When is an FM radio station not an FM radio station? When it is a translator station, permissible under Federal Communication Commission rules. That’s why an FM companion to WDRC-AM can be on the air, even as another WDRC-FM continues broadcasting a Classic Rock format on another FM frequency.
WDRC-AM, 1360 on the dial, is known as the Talk of Connecticut. The station, which was home to a popular rock’n’roll format in the 1960’s, switched to talk – mostly conservative – more than a decade ago. It’s line-up of hosts includes Hartford media veteran Brad Davis in the morning, and a mix of syndicated and local hosts the remainder of the day.
The talk network has long included AM stations WMMW in Meriden, WSNG in Torrington and WWCO in Waterbury. Programming has been simulcast on all the stations for many years.
Back in the day, rock music was heard on WDRC-AM and WDRC-FM. That changed when the AM station, and its sister stations switched to talk. WDRC-FM, then owned by Westport, Connecticut-based Connoisseur Media, continued to play music of the ‘60’ and ‘70’s, after it was sold by long-time owner Buckley Broadcasting. More recently the FM station rebranded as 102.9 The Whale, with an album rock format.
Now, there is another FM station in the mix. And it is getting attention because it is about to be temorarily branded as Trump Radio, with plans to rebroadcast programming from WDRC-AM, under FCC rules that permit translator and booster signals. The station’s relatively new owner – Red Wolf Broadcasting – was granted the translator license from the FCC in June 2018. It will be in effect thru June 2021 - which may outlast the format.
There’s been some confusion about the longtime WDRC-FM frequency, 102.9. It is unaffected, and will continue to be known as The Whale, with a Classic Rock format.
A newer frequency, 103.3, will rebroadcast the WDRC-AM programming, to be known as Trump Radio. Translator stations, according to the FCC, “simultaneously rebroadcast the signal of a primary AM or FM station on a different frequency. Those translator stations that provide service within the primary station's protected service area are classified as "fill-in" stations. Fill-in translators can be owned by the main station or by an independent entity.”
WDRC was recently sold by Connoisseur to Full Power Radio, which is making the branding change. Although it is being publicized and promoted, the WDRC-AM website, and programming, has yet to change. And it is unclear for how long the “Trump” branding will be used.
Published reports indicate that Connoisseur Media agreed in January 2018 to sell five stations in Connecticut to Red Wolf Broadcasting Corp. for $8 million. Included in the deal were WDRC-AM (1360) and Classic Rock WDRC-FM (102.9 The Whale)/Hartford, WSNG-AM (610)/Torrington, and WMMW-AM Meriden. The Red Wolf Broadcasting Corp. owner is John Fuller; the company is based in Ledyard. WWCO in Waterbury was not part of the sale.
In January, Fuller told the New London Day “WDRC AM & FM are legendary stations. 102.9 The Whale is one of the top rated stations in the Hartford Radio Market, and WDRC-AM (1360 AM) 'The Talk of Connecticut' has an extremely loyal audience we intend to expand.”
Published reports said that the sale in January came three and a half years after Connoisseur paid $7.9 million in 2014 for Buckley Broadcasting’s Connecticut cluster of stations. Buckley had owned the stations, led by WDRC AM & FM, for more than five decades.