Miami-based Classical South Florida is expanding its service to the state's western coast with the $4.35 million purchase of WAYJ 88.7 FM, a 75,000-watt station that broadcasts to a potential audience of nearly 1 million listeners in Fort Myers and beyond.
The purchase, announced today, is part of a three-way transaction with seller WAY Media, a religious broadcast network that's moving its Christian pop music service to 100,000-watt WSRX 89.5 FM in Naples. When the sale closes, Way Media will retain the WAYJ call letters and format for its new station.
Though WSRX broadcasts at a higher Effective Radiated Power (ERP) than WAYJ, Classical South Florida is buying the better of the two channels. WSRX's signal is on a shorter tower than WAYJ and reaches a much smaller potential audience, according to Tom Kigin, executive v.p. for Minnesota-based American Public Media and its Sunshine state affiliate, Classical South Florida. "It has only 340,913 people under coverage, whereas WAYJ has 991,520 under coverage, almost three times as many," he wrote in an email.
The deal marks the second signal expansion in a year for Classical South Florida, a locally-controlled APM affiliate. It purchased WXEL 90.7 FM in West Palm Beach last spring and converted it to an all-classical station broadcasting under the call letters WPBI. An all-news station airs on WPBI's second HD Radio channel and on an analog FM translator on 101.9 FM.
The purchase will please classical music lovers in Fort Myers by bringing a full-time music service to the market's analog airwaves, according to Jason Hughes, Classical South Florida spokesperson.
Local pubcaster WGCU-FM, a university-owned outlet that also operates a public TV station, dropped music for an an all-news format several years ago. It continues to program an all-classical HD Radio stream.
Editor's note: This post has been revised from its original version, which overstated the power of WSRX's signal.