Translator required to participate in hot AM radio trend


In the opinion of many, AM stations have been challenged for some time. Rush Limbaugh had a lot to do with giving them a second lease on life, but more and more AM programming is heading to the FM dial. Sometimes the format goes lock, stock and barrel. Other times, as with WCHL-AM Chapel Hill NC, a translator is used to get on the FM band.

WCHL is owned by Vilcom Interactive Media, and it throws a 5 kW-D, 1 kW-N signal over the Raleigh-Durham market from its perch at 1360 kHz, with the focus definitely on the Durham portion.

It will add a piece of FM turf to that – in the form of W253AZ Creedmoor NC. The translator is located to the northeast of Durham. It is licensed to put out 40 W from 101’ HAAT on 98.5 MHz, and holds a CP to go to 80 W from an antenna at par with the average terrain, a few clicks down the dial at 97.9 MHz.

The station is coming from the late Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University Inc., which will be separating it from its host full-power stations, WVRH-FM Norlina NC.

According to Bob Heymann of Media Services Group, who brokered the deal, the price is an impressive $100K.
Heymann noted the trend to the FM band that has been gaining strength, and said he has been hearing talk, notably in Chicago at the NAB Radio Show, that there may be a growing trend not toward AM to FM, but rather AM to digital. That would require complete abandonment of analog AM service, but would strengthen the quality of the stations there.