Talk radio listeners in Jacksonville recently heard a different tune coming from their speakers this week.
Talk-format radio station 1240-WJNC, heard locally in Jacksonville on the AM dial and simulcast on sister station WTKF-107.1 FM, was experiencing technical difficulties with its signal tower located in Atlantic at 8:54 a.m. on Monday. Station engineers and on-air broadcasters in the Morehead City studio began transmitting the station’s signal over the internet to WJNC using a BARIX system. BARIX is a Switzerland-based communications and control technology company.
Within moments, on-air host Bell Ball, co-host of Morning Daybreak, began receiving calls from Jacksonville listeners informing the 17-year broadcast veteran that instead of his voice they were hearing something else.
“We began getting calls about five minutes to the hour,” Ball said. “Listeners who called us said it sounded like a hip-hop song with repeating the words ‘F-Trump’ and other phrases.”
The station was able terminate the signal and the hacked message at 9:28 a.m. Regular programming resumed on both frequencies at 10:30 a.m., according to Lockwood Phillips, co-owner of the broadcast company.
While this hack is a first for Phillips, several radio stations around the country have experienced similar interruptions in recent weeks with pirate broadcasters filling the airwaves with Los Angeles-based recording artist Nipsey Hussle’s anti-President Donald Trump rap song titled: “FDT.” The Associated Press reports stations throughout the country — including some in South Carolina, Texas, California and Indiana — have been hacked.
WTKF and WJNC broadcast local, community-based, caller driven radio talk shows along with syndicated programming such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Brian Kilmeade. Radio stations are licensed through the Federal Communications Commission. Ball said he attempted to contact the FCC Tuesday morning.
Phone calls to the Washington, D.C. agency’s Office of Media Relations were not returned by press time.