WGBH Restores Full-Time Classical Radio to Rhode Island
Partnership with Bryant University extends service on 88.7FM, offers students new tech platforms
Radio listeners in the Ocean State will once again have access to a full-time classical music station as the result of a partnership between Boston public broadcaster WGBH and Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I.
Beginning in August, the University’s station, WJMF 88.7FM, will re-transmit the signal from WGBH’s 99.5 All Classical service, returning round-the-clock classical broadcasts to the Providence area.
Bryant’s student-run station will continue uninterrupted on a variety of new technology platforms, including via WJMF HD-2, smartphone applications, and the use of one of WGBH’s mobile DTV channels. Bryant’s WJMF will be the first student-run station in the region to be available on the groundbreaking new mobile service.
“This is a major step in WGBH’s commitment to restore a full-time classical service to audiences in our region,” said WGBH Chief Operating Officer Ben Godley. “We’re delighted to be working with Bryant University and its students as they move from over-the-air broadcast to new and emerging digital audio services for their listeners.”
The reciprocal arrangement will give Bryant students the opportunity to learn from WGBH digital and broadcast technology experts during the summer in preparation for an August transition. WGBH has been a pioneer in expanding classical music onto new platforms, with live streaming, dedicated online streams, an all-classical HD channel, podcasts and mobile applications.
“Bryant has just taken a strategic step in a new direction with a terrific partner,” said Bryant University President Ronald K. Machtley, “I am thrilled that this collaboration returns classical music broadcasts to Rhode Island while providing our students hands-on opportunities to master leading-edge technologies for delivery of WJMF music, sports programming, and talk shows not just in New England but throughout the country.”
The arrangement involves no capital commitment on behalf of WGBH, and Bryant University plans to maximize the 88.7 signal by increasing its power from 225 watts to 1200 watts by virtue of a recently awarded construction permit from the FCC.
“This is a wonderful arrangement for both institutions,” said Marita Rivero, WGBH Vice President for Radio and TV. “It’s a great fit with public media’s educational mission to be working with Bryant University as we begin to realize the possibilities we imagined for 99.5All Classical (WCRB) when we acquired it in late 2009.”
Adds Benjamin Roe, WGBH’s new Managing Director for Classical Services, “Rhode Island classical-music audiences were among the most loyal to both WCRB and WGBH. But when WCRB’s dial position shifted from 102.5 to 99.5, Providence became one of the largest markets in the country to be without a full-time classical station. We are absolutely delighted to be returning to an area with so much vibrant cultural activity, and look forward to sharing it with the rest of the region.”
In the coming months WGBH will be evaluating call letter options as it considers the new reach of the classical service throughout New England.