Friday, November 09, 2007

WCPT doubles the power

As rumored earlier this week, WCPT in Chicago will be giving its listeners an early Christmas gift as they move from the current 850AM down to the more powerful 820AM frequency. The move will take place November 26.

General manager Harvey Wells, in an email sent out to listeners today, claimed that "while that might be three small steps on the radio dial, it’s going to be one giant leap for Progressives all over Northern Illinois, Southern Wisconsin and Northwest Indiana."

The new 820AM dial position literally doubles their broadcasting power, increasing from the 2500 watts of 850AM to 5000 watts at 820AM, which currently carries the WAIT call letters. Instead of the current transmitter location of suburban Crystal Lake, IL, WCPT will broadcast directly from the city of Chicago. Upon the move, WCPT will cover a lot more ground, including the entire Chicago market all the way north to Milwaukee, WI and south to Springfield. Station management hopes that the new signal will enable the relatively successful progressive talk format to be more on par with other Chicago talk stations. Even with signal limitations, WCPT has beaten several talk rivals on much stronger signals.

What will not change is the station's daytime-only status. Both 820AM and 850AM are licensed as daytime-only, and 820AM has to sign off a little after sunset to protect WBAP in Dallas, per FCC rules. The station at one time did broadcast at night, but its signal was drowned out terribly by WBAP. The 820AM signal, however, does have the benefit of being allowed to stay on the air slightly longer than 850AM.

Even given its daytimer status, 820AM has had its share of success in the past, most recently in the 1990s as the original location of the successful sports talker WSCR (since moved to 670AM).

The move takes place as Newsweb, the owner of the two signals, two other brokered AM stations and adult hits Nine-FM, informed WAIT's current inhabitant, Relevant Radio, that they would not renew the lease on the signal. Relavant Radio recently picked up another local signal in the market.

The WCPT call letters will also make the move down the dial, with 850AM becoming WAIT.

1 comments:

will in chicago said...

The new signal is much stronger, and I tested it out in my car in a few places where WCPT AM 850 is mostly static. A few people have had problems picking it up by the Lake as the building distorted the signal.

Looking forward to the change, and I wonder if this is a step towards a full-time station for Chicago's Progressive Talk.


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