October 4, 2016 – Electrons began flying in Seattle in 2015 when the Federal Communications Commission authorized construction permits for up to 26 new ‘hyperlocal’ low-powered FM radio stations mainly covering Seattle with a few scattered in outlying areas from Tacoma to Tulalip. Some of those new signals are on the air including Seattle University Radio KXSU 102.1 FM. Now, the FCC is making it possible for a handful of AM radio stations to join the FM band, too. But unlike their non-commercial, low-powered predecessors, these FM signals can have more than twice the power and can operate as commercial signals.
The programming on the six new FM radio signals will be a simulcast of the AM signals and include sports, classic country, ethnic, and faith-based offerings.
Everett’s Skotdal family will begin simulcasts of KRKO-AM (Fox Sports 1380) on 95.3 FM and KKXA-AM (Classic Country 1520) on 101.1 FM. The new FM signals will originate from and cover the greater Everett area including Marysville, Snohomish, Monroe, and Mukilteo. KRKO is the flagship radio station of Silvertips Hockey and Aquasox Baseball. KKXA broadcasts the greatest country hits from the 1950’s to the 1990’s.
KZIZ 1560 AM is adding an FM signal in the greater Kent area on 95.3 FM with programming that targets the southeast Asian population. Licensee XL Communications broadcasts Punjabi Radio.
Listeners seeking faith-based teaching and inspiration will find two new FM outlets to choose from. Salem Communications, licensee of KGNW 820 AM, Burien picks up a signal on 104.1 FM that will originate from Newport Hills and cover the greater Bellevue, Issaquah, and Seattle area. The signal will simulcast programming currently heard on 820 AM. And Catholic programming offered by Sacred Heart Radio, Inc. on 1050 AM, KBLE in the greater Seattle area will soon find a slot at 100.3 FM with coverage of Bothell, Lynnwood, Kenmore, Edmonds, Shoreline, and Mountlake Terrace.
Radio engineer James Dalke, licensee of KARR 1460 AM, Kirkland will simulcast his station on 98.5 FM covering the Eastside north of Bellevue primarily in the Kirkland, Redmond areas.
“Radio reaches 91% of all Americans age 12 or older every week,” said Keith Shipman, President and CEO of the Washington State Association of Broadcasters. “Radio is the original social media and still has greater audience reach than social media, mobile devices, or television.”
KRKO-AM and KKXA-AM radio licensee Andrew Skotdal, is eager to expand. “Adding FM signals means we’ll reach new listeners who never knew these radio stations existed while continuing to serve listeners who’ve loved these radio stations for years and years.” Chuck Maylin, General Manager of the KRKO/KKXA said, “When FM licenses were issued in the 60’s and 70’s, Snohomish County and Everett were basically ignored. Now Everett finally has two commercial FM radio stations of its own. Local business owners who advertise and local listeners both win with the addition of these new FM radio signals.”
Recent rule changes at the Federal Communications Commission made it possible to add new FM signals to a crowded radio dial. Pairing FM signals with existing AM radio stations is part of a broader initiative championed by FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai called “AM Revitalization.” So far, the FM demand among AM station licensees has been strong. Over 650 license applications have been processed since AM station licensees were offered the chance to pair their stations with an FM translator since January of 2016.
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