green, Pepsi Center, CityLights Pavilion, Fillmore Auditorium, Paramount Theatre, Magness Arena and FOX Theatre in Boulder. The company expects to acquire national concert competitor House of Blues.
According to Westword, ‘The company has also earned a reputation for ruthlessness and ethically debatable activities that raise eyebrows and hackles, even among industry veterans who thought theyd seen it all.’
Clear Channel was pioneered by Lowry Mays, a personal Texas friend of ex-president George Bush. Mays turned the company over to his two sons in the 1990s.
‘The Grand Prize for Broadcaster Arrogance goes to a CCC-Texas friend of Hollidays who believes that broadcasters built the Lariat Trail.’