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.
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.”