Posted In: Philadelphia
Night or day, Pittsburgh has been a challenge for AM for quite some time. Aside from KDKA, the signals just aren’t very good. The handful of broadcasters interested in AM may have some competition. I suspect there won’t be much for WWJZ since almost everyone who’s willing to be on AM is already there and won’t get much, if any, of an upgrade by purchasing WWJZ.
My guess is because the Boston and Pittsburgh stations actually cover their COL at night, while WWJZ does not — their puny 950-watts nighttime signal is mostly wasted over the NJ Pine Barrens.
WWJZ covers its COL – Mount Holly NJ – just fine at night, along with about half of Philly. Given the fleapowered graveyarders that ethnic broadcasters snap up elsewhere, a powerhouse low frequency outlet with a somewhat impaired night signal that still penetrates most of the Philly market should be something these guys salivate over.
“Half of Philly”? Not even close.
When you’re dealing with AM at night, there’s one number that’s more important than any other. It’s the one number the big groups used back in the day when they were still buying stations: NIF, or “Nighttime Interference Free” contour.
Think of it this way: if you take a 25-watt light bulb and light it up in a dark field, you can see that bulb just fine for hundreds of feet, maybe even farther. Take that bulb and light it up in the stands at a Phillies game, and its light will be swallowed up by the much brighter lights around it. You’d have to be right up close to that bulb to pick out its light.
NIF is the calculation that tells you how “brightly lit” the channel you’re operating on already is. The lower the NIF, the less signal you need to have from your desired station to be able to hear it cleanly – and therefore the farther out that signal can be heard.
The NIF on some channels is very low. 1210, for instance – if WPHT signed off right tonight, you wouldn’t hear much else on the frequency, because everybody else protects Philadelphia. 1060’s fairly quiet, too, though 1050 in NYC is a major contributor to its NIF.
640 isn’t so quiet. There are stations in North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Massachusetts, Ohio, and especially in Toronto and Newfoundland all operating at night without protecting WWJZ. That raises the noise floor against which WWJZ must compete to be heard.
That red line on Radio-Locator that shows WWJZ as a “local” in half of Philadelphia at night? It’s highly misleading. That’s the 2.5 mV/m contour, which is barely a quarter of what any AM station needs to have viable signal strength in the absence of co-channel interference. If you were to draw a more realistic 10 mV/m contour for WWJZ at night, it would be much smaller, and most of the area it covers would be (a) fairly sparsely populated and (b) not the communities most ethnic operators are trying to hit.
And even 10 mV/m may not be enough to hit that magic NIF limit on the relatively crowded 640 channel.
If you’re buying WWJZ with the intent of reaching Philadelphia, you’re effectively doing it as a daytimer. There may be a model where that works (look at WWDB 860), but it’s a much less useful night signal than many of the other Disney AMs being sold.
“Half of Philly”? Not even close.
I appreciate the analysis and your insights Scott, and that may well be what AM buyers are looking for today. I base my comments on actual nighttime reception of 640 (I live in the Philly market) compared to some of the brokered graveyarders (Multicultural and the religious signals) up in the NYC market which are unlistenable at night in most areas I’ve traveled.
Being a longtime radio enthusiast, I likely tolerate a signal that the average listener might tune out due to noise or fading, and you won’t get WWJZ in North Carolina after power-down, but I can hear 640 clearly at night all around the Philly region despite some background competition. JZ is there, even in some places where KYW has fading issues that make it unlistenable day and night. Anyway, that’s one man’s empirical data.
I’d think with a format tailored to an under-served audience who is willing to find it on the AM band or one of the supporting apps (an internet presence, an FM translator or two), plus a rock solid daytime signal and a listenable if not pristine night presence, WWJZ would be among one of the better choices for someone looking to expand into a larger market like Philly.
Or maybe Forsythe Broadcasting could trade up from 1360 WNJC and get the signal they really want without the STA.
Most of you know from my posts that I live in Center City Philly, at night there is no sign of 640 at all. Maybe on a weird evening, they might come in very faint. Now about 1360, they have been operating illegally since they signed on. Instead of utilizing their 4 tower (2 tall 2 short), array at 5kw-D with a strict pattern away from Philly, going SE to cover the old COL WWBZ, they are only using the one tall tower with the strobe with 1-kw-omni to cover the Philly market. How the FCC is looking the other way is beyond me, but then again they have been doing that with WURD.
Most of you know from my posts that I live in Center City Philly, at night there is no sign of 640 at all. Maybe on a weird evening, they might come in very faint.
Yeah, I have to rescind my earlier comments regarding 640’s nighttime reception. After dragging out a C.Crane, a Tecsun and 2 Superradios from dusty corners, it appears 640 just isn’t there at night. I’m just north of Philly, looking out on the Roxborough lights from my porch, and I thought I recalled this signal having a solid if weak overnight presence. Maybe during the winter, but not now (August).
Anyway, I defer to Oasis and Mr Fybush.
It’s a killer signal if you want to hawk goat extremities up and down the Middle Atlantic coast during the day though.
And here’s why WWJZ has the big day signal, and the puny one at night. Here’s the day pattern:
Abd the night pattern:
Pattern shape is still the same both day and night, but he power drops to 950 watts at night from 50 kW daytime to protect stations Scott refers to in an earlier post. Thnkiing the null to the NE might protect WNNZ in Mass., and the 640 in Toronto to some extent.
The Mickey shoe finally drops: to Catholic broadcaster Starboard for $3.5 million. Seems like a decent price under current conditions, and in the daytime at least this will put Catholic programming into places that 1260, 1420, and 1570 can’t reach well. Since this almost certainly won’t close before the Pope’s visit in late September, I wonder if the parties would consider an LMA to let Starboard take over in time for coverage of that much-ballyhooed event.
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