UTICA/ROME -- Several months after new owners took over WRUY 1450 in Rome, the station remains silent. The FCC originally issued a mid-January deadline for the station to resume broadcasting, but days before the deadline, the Commission approved a request to push the deadline out a few more months.
From the "better late than never" file, WRUY was due to resume broadcasting on January 14... but four days prior to the deadline, California-based owner Tune In Broadcasting filed a "Request to Extend STA" (special temporary authority). On February 1, the FCC approved the request, but made it clear there won't be any more extensions. In its approval letter, the Commission warned, "the broadcast license for Station WRUY(AM) will automatically expire as a matter of law if broadcast operations do not commence by 12:01 a.m., May 7, 2012."
That date isn't arbitrary -- May 7 will be one year since Tune In Broadcasting closed on its $90,000 purchase of the station from Bible Broadcasting Network. Federal law prohibits stations from staying dark for more than one full year.
As a CNYRadio.com reader asked in October, when we first looked at WRUY's prolonged silence, "what’s the sense of buying radio stations only to leave them silent?"
If you missed the earlier story, it turns out there's a reasonable explanation. Prior to the sale, WRUY was known as WYFY, and it was owned by Bible Broadcasting Network. Because the North Carolina-based owner operated WYFY as a non-commercial station, it had a waiver from the FCC's usual requirement for stations to maintain a main studio.
When the station was sold to Tune In Broadcasting, it was flipped back to commercial status -- but without a studio to satisfy the FCC's requirement, the station was no longer legal to broadcast.
Both last May and again this January, TIB said it requested the permission to remain silent "while it searches for a new studio location and completes construction." In neither application, however, did TIB provide any indication as to what kind of progress is being made on those fronts. (Such information is not required.)
Longtime radio employees and/or observers in the market may remember that there used to be a full building with studios and offices on South Jay Street in Rome. That was back in the 80s and 90s, when the AM was paired with 96.1FM. For a short time, the combo was WFRG AM and FM, with 1450AM simulcasting what was then known as 96 Frog.
That building was demolished years ago, as BBN had no need for it -- only satellite dishes to bring in the network feed, and a transmitter and tower to relay the programming over the air locally.
It will be interesting to see what the new owners do with this station and frequency. Garnering enough revenue might also be interesting as local business dollars to advertise on such a weak signal station may be few and far between. Most Rome businesses are stretched now on larger audience stations
Sad to see the building gone too. I remember bothering everyone at the old WKAL when I was a teen. Then after college working full time there from the mid to late 70's, then again from 1982 through 1990, even during the change over to FROG. Plenty of memories with that AM station and the 96.1 simulcast.
Maybe if they can do top notch community programming, they can survive. I do know that the 1450 channel is a local channel and it's fairly clear and can be picked up for a good 20 to 25 miles. But from near sunset until sunrise, it's terrible. Lucky if you can pick it up more than 5 miles. That's because many years ago, most stations on 1450 had to reduce power to 250 watts. Even at that low power, you could pick up the station about 10 to 15 miles at night because there wasn't a lot of interference from other stations on 1450. Then, someone had a brainstorm to let all 1450 stations remain at 1,000 watts day and night, but accept each others interference. Well, that wasn't a smart move, because with everyone accepting each others interference, the 1,000 watt signal now only goes about 5 miles at night clearly, versus 10 to 15 miles at night on 250 watts with no interference from one another.
I too remember WKAL from long ago. So all you PDs out there, what format makes cents for this station today?
with today's ways to feed signals around, just what do they need for a studio? Rome isn't dead but I'm sure there's no shortage of vacant space to rent. Then give a call to Hank Brown, since WKAJ is dead in the water, and you're good to go.