Radio Station Money Pit

Nassau Broadcasting is a really sad story.  Profile here

Nassau from everything I can tell was a successful local radio station operator in Princeton New Jersey – but the owner got swept up in the merger mania and tried a failed attempt to go public in 2000 – followed by an acquisition binge in 2004 using money from Goldman Sachs – long after the party was over.   Nassau was the first of the significant radio operators to be seized by its banks.

The stations they bought were incredibly worthless, which brings us to the story of WPLY-AM in Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania.  If you paste 41° 4′ 41,-75° 23′ 33″  into your Google Earth, Google maps or the mapping software of your choice, that will take you to the location of towers.    WPLY-AM is a Class D AM station.   Class D are the typical stations licensed since 1986 – their night time power is less than 250 watts and reasonable daytime power. (1000w/24w in this case).   The station only covers the immediate area of Mount Pocono – the station simulcasts with another station in nearby Stroudsburg.

So what makes it a money pit?

To create a directional daytime and nighttime signal, the station requires 4 antenna towers.   Nassau has just filed to shut off the station because “TECHNICAL WORK IS NEEDED TO DETERMINE IF THE STATION’S SEVERELY DETERIORATED ANTENNA SYSTEM SHOULD BE REPAIRED OR REPLACED. WHILE TECHNICAL SOLUTIONS ARE BEING EVALUATED, WPLY(AM) REQUESTS STA TO REMAIN SILENT.”   Wikipedia (FWIW) throws in a tidbit that the guy wire system for these towers using an experimental “non-conductive Phillystran cable”.  Because it is non-metallic, the radio waves are not distorted by the guy wires.

Michael Savage talks fondly about his time working at the Poconos – “back in the day” before air conditioning was widely available, people from New York would vacation in the resorts in the Poconos.   Today, most of the resorts are long gone and it is no longer a significant summer destination.

WPLY-AM is on 960 kHz – the reason for the directional daytime signal is mostly WPEN-AM on 950 kHz in Philadelphia and WNYM, the Salem radio station in New York on 970, along with the nearby WILK-AM in Wilkes-Barre on 980 khz.

So what do you do?   Build four new towers?   See if you can get a lower power license or change frequencies to get by with only one tower?   Turn the license in to the FCC?

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