WAMO to buy, simulcast on WSSZ

At least, that's what Tuesday, May 7, 1996's Pittsburgh Post Gazette magazine section claims. Another article appeared a few days earlier in the Tribune-Review, but it was slightly less certain then.

This is all old news by now. Z107 is gone, replaced on your FM dial by WAMO simulcasting at 107.1, on the morning of September 7, 1996. This page is now purely historical, though I am attempting to collect information about Z107 for a project. Submissions are welcome. Sheridan Broadcasting has moved. WHJB is now owned by Broadcast Communications Incorporated. Other things may also be out of date. Contributions of information are welcome. The Save Z107 project continues here.

Latest News

On June 5, papers were filed to transfer Z107's license to MCL/MCM Incorporated of Wilmington Delaware. WAMO's license was transferred to this company earlier, apparently, when they swapped frequencies with WXDX (the X). The FCC file number is 960605HA. Please mail the FCC at the address below and voice your concerns now before such arrangements are passed. On July 14, such an objection was filed, and I mailed mine at the end of July (see below).


If you're interested in trying to save WSSZ, consider creating a link to http://www.contrib.andrew.cmu.edu/~shadow/suck.html on your home page!

If anyone cares, I put together an unofficial Z107 home page.

I guess some background is in order. Or, you can cut to the chase.

For years, WAMO has been a powerhouse in the Pittsburgh community, especially among urban listeners. WAMO in fact has quite a history in Pittsburgh, as anyone who's familiar with Porky Chedwick can tell you. However, lots of things have changed recently.

Here's my take on it.

In 1994, WWKS, 106.7 in Beaver Falls, became The Force, playing heavy metal and hard rock. The Force was purchased by the owners of WDVE, and became the X, WXDX, home of new rock. However, the new owners soon discovered that being off in left field, or Beaver Falls, as the case may be, made their signal somewhat hard to get in the eastern part of Pittsburgh and beyond. So they started hunting for options. One day a local newspaper reported that they were looking at WSSZ, and thankfully the following day the owner denied it. Nothing else ever came of that.

But, a few months later, it was announced that the X and WAMO would be switching frequencies and transmitters pending FCC approval, and with the X's owners giving WAMO's owners, Sheridan Broadcasting, a sum on the order of $13 million.

The FCC approved, and the X and WAMO changed frequencies. And suddenly, the WAMO listeners discovered what listeners of the X already knew. A 42 kilowatt signal in Beaver Falls simply doesn't come in as well as a 72 kilowatt signal from Pittsburgh if you're east of the city. While I had few problems picking it up with relatively unsophisticated and downright cheap equipment, it involved considerable dedication.

Now, in a quest to find an answer, WAMO has purchased WSSZ for $2.4 million, and pending FCC approval will begin simulcasting from WSSZ's 1.6 kilowatt Greensburg, PA, transmitter. Yes, I said 1.6 kilowatt. So, if WAMO listeners can't or won't receive their distant but powerful signal, what will simulcasting from Greensburg do? In the eastern part of Pittsburgh and the eastern suburbs, the area which WAMO is attempting to reach again, listeners will have the same problem! And people in their cars, and other people who have no trouble receiving both signals, will have fewer options available to them.

So, who wins?

Nobody wins. Who loses?

Among others, me. Certainly also the people of Westmoreland County, who will no longer be served (and served well, I might add) by a local radio station, which does and has done local programming, mostly high school sports, but local just the same.
Here's an article from pgh.general by another Z107 listener. I edited out some of the extra headers, but it is complete and used with his permission. In followup messages we exchanged, he asserted that it was the only true classic rock radio station in the area, something which I also believe. It would be a terrible waste to lose it.

But, it doesn't have to be this way. One Scott D. Hill of Greensburg has already written in to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to voice his objections. You can do the same. Just send email to letters@post-gazette.com. While you're at it, try letters@tribune-review.com, the Tribune-Review, as well. Or, send snail-mail:

Letters to the Editor	Letters to the Editor
Tribune-Review		Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
622 Cabin Hill Drive	34 Boulevard of the Allies
Greensburg, PA 15601	Pittsburgh, PA, 15222
Here is the letter I mailed to the Post Gazette. It was published on May 17 in Feedback.
Here is the letter I mailed to the Tribune Review. They called to verify the information on the evening of May 13, but I haven't seen it yet. Jim DeCesare said it was printed; It's supposedly hanging up at Z107 now.
Here is the letter I sent to the FCC.

You can complain to Sheridan Broadcasting, the owner of WAMO, at:

Sheridan Broadcasting
411 7th Avenue Suite 1602
Pittsburgh, PA, 15219-1924
You can also send mail to WSSZ's owner, WHJB Incorporated, at:
WHJB Incorporated
245 Brown Street
Greensburg, PA, 15601
Or fax them at 412-836-3425, or call their office, 412-834-0600. It would also be useful to register a complaint with the Federal Communications Commision, who must approve WAMO's use of WSSZ for simulcasting.
Federal Communications Commission
Mass Media Bureau
2025 M Street NW, Room 8210
Washington, D.C., 20554
You can call 202-418-1430 for additional information.

If you're at all interested in helping, please let me know; I'm looking for people willing to sign a petition to the FCC after the papers for this case are filed with them.

It is my belief that with a small amount of care, WSSZ could become quite a moneymaker for its owners. The current owners cut broadcasting hours, took advantage of automation to the point that the station has no live DJs evenings or weekends, and apparently haven't even bothered trying to fix some of the technical glitches in the setup, like the problem which causes music to be replayed when the system is apparently left untouched for long periods of time, which occurs with regularity each Saturday. With a low wattage transmitter, small overhead in the way of personnel, low building costs due to sharing a small concrete block studio in a residential area of Greensburg with their sister AM station, a decent amount of advertising coming in, and given what I know about their signal propagation, it should be, or could be, a quite profitable station. The $2.4 million provides a quick buck for the current owners, but in reality it's not all that much money.