The Fan putting local shows on new frequency to cure interference issue

Within the next few weeks, many central Indiana sports-talk fans won’t be able to hear programming from The Fan radio station on 93.5 FM, where it’s been heard since November 2015.

That's because the station is planning to reduce power on 93.5 FM while it works out interference issues with the Federal Communications Commission.

But The Fan—with all of its local programming—will be available starting March 30 on 107.5 FM as well as 1070 AM, which it has called home since launching in early 2008.

Chuck Williams, market manager for Emmis Communications Corp, which owns The Fan, said he's looking at the change as a positive thing.

“The Fan’s coverage will be expanding, no question. 107.5 is a bigger signal than 93.5 FM,” he said.

Williams isn’t sure how many more people will be able to hear the fan on 107.5 FM than on 93.5, but said listeners will be able to hear it throughout Marion County and much of the surrounding counties.

In late 2015, WFNI-AM 1070 The Fan began simulcasting on 93.5 FM in an effort to reach more listeners, especially younger ones. Emmis bought the frequency from Frankfort-based Kaspar Broadcasting for a little more than $500,000.

But that signal, a designated secondary signal by the Federal Communications Commission, began interfering with another 93.5 FM station, WMXQ, based in Hartford City—about 75 miles northeast of Indianapolis. That signal is considered a primary signal, and the FCC usually rules that a secondary signal must essentially yield to a primary signal.

Most of the interference occurs in the Anderson area and parts farther north. 

After the FCC investigated the situation, Emmis officials last month agreed to turn down the power of their 93.5 station to two watts and turn its antenna away from Anderson. 

FCC officials predict that once Emmis turns its signal down and re-positions its antenna, listeners of WMXQ, a classic rock station owned by Woof Boom Radio, will be able to listen to the station without interference in and around Anderson. 

That move, however, means few people—even in Indianapolis—will be able to pick up the Emmis’ 93.5 FM signal on their radio, radio broadcasting experts said. 

Williams told IBJ that Emmis will continue to run The Fan programming on 93.5 FM and has no plans to sell the frequency for now. He added that The Fan’s marketing dollars will now be used to promote 107.5 FM as well as 1070 AM. The 93.5 FM frequency will no longer be mentioned in advertising.

Emmis has broadcast some morning, late-afternoon and evening programming from The Fan on 107.5 FM since 2013, but kept ESPN syndicated shows on the frequency at midday rather than The Fan’s local shows to satisfy Emmis’ contract with ESPN. 

Williams said a deal has been struck to allow The Fan to simulcast all of its programs from 1070 AM on 107.5 FM.

“We consider ESPN a great partner,” Williams told IBJ. “We’ve agreed moving forward with that the new arrangement will allow all programming, including the "Mike and Mike Show," to reach more listeners on the FM dial, and ESPN is excited about that.”

Williams declined to reveal terms of that deal.

The move to simulcast on 107.5 FM means The Fan’s local shows, including the "Dan Dakich Show," the "Grady and Big Joe Show" and "The Ride with JMV," will maintain their FM presence. Given the dwindling number of listeners on the AM dial, maintaining an FM presence is critical for the shows’ advertisers and sponsors.

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