Perhaps it was too good to be true. The overcrowded FM dial of the New York City metroplex offered no easy opportunity to bring a new cutting edge dance music station to the radio. But an opportunity was found at the far left end of the dial in the space occupied by TV channel 6 audio. So in February, 2008 87.7 FM the Pulse went on the air using the analog audio of low-power TV channel 6. Then, just 20 months later, the station pulled the plug yesterday at 5 PM, only four hours and forty-five minutes after announcing its imminent demise on air.
The death of the Pulse was not unexpected, given that the station’s owner Mega Media Group filed for bankruptcy in August. No doubt, commercial radio is a tough business in the 21st century, especially following nearly thirteen years of rampant industry consolidation which triggered ruthless cutting of ad rates in order to drive independent operators out of business and into the arms of megabroadcasters like Clear Channel and Cumulus. It’s fair to say that the Pulse had an uphill battle to begin with. Even with a unique format and a potentially very loyal audience, there’s fewer and fewer ad dollars to go around.
But exploiting the channel 6 backdoor arguably made the climb all the steeper, putting the station at a spot on the dial that made it difficult to stumble upon. On top of that, being a low-power station limited it’s coverage area more than if it were a real FM station. With a transmitter located in Long Island City, Queens, according to the FCC its coverage area misses lower Manhattan and most of Brooklyn, which strike me as areas that the station would want to cover.
Mega Media leased the station from its owner Island Broadcasting Co., which acquired a minority stake in Mega Media back in May. However, Mega Media still owed Island $500,000 when its lease for the station ran out yesterday at 5 pm.
A post to the Radio-Info dance music board reports that WNYZ is now stunting with dance music in anticipation of new programming. (“Stunting” is radio jargon for when a station plays constrained and often unidentified programming for a short period before it changes format.) According to the Wikipedia page for the Long Island dance music station WPTY, that station’s programming will take over 87.7 FM this coming Monday, Nov. 2. If that turns out to be true then it may be too soon to write the obituary for dance music on LPTV channel 6 in New York, even if the Pulse is now dead.
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