Helper hints

Now that we can attach comments to posts, the people helping can post examples on questions to talk about. Just add a new comment to this thread, which will become the sticky thread after Trump is elected.

CharlotteNC (my powerless account) is checking Classic County stations and the next one to check looks like this


The database still says it is classic country, but there are warning signs – the Title has changed, the keywords mention Classic Hits, but not a mention of country. The call sign and frequency are right, so this is not the wrong web site.

Has the format really changed?
Station Editor (requires volunteer account)

Any hint on the Facebook page? What does Wikipedia say?

If you look back six months in, did it used to be a classic country station?

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15 Responses to Helper hints

  1. Parrott says:

    Hey Guys, I was testing a WTNT Alexandria VA. ( American music with Spanish language announcers) interesting. La Musica Ooh no, Here comes la Policia !
    Anyhoo I was looking at the transmitter site, near the ‘mixing bowl’ Beltway 495
    meets I 95 and I 395 begins going to teh Pentagon and across the Potomac into DC.
    Look at that mixing bowl, with google satellite, there are connector roads everywhere, Pretty wild, quite interesting if you look at the engineering. A lot of money. To bad they vote like idiots in NOVA.
    I hadn’t been through there in real life since the last rebuild.

    • Fred Stiening says:

      Earlier today I was listening to a song on a Spanish language station that was a very familiar hit song from maybe 20 years ago, where the chorus was in English and the verses were in Spanish. I suspect there are lots of songs where the original artist did a Spanish version – the members of Abba don’t speak English and did their hit sings phonetically.

      WTNT-AM fell on hard times – you might remember it was the flagship station for the Washington Times funded all news network that fell apart after Reverand Moon died in Korea.

      Have a look at the transmitter site for WMAL. It is another site that 70 years ago was out in the middle of nowhere. As far as I’ve heard, the sale of the land for about $75 million is still on track. The developer is going to build low density very expensive housing with the obligatory green spaces so the existing neighbors still have a place to walk their dogs

    • Fred Stiening says:

      The silent station you looked at – WBVA in Virginia Beach is even more curious / instructive. The owner collects dead and dying AM radio stations. There is no antenna, and probably hasn’t ever been one. The station was licensed in 1998 and allegedly went on the air just before the 3 year time limit to build the station ran out. The owner at that time was a shell corporation with a PO Box that declared bankruptcy and the license wound up in the hands of a trustee.

      Since then, there have been 25 requests for the station to remain silent. The owner admits there is no station – local zoning people and community opposition are stopping him. In 2011, the FCC refused to renew the license, knowing that there is no actual radio station.

      • Parrott says:

        Yeah thats killer Fred, I have looked at the WMAL transmitter site. Its really got a lot of stuff around it now.

        Glad you mentioned WBVA. hey I am collecting a couple stations in VA in my list and I don’t know what to do.
        You already had no stream for WBVA, so I said it was ‘accurate’ still no stream. Hope that is ok. maybe you could check WVAB, no stream WKPA and WKBA, if you don’t mind
        How do you handle those with no stream?
        ‘accurate’ ?
        WXCF Clifton Forge I hate to see no stream, ( it is no stream) I have listened to them before when I was a kid. but there FM sister station is streaming WJVR but not on the blue button link you have, You have to go to the river website and click there and it works.
        How do you handle that? I have been going through the Virginia stations : ) I am up to 37 !

        • Fred Stiening says:

          Keep in mind that “silent” refers to the legal status of the radio station. It has nothing to do with the stream.

          If a station is marked as silent or the “format” is silent, there will be a link to the “official FCC silent list” which you can look at to confirm, although that’s largely unnecessary – there is a process about once a month that reconciles the FCC lists with the database.

          “vewy quiet” means I believe there is a good chance the station is silent without notifying the FCC

          For “no web site”, “no stream”, silent, unknown format, vewy quiet… those are research projects. If you don’t have the ability to fix those (yet), just click on ignore station. Clicking accurate means you did independent research, not that you agreed with the last review 6+ months ago. Stuff changes.

          • Parrott says:

            OK, I’ll roll through them again.
            So ‘Working’ means the link is working as it should, Looks like that.
            glad you clarified.

            • Fred Stiening says:

              For now, I am in triage mode. Looking at the station via the needs-review page with the screenshot to make sure the web site was not hijacked or abandoned is the top priority. A “nice to have” is to find streams for stations that didn’t used to stream. Major format changes (i.e. ESPN to classic hip hop) are important, minor changes (classic hits vs oldies) not so much.

              Just wandering through the list, you’ll get a better picture of the totality of radio – the “inside the radio biz” perception is very distorted. Country music, classic hits and religious music/talk are the bulk of what radio does, not Taylor Swift’s latest hit.

              Virginia has 615 radio stations, which is more than one person can deal with, unless you’re retired and have lots of time, which doesn’t describe you. So do whatever keeps you interested – with 18,000 stations, the solution is rounding up more people who do a reasonable amount than finding super heroes who spend 18 hours a day

    • Fred Stiening says:

      WTNT was sold in 2010 for $1.5 million, which does not include the tower. The programming is probably a lease deal (Local Marketing agreement) where the license and transmitter are rented out, but the owner plays no role in running the station, other than generally making sure FCC rules are followed. Think of it as radio sharecropping.

  2. Fred Stiening says:

    Choosing your “turf”

    After you have verified some stations and have the general drift of how it works, visit this page

    It will show all the formats (grouped by category) in which you have verified some stations and give you the opportunity to add that format (or state) to the stations that become part of “my turf” so you can focus on the things that interest you. At some point, you may grab too many formats or States, in which case you have to let go of one to get another. Resigning does not undo your stats. The verified column is the number of stations for which you did the most recent verification. If someone else does the station too, your count could go down.

  3. Fred Stiening says:

    Radio insights is a good place to look for details about format changes, station sales. Lance works extremely hard. I’ve never spoken to him, even by email – but he is extremely reliable and I consider him an authoritative source, and frequently link to his announcements in the station history

    If you want to incorporate looking for fresh changes. I’m too busy worrying about 200 day old stations to worry what happened yesterday

  4. briand75 says:

    It isn’t country, that is a given. Thirty seconds of listening will put the lie to “Country”. First song was an 80’s hit so Classic Hits is correct. So yes the format has changed and needs to be updated. My Nickel’s worth anyway.

    • Fred Stiening says:

      But you’ve been helping for a long time šŸ˜‰ this is help for noobs! The bit about looking in is overkill, but a useful skill in a less obvious situation, especially for people who don’t know it exists. In this example, it proves the station used to be classic country – so it wasn’t a mistake. But the point is not really to rehash the past, but to get the current information accurate.

      • briand75 says:

        Sorry about that, Chief! (credit to Maxwell Smart).

        For newer volunteers: I often will go to the web site (can do this from the Editor page) and see if there is promotional verbiage on the home page like “Best Classic Country” or “Classic Rock”. If there isn’t anything definitive, another place would be the “About” page if there is one. The mission of the station should be mentioned there and often the description includes genre.

        • Fred Stiening says:

          Making things more tedious is it is very common for radio station owners to put multiple radio stations on the same page. A typical scenario is they have a classic hits FM station and a dying Classic Country AM station, with no evidence of the AM station other than a logo in the corner, so it is important to be aware of which station you are searching for.

          Making this worse is the “saving AM radio” movement which just concluded. Over 1000 commercial AM stations bought an FM translator for cash from religious organizations who got them for free, for prices ranging from $10,000 to $250,000. Look for lots more BMWs in the parking lots of the religious charities. When the translator is added, they almost always change from an AM format like classic country or gospel to an FM music format, making the notion that AM radio is being “saved” problematic

    • Fred Stiening says:

      Another tip – listening to the stream is not by itself definitive to decide the format. A playlist or recently played songs is better. In this case, it is solid evidence – but stations often go in non-standard directions, especially on weekends. One I was looking at last night plays classic country from 6 am to 6 pm (in their time zone) and classic hits from 6 PM to 6 AM. In that case, I left it as Classic Country but added a description to reduce future confusion.

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