Before Northern Kentucky’s newest radio station debuts, WKCZ-FM (89.1) are asking potential listeners what music to play. The 10,000-watt signal will reach all of Northern Kentucky, Downtown Cincinnati and into the eastern and western Hamilton County, OH suburbs, according to owner Bill Spry. Broadcasting will begin after a tower is built in Verona, KY, he said. City of license is Crittenden, KY.
“It’s not too late for us to completely change our direction. We’re leaving it up to the public,” said Spry, who calls his company Spryex Communications.
People may vote for a format at http://thenew891.classxradio.com/
Originally, Spry planned to simulcast his non-comm “ClassX” classic rock from his WMWX-FM (88.9) in Butler County, western Hamilton County. He chose the WKCX-FM call letters for “Kentucky ClassX.” Spry broadcasts ClassX from the basement of his home in Liberty Township, OH.
He made headlines in 1998 when the FCC shut down his unlicensed pirate Christian rock station. Then he embarked on a 7½-year process with the FCC to obtain area frequencies.
Spry’s pirate station, Free Radio 105.5, launched in 1997. From his website: “As a result of Free Radio 105.5, Spry became involved in working to change the rules at the FCC level that would finally allow licensing for low-powered radio stations under 100 watts and the unwealthy to realize their desires to have their own stations. After several years of work, the low-powered FM (LPFM) service was adopted and approved by the FCC in 2000. In 1998 Spry discovered that there was still one FM frequency available in the Cincinnati area that would allow as much as 5,000 watts to Cincinnati’s west half of the town. Spry formed his new non-profit OH Corporation naming it Spryex Communications, Inc. Spryex filed with the FCC for 88.9 FM in 1999. The problem was that 3 other out of state firms also filed for this frequency. Spryex’s application for 88.9 FM was now mutually exclusive. Spry would have to wait for nearly 8 long years. Over the wait, the 3 out of state firms dismissed their applications one by one and Spryex won their Construction Permit to build 88.9 FM.”
That was in 2006. Once the permit was issued Spry constructed the station in about 8 days time. WMWX, 88.9 FM licensed to Miamitown, OH signed on the air with 5,000 watts on August 6, 2006. With his sign on Spry revealed the new sound of his ClassX format. ClassX on reaches potentially nearly 1.8 million listeners.
Soon after he started operating two Kentucky low-power stations, WRHX-FM (107.9) in Richwood, KY and WHKK-FM (97.7) in Walton, KY. Spry also owns WYNS-FM (89.3) in Waynesville, OH.
ClassX programming is now available for affiliations and HD Radio multicast channels. It bills itself as a “True Rock” format: “No longer would listeners hear the same 20 songs played to death. Spry promises variety and exposure of new artists and their music and well as deep tracks off the old classic albums. ClassX is Album Rock: a mix of New Melodic Album Rock releases combined with lost Classic Rock tracks from the past 40 years.”
“In this day of corporate buyouts and consolidation, we are super excited and tremendously proud that there is at least one truly local broadcast company that is expanding in the Tristate area and that really does care about its listeners,” he told the Cincinnati Enquirer.
RBR-TVBR observation: As rare as it is for an FM pirate to get legal call letters, this is a shining star example of how it can be done, working within the system. Not only does Spry have a network of stations, he’s also affiliating his format.