As part of Radio World’s ongoing series on FM translators, we talked with Steven T. Moravec, the principal of Phoenix Media Group, a radio broadcasting consulting firm.
RW:FM translators have become even more hotly sought after thanks to the recent AM order by the FCC. What business activity are you seeing as a result of this; how does it affect what you do?
Moravec: We just completed a set of six assignment and six modification apps on behalf of the same seller for six AM owners in Minnesota and Iowa. All mods were filed Friday when the window opened for Class C and D stations though all were Ds. There were also five attorneys to help the process and one excellent technical associate, Dave Doherty of Skywaves Consulting. Everyone knew each other and that helped as Friday got a little tense. We got it done and am very thankful to the entire team involved.
RW: What goals are driving your broadcast clients as they pursue translator strategies?
Moravec: We had been unsuccessful in locating a translator for every one of them under the existing rules on the books. All were tired of waiting (“Wait for what”?) and jumped and the chance to move immediately when the AM Revitalization package was announced. Many hope the FCC processing moves along quickly enough so as to allow them to be “FX ready” for the fall sports season.
RW: What technical concerns does this process raise, what technical issues should radio managers know about?
Moravec: These deals aren't for the DIYer, regardless of what “tools” were out there for their use. No one has the time to burn calling strangers and our guys would rather be honing their radio stations than “fishing.” Hire good, experienced consultants to help!
RW: Have you seen evidence that the cost of FM translators has gone up significantly?
Moravec: Yes. Box seats have always cost more than those in the second balcony.
RW: What advice do you have for AM stations that may want to take advantage of the two pending windows for acquiring and relocating existing translator?
Moravec: Again, hire good, experienced consultants to help. Your time is best spent operating your station(s) as this is what we do all day.
RW: What other questions should we be asking on this topic, what else might radio managers be interested in knowing right now?
Moravec: The number of AMs employing an FM translator has potentially more than doubled in just a day. Many major market stations had no meaningful spectrum available, including here in the Twin Cities. But all is not lost and the ability to do this in most places continues with good spectrum in most places. RadioWorld has just circulated mapping of where the applications were made Day One and there are few surprises: heavy east, lighter west. It’s a good graphic worth studying!