A Franken FM Is Born
June 12, 2012 19 Comments
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”…