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Re: An argument for Class D

> I personally see no purpose in all of these "non-commercial" FM stations
>in Boston all running "All Things Considered" at the same time. (I
>personally don't think public radio necessarily does the best job serving
>the "public," but that is another post for another time.)

You'll get no argument from me there.  I can't speak for any other station,
but I can guarantee that you won't be hearing "All Things Considered" on
WMBR anytime soon. ;-)

> Why some of these
>college stations need to be running nearly 1000 watts of power and higher,
>one only knows. (I didn't know college campuses were *that* big.) If the
>college stations were cut back on power and there were more "community"
>Class D outlets out there, I think we would be seeing some eclectic, yet
>interesting, radio. Response?

In an ideal world, I too would believe in "the more the merrier".  But
it's pretty hard to undo history.  Back in the 1970's, the class D stations
were effectively told to upgrade to class A or perish.  That's why WTBS/WMBR
upgraded to 200 watts around then.  A funny thing happened as a result: more
people started listening.  Given that we do have to rely on listener
contributions for some of our support, having more listeners is not
necessarily a bad thing.  And, when new stations and power increases for
existing stations were being planned that would encroach into those
nebulous "fringe areas" just beyond what the contour maps show but which
do still contain a not-inconsiderable number of listeners - including many
who are contributors - what else could we do to ensure we didn't lose those
listeners, other than increase our power to protect those fringe areas?

Thus it is that WMBR is now 720 watts (directional).  That may sound like
a big increase over 200 watts, but when you look at the coverage maps it
isn't all that big of a difference.  With the various other nearby stations
on 88.3, plus WCHC on 88.1 out in Worcester, plus Channel 6 in New Bedford,
our present signal is the most we can ever hope to obtain on 88.1.  Could
we cut back to 10 watts?  Sure - if you promise to pay us the difference
in lost contributions - we're non-profit, but we still have to pay the

And if you did take WMBR, WERS, WZBC, WHRB, WMFO, and whatever other
college stations I'm forgetting at the moment all down to 10 watts,
how much space would that really open up for others?  We'd still be
occupying the same frequencies, all of us with our transmitters in or
near Boston - you could install some new class Ds out in the suburbs,
but not in or near the city proper...

- -Shawn Mamros
E-mail to: mamros@mit.edu