As we suspected would happen one day, Northeast Ohio's first HD Radio simulcast of an AM talk station is now up.
Clear Channel talk WHLO/640 Akron can now be heard on the HD2 channel of sister* rock WRQK/106.9 Canton.
The move was made possible by the HD Radio Alliance's recent decision to allow commercial radio formats on HD2 side channels. The group, which counts Clear Channel as a member, had previously agreed not to run commercial feeds on those side channels.
The policy change by the group is one reason stations are able to create those new FM translator-based feeds of HD2 subchannels, like Ithaca NY CHR outlet "Hits 103.3" or Harrisburg PA urban AC "The Touch 95.3".
Both translators at those frequencies are simulcasting the FM HD2 feed of full-power commercial stations in the market. (The Harrisburg station started life as one of those temporarily-authorized FM translator refeeds of the market's AM 1400, the original home of the urban AC format, but owner Cumulus flipped that station to sports.)
The Akron/Canton markets are not compact enough - even separately - for an FM translator to have much impact, in case an operator here tried to do the same.
WHLO's simulcast on WRQK HD2 is not the first such in Ohio. We're reminded that Clear Channel sister talker WTVN/610 is also heard on an HD Radio side channel of AC WLZT/93.3.
* - We reported earlier that technically, WRQK is still owned by Cumulus, with the big two-state swap announced between the two companies not yet having been completed. But Clear Channel has been operating WRQK in an LMA since 2007...