In a variation on a familiar theme, student radio station WJMF at Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island just announced that they will be leaving their terrestrial radio home in light of a deal that the university made with Boston public radio station WGBH. WGBH’s all-classical service will begin airing over WJMF’s FM frequency in August. The student radio station will be moved to an HD-2 channel and will continue to broadcast online. According to a statement on WJMF’s website:
“These are very exciting times for WJMF radio, Bryant University, and WGBH. As you may have heard, WJMF will no longer be 88.7, but rather be an HD-2 channel off of 88.7 acquired by WGBH. What does this mean for our listeners? Although we are losing our fm dial position, we will be available on HD radio, DTV, and we will increase our presence steaming online in places such as iTunes radio. We will be broadcasting from WGBH’s HD-2 channel…The opportunity presented itself thanks to the fine folks at WGBH, and WJMF is getting ahead of the curve moving to HD.
Also, you can hear us from further away. We are increasing our wattage from 225 to 1200 watts. Watt does this mean to you the listener? You will now be able to listen to us from Westerly, Rhode Island to the outskirts of Framingham, Massachusetts…
WGBH will be re-transmiting their signal from WGBH’s 99.5 All Classical service, returning round-the-clock classical broadcasts to the Providence area via 88.7fm. The increase in coverage will be present here as well. WGBH will be operating at 1200 watts opposed to the current 225 watts, expanding the frequency’s coverage. President Ron Machtley acclaims that he is, ‘thrilled that this collaboration returns classical music broadcasts to Rhode Island while providing our students hands-on opportunities to master leading-edge technologies for delivery of WJMF music, sports programming, and talk shows not just in New England but throughout the country.'”
College radio station WJMF began in 1972 as a 10 watt station and has been at 88.7 FM since 1981. They have made a number of technological changes and upgrades in recent years, including a new studio in 2006.
So far I’m only seeing official statements about this deal and haven’t caught wind of any protests from angry students, alumni or listeners. It’s notable that this was announced a few weeks after the end of the semester when I’m assuming not many students or faculty are present on campus. I can’t assume from the statement on the WJMF website that students, DJs, and listeners are necessarily in favor of these changes, as it will mean that their station will not be accessible to terrestrial listeners who do not own HD radios. Classical fans in the area, on the other hand, are already expressing their excitement over plans to hear a simulcast of WCRB (which WGBH purchased back in 2009) over the Rhode Island airwaves.
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