In this week’s issue… Toronto FM seeks boosters, NAB opposes MaxxCasting – Audacy makes Philly shifts – Another college FM surrenders license – 93Q fills openings
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*On-channel FM boosters were all over the news this past week, in several different contexts that can be confusing not only for outsiders but even for people in the industry trying to make sense of some of the new technologies promising to fill in holes in signal coverage and even to allow some split programming feeds.
The news first, and then we’ll offer some explanation and analysis in our subscribers-only section:
In Toronto, Stingray has been trying hard to make a success out of the combination of variety hits and interactive talk at its “93.5 Today Radio” (CFXJ), but one of the obstacles has been the station’s weak signal compared to its full-market competitors who broadcast from the CN Tower. Wedged in tightly between other co- and adjacent-channel stations in the region, there’s no option for a power increase on CFXJ’s main signal from downtown Toronto – but there are areas in the metro where that signal should be better if not for dense new construction and electrical noise.
Stingray was the first Canadian broadcaster to begin working with MaxxCasting, the US-based company that’s trying to improve booster technology, and last week it submitted an application for two additional 93.5 signals that will be synchronized with the main CFXJ transmitter. In North York, CFXJ-FM-2 would run 285 watts in its main lobe with a tight directional signal aimed north up the Yonge Street corridor from a condo rooftop near Yonge and Steeles, while in Mississauga, CFXJ-FM-1 would be another 285-watt DA signal aimed west down the Highway 403/Eglinton Ave. corridor from a condo rooftop off Hurontario Street.
*In New York City, Univision Radio had tried an earlier generation of on-channel boosters to improve the signal of WQBU (92.7 Garden City), the class A signal for which it had paid a record $60 million in an earlier era of station valuation. While that 92.7 signal is good over much of Queens and Nassau County from its main site right along the Long Island Expressway at the Nassau line, it was a tough catch in denser parts of Manhattan and in southern Queens, leading to the boosters near Penn Station and JFK Airport.
The 92.7 signal changed hands last year from Univision to Family Stations, which changed it to WFME-FM, and last week Family notified the FCC it was cancelling the licenses for those two boosters, leaving the main WFME-FM signal to stand on its own again. WFME-FM-1 had been just a 99-watt signal from Tenth Avenue and W. 33rd Street, while WFME-FM-2 was a directional 1250-watt signal covering a chunk of eastern Brooklyn and southern Queens.
*And on the national level, the NAB offered up a 70-page opposition to MaxxCasting’s “ZoneCasting” proposal, which would allow on-channel boosters to break away from the main transmitter to provide localized advertising, news, weather and traffic information. The NAB filing focused less on the technology behind ZoneCasting and more on the business model, citing high costs that it says would make it economically impractical, as well as raising character issues about Chris Devine, the longtime broadcaster who’s behind MaxxCasting’s parent company, GeoBroadcast Solutions.
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