The owners of WDNT-AM in Dayton have announced they have received a construction permit from the Federal Communications Commission to build a new FM station to simulcast with AM 1280. The new station will broadcast on 97.1 FM from the old WDNT-FM tower site on Lone Mountain.
Mike Beverly, the owner of the stations says it is part of an initiative by the FCC to help small town AM stations better serve their local public. The new FM will serve an area similar to WDNT-AM’s daytime coverage but will not have to reduce power at night like the AM does. This means that Rhea County football games will now be heard much better in the county than before.
Equipment has been ordered and Beverly says he hopes to have 97.1 FM broadcasting sometime in early May. Because being on FM will reach a more diverse audience, there will be some minor changes to the current WDNT programming. More 80’s music along with some 90’s and even a few selected songs from the 2000’s will join the classic hits format the station now broadcasts.
WRHA-AM 970 in Spring City will be separating it’s programming when the FM arrives, to provide more 1960’s and even 1950’s music similar to the station’s popular Sock Hop Saturday Night program. Beverly says that the AM 970 signal has been enhanced to better cover more of Rhea County, especially on car radios.
Rhea County has been without local FM service since previous owners moved Dayton’s FM to Chattanooga and Spring City’s FM to Cleveland. The current owners purchased the two AM’s in 2010 just before the licenses were going to be turned into the FCC permanently.
The new 97.1 frequency was purchased from a Georgia broadcaster to move to Rhea County. But there will be an opportunity early in 2017 for WRHA to file for an FM frequency of its own. This will enable Beverly Broadcasting to provide full FM coverage of all of Rhea County. The station will continue to stream at rheacountyradio.com and on the Rhea County Radio app for Iphone, Android and Blackberry.