With the recent window opening for FM translators to be moved up to 250 miles away from their original location, I thought it would be a good idea to make an easy list of FM translators in the Pittsburgh area. Many of them predate the current window and have been in place for a while, but many more of them have come to see the light of day in recent months.

The following information is compiled based on FCCdata.org, a fascinating website independent of the tied to the FCC information database. (If the site interests you in any way, you may consider a donation to them to keep it alive.) All of the information is current as of the date of this being written, and for historical purposes this particular post will not be updated.

Due to the various stages of progress be stations may be in, the listings are his current and is accurate as one could make out based on the information given. Licensed stations are denoted with “Lic” while those in various stages of construction permit are noted with “CP”. (In the case of licenses being moved from various locales into the area, some are still listened as licensed in their former location and construction permits in their new location.) “Mod CP” shows stations who were in the CP mode in their original locale before being sold and moved “Mod” is for Modified and usually relates to the change in City of License. These stations still have to be on the air by the time the 3-year CP allowance requiring some to act quickly.

The notes section contain information confirmed on the FCC FM Query.

Did you know that an FM translator does not have to be legally identified the exact same way as a full-power radio station? FM translators must be identified on the air three times a day – between 7:00 and 9:00 a.m., between 12:55 and 1:05 p.m., and between 4 and 6 PM. Translator call signs are usually a “W”, the channel number, and two more letters. For instance, W231BM Pittsburgh is the legal identification for WKHB’s translator. “W” as with all stations east of the Mississippi River, “231” being the channel number for FM frequency 94.1, and “BM” being the two additional letters to the callsign.

Alternatively, translators do not have to be legally identified on the air so long as the operator identifies the station through a Morse code signal attached to the transmitter once an hour. Most station operators choose that method while others choose to identify the station like the normal legal IDs that you hear at the top of the hour.

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10 thoughts on “Translator mania

  1. I did notice that WEDO was now mentioning a translator in their legal ID.
    Also 94.1 does not come in at my house as well as it did two weeks ago.
    I presume it has shifted to the east, and 102.1 is going to fill the hole in central
    Allegheny County?

    Some of these translators are wedged so closely to big signals that I bet
    they are virtually untuneable. At least not on average $25 radios that you
    can buy at Walmart.

  2. Carson, I agree with you on the 94.1 signal. I am in Johnstown. I can still get it,however,it is much more difficult than before. Surprisingly,I can get 810 WEDO on 93.3fm. Although,it is not easy. Meyersdale and Wolf(Ohio) are also here with full power. Same deal on 97.5 fm-St.Mary\\\’s(Ridgeway) and Wone(Ohio) competing with 770 kfb all the time.

  3. The fact that William can get any of those in Johnstown is really, really impressive.

    Those of us who recall the long battle the University of Pittsburgh had with the FCC
    to be allowed to license a 17-watt FM have to look at this list and shake our heads.

  4. Phil Z

    The University Of Pittsburgh Needs to SHUT OFF it”s Station and go on the Internet or Back to Carrier Current! When they were on 98.5 they Interfered with 98.3 here in the north hills. Now on 92.1 they are Interfering with WKPL. WKPL is 2500 Watts And 20 miles line of site from here, wpts is Supposable 17 Watts and 9.2 miles from here.

    1. Not exactly, Phil. 98.5 was traded for 92.1 in 1994. Then someone… I think He’s Alive Network… had a translator before they were a popular thing that was licensed to Glenshaw on 98.5. They had to shut it off when 98.3 was moved from Charleroi. Additionally, WPTS is 17 watts from the top of the Cathedral of Learning, so it can get pretty far. It’s well within its means. FWIW I picked up 92.3 from North Huntingdon at a point not far from you CLEAR AS A BELL the other day.

      1. WYEP used to be on 91.5 from the Cathedral with 840 watts and made it to places like East Liverpool Ohio, and they’d take calls from other surrounding areas too. That was in the times when a lot of folks had component systems with quality tuners and outdoor antennas at home, but it shows how you can get out from there.

        I did think that WPTS shouldn’t have had such a long wait for their FM, but it might have been because it got its license long after the 10-watt educational radio program was closed down at the FCC, so maybe there was no division to work with them. Plus they couldn’t fit in the edu. section of the band 88-92, because of station spacing requirements at the time, so that required the use of a commercial band frequency. Big deal with 17 watts, huh? With the rules in place back then, yeah.

        I liked WPTS on 98.5 and heard them close to sign-on, just playing solid music, and it was a mystery who it was for a little while with no announcements. It was great though, they played new cool stuff, alternative rock, punk and new wave that other stations weren’t touching. I had friends at Parkway Center who drove their work trucks around all day in the complex, and they liked it too. I listened to them for years and turned on to a lot of new music.

        When they moved to 92.1, it wasn’t so good, Elwood City was trying to eat it. At home in Greentree I could get PTS, but in the car it was trading places with Star 92.1 as you moved along. Later on I think Star might have gotten more power, because then even in the house it was pretty bad.

        I always thought there could be better frequencies for WPTS to use, but figured they had the engineering worked out on how 92.1 was best for their target area. In a way it’s probably good to be co-channel with a full power station so close, the chance of a new commercial station coming on and pushing them off is very low.

        I also think it would be good to investigate the AM band for schools again, carrier current, but also with antenna, something with a few miles of range. The AM band is dying, for new creative radio stations, and school stations would give more listeners reasons to tune in. I can imagine what an AM antenna on the roof of the Cathedral could do, even with a few watts!

        They should try an AM Part-15 transmitter up there, with a ten foot antenna and see what it does. They might even have their carrier current transmitters still around and could activate them. I heard WPGH 640 in the carrier current days with a portable radio.

        Also, anyone know if WPPJ AM 670 is actually still on the air? It used to be a working carrier current station, but I haven’t tuned in when going by Point Park since the 1990s.


  5. 94.1 is Very Strong here in the North, Driving on Perry Highway from Perrysville to Wexford, Rochester , Nickleson Mt. Nebo to 79 south and all Roads inbetween. Some Fading Passing through Valleys. In washington Pa Intersection of RT. 70/79 Strong Signal Mixed in with Other Station on 94.1 as I drove North on 19 From that Location.

    1. When WPGH [Call Letters at that time] was Carrier Current on 640, One of the “DJ’S” had the Bright Idea to Connect a Coxal Cable to one of the Transmitters Ant. Output and Drop it out the Window Of The Studio. Needless to say It Caused Interference to other Stations and Splashed over to the Ham Band. LLoyd Kyser Chief Engineer of WWSW Heard The Splatter and called Offering to help us with our “Engineering Problems”. As A Vol . Engineer at that time It was not good!

      1. Interesting writing style, with all the caps, I’d know your writing anywhere.. 🙂

        Yes! I heard that story about 640, it’s something that engineers were talking about, and I heard from a National Radio Club member, that their friend (another member) had heard the broadcast too, in the South Hills. I sure wish I would have! That would have been legendary to me.

        I hadn’t heard the part about the interference though, but I could see it if they didn’t have a proper tuner for a wire antenna. Even more if the transmitter was one of the LPB tube rigs.

        I hadn’t heard the story for years, glad that someone else was around when it happened. I think I may know the DJ who might have caused it to happen, a pioneering radio person really.


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