Friday, February 14, 2014

Chicago Radio: WGN LMAs 87.7 FM

WGN 720 AM is about to its reach to the FM band.

Although blocked by federal regulations from owning an FM signal in Chicago, bosses of the Tribune Broadcasting news/talk station have made a deal to lease the frequency of 87.7 FM through September 2015, according to Chicago Media Blogger Robert Feder.

Under terms of a local marketing agreement (LMA) with Venture Technologies Group, which holds the license for the low-power station, Tribune Broadcasting will take over programming, sales and marketing for WKQX LP 87.7. It is expected to unveil a new identity for the station at 1:02 p.m. Monday — one minute after Cumulus Media drops its alternative rock simulcast with WKQX 101.1 FM.

87.7 FM (3kw) Blue: 35dBu Coverage
“We’re outgrowing WGN with great talent,” Jimmy deCastro, president and general manager of WGN, told Feder. “Everything we have said we wanted to do is based on the strength of WGN and our personalities. It’s all about getting the best spoken-word talent and getting more bandwidth.”

The future of all low-power television stations on channel 6 to operate as FM radio stations is in serious doubt after September 2015 when the FCC has ordered their conversion from analog to digital signals. By then, more options may open up for Tribune Co., which has been blocked as long as it also owns the Chicago Tribune. The newspaper unit is expected to be spun off later this year.

Feder notes it’s been more than 60 years since WGN operated its own FM sister station. In 1953, the Chicago Tribune turned back the license of its underutilized WGNB FM 98.7 to the FCC. It was a colossally short-sighted decision that would haunt the company to this day.

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