The Federal Communications Commission has received more than 450 applications so far from AM stations looking to modify FM translators to rebroadcast their signals.
This first window will be open for months but several industry execs said they were not surprised most of the applications seem to have arrived in the first few days. The FCC will use a first-come-first-served basis approach.
One company in the trenches is Phoenix Media Group, a consulting firm. “This is a truly golden opportunity for many AM stations to add another platform for their content and, in many cases, a 24/7 platform at that,” said Steve Moravec, principal of Phoenix Media Group, which helped initiate translator applications for licensees in Iowa and Minnesota.
Price points for FM translators sold ahead of the opening window varied substantially. Q Media Group is purchasing K263AL in Madison, Minn., for $75,000; Custer County Broadcasting is buying K250AP in Pierre, S.D., from Radio 74 Internationale for $20,000.
“The prices were a bit of a surprise,” said Larry Langford, owner of WGTO (AM) and W266BS in Cassopolis, Mich., and a contributor to Radio World. He said at least one translator in Michigan sold for $3,000. “Some of us expected prices to soar but it looks like demand did not exceed supply. Some of the deals allowed time payments, which was a great surprise and a help to cash-strapped AM operators who need all the help they can get.”
A review of the data suggests that 15 or so engineering firms were responsible for about 50 percent of the applications.
It appears the FCC staff has a fair amount of work in front of them. The commission has begun to grant submitted 250-mile window applications, such as the application by Salem Media of Illinois, which plans to rebroadcast Class D station KCRO(AM) in Omaha, Neb., via the FM translator K229CG.
The commission has also begun dismissing some. It tossed an application from Sacred Heart Radio in Kirkland, Wash., which proposed to rebroadcast Class B AM station KBLE in Seattle. The commission has saidthat it would dismiss any application filed during the first modification window that proposed to rebroadcast either a Class A or Class B AM station.