Last week, 640/WGST-AM returned to the FM dial for the first time in 11 years at 92.3. But the signal is one of those new “translator” signals and not terribly strong.
According to a contour map on the Federal Communications Commission website, it primarily covers inside the Perimeter north if I-20. The night signal for WGST barely extends beyond the Perimeter, which limits morning and afternoon drive, especially in the winter.
For now, night-time fans of WGST outside the Perimeter in places like Cobb County and Gwinnett County have to listen online – or not at all.
Melissa Forrest, the general manager, acknowledges 92.3’s limitations but it’s better than not having it at all.
640/WGST-AM back in the 1990s had an FM simulcast at 105.7 that extended its reach well outside the Perimeter northward at night. By 2000, its ratings on the FM side were comparable to those on the AM side.
But Clear Channel decided to flip the station to Mix 105.7, a rock format. It has since changed to Cool 105.7 (oldies), Viva 105.7 (Hispanic), Groove 105.7 (dance/R&B/hip-hop) and now Wild 105.7 (R&B/hip-hop).
And WGST was left on the AM side, where its ratings steadily fell throughout the 2000s. It now ranks about 20 in the market overall though during the day, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Rusty Humphries bring in respectable numbers among men 25 to 54. “A great majority of the listeners don’t go to the AM dial,” Humphries said. “So the addition is fantastic. The station is sounding better than ever. I just wish more people knew about it.”
Other AM stations over the past 18 months that have added FM signals include 680/The Fan, now also at 93.7 and WSB, which is now at both AM 750 and 95.5 FM. Other local FM “translator” signals include 102.9 (Hot 107.9 simulcast), Journey 97.9 (80s/90s pop hits) and 99X at 98.9 (alternative rock).
These signals are only allowed to relay or translate another existing signal. 99X and Journey cheat a bit by taking an existing HD signal, not a traditional AM/FM signal.
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk