Radio, radio: Two new area stations

WCQS has some serious legs in the region. The public-radio station’s nine translators blanket Western North Carolina with news, talk and classical music. But the station’s newest project is going to be a bit different.

Launching from Mars Hill on Oct. 9, WYQS—90.5 on the dial—will jettison musical programming in favor of a 24-hour schedule of talk and news programs. The station will reach up to 68,000 listeners, most of whom can already pick up WCQS but are hungry for a different menu of programming. The broadcast area will also include about 20,000 potential listeners who are out of WCQS’ current range.

“Around the country, people tend to identify public radio with talk and news,” says WCQS General Manager Ed Subkis. And the new station aims to hit that tried-and-true format. Meanwhile, he says, local demand continues to call for the mix of talk and music that has been available on WCQS.

Programming will feature mainstay public-radio shows like Talk of the Nation and Marketplace as well as BBC World News Service—programs previously heard only at night or on weekends on WCQS. For the time being, the programming on WCQS will remain unchanged. But Subkis says that, in the long-term, the two may diverge into sister stations with one focusing on music and the other on talk.

“But,” he says, “it will be a long time before that happens.”

Run “on a shoestring,” as Subkis puts it, WYQS will be fully automated, with recorded announcements and rebroadcasts of local shows like Byline and Conversations. As the station grows and more funding becomes available, Subkis hopes to add more locally produced programming.

Subkis says the limited listening area for WYQS is a result of Federal Communications Commission rules and that maps of the coverage areas will soon be posted on the www.wcqs.org. Anyone outside the region who wants to get in on the all-talk format can pick up a multicast digital signal with HD radio.

WYQS isn’t the only new station on the FM dial. On Oct. 1, 98.1—“The River”—hit the airwaves with an adult-alternative lineup that is all over the musical map. The station’s Web site, www.981theriver.com, touts acts ranging from Bob Marley and Bob Dylan to The Raconteurs and the John Butler Trio. The new station is operated by the Asheville Radio Group, which also owns 96.5-WOXL and 105.9-The Mountain.

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