Ashtabula – The Small Market Radio Capital of Northeast Ohio?

While waiting for WYBL/98.3 Ashtabula to unleash its country “Bull” tomorrow…

It turns out that there’s yet ANOTHER possible FM station in Ashtabula’s future. OMW stumbled upon this allocation from the FCC earlier this year…granting a move by long-time broadcast engineer Dana Puopolo to add a class A allocation on 96.1 FM in Ashtabula. According to our good friends at NorthEast Radio Watch, Puopolo originally tried for an allocation on 95.9 just up I-90 in Erie a couple of years ago. Unlike the Erie attempt, the Ashtabula allocation for 96.1 FM is officially on the books, though Puopolo hasn’t yet applied to put a station on there.

As NERW’s Scott Fybush pointed out, putting an FM on in that section of the band along the Lake Erie coastline is quite a squeeze, considering the monster signal pushing across the lake from rocker “FM 96”, otherwise known as CFPL-FM/95.9 London, Ontario, Canada. In fact, on our trip into Ashtabula over the weekend, OMW heard 95.9 out of Canada along the lake just east of Cleveland, with a signal that was nearly as strong as Northeast Ohio’s locals.

If you read the allocation, you’ll note that Puopolo’s request reportedly works out interference issues with CFPL-FM as a “specially negotiated, short-spaced allotment”, and got the approval of Canada’s version of the FCC for the allocation. Maybe it was the nudge one channel over to 96.1, and the move to Ashtabula, that sealed it for Puopolo.

The Ashtabula market has seen two new FM signons in recent years. In addition to the new WYBL/98.3, Clear Channel also added WFXJ/107.5 North Kingsville, now running classic rock as “107.5 The Fox”. Puopolo appears to have no connection with Clear Channel, being a broadcast engineer who’s worked in markets such as Boston and Los Angeles. He’s most recently been listed as chief engineer for MultiCultural Radio’s Los Angeles operations.

With two new FMs in a couple of years, and a third on the way sometime in the next couple of years or so, will Ashtabula…an economically depressed area…become over-radioed?

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