Cartersville’s own WBHF, which has been an AM radio station since its beginnings 69 years ago, is all set to begin broadcasting on the 100.3 FM frequency.
The FM broadcast will be simulcast along with the existing AM broadcast. According to Program Manager Lee Burger, the decision to add an FM presence stemmed from the station’s desire to reach more potential audience members who are unable to hear the broadcast during nighttime hours.
The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) website states that AM stations are required by FCC rules to significantly reduce their power at night due to concerns about interference with other AM stations caused by a phenomenon known as “skyway propagation,” in which signals reflect off Earth’s ionosphere. This propagation can cause AM signals to travel well out of normal range. The adverse effect of reduced power output, however, is that AM stations incur difficulty in reaching the same amount of audience members they do during the day. To solve this issue, WBHF purchased an FM translator, which is a device that allows the new FM signal to be broadcast in conjuction with the AM one. Because FM signals are not affected by skyway propagation, FM stations do not need to reduce their nighttime power level.
“We are very confident that it will assist us and help us reach all of those people who have never been able to listen to us in the evening,” said Burger, who has been with WBHF for 47 years, referring to the FM translator. “It’s taken us 69 years to get here, and we’re thrilled about it.”
Indeed, WBHF has undergone several changes over the course of its history. Started on July 17, 1946, the station has been owned by at least four different individuals or entities during its existence. It is currently owned by Cartersville charity foundation Anverse Inc. But never before has the station been heard on an FM frequency.
Station Manager Matt Santini said the decision to simulcast on FM has been in the works for about a year now. After making sure it would comply fully with FCC rules, WBHF was ready to move forward with the FM broadcast this week.
“FCC rules require us to broadcast the same programming that is being sent on AM 1450 to be broadcast on FM 100.3, so we aren't allowed to split our signal. ... Another rule relative to FM translators is that you cannot increase your service area during daytime hours,” said Santini.
The FM broadcast, he noted, will be capable of reaching more listeners at all times and numerous places.
“We anticipate that the FM 100.3 signal will allow us most if not all of Bartow County 24 hours per day. It will also make it easier for listeners to hear us on the radio when they are inside their home or office. We hope that our current listeners will enjoy the new signal, and that we can better serve Cartersville and Bartow County in areas that may not be able to hear our AM signal once the sun goes down. Adding the FM signal is a major event in the 69-year history of WBHF, and everyone at the station is looking forward to expanding our audience and continuing to serve the community.”
As of Thursday afternoon, Santini was hopeful the FM broadcast would be operational by Thursday evening.