Top Ten Stories of 2015
By SCOTT FYBUSH
It’s time once again for our Year in Review, the 22nd time we’ve gathered up our headlines from the previous 12 months and tried to sum it all up for you. Year in Review installments will appear daily all week (including a bonus edition tomorrow!) so check back every day for a new installment! We’ll resume our regular NorthEast Radio Watch report on Monday, January 4, 2015, and Tower Site of the Week is back Friday, Jan. 8 to ring in the New Year. (And in the meantime, our own Twitter and Facebook feeds and RadioInsight will be here with any breaking news!)
In today’s installment, we tackle what were (in our own highly-colored opinion) the ten most interesting stories from the year that’s ending. Come on along for the ride!
1. Translators get hot
2015 was a big year for little signals on the FM dial. The second round of low-power FM signals granted in 2014 began to hit the air in earnest all over the region, split about 50/50 between religious broadcasters and grassroots community groups. Still more of the 2014 permittees will hit the airwaves in 2016 after extending their construction permits.
Those LPFMs have lots of competition for scarce dial space, though, thanks to FCC policies that have created a massive boom in FM translators. These small signals – 250 watts at most – were originally meant to bring FM service to remote, underserved communities. But recent years saw the rise of the “satellator,” fed from hundreds or thousands of miles away by religious networks, and then the “metro signal,” as Saga calls its urban translators fed from FM HD subchannels.
After years of pressing, 2015 turned out to be AM broadcasters’ big year for translators. The FCC had already begun allowing AM stations to use existing translators in their hometowns or moving the signals in from nearby locations. Then came the surprise announcement around the Radio Show in Atlanta that the Commission was seriously contemplating a window that would allow AM stations to move one translator each from as far away as 250 miles. And then came the actual announcement of the window, which will open January 16 and run in two phases through most of 2016.
Will the addition of more translators save AM? Or will it just save AM owners while continuing to funnel listeners away from the senior band? Who’ll profit from selling translators to be moved, and who’ll end up spending too much? We’ll be following this story closely throughout 2016.
(And we’ll also be assisting broadcasters in taking advantage of the opportunities to buy, sell and move signals; contact Fybush Media to find out how our consulting services can help you!)
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