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.