Great news for listeners of news/talk/sports WBRN AM 1460 in Big Rapids as the FCC has granted station owner Mentor Partners special temporary authority (STA) to simulcast the AM station on an FM translator at 107.7 FM. The STA, which is good for six months, was granted on February 20th and fills-in coverage for the AM especially in outlying areas of Big Rapids, including Green, Big Rapids, and Colfax townships.
WBRN does not provide interference-free reception in these areas during the sunset and early morning hours when AM 1460 must operate with reduced power and compete with interference from co-channel and adjacent channel stations. The application with the FCC claims that interference issues severely curtail the "ability to receive local programming including Big Rapids High School sports play-by-play, Ferris State University sports play-by-play, public affairs programming, and such significant news as morning and evening traffic announcements, weather, school closings, etc."
Jeffrey J. Scarpelli, president of Mentor Partners which owns WBRN along with country WWBR-FM 100.9 and Hot AC WYBR-FM 102.3 in Big Rapids, explains that the application for this transmitter was submitted in 2003 and that two more translator applications are on file for the Reed City and Morley areas to further fill-in WBRN's night time signal. "We hope that the FCC will grant these applications on a permanent basis by this summer. Over the last 10 years the population of Big Rapids has moved farther and farther away from the city limits and WBRN's night time signal doesn't cover these areas. The addition of the FM signal for WBRN will also be promoted on WWBR, WYBR and via a direct mail campaign."
The FCC is currently studying if the use of FM translators for rebroadcasting AM stations will be allowed on a nationwide basis, with certain distance restrictions. The grant of the STA in Big Rapids is the first time the FCC has allowed a Michigan AM station to rebroadcast its signal on an FM translator.