Updated 3/18 at 7:00pm -- UTICA-ROME -- It may not be a surprise to local prognosticators, but it's now official: 100.7 WRCK is now simulcasting the hybrid news/talk/music format originally branded as "95.5 WUTQ." WRCK's new owner, Utica-based Roser Communications Network, has already applied to change WRCK's call sign to WUTQ-FM.
According to FCC records, the $425,000 sale of WRCK to Roser, first announced in November, closed on Tuesday, March 13. The call sign change request was filed on March 16. (Thanks to our friends at RadioInsight.com for catching this for us. It's been a busy weekend for your editor off-site, which is why this story, originally very short and simple on Friday evening right after the sign-on, is only now being updated on Sunday afternoon.)
Earlier this month, former WRCK owner EMF started telling listeners that WRCK would be going "off the air" soon, and fans of the syndicated "Air1" Christian rock format should change their presets to EMF sister station WOKR 93.5, also an Air1 affiliate. At first, we questioned the announcement's claim that WRCK would be going off-air, but the station literally did sign-off for a few days, around the time EMF handed the keys over to Roser.
According to a reliable CNYRadio.com reader in the area, WRCK returned to the airwaves at 6:00pm Friday. Another reader said the station was off-air again just a few hours later, but your editor can confirm first-hand reception of the 100.7FM signal on Saturday night.
Also new: WUTQ's logo now includes the 100.7 frequency, and the frequency-specific 955wutq.com web domain now redirects to wutqfm.com. Technically, 95.5 could not be officially called "WUTQ-FM" because it is not a full-power FM station, but rather a translator, identified as call sign W238CA. As per FCC regulations, a translator can only simulcast programming from another station -- in this case, WUTQ 1550AM and WADR 1480AM.
As for the WRCK calls -- which have been in Utica since 1981, Roser has filed to reassign those calls elsewhere in the company. The FCC Call Sign database query site doesn't indicate which station will get them, but at least they'll stay in the area. (If Roser didn't keep the WRCK calls, you can bet many rock stations across the eastern U.S. would be applying to snap them up.)
Added 3/18 at 7:00pm -- In our earlier report, we mistakenly said the WRCK call letters and the former Rock 107 came about at the same time, in 1981. Bryan Richards wrote in with a correction -- the format was launched first, and the call letters came a few years later:
Rock 107 debuted in late 1978 or early 1979 on 107.3 with 50k from a studio in a converted closet just off the lobby in the WTLB building on Kellogg Road in Washington Mills. It was unbelievably small, with the board taking up the entire width of the space.
Rock 107 was WTLB-FM until sometime in ... early '81 [March 30, 1981, to be exact] when the WRCK call letters became available. They were previously the calls of the legendary WLS's FM station in Chicago.
The "Stereo Rocker" as it was known then, quickly became the station for top 40 in the Mohawk Valley. Early in my career I did all-nights there with the likes of John Carucci, Kevin Quinn, Jim Reitz, Dan Martin, Larry Williams and others filling mornings, afternoons, nights, etc. I can still recite the hit line numbers: 797-8880, 336-1245 and 895-7333. Those lines literally rang continuously 24/7 in those days.
Your editor certainly remembers the top 40 format upon first moving to the region in the late 80s... and the short-lived change to "Hot 107" in the mid 90s, before it went back to classic rock with the "Rock 107" branding again. Of course, we can't forget that the WRCK of today is different from the "old" WRCK -- Educational Media Foundation swapped call letters between the two stations in December 2010. The "original" Utica WRCK at 107.3FM is now WKVU, running EMF's syndicated K-Love format.