wedx-bullonlyBy SCOTT FYBUSH

When Clear Channel acquired Qantum’s Cape Cod stations as part of a bigger northeast station swap, we suspected there might be a move afoot to rearrange a chunk of the FM dial in eastern New England – and sure enough, that’s just what Clear Channel has planned.

In a set of interlinked applications filed Tuesday, Clear Channel outlined its plans to upgrade its Boston country upstart, WBWL (101.7 Lynn), by downgrading two other stations, most notably WWBB (101.5 Providence). One of just four class B signals in Providence, WWBB will leave its longtime transmitter site on the old WNAC-TV tower in Rehoboth, Massachusetts and relocate to one of the towers of Clear Channel’s WHJJ (920) in East Providence. Even more dramatically, it will drop all the way to a class A signal, running just 4.9 kW/361′ with a directional notch to protect WBWL to the north.

On Cape Cod, WCIB (101.9 Falmouth) will stay at its present site and remain a class B, but will drop to 13 kW from its present 50 kW, with a sharp directional notch toward WBWL.

So what does “The Bull” (which just pulled in a very impressive 2.6 12+ rating in its debut PPM appearance) get for all of that? Less than you might imagine – it remains a class A signal from its perch atop One Financial Center in downtown Boston, but gets to go non-directional, significantly improving its coverage south of Boston at the considerable expense of WWBB.

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  1. To nitpick: Providence has seven Class B’s, not four: WVEI-FM, WWBB, WWLI, WHJY, WBRU, WCTY and WJFD. The latter two are in New Bedford, which is part of the Providence market…and both can clearly be heard over the Providence area proper, too.

    To engage in a little raw speculation: One of WBWL’s greatest limiting factors is IF frequency separation from WBUR’s 90.9 in Newton/Needham. They’re already short-spaced at OFC, and OFC has very little room for a bigger transmitter anyways. Looks like most of the major tower sites in the region are also too close…but there’s one that’s far enough away from WBUR to allow WBWL to bump up to Class B1: the old WFNX tower in Malden/Medford, next to Malden Hospital.

    The irony.

    I don’t know what the other separations from the old WFNX tower would entail for a B1 on 101.7, but it would be interesting to see if it could be done. Even from up in Malden with lower height, getting up to 25,000 watts would be an impressive signal.

  2. transmitter is not a problem, there are two Harris Z-5 CD transmitters on site, the one in use at any time is only running 1200 watts out. Plenty of juice to get the signal up to a B-1 if it were possible

  3. I was mistaken, then – I had heard that space was so tight at OFC that then-WFNX couldn’t get a backup transmitter in there when they first moved in. Although these days, a 4000w TPO transmitter can take up a measly 8RU, too.

    Either way, though, it’s impossible for 101.7 to increase from A to B1 while at OFC. They’re too close to WBUR for I.F. spacing.

    One thing that just occurred to me, though, I wonder if Clear Channel would move the main WBWL signal somewhere relatively far outside of town, and make the OFC facility into a high-wattage on-channel booster? You can do some remarkable things with boosters these days; I know Harris (well, I guess that’s GatesAir now) has a device that can use OTA-received FM signal and use it to feed the booster’s exciter, thus providing perfect synchronization…that goes a long way to reducing self-interference.

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