Readers may recall our coverage in June 2015 [link] about WHQR, Wilmington, North Carolina, adding a second station to provide 24/7 classical music for listeners in the Lower Cape Fear area. With the new station, WHQR's primary signal at 91.7 could provide 24/7 NPR News.
The creation of Wilmington’s new INSTANT FM station was accomplished by acquiring an FM translator to repeat WHQR’s HD-2 signal. “HD Radio” is mentioned only in the legal ID.
Now WHQR is taking it one step further: They acquired another FM translator with more power. It blankets the Wilmington metro. Classical HQR is now on the air at 92.7 FM. The coverage is shown in the map at right.
Classical HQR is also still on the old FM translator at 96.7. That frequency will be phased out over time. The transition to 92.7 was made possible with money from WHQR's emPowering Our Future capital campaign, which has so far raised $1.15 million for the station.
SOLVING THE DUAL FORMAT NPR NEWS VS. CLASSICAL DILEMMA
In 2014 GM Cleve Calliston led an effort to acquire an FM translator, W244DH 96.7FM. Through careful FCC filings, they moved the translator to Wilmington. Classical HQR debuted with a high-profile public event on Tuesday, September 16, 2014. Ever the promoter, Calliston invited local bigwigs to "throw the switch" at a launch party.
Though classical music on 96.7 FM pleased many people, some folks were beyond the coverage area. Enter 92.7 FM, the new home of Classical HQR. The station has several locally produced programs and is deeply involved in the music and arts scenes. Calliston told us how things are going:
Here is a question we ask at pledge time: Which station do you listen to the most often? The results show Classical HQR is gaining listeners:
—55% say they listen to News only
—7% say they listen to Classical only
—38% say they listen to Both
This market hasn’t been surveyed by Arb/Nielsen since 2011. Anecdotally I talk to many people who say they switch back and forth a lot.
Most of what we do is C-24. We’ve spent a lot of time trying to maximize value in the 3 1-minute segments per hour. Each has 1 underwriting credit — not scheduled, but added value for underwriters with significant contracts. Membership continues upward a little bit. Underwriting is up 28% this year so far.
In our case, we felt that classical was kind of in our DNA — And we definitely had listener interest in classical. I think we’ve rolled this out in a good way.
WHQR IS CREATING GOODWILL AND INCREASING ITS PERCEIVED VALUE
It is well known that listeners donate and underwrite what they value. WQHR just doubled its value. They say “money can’t buy love” but classical music touches the heart.
Think of the added value for WHQR that is shown in an editorial in the Wilmington Star News: