Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Rhode Island Public Radio

Here's a nice little document you don't see everyday... unless you lived in Providence for the last couple decades. I didn't think anything of it back when I first filed it away, (whenever that was) but now, following substantial engineering and programming changes, it has become a historical document.

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The signal on 1290 first signed on in 1947 as WICE-AM, a Top-40 station that went Portuguese in 1983 as WRCP-AM. But that's ancient history. In 1997 The Foundation for Ocean State Public Radio (FOSPR) was founded to bring public radio to bring public radio to Rhode Island. WRNI first went on air with NPR programming in 1998 as part of the WBUR group. Rhode Island Public Radio (RIPR) didn't come into existence until 2007, prior to that it was known as Ocean State Public Radio as it had been since 1997 as part of that WBUR group.

That was great and all but despite a power increase from  5,00 watts to 10,000 watts WRNI-AM didn't' reach southern Rhode Island. That might sound trivial, but Rhode Island isn't' that big, and Newport is on the southern coast.. the home of the Newport Jazz Festival. As you might imagine, a home-state NPR affiliate might want to fix that. So in in 1999, the WBUR Group bought 1230 WERI-AM in Westerly and changed the calls to WXNI-AM. This document has to have been made after that date because it advertises both frequencies.

The drama went down in 2004. The GM of the WBUR Group, Jane Christo tried to sell WRNI and WXNI. Ocean State Public Radio was not okay with that. The state governor got involved, the state attorney general threatened an investigation, memos got leaked... it was ugly. Christo had to resign. As noted above, in 2007 Rhode Island Public Radio bought the station for 1.9 million and all was forgiven. Later that year RIPR bought 102.7 WAKX in Narragansett Pier, it became WRNI-FM. This FM stick had zero Providence coverage but good southern Rhode Island coverage, so it was used to replace WXNI and they sold 1230 AM in 2007. Since 1230 AM is present on the document but the 102.7 frequency is not... I presume it was printed prior to spring of 2007.

Just to get you up to date.. they began leasing  88.1 WELH from the Wheeler School in 2011. Now with an FM signal in Providence they dropped 1290 AM and brokered that airtime to Latino Public Radio. They're still using the WELH call sign even a year later (which is pretty silly) but they did work out an agreement with 91.5 WCVY a former share time with WRJI, a station that went pirate in 2011 causing interference to everyone including WRNI. More here. Regardless, the affiliate with WCVY pays off in spades because that station has a CP to bump up it's power from 500 watts to 6,000 watts further blanketing the core of the ocean state with more NPR.

So this little schedule has to have been printed between 2000 and  2007. I can't narrow it down more than that. More math is always welcome.

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