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Oct 08 2015

WMCK.FM offers a new option in the Mon Valley

WMCK_logo_smTube City Community Media, Inc. officially launched WMCK.FM on Tuesday as a new “radio” service in the area’s Mon Valley. The call letters recall the first set of letters used by 1360 AM (now WGBN) which is licensed to McKeesport. Seeing that 1360 and McKeesport’s other radio station, WEDO (810) have focused their efforts outside of the Mon Valley, WMCK.FM seeks to keep most of its efforts focused on McKeesport and surrounding communities despite having a world-wide presence. In fact, all of the station’s board members are required to live within a 10 mile radius of “Tube City” and all programming decisions will be made there.

The station’s on-air status is the realization of a dream by McKeesport native Jason Togyer who, along with several of the current board members, originally intended to apply for a low-power FM station for the region. After several years of being “on-hold” as the FCC closed application periods and altered regulations for LPFMs, the board decided it best to make their broadcast an online-only venture. Meanwhile, Togyer continued to operate the TubeCityOnline.com website – a service that started out as a hobby of sorts in 1996.

It is also non-commercial and features new and local music as well as other genres of music as decided by individual program hosts. Community volunteers are invited to host talk shows and music programs. In addition to community announcements, one goal the station hopes to achieve soon is to broadcast local meetings, debates, forums and other such events.

The station is currently housed at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in downtown McKeesport although it is not intended as a permanent home. While initial funding has been provided by the G.C. Murphy Company Foundation and the McKeesport Hospital Foundation, the Internet-only venture will rely upon support from its listeners. Donations are tax deductible as Tube City Community Media became a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in 2014. A donation page is set up on the station’s site.

2 comments

  1. Boomer The Dog

    I like hearing about these local ventures. It makes sense to interact with the community close by, something the internet hasn’t been used for traditionally.

    Have any of the proposed LPFMs actually gone on the air around the city? I haven’t heard of any that were approved in this area, anywhere in Western PA. The ones I heard about all seemed to be pretty weak attempts though, and were quickly shut down.

    Pittsburgh has topography issues with low power signals, but I would have thought someone, like a school, would have put some effort into trying to get a license. Even now there are proposals to up the power to the 250 watt level and allow commercial announcements of some kind.

    Maybe Tube City could apply to get AM 940 back on the air if an AM window opens, especially if rules are changed to make it easier to site antennas. I thought maybe they were the ones who were talking about putting on a Part-15 antenna or carrier current station on while they waited for LPFM, someone was going to do that.

    Boomer

  2. Carson

    There are not that many usable FM frequencies around, and every time one is available it gets snapped-up as a repeater for a commercial AM station. I think the sun will likely supernova before another AM filing window opens. Besides the University of Pittsburgh is still running 17 watts butt-up against WKPL. If they can’t do better than that, what hope do small community groups have?

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