About two years ago Maine Public Broadcasting began the effort to establish a second radio service that will offer full-time Classical music. In addition to expanding Classical service, the move allows Maine Public to focus its existing stations on mostly news and information.
|MAINE PUBLIC CLASSICAL CURRENT STATIONS|
Currently Maine Public Classical is available over-the-air to listeners in Portland, Bangor, Waterville and Fryeburg (near the New Hampshire border).
This arrangement cobbles together a group of signals that are adequate but the Classical channel was available only in the state's two largest cities Portland and Bangor. Approximately 600,000 people could hear the Classical channel. Maine has a population of over 1.3 million people.
That will change this fall when a new powerful signal – 96.7 FM licensed Boothbay Harbor – joins Maine Public Classical.
|COVERAGE FOR NEW MAINE CLASSICAL STATION|
Last week Maine Public announced the purchase of WTQX from commercial operator Blueberry Broadcasting for $550,000. WTQX had a Classic rock format.
FCC approval is expected in the fall.
Mark Vogelzang, President of Maine Public, described the coverage 96.7 will bring to Maine:
“This is the sixth station we’ve built or added in the past 18 months. The signal will reach a large part of the coast and interior of Maine. Around 350,000 people live in the ‘mid-coast’ region that includes Brunswick and Bath on the coast in the south, then north and east through Boothbay and up along to near Rockland and Penobscot Bay on the ocean. The area also draws many visitors during the summer.”
Folks in central Maine have been pining for a full-time Classical station since Woody Tanger sold W-Bach, a commercial Classical station, over a decade ago. The new owners of W-Bach dropped Classical music in March 2017.
When 96.7 FM debuts Classical music in the fall, it will join 104.1 FM in Portland, 106.1 FM in Bangor, 93.7 FM in the “down east” area, 99.7 FM in Waterville, and 91.5 FM in Fryeburg.
Maine Public is currently conducting a capital campaign called Charting a Bold Future. A donor (who did not wish to be named) stepped forward with $100,000 lead gift to facilitate the purchase of 96.7.
MAINE PUBLIC NEWS ZOOMS UP IN SPRING RATINGS
Maine Public’s NPR News stations had perhaps their best “book” in history in Spring 2017.
According to Nielsen Audio estimates, news stations in Maine’s three rated markets added almost 50,000 new weekly listeners since Spring 2016, an increase of 16%. The current five Maine Public Classical stations had a dramatic increase in estimated weekly listeners in all three rated markets.
In the Portland area, New Hampshire Public Radio also added a considerable number of new weekly listeners, echoing the strong performance by many NPR News stations nationwide.
Maine Public News was up 22% over Spring 2016 in Bangor.
The new 96.7 FM signal will reach many new listeners in the Augusta area.