A recent FCC decision fining a station $10,000 for having an unattended main studio provides a good explanation of the staffing requirements for the main studio of broadcast stations. While the fine in this case was evident – FCC inspectors having twice visited the main studio of a station to find no one there, and a representative of the licensee admitting to the FCC that the studio was not regularly manned as the licensee did not know that there was such a requirement – the decision explains the requirements of the FCC’s policies as to main studio staffing. The Commission explains that the FCC requires "meaningful management and staff presence" at the main studio. There must be both management and staff employees at the studio on a regular basis. The decision reminds broadcasters that the management and staff employees need to report to the main studio on a daily basis, use it as their "home base", and spend substantial amounts of time there. While the employees are not "chained to their desks", they must be at the studio regularly.
While the decision does not specifically say so, the Commission has, in the past, said that there should be at least one management and one staff employee who use the studio as their principal place of business. I like to think of it as the place where these employees have their desks, where they stop in every day to look at the pictures of their family that they keep there. While the employees can go out and sell ads, produce programs, or go to Rotary meetings, while one employee is out of the office, another should be in the office, so that there is always a station employee present during normal business hours. So don’t leave that studio unattended, or you’ll risk the kind of punishment that the FCC issued here.