Like good friends applying sunblock, three outer Cape residents have filled in a gap for beachgoing music lovers. With the launch this past Sunday of "Dunes 102" WGTX-FM (102.3), Tom Troland, Ron Robin, and Edmund Teo have revived a moribund frequency with music and news and the promise of local programming.
Going on air with Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" ("maybe that's not a good omen," quipped Robin), the station is playing "very energetic" oldies, according to Troland. "Motown, the Beach Boys, [Elton John's] 'Bennie and the Jets,' " he says. Although much of the programming is syndicated, including ABC News at the top of the hour, the new station is airing local public-service announcements and adding local news to the national reports. In coming months, Robin also plans to start hosting a morning show and Troland a midday "swap," or trading program.
The station, licensed in Truro, reaches listeners from Orleans to Provincetown. That's where Robin's restaurant, the Mews, is located, and it's where both Robin and Teo live. Troland, a Walpole native who also owns stations in Hawaii, will be on the outer Cape for the next few months and probably back and forth between his properties after that.
The station, which the trio purchased for approximately $550,000 this spring, had long been a dead spot on the dial. The previous owners, Truro Wireless, which used the call letters WCDJ, had been unable to resolve conflicts with the FCC and local zoning boards. For at least the past year, Truro Wireless's president, Karl Nurse, had broadcast only sporadically, doing the bare minimum to keep the station licensed according to FCC regulations. Except for a brief outage on Monday, because of computer difficulties, the new WGTX expects to broadcast 24 hours a day.
Troland says the station has avoided the difficulties faced by its predecessor. "I'm an experienced broadcast developer, and I know the FCC rules," he says. "I've had a lot of experience building radio stations." Both Troland and Robin also have histories in Boston broadcasting. Both worked with WBZ-AM (1030) and Robin also had a regular feature on WBZ-TV's "Evening Magazine" in the 1980s. Teo is an IT professional.
The biggest challenges the station faces, according to industry professionals, come from its relatively weak signal and placement on the dial. "They're penned in by WKLB on 102.5 from Boston and WCIB 101.9 down the Cape in Falmouth, which means they're really only an outer Cape signal," says Scott Fybush, editor of the industry website North East Radio Watch. "That's a tough, competitive position to be in."
Acknowledging this difficulty, Troland says the three have already begun lobbying for a higher antenna location, which would extend the signal to cover the entire Cape. The current antennae is 35 feet, but the three are seeking local business rates on a 165-foot AT&T cellular tower located on Truro town land.
"The Cape is a very seasonal market, and a small market radio station doesn't have the opportunity to pull in the sidewalk off-season so we really need some help," says Troland.
Regular rates for the tower, which is geared to cellular phone businesses, include a $40,000 hook-up fee and $2,000 per month. "We're looking for a concession from the town," says Troland. As far as the neighboring stations go, "there's plenty of room for everybody," he says. "There's nobody living in Cape Cod Bay, where the signals meet."