Call letter designation question

Scott Fybush
Sat Jan 10 20:51:13 EST 2004

At 06:00 PM 1/10/2004 -0500, you wrote:
>On I saw the following listing for
>WRMR in Cleveland:
>"(changed calls from) WCLVAM to WRMRAM on 1/1/2003)"
>Is that correct? Referring to AM stations that way?'s just a quirk of the way the M Street database is processed for display purposes, it only shows up in the "history" 
listings, and it's not something I can change, unfortunately. The current 
listings in the database are (or at least should be) correct as far as 
suffixes or the lack thereof goes. (For instance, my local ABC TV affiliate 
is WOKR, just plain "WOKR," and so it appears on the 100kW site.)

For the purposes of an industry-insider listing like 100kW, we make the 
assumption that anyone paying for the site knows that "88.3" is an FM, 
"1560" is an AM and "34" is a TV. Broadcasting Magazine, back in the days 
when it was competent and useful (my "December 22, 2003" issue arrived here 
on January 7, 2004 and was an historical artifact by then; I think I won't 
renew this year), developed the standard of adding a suffix in parentheses 
to designate the band when it wasn't part of the station's official call, 
so they'd call my ABC affiliate "WOKR(TV)." Several other trade 
publications followed Broadcasting's lead, and I don't think most of us 
have any particular objection to "WEEI(AM)" or "WBOS(FM)" as a standard for 
writing about radio. Radio World, for which I am a contributing writer, 
uses the parentheses even when the call has a legitimate suffix, so they'd 
refer to "WBUR(AM) West Yarmouth and WBUR(FM) Boston." I've argued the 
point with my editor there, but he's the boss and I like to get paid, so...

Most general-audience print publications these days either use the suffix 
universally or not at all, and I've resigned myself to seeing "WOKR-TV 
(Channel 13)" in my local daily paper. (Mrs. F., who is a copy editor at 
said paper, would dispute that I've resigned myself, since I do grouse and 
grumble about it still from time to time when she's about. I've at least 
resigned myself to the fact that she can't fix the problem, if nothing 
else. I've even contemplated sending Clear Channel Television $55 and a 
completed call change form so they can change WOKR to WOKRTV - or, if you 
prefer, WOKR-TV - and make an honest paper out of the Democrat and 

At NERW, the standard I follow is to use the actual call followed by the 
frequency or channel number and, for radio, the COL in parentheses, thus:

WBOS (92.9 Brookline)
WBUR-FM (90.9 Boston)
WOKR (Channel 13)

For the portion of over which I still have control (that 
being the news headlines; I don't do the database any longer), the standard 
is to put the actual call in bold, followed by the frequency/channel 
number, the COL and - if appropriate - the market it serves. So:

WBOS 92.9 Brookline/Boston MA
WOKR 13 Rochester NY
WHEC-TV 10 Rochester NY

Over at M Street Journal and Inside Radio, Tom Taylor's standard format 
uses the calls followed by the COL and then the frequency, thus:

WBOS, Brookline MA (92.9)
WBUR-FM, Boston MA (90.9)
WBUR, West Yarmouth (1240)

There are a few gray areas these days where suffixes are concerned - the 
"-DT" formation that most DTV stations use to ID themselves is not, as best 
I can tell, recognized by the FCC's CDBS database, which lists DTV 
operations under the parent analog station's callsign and facility ID 
number, albeit with a different "service" designation. So while I'd refer 
to "WHDH-DT (Channel 42)" or "WGBX-DT (Channel 43)," a search of the FCC 
database would turn those licenses up under the callsigns "WHDHTV" and 
"WGBXTV," respectively.

The FCC rules are thus far silent on proper legal identification on-air for 
DTV facilities, and the truth of the matter is, with the coming of DTV, all 
the needed data to uniquely identify a station is present in the PSIP code 
anyway, so the need for an aural or visual legal ID doesn't really exist.

(As for Sid's point that the FCC rules are somewhat contradictory about 
whether "WHDHTV" is a four-letter call with a suffix or a six-letter call, 
he and I - and Garrett - all know that any correspondence with the FCC 
about that station would refer to "Facility ID No. 72145" anyway, so the 
point is largely academic, which probably makes it ideal for this list!)


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