Fighting The FCC


Since 2012, WJBE-FM in Knoxville has been owned by Joe Armstrong. Now Armstrong is in jeopardy of losing the station because he did not include, in two license renewal applications with The FCC, that he was convicted of a crime. The Commission does not take that omission lightly.

Armstrong is a former member of the Tennessee General Assembly. reports that prosecutors said Armstrong conspired with his accountant to hide the profit from a cigarette tax stamp hike that Armstrong helped pass when he served in the Tennessee General Assembly from 1988 to 2016. Now, The FCC is questioning his integrity for not including the conviction on the renewals.

Armstrong says The FCC sent him a notice questioning whether he should be allowed to own the radio station due to that conviction. His conviction was in 2016 and he did not disclose it conviction on two applications to renew the WJBE license.

The ABC TV affiliate in Knoxville also interviewed Armstrong. “We’ve never had any complaints on WJBE—not from our vendors, not from our listeners, even not even from our competition. We have an impeccable record with the FCC, and the quality of programming that we do—we’re particularly targeted toward the Black community in Knoxville—until we came on the air did not have access to the airwaves or any media.” Armstrong says he’s being discriminated against because he made a mistake in the past.

Armstrong tells the TV station he appreciates all the community support he’s been getting since the news broke that the FCC is trying to take away his license. “This is about opportunity, this isn’t about Joe Armstrong,” he added. “The most important thing is this station surviving for the next generation.”

The TV station reports that The Institute for Justice is defending Armstrong.


  1. The reason given by the FCC for its use of “character” for determining who may receive or renew a license is “public interest”. Answer this: Who is doing a better job of serving the public interest, a radio station in Knoxville, TN that is the only one serving that city’s black community but whose owner was convicted of a non-violent offense–or a radio station in Liberty, MO whose owner was never convicted of any crimes but who takes money from a hostile country to broadcast that country’s propaganda justifying the bombing of civilian areas and the killing of women and children?

  2. Oh wait he’s a minority owner and this was illegal but it happened a long time ago…wrong is wrong pull the license!

  3. I don’t stop at stop lights anymore because it’s discrimination against employed folks, they are purposely trying to slow us down.
    I also vote for my deceased parents, can’t discriminate against the dead.

  4. Armstrong tried to conceal this information on two renewals. So he broke the law. And now he is playing the victim??
    Yes, this is typical of America in 2022.
    Pull the licenses.
    Maybe next time he will realize that he is not above the law.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here