In January 2019, WBSJ-FM — the Ball State University-owned noncomm serving a small section of east-central Indiana — signed off the air.
The move was the result of a transmitter failure, and the school’s decision to not make the repairs. Now, WBSJ is set to receive a new lease on life.
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As such, a station that signed on the air Dec. 31, 1997 and was most recently one of five stations comprising the Indiana Public Radio network is poised to return to broadcasting.
What does the future hold for WBSJ, a 2kw FM at 91.7 MHz in Portland, Ind., that had been simulcasting WBST-FM 92.1 in Muncie?
That depends on Rob and Martha Weaver, owners of WPGW-AM in Portland. They’ve purchased WBSJ, through nonprofit Jayland Radio Inc.
They plan to offer “an educational program schedule” that would complement the commercially licensed stations serving Portland, Ind. — Adult Contemporary WPGW-AM and Country WPGW-FM. In Berne, Ind., the Weavers own and operate Full Service WZBD-FM.
Vocational training for high school students is envisioned, as are call-in programs with a community focus.
Such activities have been seen at former commercially licensed AMs, which have taken on new life as noncommercial stations offering hyper-local programming options, such as WKNY-AM in Kingston, N.Y., billed as “Radio Kingston.”
Jayland Radio is purchasing WBSJ for $40,702.43. A $10,000 escrow deposit has been made.
Serving as Jayland’s legal counsel is Gary Smithwick of Smithwick & Belendiuk.
According to the Indiana Economic Digest, a replacement transmitter would have cost between $20,000 and $24,000, in addition to annual tower expenses of $15,000.
Those costs were seen as detrimental to Ball State University’s budget.