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As of Sunday night, WWSM-1510 has gone dark – kind of.
WWSM is now exclusively available through online streaming on its website.
The station, which got its start broadcasting out of owner and country music singer/songwriter Pat Garrett’s sheepskin outlet in Bethel, made its last radio broadcast on July 31 following a lightning strike earlier in the month. The 5000 watt Harris transmitter at the station’s studios along Colebrook Road wasn’t completely shot by the strike, but it was seriously damaged and only capable of putting out a 1000 watt signal post-bolt.
Station manager Gary Gruver said that he and Garrett decided it wasn’t worth putting the money into the station to fix it, with the Harris transmitter being particularly finicky and needing hard-to-find parts. Gruver called it a “boat anchor.” But technology is a bit different today from when Garrett bought the station in the late 1990s and the duo saw another path forward for the station known by its classic country tunes and ag-focused news and talk segments.
Gruver said it was “just as easy to shut it down and go on the web, and have more fun that way.” He said that people he’s told about the transition are excited about the idea of an all-on-the-web signal.
“The world has become our audience,” said Gruver.
Although the station was already online, it upgraded its online streaming service to one that is a lot more dependable and reliable as part of the transition. Gruver said that none of its shows will leave the station as part of the change, and although he expects to modify the rate structure a little bit to better match the online format, the station’s advertisers have stayed loyal.
“I think this is going to work and it’s going to work really well,” said Gruver.
Gruver said that the towers could be put back into commission with some repairs and tender loving care, although FCC rules may require some additional improvements by a new owner, such as larger fences around the antennas.
Gruver said that with the license lapsed, a new owner seeking to put the radio station back would need to contact the FCC and apply for a broadcasting license for the 1510 AM frequency – and you’d almost certainly need an attorney to navigate that process.
The 8.7 acre property at 2150 Colebrook Road was listed for sale on Saturday, July 30. The property – which contains a good chunk of land designated as flood plains of Beck Creek which runs through it – is listed for $195,000 with Joe Wentzel at Penn Realty.
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