WKAR-AM signed on the air in 1922. Now, 96 years later, our AM station has a companion on the FM dial besides 90.5. As of last week, you can listen to our AM programming on FM 105.1, too.
WKAR-AM is required by the Federal Communications Commission to broadcast only during daylight hours. That means there are winter months where the station is only on the air for nine hours a day. After signoff, AM 870 listeners would have to go elsewhere for news and talk programming.
Not anymore. Our AM shows can now be heard around the clock on FM 105.1.
WKAR Radio Chief Engineer Drew Henderson says it’s the result of the FCC’s AM revitalization program. "The trend of listening to AM stations is going down," he explains, "and to throw a bone to AM radio station owners...expecially ones that are daytime only, the FCC is allowing them to have small FM radio stations, which are called translators."
These translators can be on the air around the clock.
Henderson says the addition of this FM signal won’t change the operations of AM 870 at all. FCC rules, he continues, require these FM translators to simulcast the programming of the AM stations. The idea is to prevent the shutting down of AM stations.
WKAR Radio Manager Peter Whorf is excited about bringing programs like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, the best of the BBC, This American Life, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Hidden Brain and It’s Been A Minute to listeners on both AM 870 and FM 105.1. "On our 90.5, you can hear All Things Considered from 4 until 7," Whorf says, "105.1 picks up All Things Considered from 7 until 9 p.m. That'll be really useful for later commuters."
Conversly, 90.5 carries Morning Edition from 5 to 9, and AM 870 and FM 105.1 bring you the program from 9 to 11.
The AM revitalization program has spurred eight of the nine AM stations serving Lansing to obtain FM translator frequencies, but not all are yet on the air. Along with WKAR, three religious stations are already on both AM and FM now. And, news for you Detroit Tigers fans: along with a local AM affiliate, Tigers games are expected on your FM band too this season. Listeners might want to re-scan their FM radios from time to time to find all of these new signals.