A Franken FM Is Born

For some time, we’ve told you to expect a new “radio station” on the FM frequency of 87.7 in Cleveland…dubbed by some industry wags as a “Franken FM”, because it is the byproduct of the audio carrier of analog TV channel 6.

Tonight, Venture Technologies’ WLFM-LP has made that creation a reality.

WLFM-LP is most assuredly testing at this point, and the sounds coming out of 87.7 on the FM radio dial are a collection of historic “fight songs” for the city’s three professional sports teams…vintage tunes like “C’mon Cavs!”, “Indian Fever” and that Browns fight song from the 1970s or so that most Northeast Ohio adults know as well as they know the team.

Throw in Michael Stanley Band’s “My Town” (often used at sporting events locally), and that’s the rotation…all four songs in a continuous loop. (Of course, as the song was playing on 87.7, Michael Stanley was finishing up his afternoon drive shift on CBS Radio classic rock WNCX/98.5, unless he was on vacation this week.)

We consider it more “testing” than “stunting”, because the engineers are clearly making signal adjustments, modulation adjustments and the like. (And to the engineer voicing the legal ID – you need to add “LP” after “WLFM” to make it fully legal…”This is WLFM LP 87.7 Cleveland”, though technically, the 87.7 probably should not be in the middle of the legal ID, either.)

Since this is analog TV channel 6 we’re talking about here, the station has to put out a TV picture.

One reader who managed to drag out an analog TV tuner tells us that there’s a blank screen accompanying the sports fight songs.

The OMW Mobile happened to be in the Cuyahoga Falls/North Akron area when OMW reader Tristan Sanchez alerted us to the WLFM testing.

The signal was good in some spots, nearly not listenable in others, in a drive through Akron’s North Hill neighborhood. An A/B test with Clear Channel alt-rock W256BT/99.1, Cleveland’s other new radio entrant this year, gave a slight edge to “99X”…but that signal is fully launched, and “87.7” is not. We don’t know their operating parameters in this testing phase.

The two signals are not far from each other. W256BT is on the WMJI/105.7-WBNX/55 tower, and WLFM-LP is just down the street sharing tower space with, according to the FCC, WQHS/61 and WDOK/102.1.

Some readers are trying to guess at the station’s future format, with a couple wondering if the sports fight songs will lead to Cleveland’s second FM sports signal, competing with CBS Radio’s WKRK/92.3 “The Fan”.

The only way that happens, of course, is if Good Karma Broadcasting’s Craig Karmazin LMAs the audio signal of WLFM-LP to simulcast one of his AM sports outlets…presumably, putting it on the FM dial just north of “92.3 The Fan”, “ESPN 850” WKNR.

Could that be?

Well, an LMA of the audio signal of a low-power TV station masquerading as a radio station would probably be much closer to being in Mr. Karmazin’s budget range, vs. a full-power FM…even one like Rubber City Radio smooth AC WNWV/107.3 Elyria “The Wave”.

And with Rubber City recently acquiring that signal from Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting, Good Karma was likely not in the running, anyway.

But we’ll very much clarify here: We’ve heard NOTHING that would suggest such a scenario is in the works. The sports team fight songs could be rolling just because they keep the meters moving while the engineers work.

We’ll be listening, either way…or rather, watching and listening…and keep in mind, the FCC’s sunset of analog LPTV is in 2015, giving whatever this station will become just over 3 years as a “radio station”…

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19 Responses to A Franken FM Is Born

  1. Gary Kiser says:

    One would hope a new sports channel will offer outdoor sports (hunting/fishing) in the lineup. 8.1billion a year spent at Lake Erie last year and nary a radio mention. Very curious

    • We’re told that GKB IS pairing an FM with its West Palm Beach sports station. But again, we’ve heard no evidence it’s happening here, on this signal or any other.

    • But if that did happen (GKB LMAing 87.7) it would presumably be a straight WKNR simulcast. Again, we have no evidence at this point that it’s in the works for 87.7 or any FM dial slot. Not even unconfirmed rumors. It just got brought up because of the mix on the air today.

  2. schafe says:

    Getting a perfectly listenable signal (especially for if it ends up with a talk format) in Norwallk

  3. SMF says:

    A simulcast of the very aurally-challenged “KNR2” would make more sense, and this would be a good 3 year stopgap for that signal, while GKB tries to either acquire an FM frequency to move KNR to (and then move KNR2 to 850?!?), or while Karmazin fights for a new tower for KNR2. Of course that’s assuming there’s any truth to the GKB rumors.

  4. Stephen says:

    I am receiving it all the way out in Geneva today.

  5. Gringo says:

    I wonder if this will cause interference to the pirate on 87.9?

  6. Tony James says:

    I have heard that WRBP-FM jamz 101.9 in Youngstown has been sold to EMF.

    https://licensing.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/cdbsmenu.hts?context=25&appn=101503338&formid=314&fac_num=63498

    Legal Name of the Assignee:
    EDUCATIONAL MEDIA FOUNDATION

    Mailing Address
    5700 WEST OAKS BLVD.
    ROCKLIN CA 95765

    Telephone Number (include area code)
    (916)251-1600

    E-Mail Address (if available)
    EFILE@EMFBROADCASTING.COM

  7. Tony James says:

    I also might add that the station had presented a resolution to the station:

    http://www.wytv.com/content/news/local/story/Radio-Station-Honored-By-Youngstown-City-Council/E6tNsfJq602v6EzP-pYb2Q.cspx

    Youngstown City Council took time Wednesday to recognize the city’s number one urban radio station.

    During Wednesday’s meeting, council members presented a resolution to Skip Bednarczyk. He is the market manager for WRBP-JAMZ 101.9 FM.

    The resolution was in recognition of continued success in the urban format, and for keeping the radio station highly rated, profitable and on the air in Youngstown.

    “This type of a format is going away in several markets, but because of the profitability, and the ratings success here, it’s a viable factor in the marketplace,” said Bednarczyk.

    Bednarczyk said listeners can expect more new music, contests and community involvement from JAMZ in the coming weeks and months. They plan to partner with area churches, and put kids to work cleaning up around the city this summer.

  8. Tony James says:

    As of right now it is still playing urban AC at 2:21 PM

  9. Tony James says:

    How ironic that in August the station was planning a bike run:

    http://www.jamz1019.com/2nd-Annual-Tools-for-School-Motorcycle-Run/13384661

    Could there be more to the story?

    What is even more strange is that the website was recently relaunched in the past 2 weeks.

  10. Greg Oen says:

    WLFM could also do a SAP, couldn’t they?

    • Don’t see why not, aside from the possibility that it’ll mess up the analog audio carrier on 87.7. Engineers can weigh in on that. Of course, the SAP wouldn’t show up on the FM band.

  11. Elvis says:

    Well, if anyone cares, the signal reaches at least as far out as Newbury…

  12. Kate says:

    Interesting new FM Cleveland

  13. Kate says:

    Tom Wilson of Cleveland talking to radio people about format

  14. Pingback: 87.7 WLFM Cleveland To Launch With Rock Format

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