Ellinger Remembers Sen. Lloyd Bentsen

RECEIVED Wed., May 24, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I will always be grateful for when Sen. Lloyd Bentsen's office called the FCC to "express interest" in modifying the so-called "Wolfman Jack" Treaty (the radio treaty that essentially ended the legendary superpowered border blasters) on my behalf. This was the first-ever modification of the treaty, and it allowed my application for 91.7FM, the "last noncommercial license for Austin" to proceed. Without Bentsen's support at a critical juncture the FCC surely would have rejected my application a second, and final, time.
    During that era, the only way to get a license waiver for a new station not allocated to broadcast within the 199-mile border-buffer zone, was to apply to the Mexican government ... and that required a briefcase full of Benjamins.
    Ultimately, after 11 long years of effort, the 91.7FM spot on the Austin dial was filled with not one but two new stations: KVRX student radio from UT, and KOOP radio, which I intended to be “an experiment in applying democracy to a media outlet ... a co-op!” Of course, I was thrown off the Austin airwaves on July 16, 1999, for not doing a station ID (funny, it's on the tape) and not contributing enough volunteer hours (“No, his 11 years of work putting the station on the air apparently didn't count,” the Chronicle wryly noted at the time), by then-GM Marcelo Tafoya.
    So, thank you Lloyd Bentsen, "long one of the wise old men of the Democratic Party"! You helped so many! Many who do not even know all you did for them ... and, tragically, a few who do not even care.
Jim Ellinger
Austin Airwaves
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