WERS acquires new tower

by Beacon Staff • October 3, 2007

The radio station recently installed a new transmitter in New Bedford, Mass., one hour south of Boston. The 55-watt transmitter receives the station's 4,000-watt signal from the main transmitter, located in the Financial District, and retransmits it with a range of about 10 miles in all directions, said Jack Casey, the station's general manager.,Listeners south of Boston can now hear the sounds of Emerson's WERS-FM , without relying on web streaming.

The radio station recently installed a new transmitter in New Bedford, Mass., one hour south of Boston. The 55-watt transmitter receives the station's 4,000-watt signal from the main transmitter, located in the Financial District, and retransmits it with a range of about 10 miles in all directions, said Jack Casey, the station's general manager. The towns of New Bedford, North Dartmouth, and parts of Fall River can now receive WERS' signal.

Casey said the project has been in the works for about four years. The management staff had the plan but needed a place. Joe Sweeney the director of engineering for Television, Radio and Film, and Rick Levy, an independent consultant, searched for many months and nearly settled on two other locations in their search for an acceptable tower.

"It's worked out perfectly," Casey said. "It's a great location for us."

The transmitter first began broadcasting the main signal on June 24, 2007. Casey said the current estimate of listeners for the main transmitter by itself is 150,000 people each week with an average of 10,000 people listening at any given time. This number only represents the number of traditional radio listeners and does not include the average of 50 hits a day on the station's Web site where station streams its radio programs live. The new transmitter reaches an additional 100,000 potential listeners but the station will not know the full impact of the new transmitter until results from the fall sweeps ratings arrive in January.

The tower's acquisition cost between $25,000 and $30,000. Howard Liberman, the station's FCC attorney, said the legal and engineering fees accounted for about $10 thousand dollars of the cost, while between $15,000 and $20,000 was used to purchase equipment, Sweeney said.

WERS Program Director Paul O'Neill said DJs have responded positively about the new transmitter and two particularly will benefit from the expanded coverage.

"It's going to do a lot for Rockers and [hip-hop show] 88.9@Night," O'Neill said. "It helps to bring the programming to an audience that has requested both shows."

Rockers DJ Pamela Zapata said the call volume into the show has increased and she expects the call levels to increase even more as more people discover the station.

"I love that so many more people can tune in now. There is such a big reggae community not only in Boston but in Massachusetts, and its great now that more people can listen to the show," Zapata, a sophomore broadcast journalism major, said.

George Watsky, the Tuesday night host for 88.9@Night said he has already noticed more interest in his show.

"For any given night of the week, there are more people calling," Watsky, a sophomore acting major. "I'm definitely getting a lot of calls."