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Local radio station files for federal bankruptcy protection

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In yet another exclusive, Gossip Extra is reporting that 75 employees at James Crystal South Florida and James Crystal Inc. have not been paid since the first of the year, according to Jose Lambiet late Monday.

Owned by Jim Hilliard's James Crystal Radio Group, the stations have also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the hope of reorganization.

According to the bankruptcy filing, the companies list liabilities between $10 million and $50 million. Major players within the South Florida radio market, AM 850 WFTL and AM 640 WMEN can be heard from Key West north to Vero Beach.

WFTL is home to nationally syndicated talk show hosts Michael Savage and Geraldo Rivera in addition to local hosts Rich Stevens and Joyce Kaufman. Sports talk WMEN is home to Sid Rosenberg and Orlando Alzugaray.

"The holder of a $17 million loan managed to freeze the group’s bank accounts, so there’s no cash coming out for things like payroll," General Manager Steve Lapa told the Miami Herald. “Hilliard has been working on the matter every day to try to get it resolved and that so far the employees have only missed one pay period.”

In December, AM 830 WACC – Radio Paz in Hialeah – made an application to the Federal Communications Commission to increase its signal strength from 1 kilowatt to 5 kilowatts. The FCC has notified WFTL they must adjust their pattern or reduce power so they do not cause interference to the Hialeah station.

With an adjustment in coverage pattern, it may be difficult for WFTL to continue its claim that they are a true Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach radio station.

A detailed phone message requesting comment from station management was not returned as of Tuesday afternoon.

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Bill Lewis is principal of William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates, a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity.

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