December 14, 2001
Dear Subscriber:

Before our move to Cloudcroft 6 years ago, I worked in radio
for 35 years...most of that time in Lubbock.

After moving to the village, I was often asked by other
villagers if Cloudcroft could ever expect to have its own
radio station. I said no. The village was too small and its
economic base was not large enough to support a station.

Early in the summer of 1997, all that changed.

A friend of mine came to my recording studio on Burro Avenue.
He brought with him a black box about the size of a briefcase.
He told me it was an FM transmitter he had bought through the
internet. He wondered if I would like to check it out.

I had had experience with low-power broadcast transmitters
before...the kind that were of a low enough output so as not to
need a federal license to operate. The ones I had seen were of
low quality and didn't reach very far.

We plugged in the little box and hooked it up to a cassette
machine in my office. I put in an "Urban Cowboy" soundtrack
tape and started it. Then we got in the pickup and tuned to
the right FM frequency. There was Johnny Lee singing "Looking
for Love." The sound was crisp and clear. I put the truck in
gear and said to my friend, "Let's see what this baby will do."
We drove down Highway 82 toward Alamogordo and finally lost the
signal right before the trestle. We drove through town to the
other end and "Hello, Texas" played loud and clear until we
reached the Ruidoso turn-off. This little box would cover the
entire village.

"I think we have something here," I told my friend. "Are you
sure it's legal?"

He showed me the documentation that came with the transmitter.
It looked good to me. We made plans to begin broadcasting on a
full time basis as "Radio Cloudcroft."

We decided the station would be used as an information service
to village visitors. We also sold commercial time to village
businesses. Since our overhead was small (I was the announcer/
manager/engineer/Program Director/janitor), we could sell ads
real cheap. We knew from the get-go that Radio Cloudcroft
wasn't going to make us rich, but we could look forward to the
prospect of having a heckuva good time.

We posted signs at each end of town informing visitors they
could tune to 98.7 FM for Cloudcroft visitor information. I
procured a tall step ladder and mounted it on top of the
Emporium Building on the Boardwalk. On top of the ladder I
mounted the little transmitter. There was no ribbon cutting
ceremony...no advance publicity. We just threw the switch one
morning and started broadcasting.

Thirty seconds of visitor information (where to camp, where to
hike, etc.) was followed by thirty seconds of advertising for a
local business (get your Boxing Alien puppets at Toyline Toy
Store..."). The programming was designed to give the listener
something substantive between the time they drove into the
village and the time they parked, which could be a span of less
than 5 minutes.

I walked into the hardware store one day and Jerry had his radio
behind the counter tuned to Radio Cloudcroft.

"I listen to it all the time," he said.

"Jerry," I said, "you can't listen to it all the time. It's the
same stuff over and over. It's not designed for constant
listening. It'll drive you nuts."

"You listen to what you want to listen to, and I'll listen to
what I want to listen to," he said.

We even broadcasted Cloudcroft Bears home football games that

I asked the high school superintendent if I could use some
space in the press box to broadcast the games.

"Space? What Space? If you can find some room you're welcome
to it."

That first game, I found out what he meant. The press box was
about the size of a walk-in closet. In that closet were the
time keeper, the public address announcer, his spotter, the
scoreboard operator, and me.

We got real close in that box that season.

On January 8th, 1998, a tall gentleman wearing shiny wing-tip
shoes and a three-piece pinstripe suit came into the studio.
He flashed his badge to Peggy and she had a cat. He wanted to
know where the Radio Cloudcroft station owner was. I was at
home. Peggy called me and said, "I think you're in some real

He introduced himself. I can't remember his name, but he was
extremely polite. I knew instinctively that, whoever he was,
I was not going to like what he had to say.

"I'm a field agent with the Federal Communications Commission,"
he said. "We have reason to believe your radio station is
broadcasting at a prohibitively high power. We are authorized
by law to fine you $2000 per day for each day of illegal

Over my broadcast career I had heard stories about FCC
inspectors. I had been told they had a license to kill. I
didn't know how to reply.

"Want a cup of coffee?" I asked.

"Sure," the Fed said.

He explained to me over coffee that the FCC had received an
anonymous written complaint in a letter post-marked Cloudcroft.
He said if there had been no complaint, the commission would
have no reason to act. He said he had been listening to the
station and it was providing a wonderful service to the
community, but it was broadcasting with too much power to
qualify as an unlicensed station. That part about the $2000 a
day fine, he said, was just to scare me. If I quit broadcasting
now, there would be no further action. He said he was required
to take a power measurement 10 feet from the transmitter antenna
in my presence so everything would be on the legal up-and-up.

I thought about the roof where the antenna was. I thought about
the two feet of snow and the 20 mile per hour winds on the roof.
I had to smile.

"You don't have to do that," I said.

"Yessir, I do," he said.

I swallowed the last of my coffee and said "Okie, dokie. Let's

While Secret Agent Man went to his car to get his electronic
gear, I put on my thermal overalls, my snow boots and my thick
stocking cap. He returned woefully underdressed, still wearing
his three piece and wing-tips.

"This way," I said. We went upstairs. I retrieved the greasy
old ladder we used to climb to the roof. I went up the ladder,
opened the roof hatch and crawled out onto the roof.

I peered down at the inspector standing at the bottom of the
ladder in his sissy suit with his 100 pounds of electronic gear
by his side. "This way," I said again.

I'll say this much...this guy was game. He shouldered his big
satchel and struggled up the ladder. On the roof, in the
howling wind and snow, he meticulously measured the proper
distance from the antenna, set up his equipment and began
throwing the proper switches and tweaking the appropriate
dials. His ears were turning blue and his hands were shaking
almost uncontrollably, but duty was more important to him than
hypothermia. He pointed to the dial.

"See. You're broadcasting at 200 percent more power than is

This guy was freezing his bureaucratic rear-end off.

"...and I'm going to have to request you terminate operations."

I have to admit I was having just a little too much fun.
"I would have taken your word for it," I said.

James Bond's sense of humor was growing thin.

"I'm going to have to ask you to terminate," he

"Oh, all right," I said. "Want to borrow by gloves?"

To this day we all wonder who sent that complaint letter. I
don't guess we'll ever know.

When the FCC agent loaded all his gear back into his car, I
handed him a styrofoam cup of coffee and he took it gratefully.
"I hate this," he said. "This village deserves to have a radio
station. I hate to be the one to come along and mess it up for

I suggested he could go back to Washington and tell them he
checked us out and we were as pure as the driven snow, but he
predictably said he couldn't do that.

As he got into his car, he said he next had to check out a
group of reactionaries in South Carolina that were operating an
illegal radio station, broadcasting inflammatory and subversive

"Sounds dangerous," I said.

"It can be," he said. He seemed lost in thought for a second.
Then he said, "Maybe I'll just retire and move to Cloudcroft."

I smiled at him and said "You'd be welcome...but you'd have to
buy some different clothes."

Don Vanlandingham

We are careful not to embellish the weather picture for
Cloudcroft. Disappointed tourists are tourists that don't come

We had a world-class snowfall this past 2 days and it is still
snowing (as I write this):


While it is hard to find lodging in Cloudcroft for the holidays,
it might be prudent to make plans to come to the Sacramentos
after Christmas for snow play. Ski Cloudcroft is scheduled to
open at the end of the month. Cloudcroft has 2 tubing areas
equipped with lifts. 4WD is recommended.

About 8-10 inches on the ground now. Temperatures are between
35 (highs) and 10 (lows).
Otero County Electric Coop put up the Christmas lights on the
big tree beside First National Bank-Cloudcroft this week. With
the recent snowfall, it's really a sight to see.
The Estate is an upscale resale shop featuring high-quality
vintage and estate clothing and accessories for men and women.
The Estate specializes in unique vests and sweaters, evening
and cocktail dresses, Hawaiian shirts and vintage hats.

Friendly, courteous service to all our customers is a priority.
Open Saturdays and Sundays, 11am-5pm. Call us at (505) 682-3900
or email ragdealer@aol.com.
Established by the State Legislature in 1929, the New Mexico
State Library has a unique leadership role among the state's
various libraries: public, school, tribal, academic, and
specialized. See their website.


Q - We understand there has been substantial snowfall in
Cloudcroft in the past few days. Will there be any snow over
spring break?

A - You're asking for a prediction. We'll give you one.

Our past summer was wet. So far our winter has been wet. I'll
say with our past 6 months as an indication, our early spring
will be wet as well. Just a prediction.
December 13-15 -- Mountaintop High School Basketball tournament.
Cloudcroft High School Gym.

December 15 -- Santa Town. Zenith Park, 5-7pm.

December 16 -- Community Cantata. "Do you Hear what I Hear"
Cloudcroft Methodist Church. 4pm.
For more information, call (505) 682-2266.

December 19 -- Posada. Catholic Church. 6pm. Hwy 82 in

December 21 -- Santa Town. Zenith Park, 5-7pm.

December 21 -- Late Night Shopping. 5-7pm.

December 21, 22 -- Cloudcroft Light Opera Company. Free!
For more information, call (505) 682-3317.

December 22 -- Caroling in the Clouds. First Baptist Church.

December 22 -- Santa Town. Zenith Park, 5-7pm.

December 24 -- Christmas Eve Service.
Cloudcroft Methodist Church. 7pm.
For more information, call (505) 682-2266.

December 28 -- Cloudcroft Museum Open House. 6-9pm. Free.

December 31 -- Torch Light Parade. Ski Cloudcroft
For more information, call (505) 682-2733.

January 3 -- Cloudcroft vs Tularosa (BB) Away.

January 11 -- Yesterday: Beatles tribute. Flickinger
Center. Alamogordo. 7:30pm

Cloudcroft Art Society meets the first Sunday of each month,
2-4pm, in the Old Red Brick School House. There will NOT be a
meeting in December or January. The February 3 meeting subject
is "Perspective." Call (505) 682-2494 for more information.

Community Cantata practice meets at the High School Music
Room from 5:30-6:30pm every Tuesday. For more information
call Bob Myers at the high school.

Senior Van from Timberon to Alamogordo leaves the Timberon
Lodge promptly at 8:30am every Tuesday morning.

If you have news of public events in the Cloudcroft area, email

For an online calendar of area events, click the Events Calendar
link in the left column of our home page:


Dear Newsletter:

I thought you might like a couple pictures for the newsletter
readers so they can see what things look like here. The first
one is mid November with the sun shining through the fog and
trees in the afternoon.

The second one is this morning (12/13/01), with the sun just
hitting the top of the frosted trees
Kit Richards


Dear Newsletter:

Howdy from the desert, I've heard that there was a radio
station in Cloudcroft at one time. What happened to it?

Mike Potter
Alamogordo, NM

[Question answered?]

Dear Newsletter:

Don, I have been getting your letter ever since the Sacramento/
Weed fire. Would have been from the beginning, but no one told
me about this marvelous thing!

First of all, I have never written to an editor in my life,
but your letter is so great I just had to thank you! Every
Thursday morning I am more than ready to receive it! Please do
write that book, because I will be the first in line to buy it.

Now, on to today's letter! Please keep us apprised of Tulip
and her adventures. What a miracle kitty she is to have eyes
like that and not have problems or pain! She must be a joy just
to look at. Would love to see her!

We moved to Mayhill almost 13 years ago and have never once
been disappointed! The drive to 'Gordo' and back always amazes
me because it is never the same...always wonders to see. My
husband and I are still small children when the deer and the
wild turkeys cross our property. We always run to watch!

And, last but not least, you are absolutely on the nose with
the people up here! They are the best and most helpful people
of any place we have ever lived! I am so thankful we found our
little slice of Heaven.

Hope this wasn't too long, but I had stored up so much to tell
you! Keep up the wonderful work...can't wait for Thursday....

Marge Barr
Mayhill, NM

Dear Newsletter:

I am a new subscriber to your newsletter. It is just wonderful!

My family lived in Hobbs, New Mexico for a while. My dad was
pastor of one of the Baptist churches there. When I was 9-12
years old, we used to go frequently to Sivells Baptist Camp--
for church camp in the summer. Is it still there? It was so
much fun - staying in the tents up in the mountains, then
coming down in the valley for the worship services, sports
activities, crafts, meals, etc. That cool, fresh, mountain air.
There's just nothing like it! 

We would come up through the Hondo Valley--have some fresh
apples, sometimes some cherry cider. I always looked forward
to seeing the little mountain streams running alongside the
roads. The countryside in and around Cloudcroft offers a sense
of serenity that I haven't found anywhere else. 

I live in Dallas now, and in my mind, I come back frequently to
Cloudcroft and Sivells Baptist Camp. It offers me a sense of
calm as I travel in the hustle and bustle down LBJ Freeway and
Central Expressway in Dallas.

Thank you so much for your newsletter and for triggering warm
memories. I want to come back! 

Steve Carpenter

Dear Newsletter:

You are such a good writer! I subscribed because I usually camp
in Cloudcroft, in Aug. Just thought it'd be nice to keep in
touch with Cloudcroft. Never knew I was going to receive such
a good newsletter.

I live in Lubbock and go to the Cactus and watch your friend
Jane. She's a hoot. I am a foster home for the mentally
handicapped; they especially think that Jane is funny.

Merry Christmas,

Dear Newsletter:

Absolutely beautiful! You either make me laugh or cry with your

I hope you are collecting all these to make them into a book,
because if you are not you are doing the potential readers a

A fan

Dear Newsletter:

Don, I always enjoy your writing abilities no matter what the
subject happens to be.

In your December 7 newsletter, you made mention of the Valley
of Fires. Around twenty years ago, my nine year old son and I
were traveling through and stopped to see the lava flow. We
parked on the south side of the road and walked across the
highway. We walked a short distance into the flow, looked down
at the same time and saw a human footprint in the lava!

We remarked to each other that a poor Indian must have really
had a hot foot. I judged the foot to be around a size 7 or 8
(woman's foot). I have never forgotten that amazing sight.

Carolyn Walker
Colorado City, Texas

Dear Newsletter:

Oh, but you do have a way with words and can really turn a 
phrase. Your story about Oliver at Pearl Harbor was a real
piece of work, and you should be proud!!

Cecile Montz
Carlsbad, New Mexico

Dear Newsletter:

Thanks so much for your moving article about Oliver. He
probably never realized how much his contribution was in the
heat of such a horrific attack. Lots of guys like Oliver never
looked at themselves as any kind of hero; they just wished
they could have done more; Oliver has in my eyes, and I know
has in God's.

Dolan Olson

Dear Newsletter:

This really gave me just a little taste of what life is like
for our military. Please be praying for those who can't shake
the shame of actions not taken, the fear of sleep for dreaming,
the visions and noises of battle cemented in their memories.

I can't begin to fathom what they endured for you and I, as I
can't fathom Christ's sacrifice for us, but I know He knows the
pain they still carry. I believe He is the only one who can
fully understand the price they were asked to pay. And the love
it takes to give your only life for the lives of the many.


Dear Newsletter:

Great piece! Thanks for reminding us.

I often think of the routes taken by my friend Jimmy and me.
Both of us served in Nam. Jimmy was the Marine type: athletic,
gung-ho, with a spirit that lifted him to heights unknown by
most of us. He volunteered for front line duty in country. He
didn't want to watch this thing from the back porch. He
insisted on being in the middle of it.

I was stationed onboard the relative comfort of an aircraft
carrier, assigned the duty of chasing Soviet subs in Tonkin.
"General Quarters" occasionally reminded us that there was a
war going on, but to the best of my remembrance, there was not
a single "incoming" during our patrol duty.

Jimmy, on the other hand, was assigned that front line duty,
was wounded, patched up and returned to his unit for more of
the "hell" of war. But that was exactly where he wanted to be.

The letter from my mother contained a clipping from the "Daily
Sun". The page 2A column banner didn't waste much ink: "Lt James
Carter Killed in Combat".

The rest of the story went on, I suppose, to give Jimmy's
stats. I say "suppose" because I never got beyond the headline.

For several years, I had quite a problem with the fact that
Jimmy paid it all, while I spent my Vietnam duty fairly secure
and comfortable on that floating airfield. It was only when I
realized that Jimmy would have looked me right in the eyes and
insisted that I "get over it", that I "got over it", at least
to a large extent.

My heart goes out to those you mention who can't or couldn't
"get over it.". Yesterday, December 7th, I walked thru the
halls of the Veterans Administration (VA) hospital in Dallas.
Here were men and women who had made significant sacrifices for
their country, and many of them largely forgotten. I have been
wondering how I could help in some small way. After reading
your article, it became clear that simply visiting these
veterans when I can and sharing the bad times might, in some
small way, let them know that they have been forgotten.

I also thought about how so many of us professing Christians
seem to consider our duty fulfilled by listening to a guy speak
from the pulpit once or twice a week. It might be that God is
better served by listening to a guy who had half his face blown
off by a land mine. His message might just do more for our soul!

As I left the hospital yesterday, I noticed a man whom I assumed
by his young age to have been wounded in the gulf war of ten
years ago. He was missing his right leg and struggling as he
learned to walk with the best modern medicine has to offer in
the way of a prosthesis.

I suspect that it was a little easier for me to "get over it"
than him. He is reminded of whatever he is trying to get over
with every step he takes!

Thanks Don, for helping us to "not forget."

Al Cornelius

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Copyright © 2001 Cloudcroft Online
The Travel and Visitor's Guide to Cloudcroft, New Mexico.
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