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. Knownews.com 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.