The judge decided that WJBE’s owner, Joe Armstrong, should not have his broadcast license revoked. That’s despite concerns over an old conviction for something that happened more than a decade ago and years before Armstrong bought and revived the radio station.
“It’s great that the FCC saw the work that we are doing here in Knoxville and the judge saw that we were fulfilling that goal,” WJBE owner Joe Armstrong said.
The letter of revocation sent by the FCC in March 2022 was in connection to a 2008 case, which determined he made a false statement of his income on his tax returns. He was convicted, and served his time on house arrest, paid his fines, completed his community service and has had his civil rights restored. Armstrong says the community is what helped keep the license.
“It was the community output. It was their outreach saying we are going to fight for our station and they did it,” Armstrong said. “We had the support of a staff that stayed here not knowing if they were going to have a job he next day or not.”
Originally founded in 1968 by James Brown, WJBE was on the air for many years until new owners let the station run dark. In 2012, Joe Armstrong bought a separate radio station and changed the call letters to WJBE as a way of honoring what James Brown accomplished.
“They saw that WJBE is an intricate part of the media, an intricate part of Knoxville’s culture because we bring something that no other station in Knoxville brings,” Armstrong said. “We bring perspective from the Black community and also we play R&B music and represent a lot of the faith based entities throughout our community.”
According to the attorney helping Armstrong and WJBE, the verdict is a testament to who Joe is and the importance of the work they do. The hope is that this decision will negate any further attempts to revoke Armstrings license.