Thursday, November 20, 2008

Another Radio Move - Sort Of

When it wasn't even looking, the Toledo market got another country music station recently - sort of.

It's a station that's been there, and been in the format, for some time.

But the recent FCC approval of a new city of license for Tiffin's WCKY-FM/103.7 "103-7 CKY" has apparently emboldened the Clear Channel station to start basically shouting "Toledo!!!" on the air.

Late last month, the FCC approved a new construction permit reallocating 103.7 from Tiffin to Pemberville. We've never heard of Pemberville, either, so we took to a map and found it as a small village/wide-spot-on-the-road east of Bowling Green in far eastern Wood County.

Like another such recently approved construction permit - Clear Channel sister hot AC WKDD/98.1 Munroe Falls - the WCKY-FM CP does not specify new facilities.

Indeed, the new COL of Pemberville is actually outside the projected signal strength measurements usually needed to approve such moves. Clear Channel engineers used the area's flat terrain to prove that the signal - in reality - was actually within the level needed to OK Pemberville as the new COL with the current facilities.

So, though Wood County technically gains a new allocation, WCKY-FM hasn't actually moved anywhere...yet.

But you'd hardly know that on the air.

"103-7 CKY"'s new legal ID jingle proudly proclaims the station as WCKY-FM "Pemberville, Toledo!!!!". Various announcements we heard on the station's Internet stream frequently mention Toledo, though do also mention some other area communities (Bowling Green and Findlay) along with it.

The situation surrounding WCKY-FM is murky, however.

As far as we know, the station is still being operated out of its Findlay studio facilities. (We presume a main studio waiver would be needed to move it up to Superior Street in Toledo, given the whole Pemberville signal strength situation we mentioned above.)

And it's widely believed that WCKY-FM is still on the sales block. The station was "orphaned" when the rest of the Clear Channel Findlay/Tiffin cluster was sold to BAS Broadcasting.

BAS, of course, flipped WPFX/107.7 North Baltimore (still off the air at this writing) to Dan Dudley's Toledo Radio, and is operating WTTF/1600 Tiffin for the next couple of years - before syndicated radio host Doug Stephan takes it over, reportedly to run it as a training operation for students at his alma mater, Tiffin's Heidelberg College.

So, with all this in the wings, why is WCKY-FM "103-7 CKY" blaring out of the speakers as a would-be Toledo station, with a new Wood County COL?

The best guess? It's there to cause Cumulus a little indigestion on behalf of Clear Channel's Toledo cluster.

Simply put, 103.7 can make a minimal effort to shave a few share points off of Cumulus country giant WKKO/99.9 "K100" just by "being there".

Again, WCKY-FM is not being operated out of Toledo, and we don't get the idea that any major assault on "K100" is planned.

But anything the station's mere presence can do to help its sister stations in Toledo - like CC's AC powerhouse WRVF/101.5 "The River" - would certainly be appreciated on Superior Street.

And any "presence" the station gains as a Toledo rimshot (and it's not a bad rimshot) would certainly help the stick's value if and when Clear Channel is able to sell it to another buyer.

The COL change, much like WKDD's COL move from Canton to Munroe Falls, "plants the flag" should any future owner decide to attempt to physically nudge 103.7 closer to Toledo.

As far as we know, former Toledo personality (WVKS/92.5, WTWR/98.3) Johny D is still program director at "103-7 CKY", and is still heard in afternoon least in the current state of affairs for the station...

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