Thursday, August 06, 2009

All Sorts Of Followup

It's Followup Thursday, where we provide new information (and speculation!) on items featured here earlier this week...

WITHER 100.3 LORAIN?: After getting word that Radio One is buying translator W262BN/100.3 Lorain for $100,000, we had to learn more.

The first thing we had to do is verify that Edgewater Broadcasting had the translator on the air (it's been licensed since 2007), and if Edgewater was using it to rebroadcast Akron Public Schools AAA non-comm outlet WAPS/91.3 "The Summit" out of listed in FCC records that we found.

Since we had other reasons to be not that terribly far from Lorain, we took the drive over, and can verify that 100.3 was occupied not by the sounds coming out of W262BN's 10 watt translator, but by a very nasty mix of distant signals...most notably, WGYY/100.3 Meadville PA, the Meadville half of the "Froggy 100.3/98.5" combo in that Western PA market.

(The 98.5 half of that simulcast, is obviously not CBS Radio classic rock WNCX out of Cleveland, but rather WGYI out of Oil City PA.)

We presume the waters of Lake Erie were helping deliver the signal from that far away.

Filtering in occasionally on 100.3 in Lorain was an even more distant signal, WCLT from Newark OH, another country outlet. None of it was listenable.

There was no sign of a local 100.3 translator in Lorain, even near the location that is presumably supposed to be the W262BN transmitter site in Sheffield Township.

Of course, long-time OMW contributor Nathan Obral in Avon had similar information, which could have saved us the extra drive up to Lorain - had we checked early enough. Oh, well, we were out that way, anyway.

The question remains - what does Radio One want with a 100.3 translator in Lorain?

It's a question columnist Tom Taylor also asks in his update this morning, and tries to provide some speculative answers:

You’re free to change your plans about what you do with a translator, and presumably W262BN will be repeating something that’s in the Radio One family. At a guess, that would be either talk WERE (1490) or “Praise 1300” WJMO.

Ah, yes, the AM-on-FM Translators!

The procedure regarding them was recently put into writing by the FCC, which has been approving them via special temporary authority, individually, for months.

If we understand the rules right, Radio One could not operate W262BN as an FM translator for WERE or WJMO at its current, licensed site in Lorain.

Lorain is well outside the signal contour for either station, and we believe these translators have to be within the AM's primary signal contour.

There is, as far as we know, nothing preventing Radio One from moving W262BN, with the appropriate paperwork, to the east...within the affected AM station's contour.

It's not a simple process, and if we've been listening to long-time friend and colleague Scott Fybush properly, they'd probably have to nudge it east in two or three separate steps before it lands in their intended broadcast area.

(There's probably at least one frequency change that would be needed, as well, but that's just a guess. We're guessing 100.3 would not be a good choice, say, on Cleveland's East Side. Mr. Fybush is currently on the road somewhere in 115 degree weather in Arizona, but is welcome to check in if he's reading OMW on the road.)

We wouldn't be surprised if this translator eventually ends up somewhere in the immediate Cleveland area, simulcasting one of the two Radio One AM stations within its core coverage area.

If we had to guess, we'd put our bet on the gospel format of "Praise 1300" being the output of what is now W262BN, whenever it finally lands in Cleveland.

But for all that matters, Radio One could also simulcast the WJMO gospel format on an HD2 channel of one of its existing FMs, WZAK/93.1 or WENZ/107.9 (we'd guess WZAK), and use THAT to feed W262BN, wherever it moves.

That would presumably free up the AM contour rules, which would presumably mean that the station "could" remain licensed to Lorain...but we still are making an educated guess that Radio One wants to move it to Cleveland.

Note that since it would be a small translator in a big city, Radio One could not supplant AM 1300 entirely with the new FM signal, if it moves to Cleveland. That has been successfully done in other places ("The Touch" in Harrisburg, etc., which abandoned WTCY/1400 for an HD2-fed translator at 95.3, freeing up 1400 for a sports format).

But, those cities are very small in size compared to Cleveland...and no translator would even come close to replacing the AM signal of either 1300 or 1490...

WIVM PART DEUX: We've gotten a lot of comments about our report Wednesday, where we noted Image Video' RTV affiliate WIVM-LP/52 Canton applying for a new digital home on RF channel 39 - whenever TBN O&O WDLI/17 Canton scoots its digital transmitter to RF channel 49.

And we asked Image Video's Mike Tonges - who indicated to us that the digital version of WIVM would have some extra subchannels - what he wanted to air alongside the current Retro Television Network programming. He writes:

I would hope for possibly America One, AMGTV and maybe a Sportsmen's outdoor type of channel.

Some of our readers are a bit upset about this development - hoping that an open RF channel 39 would have instead have been grabbed by one of the big Cleveland network affiliate stations having problems with VHF reception issues.

That would be the alleged CBS affiliate in the basement of Reserve Square, basically, since Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8 would presumably still have the option to return to RF channel 31 - if they cared about people not being able to view their now only over-air signal.

As of now, our best guess is that they're writing off the OTA crowd entirely, despite the fact that dozens of other stations across the nation, in markets large and small, are trying to fix similar problems at all deliberate speed.

The problems re: the two Cleveland VHF digital stations are not lost on WIVM's Mr. Tonges:

I have not yet appoached WJW or (the alleged CBS affiliate) concerning a dot channel here in Canton, but it might help improve their coverage in this area for over the air viewers.

It would be a noble gesture for viewers, but it wouldn't solve the problem entirely.

WIVM's proposed RF 39 facility would be a pretty decent LPTV signal, and could well reach a number of viewers in parts of Summit and Portage County, particularly to the south and east of Akron.

But it is an LPTV station, and is licensed to Canton. And the Cleveland VHF digital reception problems go as far north as the I-480 corridor in Cuyahoga County itself, not THAT far from the Parma antenna farm.

Take a look at this FCC service area map of the proposed new WIVM facility, and note that signal maps - especially in the digital age - don't necessarily mesh with reality.

And any WIVM-hosted subchannel rebroadcast of either Cleveland station, if it ever happened, would be in standard definition.

Nice idea by Mr. Tonges and Image Video, but the true solution is one the local stations are not yet pursuing. If you're not a cable or satellite viewer, hope you enjoyed watching CBS or Fox out of the Cleveland market while it lasted...


nickdawg said...

I think the ideal, best case situation would be if WIVM could become a real CBS affiliate, similar to how we used to have WEWS Cleveland and WAKC out of Akron. If WIVM could become more than a low power station and increase their coverage area, they could really give WOIO a run for their money, especially if the signal could reach into southern Cuyahoga County and viewers have an easier time getting it. Plus they could always throw on a 6/11 PM Akron-Canton themed newscast, which I'll bet would cream WOIO in the ratings.

Of course that's wishful thinking, but it would be nice if CBS would allow that. I'm really surprised CBS hasn't said or done anything about this. This is a top 20 TV market, we're number 15. Yet we have the CBS affiliate that looks like it belongs in 150+ market. Even WOAC/WRLM has a better signal than CBS. How can they just sit by and let this happen? And even before digital TV, WOIO has never been the best affiliate. They preempt programming for infomercials, the newscast is laughable. And now many people are stuck without the station at all. Doesn't this hurt CBS' ratings?

I've been able to pull it in OTA in Akron, but I have better results with my CECB than with the built in tuner on my HDTV. And even watching CBS HD through TWC I have noticed occasional picture breakup, so even the receiver for the cable company has problems now and then.

Anonymous said...

nickdawg, that sounds like an excellent idea, now only if they would do it! An Akron-Canton based station would kill WOIO.