MILLINOCKET -- It has been learned that Millinocket's only radio station is losing its lease and being threatened with trespass.
James Talbott, the President of Katahdin Communications, which operates WSYY radio, has received communications from the Law Offices of Dean Beaupain, representing Katahdin Timberlands, LLC, the owners of the property, that the company is unwilling to sell or lease the property on which the station's tower is located beyond June 1, 2005.
A longtime fixture in northern Penobscot County, Northern Country 95 has been Millinocket's "hometown radio station" since it first went on the air in 1963 as WMKR-AM. Millinocket's WMKR on 1240 evolved into today's WSYY(AM). Its sister FM, now WSYY-FM on 94.9, came into being in 1978 as WKTR as a class A on 97.7. The WSYY calls came along in the mid-80s, and the frequency shift to 94.9 and upgrade to 24 kW came in the late 80s. WSYY is now a C2 station operating at 50KW ERP.
Throughout the years, it has brought quality programming to the Katahdin region.
However, in a letter addressed to the station's president on January 12, 2004, the station was threatened with trespass if it continued to occupy its station on State Road, Indian Purchase #3, or its tower, located on Hammond Ridge, Township 1, Range 8.
"In the absence of a new lease or a purchase and sale agreement concering this property, you have no right to continue to occupy it," the letter states, in reference to the radio station.
Katahdin Timberlands has refused to sell or enter into a long term lease agreement with WSYY regarding the property on which its tower sits.
"My client is not interested in selling this property to Katahdin Communications, Inc. My client would discuss leasing this property to you on a short term basis," states the letter from Katahdin Timberlands' attorney, Dean Beaupain.
In the absence of a new lease, the owners and operators of the radio station will be permitted to enter the premises until June 1, 2004, "for the limited purpose of removing the improvements made to the premises during the expired term and the personal property," adding that entry for any other purpose would be a "continuing trespass."
The letter from Dean Beaupain states that that his client (Katahdin Timberlands, LLC) reserves the right to pursue trespass damages, damages for the hold over period, damages for recovery of the premises and the cost of removing abandoned property from the premises.
In a letter addressed to Mary Ellen Talbott, Dean Beaupain, still representing Katahdin Timberlands, states that his client is willing to sell the station lot to Katahdin Communications, but that a closing would have to take place by March 1, 2004. The letter also offers continued discussion on a short term lease of the Hammond Ridge site.
The letter indicates that Katahdin Timberlands is exploring the sale or other use of the Hammond Ridge site, and states that the company will not entertain a long term lease or sale of property on which the tower sits to the radio station, but offers a short term lease expiring June 1, 2005, and also indicates that the lease may be terminated upon 90 days notice if the client (Katahdin Timberlands) enters into a purchase or sale agreement to sell or lease its Hammond Ridge ownership to a third party.
Speaking for Katahdin Communications, James Talbott says that the radio station is not planning to purchase the station site because, without a high tower space with 15-20 miles, it will do them no good. Without the Hammond Ridge site, the AM-FM station could not operate.
Talbott has contacted persons in the governor's office but has thus far been unable to find any help in keeping WSYY on the air.
Although there are speculations, it is not known at this time what is planned for the Hammond Ridge site, or why Katahdin Timberlands would be willing to sell or lease to another third party but not to the radio station.