Radio stuff

Well, this is interesting…

The station that I do weekends for, 107.3 BBT (WBBT-FM), just filed with the FCC to make a few changes…

  • Move our “Community of License” (“COL”, an FCC legal fiction I’ll get back to) from Powhatan to Chesterfield Courthouse.
  • Move our transmitter from a location across from Westchester Commons to the WWBT-TV tower on Midlothian Turnpike.
  • Increase power from 1400w to 2300w.

Now this won’t happen anytime soon (these requests can take months or years to move through the system), but if we get this as it’s written, we’ll go from putting a signal into a lot of empty space in Goochland and Powhatan to having a real signal that covers all of the core Richmond area.  Eastern Henrico and Eastern Hanover, which have problems picking us up now, would get a solid signal once this is done.

Entirely coincidentally (*wink*), WHAN-AM, currently licensed to Ashland, submitted an application to move their COL to Powhatan at about the same time.

There’s a reason for this.

The FCC is, for reasons unknown to anyone, continuing to maintain the fiction that radio stations serve specific local communities.  Therefore, as the only radio signal licensed to “Powhatan, VA”, WBBT-FM couldn’t change the COL (which then allows for the transmitter move, as transmitters must be located within specific distances of the COL) unless another radio signal was first licensed to Powhatan.  WHAN-AM doesn’t have the same problem (WYFJ-FM is also licensed to Ashland, so Ashland will have a “local” signal even if WHAN’s COL moves).

Interestingly, WBBT’s move could have come sooner if the FCC had ever completed an AM auction that it did in 2004.  At that time, it put a bunch of AM allocations (which are locations where a radio station can be constructed without interfering with other existing stations) across the country up for auction.  The former owner of WBBT, MainQuad Communications, won the allocation for a station at 1570 AM… that would be licensed to Powhatan.  At the time, when MainQuad owned WBBT, I figured that the 1570 license would be used as the “new” Powhatan COL to allow move WBBT to move into Richmond… but the FCC has never granted the construction permit for 1570 AM.  Therefore, it doesn’t count as a station for COL purposes.

Now, I’m not going to speculate on how WBBT got lucky enough to have another station happen to want to move their COL into Powhatan at a time when we wanted to move ours out.  It’s funny how this stuff works out, you know?

I hope it does, it’ll be nice to be talking to all of Metro Richmond on the weekends… 🙂


Author: Rob Hoffmann

Occasional blogger, slightly less occasional improv player/ref/tech, full-time computer techie, radio producer (basketball, mostly), generally nice person (if you ask me).

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