WJBO boosts signal strength

Clear Channel has tripled the power of WJBO-AM 1150’s transmission antenna in a move it hopes will double the news and talk radio station’s market share.

The increase, from 5,000 watts to 15,000 watts, happened Monday, though the station will officially mark the event in the coming weeks as WBRZ-TV weatherman Pat Shingleton ceremonially throws the switch at the transmitter site in Port Allen, said Michael Hudson market manager for Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Baton Rouge.

Clear Channel invested about $1 million in the upgrade and has been working on it for the past couple of years.

Hudson said the goal is to boost WJBO’s market share from a 2.2 to a 4.4. A 2.2, for example, is 2.2 people out of every 100 listening to the radio in a market at a given time.

While triple the power doesn’t mean triple the signal’s footprint, it does push WJBO’s transmission into the Felicianas, deeper into Livingston Parish and in New Orleans. Hudson said WJBO no longer has trouble with an Alabama station that was overpowering it from the east.

Signal strength is judged on whether a signal can be picked up by a radio through the walls of a building, but Hudson said that in a car, WJBO can now be heard all the way to Alexandria.

At night, WJBO will power down its signal to 5,000 watts, as is customary for AM stations. AM radio waves travel farther at night because of the lack of UV rays from the sun.

Powering down prevents stations that do not interfere with one another during the day from doing so at night.

Hudson said Clear Channel also recently relocated its antenna for Downtown Radio, found at 97.7 on the FM dial, from on top of One American Place to WBRZ’s tower. Last month it boosted the antenna’s power from 13 watts to 250 watts, and it sits higher in its new location.

Even at higher power, the One American location had issues because the corners of the building tower height created weak spots since FM signals work similar to line-of-sight.

Downtown Radio, which plays hits from the 1960s and 1970s, gets the station into Ascension and Livingston parishes, Central and across the Atchafalaya Basin.