The column below is a rerun from June 17, 2015. Here is an update since the original post: Cleve Callison says both stations continue to out-perform expectations. I asked Cleve if he could recommend vendors who do this kind of work. Here is Cleve’s advice:
Sure. Our contract engineer, who recommended the equipment and put it all together, is Jobie Sprinkle, Director of Engineering at WFAE in Charlotte (704-549-9306, firstname.lastname@example.org). The engineer who figured out all the FCC stuff (he works with commercial and non-commercial translators) is Tim Warner in Asheville (828-258-1238, email@example.com).
THE ORIGINAL COLUMN
WHQR BRINGS 24/7 CLASSICAL TO WILMINGTON VIA NEW “INSTANT FM STATION”
I received a lot of response to Monday’s column [LINK] about WUFT’s new classical FM station, created by repeating an HD channel on an FM translator. I call these INSTANT FM STATIONS. These are FM stations. HD Radio is mentioned only in the legal ID.
Cleve Callison at WHQR, Wilmington, North Carolina sent me a note saying they have done something similar last September. WHQR debuted Classical HQR at 96.7 FM [LINK]. The listener response so far has been very positive.
TOUGH CHOICES: NPR NEWS OR CLASSICAL
When Callison became GM of WHQR a few years ago the station had the very familiar tension between NPR News and classical music listeners. Ties to classical music are in the DNA of WHQR. Back in the early 1980s, the station founders were fans of the Met Opera. You don’t want to piss these people off. Callison continued WHQR’s dual format until he could find a solution.
Like many other public radio stations, WHQR took CPB’s offer and added an HD2. But, as we all know, HD Radio has not found consumer acceptance. Commitments to CPB for the dough require stations to keep the HD going.
It was impossible to apply for a new FM station. The HD2 channel had almost no listeners. Then, a couple of years ago, WHQR acquired FM translator W244DH – 96.7FM, from a broadcaster located an hour north of Wilmington. Through careful FCC filings, they moved the translator to Wilmington. Here is CLASSICAL 96.7’s coverage area:
THE PROUD DEBUT OF CLASSICAL 96.7
CLASSICAL 96.7 started with a high-profile public event on Tuesday, September 16, 2014. This was the launch of a NEW FM STATION. Callison invited local bigwigs to Throw the Switch:
The response was immediate and very, very positive from Classical and NPR News listeners. At the same moment CLASSICAL 96.7 started, Callison deleted classical hours on WHQR’s primary station at 91.3 FM and added more news.
He hoped classical folks wouldn’t see the smaller coverage area of 96.7 FM as a demotion. This did not happen. Classical listeners love 24/7 music. WHQR had the best fundraising year ever in 2014.
Callison said at launch party:
WHQR was founded in 1980 and went on the air in 1984 thanks to the devoted work of listeners hungry for classical music on the radio. Now that vision will realize its long-cherished dream: a 24-hour classical FM station with [local hosts] Jemila Ericson, Pat Marriott, favorite syndicated programs -- and music, music, music.
ATTENTION SOLE SERVICE STATIONS: YOU CAN DO THIS TOO
Don’t wait. Act now while FM spectrum is available.
Commercial broadcasters and religious noncoms like the Educational Media Foundation are trolling your market right now for HD-to-FM translators for their new INSTANT FM STATIONS.