UTICA-ROME -- Could the prolonged mystery surrounding the status of Rome's WKAL be reaching an end? The station -- which faced a May 7 deadline to begin broadcasting or lose its broadcast license -- appears to be up and running.
While we can't hear WKAL here at CNYRadio.com HQ in Syracuse, your editor had reason to venture into Rome on Saturday morning. Upon the first attempt to check 1450AM, while passing the Canastota exit on the New York Thruway, the signal came in clearly. The station was running a nostalgia format.
For lack of anything better, here's the legal ID as recorded with the Voice Memo app on your editor's smartphone. After the announcer backsells the music from the end of the 9am hour, check out the impressive custom jingle to kick off the top of the 10am hour, followed by what appears to be a computerized voice reading the ID. For some reason, the ID actually airs twice before rejoining network programming,[audio https://cnyradio.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/WKAL-LegalID-05May2013.mp3]
If you listened to the clip, you also heard how, following the ID, it was announced that this is still considered a "test," and that "a brand new WKAL" will be coming soon.
As previously reported here, California-based Tune In Broadcasting, LLC purchased the station more than two years ago from Bible Broadcasting Network (BBN). But for most of that time, the station has been off the air.
Part of the reason for the long outage: when BBN operated the station as WYBY, its non-commercial status earned it an exemption from the FCC's requirement to maintain a local studio. Tune In's purchase and subsequent switch to commercial status required the new owner to bring the station back into compliance with the main studio rule. But BBN didn't include any studio facilities in the sale to Tune In.
After signing-on briefly last May, to meet an earlier deadline to resume operations, the station went dark once again, with a new “Special Temporary Authority” granted by the Commission. That STA was set to expire in January, but Tune In explained it was still working on the new studio, so a new extension was granted. But the FCC stated no further extensions would be offered after May 7, 2013. If WKAL wasn't back on the air by then, the license would be surrendered.
We've heard -- from sources outside of Tune In Broadcasting -- that WKAL is operating out of rented office space along Black River Boulevard in Rome. Still no word directly from any representatives of Tune In Broadcasting on how long the "test" broadcasts have been running, nor about their long-term plans for the station.