Text and photos by SCOTT FYBUSH
Where’s a better place to be on the July Fourth weekend than the Jersey Shore? It’s as all-American as it gets…and it’s probably more fun there on a hot July weekend than on a frigid weekday in November.
Be that as it may, November was when we had a chance to spend some time seeing the sites – and now we get to share them with you here on Site of the Week.
This installment begins just north of the Absecon Boulevard (US 30) bridge, where the grounds around the Atlantic City wastewater plant aren’t exactly a big tourist attraction unless you’re looking to see some broadcasting going on.
There are two tower sites adjoining the water plant: along the access road that leads in from the south, a 384-foot guyed tower is home to Townsquare’s WFPG-FM (96.9 Atlantic City), WPUR (107.3 Atlantic City) and WPGG (1450 Atlantic City); to the north, a self-supporting 371-footer is the home of Equity’s WAYV (95.1 Atlantic City).
WFPG, WPUR and WPGG are tucked tightly into a squat stucco building that replaced the old WFPG/WFPG-TV building across US 30 (now WMID) that we showed you last week. WPGG is the old WFPG(AM), and it shares a transmitter room with WFPG-FM’s shiny new Nautel. WPUR came along later, having moved from the casino roof where it started in the 1990s (and where there’s still an aux site); it’s in an adjoining room that also houses the local NOAA Weather Radio transmitter.
WAYV, by contrast, has lots of room in its facility over at the American Tower-owned site next to the water plant.
That’s because this was originally built to house independent TV station WWAC (Channel 53), which had its transmitter here from its start in the 1980s until the DTV era found it relocating closer to Philadelphia, where it’s now known as WMCN on channel 44.
That’s a long-serving BE transmitter at left, and an even older “Sintronics” (aka Singer, aka CCA) aux next to it. Family Stations also had a translator on 90.5 at this site when it owned WKDN-FM (106.9 Camden), but that signal was silent when we visited.
After lunch, we head out to see the one of the two outlying sites in the Townsquare portfolio. WSJO (104.9 Egg Harbor City) now does AC as “Sojo 104.9,” but in years gone by it was easy listening WRDR and then spent some time in Spanish as WEMG-FM. Its tidy transmitter site is about 15 miles west of the rest of the Atlantic City sites.
Townsquare’s studios take up much of the second floor of an office building on Tilton Road in suburban Northfield, just off US 9 a couple of miles north of the WMGM facility that kicked off our Atlantic City trip.
The studios here are all lined up along a curving corridor: WPUR is “Cat Country 107.3,” anchoring one end of the complex next door to WENJ, “ESPN 97.3,” the one Townsquare signal that’s a little too far out for us to visit this time.
The 1450 signal, which spent some time relaying talker WKXW-FM from Trenton, has been revived as a local station, “WPG Talk Radio,” using the three-letter branding of what was Atlantic City’s oldest radio station back in the 1920s. (The original WPG eventually got absorbed into New York’s WOV and is an ancestor of today’s WBBR 1130.)
The studio layouts are similar down the hall at “Sojo” and at its softer AC sister, “Lite Rock 96.9” WFPG-FM.
There’s a rack room here that will also house an auxiliary FM facility for the local FMs – and another surprise waiting downstairs, where a small office suite on the ground floor is home to the mostly-automated operations of a fairly new religious broadcaster, WJPH (89.9 Woodbine)/WJPG (88.1 Cape May Court House).
Thanks to Tom McNally for the tours!
The 2020 Tower Site Calendar will soon be off the press, but you don’t have to wait to order it.
For the month of September, you can order your copy in advance for 20% off the regular price.
Note to our regular buyers (and our irregular buyers — we love every one of you): This is not this year’s cover, as this year’s calendar is still in production. We promise the real cover will be just as beautiful, if not more.
Visit our store to buy the new calendar and check out our other products.
And don’t miss a big batch of south Jersey IDs next Wednesday, over at our sister site, TopHour.com!
Next week: San Francisco, 2014