License For WFAB Radio Awarded After Long Battle
CARLOS BRICENO Herald Writer
Eight years after Miami's first Spanish-language radio station was forced off the air and eight years after several groups asked for Federal Communications Commission approval to revive it, the federal agency handed down its verdict.
The long fought-over license of WFAB goes to Community Broadcasting Co., a group headed by Maria Teresa Saldise, Florida Sen. Carrie Meek and Maria Elena Prio de Duran, daughter of Cuba's last elected president -- Carlos Prio-Socarras.
"It's been eight years. I'm exuberant," said Meek. "I can't believe it."
The FCC decision is a disappointment for broadcaster Emilio Milian, an outspoken critic of anti-Castro terrorism who lost his legs when his station wagon was bombed in 1976.
Milian has been trying to control his own radio station since he was fired from his job as news director of WQBA radio. "This is an injustice," he said.
But despite the ruling, Milian vows he "will return to radio . . . somehow."
The scramble for WFAB's license began in 1977, soon after the FCC ordered the station off the air for fraudulently billing advertisers. The station was Milian's biggest competitor when he was news director of WQBA.
William Tricarico, an FCC official in Washington, said the eight-year wait was unusual. "Eight years is an extremely long time," he conceded, but added that the case was peppered with appeals by the four companies vying for the license. Under normal circumstances, it takes the agency about 18 months to reach a decision.
An FCC judge had initially given the license to Milian, but after a review in early 1982 it ruled in favor of one of Milian's competitors. Milian appealed, as did Community Broadcasting. Appeals and counter appeals followed, and according to Tricarico, the latest decision can be appealed as long as it is done by Feb. 25.
"At this point, I don't know if I'll appeal," Milian said. "I've spent about $250,000 of my own money on this."
"I'm very frustrated," he said. "I can't understand why the FCC would give a license to people with no radio experience."
"If the FCC only gave licenses to people with experience," responded Prio de Duran, "that would be very unfair."