WBUR, Boston’s NPR® News Station, announced it will begin broadcasting tomorrow on a brand-new radio station at 89.1 FM in Brewster, Mass. The new station, WBUH, will simulcast WBUR’s award-winning news and information programming on a full-power “Class B” 50,000-watt signal, making it the first and only non-commercial Cape station of this magnitude.
“The frequency at 89.1 FM has never been used before on the Cape, so this marks the birth of a truly brand-new station,” said WBUR General Manager Charlie Kravetz. “This signal, enhancing our reach all over the Cape and Islands, is something we’ve hoped to achieve for the last decade, and we’re excited that it is becoming a reality.”
The Sagamore Bridge spans Cape Cod Canal. (Drew Bryden/Flickr)
WBUH 89.1 FM will provide a strong signal across virtually all of Cape Cod, including the Outer and Lower Cape, complementing WBUR’s existing 3,000-watt signal, 92.7 FM on Martha’s Vineyard, which reaches the Upper and Mid Cape, as well as Massachusetts SouthCoast communities. Both 89.1 and 92.7 are in addition to WBUR’s primary 50,000-watt signal, 90.9 FM, which broadcasts across all of metropolitan Boston and eastern Massachusetts.
The genesis of this brand-new radio station is 10 years in the making. WBUR identified the opportunity for a new public radio frequency on Cape Cod in 2004. At that time, however, the FCC had a freeze in place for Non-Commercial Educational (NCE) applications. In 2007, the FCC opened an NCE filing window and received 13 mutually exclusive applications for an outer Cape Cod station on the previously unused frequency of 89.1. After FCC review, WBUR came in second to Home Improvement Ministries, and HIM was issued a three-year construction permit on April 14, 2011.
By fall 2013, HIM had not yet built a station. Recognizing that the permit would soon expire, WBUR offered to cover the minimal expenses HIM had incurred, and HIM accepted. With the construction permit now in hand, WBUR applied for the license, began building the station from scratch with a new transmitter and secured a rental tower for the signal in Eastham, Mass. The FCC officially granted WBUR the license to operate 89.1 WBUH, Brewster, on March 14, 2014. Like all noncommercial licenses, it was free, and so WBUR’s total expenses for 89.1 are a fraction of the usual costs incurred to create such a powerful station.
“We’re looking forward to introducing WBUR-produced programs, like Here & Now, On Point, Only A Game, Car Talk and Radio Boston – as well as our award-winning journalism which covers all of eastern Massachusetts, including the Cape and Islands — to the Outer and Lower Cape for the first time,” said Sam Fleming, managing director of news and programming, WBUR.
WBUR is the preeminent news and information public radio station in Massachusetts, reaching close to 500,000 listeners each week, and is ranked among the Top 10 public radio stations in America. As the most prolific producer of national programming in public radio, WBUR is the home of Car Talk, On Point, Here & Now and Only A Game. With its extensive newsroom, WBUR produces hourly local newscasts, original reporting and investigative and feature series. In addition, it has a robust – and growing – digital presence at wbur.org. WBUR produces a daily news magazine program, Radio Boston, and carries NPR news programs such as Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me.