ITHACA -- Another new format is on the air in Ithaca -- Saga Communications brings AAA to the market with Wednesday's launch of "98.7 The Vine" (W254BF). As you might have guessed from the call letters, this is Saga's second Ithaca station relying on the combo of a low-power analog FM translator with an HD subchannel of a full-power station.
The translator signal at 98.7, interestingly enough, is still listed with the FCC as being owned by Clear Channel. According to radiotime.com the translator apparently used to bring CC's urban-formatted Power 106.9 (WPHR) into Ithaca. A quick search online didn't turn up anything indicating CC would be selling W254BF to Saga, but we'll go out on a limb and guess CC doesn't have much use for the Ithaca translator anymore, considering WPHR's transmitter recently moved from Cayuga County, much closer to Syracuse. (Maybe there's an LMA, we'll take this opportunity to once again criticize the FCC website for making it a major production to verify such simple things.)
To help "The Vine" stretch across more of the Ithaca market, HD radio listeners can tune in to WYXL-HD3, a subchannel of Saga's AC station, Lite 97.3. You'll recall WYXL-HD2 is in service simulcasting Saga's CHR Hits 103.3, which itself originates from another low power FM translator, W276AO.
Oh yeah, there's more to the story than the translator/HD combo arrangement! A press release from Saga explains their AAA format "has a broader, more diverse playlist than most other formats. Musical selection includes the fringe of mainstream pop and rock as well as many other music genres such as indie-rock, alternative rock, alternative country, jazz, folk, and blues."
But that's not all. GM Susan Johnston says "we’ve got some great local plans for the future including specialty shows and an integration of locally produced music."
The station launched Wednesday at 3:30pm. Saga issued the press release today. The station is kicking off with 30 days of commercial-free music, and if you can't listen on the radio, you can pick up the live stream at www.987thevine.com.