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Jun 06 2011

WAMO returns officially; a guide to understanding low-power translators

I thought I would attempt to explain some of the things which make the new WAMO a bit different from the old. (For those first-time PBRTV readers, please note: PBRTV does not have all of the answers. Oh and we have nothing to do with format changes… we just report them…)

1. WAMO’s OFFICIAL staiton is 660 AM… and is licensed to Wilkinsburg. It has been using the old callsign of WPYT. Anytime now you should hear the top of the hour, legal ID sounding something like W-A-M-O Wilkinsburg/ W 261 A-X Pittsburgh.

2. What is W261AX and why isn’t it “WAMO-FM”? W 261 A-X is what we in the business call a “translator station”. That means it carries the same programming as its “parent station”. In this case 660 AM. Translator stations are usually low-power and may not be reachable every place a normal FM station is. It cannot be called “WAMO-FM” because it’s not a full-power FM. W261AX is 99 watts and is located at 100.1 FM. It’s located on the KDKA-TV tower on the North Side which should enable it to cover most of the metropolitan Pittsburgh area. If you live in nearby Wheeling or Weirton, WV you might experience problems picking this signal up. (Click here for the “coverage map”.)

3. 660 (WPYT; soon to be WAMO) can be reached in a larger listening area. This coverage map displays such a listening area. The red circle indicates the “local” listening area or the area in which the station can be picked up the best. The purple line indicates “distant” listening area limits – the reception is still decent but may be spotty in places. The blue line is “distant” and is likely the maximum distance the signal will reach at any given time. 

3a. 660 AM is also what we call a daytime ONLY station meaning it signs off at sundown. Right now in the months of June and July in the Pittsburgh area that would be as late as 8:45 PM. The time will fluctuate accordingly throughout the year. (For instance, in November and December, the sign off time will be at 5:00 p.m.) This is the reason for the acquisition of the low-power FM at 100.1.

3b. Let me mention that the WAMO programming is available online at www.wamo100.com. I know it’s not handy for listening in the car, but it’s better than nothing.

4. This station sounds a lot like “KISS-FM” (AKA – WKST-FM; 96.1 Pittsburgh). Why? Sorry I can’t help you there. Not really an expert with the urban format. 

5. The new WAMO needs a more powerful FM. Why not make an offer for “97.7 Butler, 98.3 Duquesne, 103.5 Froggy or 106.7 Wexford”? Well let me see, first off WLER-FM (97.7 Butler) is not for sale that I know of. WPKV-FM (98.3 Duquesne) is currently airing K-Love in an agreement with Keymarket and will likely be sold to Educational Media Foundation. WOGH-FM (103.5 Frog… er uh I mean Burgettstown) is not going anywhere that I know of. WAOB-FM (106.7 Wex… no… Beaver Falls) is the old WAMO, it’s true. But I don’t think St. Joseph’s Missions is interested in selling.

For those who are interested in knowing what will be on the new station. Sunday’s Lynne Hayes-Freeland Show on KDKA-TV did a piece on it.

I hope this quells some of the concerns posted on the new WAMO’s Facebook page.

Today’s the day. Not only does the format make its official return, but so do the call letters WAMO for 660. (Not yet confirmed online on the FCC website, but Tim Martz did purchase the callsign from the low-power FM station in Eastern PA using the heritage calls.) I certainly wish the new operation luck. The listeners who are already following the station’s Facebook page seem a little restless about the station’s signal reception and format.