Extended Band "Offenders of The Faith"

As we're all aware, a condition placed upon all new EB AM stations by the FCC is that they must broadcast in stereo.  As was pointed out to me, however, it's even worse than this. Specifically, when the FCC was selecting which stations would be allowed to move to the EB, they granted a preference to those who would agree to broadcast in AM STEREO.  So instead of violating a general rule, these stations are actually violating a specific condition that they agreed to when applying  for the station, in some cases winning the frequency over another applicant because of the extra credit for promising AM STEREO.

As Cris Alexander, Director of Engineering for the AM STEREO-friendly Crawford Broadcasting Corporation points out,

"You have to look at the Report & Order of the rulemaking which created the Expanded Band for the specific answer.  It says that EB stations must all be "Model I" stations, which provide a specified level of service day and night and transmit in stereo.  This is akin to looking at case law to see how a statute should be interpreted.  It is enforceable, as many years of FCC case law show.  So, it is conceivable that an EB station could be hosed for not operating in stereo, but it's not likely that the FCC would spend any significant time or energy on enforcement action of this sort."

Perhaps this is why there are some EB'ers out there who seem to think that if they merely send the 25 Hz pilot tone out to trip the "STEREO" indicator, they are fulfilling their requirement of broadcasting in stereo.  Not so in my book.  After all, if these stations spend the money on C-QUAM exciters to broadcast in AM STEREO, then why do they insist on having all their programming being sent to the transmitter in mono?  It just doesn't make sense to me.  With this in mind, here's a listing of those Expanded Band stations who I feel should be ashamed of themselves for "bending the rules":

1620 KBLI in Blackfoot, Idaho - Previously running a full time CNN Headline News simulcast format with co-owned and co-located 690 KECN and 1260 KICN, these days KBLI is an ESPN Sportsradio affiliate.  Unfortunately, there's no stereo to found here.

1620 KSMH in Auburn, California - An affiliate of EWTN Global Catholic Radio, KSMH broadcasts the satellite-based monaural religious format of Catholic Family Radio with the moniker K-Sacrament Most Holy.  There has never been as much as a 25 Hz pilot tone from these guys since they hit the airwaves.

1620 WPHG in Atmore, Alabama - It seems as though 1620 WPHG is no more, as all of their assets have been repossessed as of September 2000.  Prior to this, they were running a Southern Gospel format, but there was never any AM STEREO heard from this station.  Word has it though that WPHG may get a new lease on life under new ownership.  According to the October 11, 2000 edition of M Street Journal, under the Proposed Station Transfers section, WPHG has been transferred "from Maranatha Ministries Foundation to ADX Communications of Escambia."   They'll have to move fast or at least get FCC permission to remain dark for more than a year though, as all the assets are gone and only the license remains.  Time will tell if WPHG return to the airwaves and if they do it right in stereo this time.

1620 WTAW in College Station, Texas - This News/Talk/Sports station (which is also simulcasting on 1150 AM) originally hit the EB airwaves in Motorola C-QUAM AM STEREO with full separation and the pilot light blazing.  However, since around September of 2000, they have reverted to mono.  The word on the situation from WTAW is:

"We ended up with some stereo problems after we ran in stereo for a few months. Unfortunately, the problems weren't apparent and it has taken this long for the "best guess" to develop.  It appears our tower has non-symmetrical sidebands and that causes our stereo signal to crap up from time to time.  I haven't found any straightforward way to fix this problem. So, in the next month (April 2001) we have some major maintenance scheduled on tower lights, backup power and such.  I'm flying an engineer down here then to take a look, but who knows if the sidebands will ultimately be the solution."

In all fairness, this is the first evidence I have ever encountered of an EB station not only acknowledging that they are not broadcasting in stereo, but also concerned about it and willing to rectify the problem.  Based on this, WTAW doesn't really fit the definition of an "Offender".  Let's just hope they can get their problem resolved and are able to return to the airwaves in full AM STEREO ASAP.

1630 KKWY Cheyenne/Fox Farm, Wyoming - Classic Country K-Why is on the air at 1000 watts using a long-wire antenna, but unfortunately they're also broadcasting in mono.  They are operating on an STA pending completion of a diplexer that will allow them to share the antenna with Nostalgia formatted 1370 KJJL (K-Jewel) in Cheyenne.  Hopefully KKWY will eventually hit the airwaves in Motorola C-QUAM AM STEREO once the diplexer project has been completed.

1630 WAWX in Augusta, Georgia - Upon signing on in October of 2000 with the syndicated Imus in the Morning show weekdays and the mono-only One-On-One Sports satellite feed the rest of the time, WAWX became the second latest station to hit the Expanded Band airwaves. Unfortunately, WAWX only made their appearance in glorious mono.

1630 XEUT in Tijuana, BCN, Mexico - XEUT is a daytime Mexican university station with a a Jazz format and fairly good signal, but they have never broadcasted in stereo nor have they ever put out a 25 Hz pilot.  , and they have never had stereo.  (Since this is a Mexican station, the rules for stereo broadcasting in the Extended Band may be different than the those in the United States; nevertheless, XUET are indeed in mono.)

1640 KDIA in Vallejo, California - Formerly an R&B station that went by Solid Gold Soul, Stereo 1640, and Classic Soul KDIA , 1640 on the AM band now broadcasts the satellite-based monaural religious format of Catholic Family Radio.  The pilot light is still on, but there's no separation to be found here.

1650 KBJD in Denver, Colorado - The EB application of mono 990 KRKS, KBJD is running (and simulcasting) a Contemporary Christian format with the moniker The Rock.  They are sending out the 25 Hz pilot tone, but that's it.  There's zero separation to heard from these guys.

1650 WHKT in Portsmouth, Virginia - Currently running a full time Christian Variety format, word has it there's no separation or pilot light from these guys.

1660 KQWB in West Fargo, North Dakota - Currently running a Nostalgia format, there have been reports of the stereo light coming on (indicating the presence of a 25 Hz pilot tone), but there have been no definite reports of any separation in their signal.  Word has it that KQWB will indeed be broadcasting in full stereo after a move to new studios sometime in February of 2001.

1660 WWRU in Elizabeth, New Jersey - Currently running the Spanish Radio Unica format, WWRU is sending the 25 Hz pilot out only at night, and during the day they are completely mono. Strange indeed, but as I recall, EB'ers are supposed to be in true AM STEREO 24 hours a day.

1680 WTIR in Winter Garden, Florida - Running a full-time Tourist Info format, with I-4 traffic conditions on the fours, these guys are 100% mono with no pilot tone being sent to their transmitter either.

1680 WTTM in Princeton, New Jersey - An ESPN affiliate known as Sports Radio 1680, it seems as though WTTM has turned off their pilot and stopped broadcasting in AM STEREO altogether.  This occurred around the beginning of September 1999, and here's the reason why: According to Anthony A. Gervasi, Jr., Senior Vice President of Engineering and Technology at Nassau Broadcasting Partners (the company that runs the station),

"WTTM was granted a STA (Special Temporary Authority) from the FCC on September 13, 1999 to disengage the AM STEREO carrier with the purpose to test DAB IBOC (Digital Audio Broadcast, In Band On Channel) using Lucent Digital Radio's Experimental Authority.  This STA expires on March 13, 2000 and is subject to extensions.  After successful testing of the LDR IBOC signal, WTTM will return to broadcasting in AM STEREO."

Let's hope so, because the fact of the matter remains that WTTM is obligated to broadcast in AM STEREO (regardless of their format) because of their FCC "Stereo Preference" status when they applied for an EB allocation.  (If you look up 1350 WHWH (WTTM's parent station) in the FCC database, you'll clearly see their EB application with "Stereo Preference" stated.)

1700 KBGG in Des Moines, Iowa -  These guys first hit the the airwaves as The Big 1700, KBGG, The Des Moines Business News Network, but have recently switched formats to CNN Headline News combined with local news headlines and a simulcast of the 5 o'clock Channel 13 nightly news.  Formats aside, the problem is KBGG is not broadcasting in stereo, and they never have.  Word has it, KBGG has special permission from the FCC to broadcast in mono on a full time basis.  However, my question is, "Why?"

1700 KQXX in Brownsville, Texas - Currently running a Spanish Tejano format, there have been unclear reports of KQXX to date.  The majority have been that these guys are in mono, but any definitive reports concerning their stereo status would be greatly appreciated.

1700 WAFN in Miami Springs, Florida - WAFN hit the airwaves a couple of years ago in stereo with a Spanish music format.  (They were the EB product of 1210 WCMQ {now News/Talk WNMA}also located in Miami Springs.)  However, they ended up switching their format to Imus In The Morning/Sports Talk and their moniker to The Fan, and reverted to complete mono without even as much as a pilot tone being sent out.  As of Friday, December 29, 2000, WAFN once again switched formats to Spanish Religion with the moniker Radio Luz/Voz Christiana.  There have been reports of listeners receiving a flickering stereo indicator and accompanying distortion from WAFN, but the audio still does not have any separation.  This "flickering" has been going on since before the format change.  If anyone else has any other details to share about these guys, please pass them along.   

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