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February 20, 2007
KCTC's strange FCC request

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We hear that sports fans are delighted and liberal talk fans depressed over Entercom's impending change from Air America to ESPN programming on KCTC (1320 AM), scheduled to take place Monday.

Soon, however, not many people outside of downtown Sac and West Sacramento will be able to hear the station (featuring nighttime jock Jason Smith, pictured).

At least, that will be the case if Entercom has its way and is allowed by the Federal Communications Commission to move its nighttime transmitter from the Natomas area.

KCTC, currently at 5,000 watts, will plunge to 500 watts if the FCC approves the proposed change. (Check out the coverage map here. Note: The proposed night coverage area is in red; the current night coverage is in green and the daytime coverage is in blue.)

The proposal seems counterintuitive. Why would a radio station want to decrease its power?

John Geary, general manager of Entercom stations in Sacramento, responded via e-mail, saying, "The change...involves our eventual moving of our nighttime site, as we have considered selling the land. It would reduce our nighttime coverage, probably most affecting Placer County."

KCTC wants to change its license to West Sacramento under the FCC proviso that it would serve "community interest." A dictate in the Communications Act "authorizes the relocation of a facility to another community when doing so will provide a fair, efficient and equitable distribution of radio service."

In other words, because there's only one other station - noncommercial educational AM station KSMN - in West Sac, this change would help the community.

But it won't help nighttime radio listeners. Entercom admits in the FCC filing that the proposed night service will reach only 370,645 people. So, if you live, say, in Roseville or Elk Grove, good luck trying to get ESPN Radio at night.

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