Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Sharing and simulcasting

With 14,000 radio signals in America, simulcasts are well known but the exception rather than the rule. half a century ago WCAL-AM and KUOM-AM spent a lot of quality time togehter. They split the limited operating hours of an AM dayshare.

On June 1, 1945 WLB-AM changed call letters to KUOM-AM. Due to clear channel restrictions they ran as a daytimer, and split the day with WCAL-AM owned by St. Olaf's college in Northfield, MN. When WCAL acquired an FM license on 89.3 They agreed to cede their portion of the AM operating hours of 770 to KUOM.

But the indie-rock obsessed Radio K, beloved to the Twin Cities only began in 1993. Previous to that 770 ran almost exclusively educational programming, it was even less exciting than WCALs classical programming. The license is owned by the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Today Radio K has two small FM transmitters.

Their first aquisition was 106.5 in St. Louis park, an 8 watt Class D. That went online in April of 2003. then in September of 2005 they talked their way into a 10 watt repeater W264BR on 100.7 in Falcon Heights. While both FM sticks are very small, they both over densely populated downtown neighborhoods. But ultimately to the limited range of the FM signals, the station relies primarily on their old AM signal.

WCAL-AM had begun as a physics experiment in 1918. They ramped up and operated the with the call sign 9YAJ as an experimental station. In 1922 they were assigned the WCAL calls. Like a few other bold broadcasters they began FM experiments in 1948. As noted above they parted ways with KUOM in 1968 for their very own FM stick. In a very clever barter CAL traded their half of 770 for the right to brodacast from land owned by the University of Minnesota.

In 2004 St. Olaf got out of the radio buisness selling off WCAL-FM. In a rare decision based on the best interests of the community and not their wallet; the college sold to Minnesota Public Radio instead of EMF. Today that's KCMP a indie rock/triple A mix format blazing a trail for the future of publuic radio. The station is programmed larelgey by former staff of KUOM.

the WCAL calls went to immediate use in Western PA replacing the WVCS calls on 91.9 here. Thus improving the branding at the student voice of The University of California, Pennsylvania.