WPFX Finally Gets “Luckey”
October 12, 2010 2 Comments
A few days ago, we updated you on the future of BAS-operated, Tiffin Broadcasting-owned and Heidelberg University-bound WTTF/1600 Tiffin.
Former sister station WPFX/107.7 North Baltimore, on the other hand, has had a long and complicated adventure in their return to the air. But at long last, the station has arrived at finish line in the suburb of Luckey, Ohio, returning to the air this past Friday as a country station, “107.7 The Wolf.” Whether or not this is a stunt remains to be seen.
A history primer, however, is in order:
Back in December 2007, before Clear Channel relinquished control of WPFX, the station’s former “Fox” classic rock format moved from 107.7 to nearby WBUK/106.3 Ottawa, displacing that station’s “Buck” oldies/classic hits format. (WBUK is today owned by Blanchard River Broadcasting, pairing it with Findlay stations WFIN/1330 and WKXA/100.3. )
One day later, BAS announced the sale of WTTF to radio talk show host Doug Stephan, and WPFX to Toledo Radio LLC, headed by former WRWK/106.5 (WXKR/94.5-HD2 and W265CB/100.7 antecedent) owner Daniel Dudley. The FCC then granted a temporary “Stay Silent” order, which gave Toledo Radio up to six months to acquire an appropriate facility so as to resume broadcasting.
Aside from the occasional week or two that WPFX was reactivated so as to simulcast BAS’ soft AC WFRO/99.1 Fremont (to prevent forfeiture of the license), the signal had largely been quiet since then.
But back in October of 2009, Toledo Radio filed an application to move the station to – where else? – the Toledo area. More specifically, to the southeastern suburb of Luckey, Ohio, turning the 107.7 signal into a class A rim-shot signal.
The major complication with this move has been that WPFX is the only radio station licensed to North Baltimore, invoking the “sole local service” rule. Unless another station applied at the same time to change their COL to North Baltimore, WPFX’s move to Luckey could not take place.
Enter the University of Findlay’s WLFC/88.3 Findlay.
WLFC, which had a modest 155 watt signal that managed to cover all of Finday, saw itself the beneficiary of Toledo Radio, which donated WPFX’s previous transmitter, tower, antenna and land in North Baltimore to the university. This enabled WLFC to upgrade their signal to 4,600 watts, expanding the station’s coverage area to the entire Bowling Green-Findlay-Fostoria area (but aimed away from Toledo in order to protect The University of Toledo’s WUXT/88.3).
As part of the upgrade, WLFC also requested that their COL be re-designated to… North Baltimore.
Meanwhile, WPFX’s new site had already been completed back in early September, with Toledo Radio not only notifying the FCC as such, but also made the request for a Special temporary authority ruling to begin program tests (without commercials) from the new facilities, while WLFC finishes construction at WPFX’s former site.
That request was soundly rejected by the FCC, who said that such a move was unacceptable since it would have left North Baltimore without its “sole local service” in the meantime. (Apparently someone forget to let the FCC know that WPFX has been largely silent since July 2008… leaving North Baltimore without this said local service for well over two years. Oh, that FCC!)
Meanwhile, Dudley quietly began to make some plans for WPFX. Back in September, Radio-Insight noted that Toledo Radio reserved the domain “1077wolf.com” from GoDaddy.com in a list of format flips and possible changes back on Labor Day weekend. (As of this writing, that domain still exists as just a reserved page). The WHOIS data is also available.
That was not a fluke, as WPFX did indeed relaunch as from the Luckey site as “107.7 The Wolf,” sporting a country music format. One day later, WLFC officially signed on from WPFX’s former transmitter site.
If the new country format does turn out to be the future direction for WPFX, they face an uphill battle against the market’s 800 lb. gorilla, venerable Cumulus country WKKO/99.9 – not to mention one-time sister station, Clear Channel country WCKY/103.7 Pemberville – so the odds are stacked somewhat against WPFX from the get-go.
I guess we shall wait and see how WPFX fares as the new “Wolf” in town…