Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Rare AM public station to go away...

The FCC Daily Digest today reported Ohio State University has purchased commercial station WWCD-101.1 in Columbus.

OSU (uh, THE OSU) already owns two public radio stations in Columbus, WOSU-820 and WOSU-FM 89.7. Radio World magazine reports the AM station's NPR news/talk format will move to 89.7; 89.7's classical music programming will move to the new 101.1 frequency; and the AM 820 frequency will be sold.

Unlike most public stations, WOSU AM 820 is on "non-reserved" spectrum. The existing license only allows non-commercial operation, but it can be modified to allow commercial broadcasting. The 87.9-91.9 FM spectrum is "reserved" for non-commercial use. For example, WOSU-FM 89.7 could be sold, but the new users could not convert to commercial operation.

WOSU AM is one of a vanishing breed of AM stations launched by the nation's major universities in the early days of broadcasting. The station got its start as WEAO, on 360 meters. (830KHz) It shared time on 570 with commercial station WKBN in Youngstown for awhile, before landing on 820 at the beginning of World War II.

In 1925, 44 major state universities controlled AM stations. (so did dozens of smaller schools, private and religious institutions, city school systems, municipalities, and even the state governments of Wisconsin and Missouri.) Today, only nine - soon to be eight - remain.

For the record, the nine:

- Washington State (KWSU-1250)
- Purdue (WBAA-920)
- Ohio State (WOSU-820)
- Wisconsin (WHA-970)
- Michigan State (WKAR-870)
- Minnesota (KUOM-770)
- Iowa State (WOI-640)
- Illinois (WILL-580)
- Iowa (WSUI-910)

Yes, there are other NPR stations on AM. The vast majority are relatively recent converts.


Unknown said...

Is it just a coincidence that 8 of the 9 stations are Big Ten Schools?

Doug Smith said...

As a Wisconsin alumnus, I hope not!

Seriously I think it's more a Midwest thing than a Big 10 thing. Some of the other ones that survived WWII (but not to this day) include North Dakota (KFJM), Kansas (KFKU), Kansas State (KSAC), South Dakota School of Mines (WCAT), and Oklahoma (WNAD).

I know WHA was justified largely as a source of agricultural information, a link between the state's university and the farmers whose taxes were in large part paying for the station.

I think it may be no coincidence that the strongest stations were in the states where agriculture was most important.

Laurence glavin said...

When I was in the USAF, I was stationed in Spokane, WA for a while. I could pick up KWSU-AM 1250 faintly during the day. A native of New England, I couldn't conceive of a 5,000-watt day-and-night nondirectional operation, but Spokane had two: KHQ, 590 and KXLY, 920. I never bothered to drive down to Pullman to view the KWSU operation, but now I wish I had.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Tom, but only seven of Doug's
listed stations are at the Big 10
(a conference with 12 schools...go
Washington State is in the Pac 10
(a conference with 12 schools...
more figuring); and Iowa State is
in the Big 12 (a conference with
10 schools...still figuring).

Another station that survived WWII
but is no longer around was the University of South Dakota's
KUSD-AM 690khz Vermillion,
South Dakota. It was turned off
about 10 years ago (maybe a few
more) because the land where the
towers were located was used for

USD Grad

More for Doug,
Here is Seattle Wa. there is an
over the air DTV station
broadcasting two 1280x720p programs
in their 19.39mhz bite data stream.
It looks ok, as far as I can tell.

Doug Smith said...

Y'know, something didn't look right about Iowa State....

Have to say, it set off my funny bone the other day, when I saw the sports headline: "Big 10 votes 11-0 to admit Nebraska"....

Yep, I missed KUSD. I don't think it existed yet in 1925, though it must have come into being not too long thereafter.

By 1935 they were on 890, sharing time with commercial station KFNF in southwestern Iowa and the University of Illinois' WILL. Purdue's WBAA was also on the frequency, but only operated during the day. (I have to think WBAA still shared time with WILL, even during the day, as West Lafayette is awfully close to Urbana...)

Regarding the DTV with two 720p's, can I guess that's KOMO channel 4? Apparently ABC has been pushing a 720p sports channel? I suppose with statistical multiplexing, you can make it work...

Anonymous said...

Hi Doug,
To answer the question about who, here in Seattle, is broadcasting two 720p DTV signals on one channel; it is station KMYQ, RF ch. 25, showing My Network on its first channel and rebroadcasting the owner's KCPQ(Fox)on their second channel.