WOSV, Round 2

Those disappointed with WOSU Public Media’s decision to go all-classical on Mansfield repeater WOSV/91.7 are continuing to express their disappointment on WOSU GM Tom Rieland’s blog.

And despite continued suggestions to try for distant signals, listen online or go get HD Radio equipment to hear NPR programming in Mansfield, gone since the move to rebroadcast WOSU’s “Classical 101” (WOSA/101.1 Grove City) on 91.7, those suggestions aren’t going over well with those used to picking up NPR stalwarts “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered” on a regular FM radio.

One problem is the lack of knowledge about HD Radio in the first place, particularly in the retail market.

That became quite apparent when one area couple, in the blog’s comment section, told the tale of spending nearly $300 for an “HD Radio” that could not receive WOSV’s HD2 signal.

And no wonder, according to our long-time friend and colleague Scott Fybush, known for various ventures including NorthEast Radio Watch and The Radio Journal, but who also works at Rochester NY public broadcaster WXXI…they were misled by not-so-knowledgeable sales people and branding:

In the several years that we’ve been offering HD Radio, we’ve found that retail stores don’t always steer customers in the right direction when it comes to available radios.

It sounds to me like Best Buy gave the Harlows some very bad advice. If they bought the Yamaha “YMC-500 neoHD,” that’s not an HD Radio receiver, which would explain why it wouldn’t tune to 91.7-HD2. The “700 series” doesn’t appear to have HD Radio reception, either…and in any case there’s no need to spend anywhere near $300 (or even more) to get HD Radio reception.

That’s right…that poor Mansfield couple spent $288 on a radio with “HD” in the name that didn’t receive HD Radio. Go figure.

Scott goes on to give several somewhat less expensive alternatives, among those – portable radios and a tuner at Best Buy (Insignia house branded, starting under $60) and Radio Shack (a $50 component tuner under the house Auvio brand), and the well-regarded Sony tuner that can be picked up at most mail-order places for under $100.

Still, those used to hearing NPR programming on their regular radios are not very receptive to buying new equipment to receive what they got all along. (And there’s also the fact that those on the edges of the WOSV signal may not pick up a decodable HD Radio signal, since HD Radio’s digital carrier uses a fraction of the analog power.)

It’s not only Mansfield affected, by the way.

A blog comment from Coshocton tells the same story, with that city’s WOSE/91.1 also turned into a “Classical 101” repeater (and it sounds like the in-town Coshocton translator – W208AT/89.5 – is also running the classical format).

Meanwhile, an NPR listener on the edge of the WOSU-FM/89.7 signal in Knox County expressed her pleasure at the format change, with NPR programming no longer on a scratchy AM signal. (And remember, WOSU Public Media has already stated its intent to flip 820 AM to a new owner, assuming they can sell the thing in today’s depressed station sales market.)

When discussing the situation with Scott Fybush, we kicked around a few alternatives, and Scott lended his considerable technical expertise in making the situation clearer for us.

Scott tells us that the process of moving translators long distances, in “multi-hop” arrangements, has recently become a lot more difficult at the FCC.

While a translator operator was once able to move a facility, light it up very briefly, and move it again (lather, rinse, repeat), there are now waiting periods for such moves.

That means WOSU couldn’t move its Coshocton translator to Mansfield, assuming it was interested in doing so (we are just suggesting, we haven’t heard that’s anything they want to do) in a short period of time. Basically, the translator has to move in steps, with overlapping signal contours each step of the way. With a low-power translator, that would involve a number of steps even between Coshocton and Mansfield.

Besides, as we pointed out, that would remove the option of placing the WOSU-FM news/talk format in Coshocton itself on the in-city fill translator…even if WOSU Public Media wanted to do that (again, it’s just a suggestion on our part).

The nearby translators that might be available for a move to Mansfield are limited.

* Gunther Meisse’s sports WRGM/1440 Ontario OH rebroadcasts on a translator at 97.3 licensed to Crestline, already in the Mansfield area. That was just set up, and we doubt he’d be interested in re-selling it to the WOSU folks.

* Kent State University’s WKSU/89.7 Kent operates a translator in Ashland at 95.7, which provides a local fill-in signal on the western edge of the WKRW/89.3 Wooster signal. We don’t know if WKSU would have any interest in selling it to WOSU – we would guess not. The signal already serves Ashland listeners looking for the flagship NPR drive-time and weekend programming, but as a low-power signal, does not make it to Mansfield.

* Mansfield Christian School’s WVMC/90.1 Mansfield likely has no interest in selling its translator at 91.1 in Ashland, part of its own growing translator network.

And again, we have no indication – right now, at least – that WOSU is looking to do anything more in Mansfield but direct NPR listeners to HD Radio equipment or distant signals. At this point, mounting an FM translator in Mansfield to serve WOSU’s NPR audience is solely our own idea.

We also still don’t know what “technical and programming issues” would prevent WOSU from simulcasting only NPR’s “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered” on WOSV. As far as the technical end is concerned, the NPR feed is already in Mansfield on WOSV-HD2.

By the way, our own earlier blog entry is linked in the comments to WOSU general manager Tom Rieland’s blog entry (and this one will presumably be linked as well).

That wasn’t on purpose on our part…the entry was an automatic “track back” entry triggered by our link to the WOSU blog here…


6 Responses to WOSV, Round 2

  1. Tim Lones says:

    The “in-town” Coshocton WOSE Translator on 89.5 should be history soon, as full-power WHVY-Coshocton, being put on the air by Harvest Baptist Temple of Clyde, Ohio, is scheduled to begin testing very soon..

  2. Ed Thomas says:

    I’ve had good luck with the inexpensive JVC KT-HDP1 HD tuner. Going for around 25 bucks it’s about the size of a pack of cigarettes (external 12 volt supply needed)… Seems to have good sensitivity and selectivity, it has ended the problem I had with WCRF’s 90.5 MHz repeater in Millersburg splattering NPR’s 90.3 WCPN in Cleveland… -Ed

  3. Yekimi says:

    I am beginning to get the feeling that NPR stations are becoming infected with Clear Channelitis. If not stopped, it could be fatal.

  4. Tim Lones says:

    It seems to me that 90.5 in Millersburg and Coshocton would never work..They would be too close..WHVY’s parent station, WHVT in Clyde, is 90.5 FM and also has a low-power translator in Findlay at 94.1..Here is an news item The Christian Radio Homepage about WHVY-89.5

    “New Christian station, WHVY/Coshocton, Ohio is expected to go on the air at 89.5 FM with 5kw around the first of the year, according to Brian Benedict, WHVY operations manager. “It’s just amazing the number of people out there who are looking for something different, something encouraging, positive or relaxing,” Benedict said. WHVY will be part of the Clean Air Radio Network which also operates WHVT/Clyde (90.5 FM in northwestern Ohio). WHVT programming includes old gospel hymns, or traditional sacred music, bluegrass gospel and southern gospel, combined with teaching, preaching and news. Benedict said the station has the potential to reach about 200,000 people north to the Canton area and south to the Fallsburg area. The directors with WHVT learned about three years ago the FCC would open up a window of opportunity for non-commercial stations to apply for broadcast frequencies. Their website is http://www.cleanair.fm“. (10/25)

    Back to the topic at hand, I would think WOSU should be able to do something to get NPR in Mansfield..

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