in: News & Features

June 2, 2011

WCRB to Cover RI Area

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WGBH has announced today that beginning in August it will extend the broadcast coverage of its classical music arm, WCRB, through a re-transmission arrangement with WJMF FM 88.7 in Somerset, RI, a service of Bryant University. According to Ben Roe, WGBH/WCRB’s director of classical services, this will allow Providence and its environs, currently one of the US’s largest metropolitan areas without a classical broadcaster, to hear the music again— for 24 hours a day.

While the benefits from this very important announcement will be salutary indeed for Providence, reception deficits will remain in some of the area formerly served by classical services from the powerful WGBH 89.7.

This BMInt map shows the prime coverage area of WCRB, Lowell in grey-green and the expanded signal from WJMF, Somerset, RI, in magenta

Bryant University will begin the transition by turning on its new 1200-watt transmitter, greatly enhancing its reach as compared with their current 250-watt signal. An enthusiastic President Ronald K. Machtley says, “I am thrilled that this collaboration returns classical music broadcasts to Rhode Island while providing our students hands-on opportunities to master leading-edge technologies…”

While details of the deal were not fully disclosed, WGBH took pains in its press release to state that the carriage arrangement was costing the WGBH Foundation nothing. WGBH Chief Operating Officer Ben Godley also said “We’re delighted to be working with Bryant University and its students as they move from over-the-air broadcast to new and emerging digital audio services for their listeners” —though what that seems to mean in part is that the Bryant students will no longer have the experience of programming a conventional FM radio station.

The obvious remaining gaps in coverage prompted BMInt to ask Roe about whether WGBH would be having future announcements of additional transmitter sites. He was mum, but the GBH press release did conclude with a tantalizing and encouraging statement: “In the coming months WGBH will be evaluating call letter options as it considers the new reach of the classical service throughout New England.”

14 Comments

  1. Ben Roe may want to run from the question of Friday and Sunday Tanglewood concerts, but come July 8, he’ll no longer be able to hide. That’s when we all see whether we need to revise our level of giving significantly downward.

    Oh, BTW, it’s nice that the ‘CRB coverage will expand. May further developments bring the signal to a still wider area.

    Comment by Joe Whipple — June 2, 2011 at 11:05 pm

  2. Here are some tools for BMI readers:

    http://www.fmfool.com – it surprisingly accurate circulate the reception in your location.

    http://www.heywhatsthat.com – it gives you the profile of obstacles at your location

    Comment by Romy The Cat — June 3, 2011 at 12:36 pm

  3. So the Providence area is getting classical music courtesy of Bryant University! In the early 1960s, Brown University facilitated the sale of (defunct) WPFM,95.5, to WBRU, where it became, and is, a disc jockey school for the rich. (Where was Brown’s highly vaunted music department when that happened?) That left Rhode Island without a full-time classical station of its own.

    As the university need Lebenstraum, Brown invaded Bryant. Actually they bought the campus. Bryant used the reparations to open a new campus in Smithfield, RI, setting up the situation we have now with WJMF. (Yes, its transmitter is in Smithfield, Rhode Island; Somerset is in Massachusetts, across from Fall River.)

    Providence was without an NPR station for years — until Boston University, NOT Brown, bought the old WICE 1290 AM and turned in into WRNI, which carries essentially the same news/talk programming as WBUR. So, hurray Bryant. And Boston Uniersity, too. It was Brown that took classical music off the air in Rhode Island; now Bryant is putting it back.

    Comment by Tom Gillett — June 4, 2011 at 8:49 am

  4. The coverage map above for WFMF’s construction permit (which BTW expired Friday, June 3rd)is innacurate. The CP calls for a directional antenna that strongly attenuates its signal at 70 degrees easterly azimuth, and 260 degrees northwesterly azimuth…a sort-of hourglass pattern. The new tower (it appears that a tower already exists at this site, possibly a cellular phone tower) is a bit south of the Bryant campus. I wonder how much of Providence, Pawtucket, East Providence and Warwick will get the most oomph (a technical term).

    Comment by Laurence Glavin — June 4, 2011 at 3:14 pm

  5. Here’s a link to a more precise representation of the proposed WJMF signal pattern- note that the prime coverage is only within the red oblate circle. The attenuated areas do not include any metropolitan area except the most eastern parts of Pawtucket.

    http://www.radio-locator.com/cgi-bin/pat?call=WJMF&service=FM&status=C&hours=U

    Enter these coordinates into Google maps and select satellite view to see the new tower: 41.80333, -71.55750 (WJMF-FM)

    Comment by Lee Eiseman — June 4, 2011 at 3:28 pm

  6. The coverage map is interesting. It looks like the signal may reach Taunton and Fall River, but not New Bedford. Great news for listeners in the Providence area, but it does nothing for those who live on Boston’s South Shore. These coverage maps are not always accurate — in part, because they sometimes fail to take into account other nearby stations on the same frequency. The situation on the ground, as it were, could be better or worse than the maps show.

    I wonder if the station will start rebranding itself as “New England’s All Classical.” Springfield, anyone? Pittsfield? Hartford, Connecticut? Portland, Maine?

    Comment by Tom Gillett — June 4, 2011 at 5:32 pm

  7. Bring back the concert network- WBCN, WNCN, WHCN- Is Ben Roe Mitch Hastings’s successor?

    Comment by Lee Eiseman — June 4, 2011 at 6:39 pm

  8. Since this thread is about classical music returning to the FM dial in Providence, you left out PROVIDENCE’S former Concert Network station: WXCN-101.5. The odd thing about WXCN was the fact that its transmitting antenna was atop Jerimoth Hill in Foster, RI, well west of Providence itself. When WCRB bought it to turn it into a rebroadcaster of its Waltham signal, they moved the transmitting facilities to Neutaconkanut Hill in Johnston, RI.

    Comment by Laurence Glavin — June 5, 2011 at 1:42 pm

  9. Lee, for whatever it worth the radio-location web site goes not give a true coverage map. They are VERY far from reality. They also looks like use wrong algorithms to evaluate coverage map. They make assumption based upon the dissipating power and elevation of antenna. They do not look at antenna’s polarization (if it used) and local terrain. They also do not look how much antenna surface of a given station is wasted to broadcast HD-Radio. I am sure that if WCRB would not waste own antennas to do this Moronic HD-Radio then they have room to setup southern directivity on their array and Boston would be well covered even with those 27kW.

    Comment by Romy The Cat — June 5, 2011 at 8:47 pm

  10. Can someone please tell James David Jacobs how to pronounce the names of towns in this area. Wurse-ter was followed today by Nor-Folk and Suff-olk.

    Surely somebody presumed to be bright can figure out how not to sound foolish.

    Comment by Joe Barrie — June 9, 2011 at 7:30 pm

  11. Joe, this kind of stuff happens all the time on the air. On WNCN, New York, announcers referered to the Bruckner expressway in the Bronx as if it were named for Anton Bruckner.

    Comment by tomgillett — June 10, 2011 at 3:40 pm

  12. It’s really shocking to note how little interest that many announcers show in “getting things right”.

    As much as I love WHRB and their often unique classical music programming, the student announcers are often totally inept in attempts to pronounce the names of composers, work titles and performers names. Classic recent goofs include Baritonist, and celloist.

    Surely program directors could spend a few moments and go over the “script”. The lack of such planning shows a disregard for the listening public. A bit of enthusiasm (not the WGBH type)is often contagious.

    Comment by Ed Burke — June 21, 2011 at 8:53 pm

  13. Ed, really, it does irritate you? It does not bother me at all; in fact I even like it. I find is entertaining and fell it gives to WHRB sort of kinky spice. My most beloved thing with WHRB announcers is not mispronunciation ( hey, I mispronounce anything mispronounsable!) but rather the tempi, the poses and texture with witch some of WHRB announcers make thier announces. Some of them are not familiar with the subject of announce and they make poses and intonational inflictions in absolutely wrong part of sentences they read. This is so funny sometimes!

    Comment by Romy The Cat — June 23, 2011 at 9:12 pm

  14. Yes, Romy, while the pronouncing goofs can be very annoying to me…. I agree that at times, the unintended humor verges on the hilarious! This is a great relief from the contnuous fake euphoria of almost all of ‘GBH-TV and a couple of the WCRB announcers. The most important thing is the music and WHRB wins hands down.

    Comment by Ed Burke — June 23, 2011 at 9:56 pm

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