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WMCR to Split AM and FM, Other Big Changes Confirmed

ONEIDA — A little over three months after new owner James Johnson mentioned he might be making some changes at WMCR, those changes are now official.  Get ready to see the AM/FM simulcast split in two, and kiss the nightly 10pm signoff goodbye.

According to an article in the Oneida Daily Dispatch, the WMCR studio, which currently runs entirely on CDs, tapes and carts, will be going “all digital” by mid-to-late July.  But that’s just the foundation for several other major changes.

Johnson also tells the paper he want to split WMCR’s AM/FM simulcast into two completely different stations.  While there may be overlap at certain times, Johnson plans for WMCR’s AM signal (1600) to focus primarily on news, local talk, local sports, and perhaps even some nationally-syndicated talk programming.

With the AM side handling talk, the FM side (106.3) will go nearly entirely all-music, aiming at the 25-54 demo.  Johnson and operations manager Joel Meltzer tell the paper there will be no staffing changes as a result of the programming changes.

In addition to the changes on-air, WMCR is finally entering the Internet age, with a new station website at www.wmcronline.com.  The site is already live, but very obviously not “done” yet, as evidenced by the use of very generic-looking graphics and most of the pages looking incomplete.

Last but not least, the upcoming changes include plans for WMCR to stay on the air 24 hours a day.  Currently, the station signs off at 10pm every night, even though it was never required by the FCC to shut down at night.

5 Comments to WMCR to Split AM and FM, Other Big Changes Confirmed

  1. The reason the AM dial has so much talk is because AM signals don’t offer the same high-quality, stereo sound offered by FM signals. The lower audio quality isn’t as noticeable with talk radio.

    To put it another way, with a really good FM signal, a song can sound like you’re listening to it on a CD player or an MP3 player. But on AM radio, a song’s going to sound like it’s being played through the telephone, no matter how great the reception is. The lower audio quality isn’t as noticeable with talk, because our ears aren’t as picky for talk as they are when it comes to music. That’s why most stations with the choice will put talk on AM, and music on FM, rather than the opposite.

    And I’m under the impression the AM will not be all talk. The way the newspaper worded it, it sounds like there will still be times when WMCR AM and FM simulcast the same programming; but they didn’t say exactly how often this would happen. If I had to hazard a guess, I would think morning drive would be a likely candidate for simulcasting, and perhaps the AM and FM would split after the morning show ends. Beyond that, hard to make any other guesses… unless the station wants to send us an official statement with the details, we’ll just have to wait and see (or listen to) what happens over the next few months.

  2. A little nostalgia here. Undeniably, AM is inferior to FM as far as sound quality. But, I’m old enough to remember when AM ruled the dial. AM can sound good. But, take a typical AM/FM radio receiver now, most people have the bass and treble controls set to optimize it for FM stations, when switching to AM, they leave it at the FM settings. When switching to AM, adjust the bass/treble, it’ll make a difference.

    Those who have grown up on FM may have never given AM a chance, or listened to a good older radio designed with emphasis on AM. As a kid, my parents owned a 60 chevy impala with only an AM radio (the norm of that era). But, this car had a front and back speaker (mono of course), and I used to blow the socks off with “TLB” or ‘NDR chankin! Unfortunately even car systems now neglect AM, one cannot duplicate the sound of an AM station even on a current car system that comes close to that old Delco stock radio on that 60 chevy.

  3. We used to listen to AM radio on those Little Transistor radios with a speaker the size of a silver dollar, and loved every minute of it. But thats when there was something to listen to on AM radio. Creative disc jockies who were real radio guys. Enough news and sports to keep you informed ,then back to the music as it should be. Housewives had the radio on all day long. You could listen for hours and hours without hearing the same old news or sports stories beat into the ground. Today everything has to be analyzed by “experts” who don’t have anything better to do.
    This garbage continues 24/7 on both the television and radio.
    Sound quality isn’t the issue. Program content and the way its presented makes the difference on AM radio. Young people don’t listen to AM radio, and with i-pods and the computer, even FM radio isn’t their first choice.
    Oneida New York is Oneida New York, filled with older people. Whats in Oneida to keep young people there? Since the population is in their older years 45-65 and older I would think the radio station(AM) would do better if they programmed to that audience. The big Band shows on the weekend have always been popular on WMCR.
    I’m not saying play big bands all the time, but 80’s and 90’s music on WMCR-AM?
    Thats great on FM, but change the FM calls and keep it off AM. Maybe he can catch some Utica and Syracuse listeners who, in the past, would never even think of WMCR in Oneida, New York. But I can almost guarantee 80’s and 90’s music won’t hold the typical Oneida listener who is a lot older than 30.
    More AM owners/operators should get off this idea that their audience needs all this talk with syndicated programs. A good sounding, locally owned AM station in Upstate New York is WENT in Gloversville. Live operation, good variety,some news some music, mature sounding announcers, and the station is making money.
    I say on AM play the Adult standards with variety, do the local news, sports and give them the weather and talk about whats happening in the community and they will not only be happy but listen for hours.

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