It's been a while since we've spent a lot of time watching the moves of Beacon Broadcasting, the Youngstown/Warren-market based mini-chain coming under the control of Warren steel supply magnate Harold Glunt...but there are some changes to talk about in Glunt Land.
As first tipped on OMW, Beacon's three current AM stations are now simulcasting a locally-originated oldies format, which comes out of the company's WANR/1570 Warren. In fact, it's the very same format, and personalities, that WANR ran solo until this week, while WLOA/1470 Farrell PA was off running jockless oldies on its own as "Wexy 107", along with the occasional presence of WGRP/940 Greenville PA. And of course, this being Beacon Broadcasting, the "Wexy 107" meant nothing other than the frequency of the former owner of the format, WEXC/107.1 Greenville PA, which is now Christian rocker "Freq 107".
You've heard that before, we trust.
Now, all of Beacon's AM Empire is together, all three stations, simulcasting with live air personalities including Johnny Rogers (afternoons) and Ron Leader (middays). In our shot at hearing the format, on Rogers' shift, he still seemed unsure about the new combination, and was getting used to adding the other two stations to 1570's mentions. And the three station combo has new, professionally voiced liners. It'd be nice, however, if they came up with A NAME for it!
Nope, no name here. Instead, it's, and we're Not Making This Up, "1570, 1470 and 940... your Family Friendly Frequencies!" Honest. Each liner started with all three frequencies, and no name for the actual "sum of the parts". Of course, it's interesting to hear the "family friendly" moniker used around songs like "Shake Your Booty" and "Kiss You All Over", but maybe those songs are nearly quaint by 2005 standards?
As for WGRP/940...it must be operating day and night on the station's puny 2 watt night authorization. Since we could not hear 940 in the OMW mobile in the Sharon/Hermitage area, we did drive north into Greenville, and the station didn't start getting listenable until just under 5 miles south of its city of license. And even in Greenville itself, the 940 signal was fighting with all sorts of electrical static, which didn't go away until...about 2 blocks from the transmitting site. (Our eagle eyed contingent did not see what temporary wire setup WGRP may be using, but we didn't have World Champion Tower Hunter Scott Fybush along for this ride. We'll submit pictures to him later.)
The WLOA/1470 version of the new simulcast sounded like it was coming from a moderate quality Internet feed, as it was somewhat muffled, and was roughly 45 seconds behind the "live" feed out of WANR/1570. 1470 and 940 are hooked up directly, so there would be no further delay in that chain. OMW has no idea where either 940 or 1470 is being operated from, as there didn't appear to be a live operator in the station's abandoned-looking building on McCracken Road just south of downtown Greenville...but someone's somewhere, because 1470 and 940 split from the simulcast to run the Pittsburgh Pirates, as 1570 continued in the oldies, automated, we presume at that point of the evening. The split wasn't without audio pain, as we heard a combination of baseball and low-volume oldies on 1470 until the board op heard it at the break...but we are talking about Beacon here, aren't we?
The soon-to-be fourth AM station in Harold Glunt's pocket is WRTK/1540 Niles. At this time, despite his filing to purchase the station from D & E Communications, WRTK is still running its urban-oriented format.
There's no word if WRTK will turn that really long liner into a "Four Family Frequencies" one ("1570, 1470, 940, AND 1540!"), or if the station will bother to add WRTK, WLOA and WGRP to the WANR legal ID. A word of advice to anyone watching from radio studios along Courthouse Square - you'd better fix that one quick, as it can be very costly, and Mr. Glunt has already dropped a chunk of change on the stations. Here, we'll help:
Feel free to print this out and read it into a microphone. Oh, and add "WRTK Niles" if needed. OMW won't charge consultant fees for this one.