The Back-Door Boogie

Jack Hannold sent along this post from Tom Taylor’s newsletter, further testimony to the consolidators’ plans to circumvent FCC rules and monetize their woebegone HD channels (reported on here):

Cumulus finds an FM translator to buy near Kalamazoo, and it’s yet another spin by San Diego-based religious broadcaster Horizon Christian Fellowship. The name of the translator indicates that it’s in non-commercial territory, at 91.7. But translators have a much easier time moving around the dial, and this one, W219DA, will be at 103.5 when it returns to the air. (There’s a “minor modification” being filed at the FCC for the currently-silent signal.) Cumulus says it will be a fill-in for the signal of rock WRKR, Portage at 107.7. But the filing makes it clear that what the translator will really do is re-broadcast the HD-2 signal of WRKR, not its main format. Cumulus, which has been very savvy about its use of translators in markets big (Atlanta) and small (Kalamazoo), is paying Horizon $12,500 [emphasis added].

FCC rules limit the number of stations a company can broadcast in a given market, but the use of translators gives them a work-around — with a wink and a nod from the lapdog FCC. This not only allows them to broadcast a completely new channel — translators were designed to allow a station to broaden the reach of existing channels, and this obviously is different content. It also positions the formerly unheard HD channel where it can be picked up by Arbitron Purple People Meters, and thus making it more attractive to advertisers (who’ve stayed away in droves).

If this practice is accepted by the FCC and expanded upon by the big dogs, look for “public” radio stations that have mortgaged their futures on HD channels to follow suit, trying desperately for some kind of return on investment from the heretofore worthless channels filled with homogenized hogwash.

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One Response

  1. Of course, the FCC gives iBiquity carte blanche to feed translators, and even allows IBOC to jam other stations within their protected contours. One thing that could eventually work against HD2s feeding translators is that IBOC is a maintenance nightmare, a power-hog, and can be down for weeks or months at a time. A very expensive proposition all around.

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