Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mediumwave Along the Erie Canal, Part 3

Continuing with our exploration of mediumwave station sites along the Erie Canal.

We are walking the Erie Canal path in the Rochester, New York area, headed west from Lock 33. Within a one mile stretch there are three mediumwave stations lining the canal. In the last part of this series we passed within sight of WHTK-1280.

Hiking along the canal past WHTK-1280 perhaps another half mile brings us to the Clinton Ave. overpass, situated just shy of the four-lane I-390 overpass. Poking above the trees to the north are the four equal height towers of WROC-950, and shown in the photo just below. Three are in direct alignment and the fourth sits off some distance broadside to the northeast. They are each .193 wavelength in height. Take the side path off the canal to the north about 50 yards and you have a good view of the tower site. WROC-950 is one of Rochester's oldest AM radio outlets. Both daytime and nighttime powers are set at 1KW.

The tower configuration at WROC is a bit curious. Three towers are used at night, those three in direct row alignment, broadcasting with a main lobe at 353 degrees, and a very minor lobe at 173 degrees. Gain in the favored direction, north towards the main population center, is 6.2dB.

Daytime coverage is bi-directional, using two towers, tower #3 from the aligned row and tower #4, the tower broadside to the northeast. The main lobes are at 343 degrees and 163 degrees, generating about 4.8 dB gain each.

WROC-AM's call sign is a reference to WROC-TV. While the stations are not and have never been co-owned, WROC-AM has an agreement with WROC-TV to provide local news coverage, and the borrowing of the WROC call signs from WROC-TV is included in this agreement. Coincidentally, the WROC-AM call sign was previously held at WHTK-1280 from 1961 into the 1970s, and was co-owned with WROC-TV while at that location.

WROC-950 began broadcasting in 1947 under the call sign WARC. It was an early affiliate of the ABC radio network, but later changed to a locally programmed, personality-driven popular music station. It was purchased by the B. Forman regional department store chain in 1953 and changed its call letters to WBBF, the last three letters of which stood for "Buy B. Forman". In 1966 it was sold to LIN Broadcasting for what was then a market record of over $2 million, but retained its popular music format and personality lineup until the early 1980s.

As WBBF, 950 AM was a popular Top 40 music station in Rochester, often leading the market in ratings surveys from the 1950s through the early 1970s, and ranking among the city's top stations through the late 1970s even after strong format competition arrived in 1972 from WAXC-1460 and later on the FM band from WPXY. Consistent success was achieved although as a relative latecomer to the AM band in the postwar era, WBBF's coverage area had to be restricted to the east and west to prevent interference with other stations on the same channel. In 1982, as hit music radio listeners were migrating to FM, the station evolved into a talk format. WBBF served a short stint as WEZO from 1998 to 2002, then adopting the WROC call sign. The WBBF calls are now in use in Buffalo, New York.

In September of 2004, WROC signed on with the liberal Air America network, having previously carried conservative talk. In September of 2008, WROC became an ESPN affiliate. The format is closely affiliated with Buffalo sister station WGR-550.

Shown below is WROC-950's nighttime pattern plot. On the plot are shown various co-channel stations around the region and where they fall into WROC's pattern.

This concludes this series. Hope you have enjoyed it.

No comments: