What’s the purpose of this radio station?
What does “LP” stand for?
Why is your coverage area so small?
How come I can pick you up perfectly fine one day and barely at all the next?
How can I improve my reception at home?
How can I help support community radio?
When the 30+ year local radio station (WMJS-FM, 92.7 MHz) was bought by Mega Communications in 2000 and “flipped” to a Spanish language format beamed into DC from the east, St. Paul’s decided to apply for a low power FM (LPFM) license for the following reasons:
- Restore “local” radio to central Calvert County.
- Provide Community Bulletin Board announcements for local non-profit groups.
- Provide education and training in broadcast radio operations to local volunteers.
- Become a “mainly music” station with a wide range of formats and genres – a station that everyone would WANT to listen to.
How are we doing so far?
LP stands for “Low Power” and is part of our “legal Identification” which we must use at the top of each hour: “WMJS-LP, Prince Frederick.” Our official call sign is WMJS-LP. Since there are no full power stations (AM, FM, or TV) with WMJS as call letters, we can use the “short form” throughout the hour except for the “legal ID” at the top of the hour.
Click here to read the FCC’s description of LPFM.
In 2000 the FCC created the low power FM radio service (LPFM) to allow local non-profit groups and organizations to squeeze additional FM radio stations into the FM band to serve local communities. LPFM stations are limited to a combination of 100 watts effective radiated power (ERP) and an antenna height of 100 feet height above average terrain (HAAT) within 10 miles of the transmitter. The old commercial WMJS at 92.7 MHz (now WWXT) was licensed to put our 2,000 watts ERP at 300 feet HAAT.
The 100 watts at 100 ft. rule was to allow stations where none could legally exist at higher power.
WMJS-LP broadcasts on 102.1 MHz, the same frequency as WRXL in Richmond, VA and WIOQ in Philadelphia, PA. WRXL puts out 20,000 watts at 750 feet HAAT. WIOQ puts out 27,000 watts at 640 feet height above average terrain (HAAT). Fortunately, the earth’s curve puts those stations down below the horizon from Prince Frederick and they don’t interfere with our signal in central Calvert County…normally.
Certain weather conditions can mess things (and us) up! A warm front (warm air above cooler air) or a “temperature inversion” (cooler air trapped below a layer of warm air) will reflect FM signals back to earth or “duct” them for many miles, keeping the signals bent nearer the earth’s surface instead of headed on a straight line off into space.
When this happens, the two powerhouses on 102.1 to our north and south will be stronger than normal here and will capture your FM radio from our little 100-watt signal. Our reception circle then shrinks down tighter around Prince Frederick until the weather changes.
Our General Manager, Bill Santiff, lives in northern Calvert County between Sunderland and Dunkirk. He put a $25 outdoor FM “Yagi” antenna on his roof, pointed at Prince Frederick, and ran TV coax cable to his stereo receiver. He adjusted the pointing of the antenna so that WMJS-LP was stronger than WRXL in Richmond and “captured” the FM receiver in his stereo. This works most of the time unless the weather inversions give the Richmond or Philly stations a really strong reflection into our area.
The antenna came from the Prince Frederick Radio Shack (one of our business partners). It’s a model 15-2163 and costs $24.95. A small outdoor VHF TV antenna will work as well, as long as it is a “directional” type that can be pointed at the intersection of Routes 2-4 and 231.
We have tried to interest Comcast in carrying our audio somewhere on the cable system with little success. You can help by telling the local Comcast office that you want them to carry 102.1 on their system as an audio channel every time you visit them. 🙂
There are many ways to support community radio here in Calvert County:
- We are an all-volunteer operation. None of us gets paid anything! You can join us in working for free and help with recording announcements, train as a DJ, or help us in convincing local businesses to become partners.
- You can donate money directly to us and receive a tax deduction. As a volunteer-operated service of St. Paul’s, we fall under the church’s 501(c)3 “charitable organization” classification. (A printable version* of our donation form is available here.)
- If you own or manage a business, you can become a business partner. For every $50 per month donated we say “thank you” on the air with an underwriting acknowledgement once a day for the entire month. That’s $1.67 per “spot”. Your donations are tax deductible as well.
- If you call or visit one of our business partners, tell them that you heard their spots and appreciate their support for community radio here in Calvert County.
- You can tell all your friends about us and get them to listen!