January 29th, 2016 is the starting date for small town (Class C and Class D) AM stations to apply for the once in a lifetime opportunity to move (acquire) an existing FM translator from up to 250 miles away.
This is part of the “saving AM radio” initiative. By allowing an AM station to have a 250 watt FM simulcast that can reach up to 10 or 15 miles, the AM station may become economically viable. Also, for pre 1986 AM stations that have to turn off the transmitter at sunset, they will have 24/7 coverage. The FM translator has a similar range for class C and D stations, so it isn’t hard to see this as a way to eventually ease the stations over to FM and tear down the AM towers and sell off the land
It is worth asking why the FCC just doesn’t issue brand new FX translator licenses rather than creating a windfall for religious broadcasters to sell off their unbuilt licenses for 30 pieces of silver.