Media Scene

WFNZ raises its voice with FM signal

Patrons at WFNZ’s Dog House on Morehead Street during the Panthers’ Super Bowl run. WFNZ’s remote studio beside Bank of America Stadium is where some shows originate that will now be simulcast on the station’s FM signal.
Patrons at WFNZ’s Dog House on Morehead Street during the Panthers’ Super Bowl run. WFNZ’s remote studio beside Bank of America Stadium is where some shows originate that will now be simulcast on the station’s FM signal.

Chris McClain, Jim Celania, Chris Kroeger and other key Charlotte sports-talk personalities added new addresses Monday.

WFNZ-AM (“Fan” 610) began simulcasting on FM for the first time, launching a signal at 102.5 FM that reaches much of the metro area.

WFNZ, owned by Naples, Fla.-based Beasley Media Group, has long sought an FM outlet to simulcast its Charlotte sports station to overcome interference, static and other technical issues with the AM band.

“It’s been years in the making,” said Bill Schoening, market manager of Beasley’s Charlotte stations, which also include WSOC-FM (103.7) and WPEG-FM (“Power 98” 97.9). “Having an FM address is critical.”

WFNZ’s additional signal is considered a translator, which rebroadcasts the signal of the primary station on a lower power than traditional FMs. Its FM signal has a reach of about 20 miles, which covers the core of the metro area depending upon atmospheric conditions.

D.J. Stout, operations manager for WFNZ, said that the station had received calls from listeners as far away as Hickory and Mooresville saying the signal was loud and clear after it was switched on at 6 a.m. Monday.

One benefit of an FM signal is that it remains at full power at night, when AM stations must reduce their signal strength, making reception spotty in places.

WFNZ’s addition of an FM signal comes as rival iHeartMedia is ending broadcasts of the syndicated Fox Sports lineup on a translator at 98.7 FM to make way for a Spanish broadcaster in August. iHeart launched the Fox lineup on the frequency in August 2014 and carried national shows with Dan Patrick, Rich Eisen, Jay Mohr and others, but never developed any significant local programming against sports-talk competitors WFNZ or WZGV-AM (ESPN 730).

WFNZ, launched in 1997, carries the Charlotte Hornets, Charlotte 49ers football, the Davidson Wildcats and ECU Pirates.

Mark Washburn: 704-358-5007, @WashburnChObs

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