WBUR-FM, Boston’s NPR News Station, announced began broadcasting on a new outlet at 89.1 FM in Brewster, Mass. The new station, WBUH, will simulcast WBUR’s award-winning news and information programming on a full-power Class B 50,000-watt signal, making it the first and only non-commercial Cape station of this magnitude.
“The frequency at 89.1 FM has never been used before on the Cape, so this marks the birth of a truly brand-new station,” said WBUR General Manager Charlie Kravetz. “This signal, enhancing our reach all over the Cape and Islands, is something we’ve hoped to achieve for the last decade, and we’re excited that it is becoming a reality.”
WBUH 89.1 FM will provide a strong signal across virtually all of Cape Cod, including the Outer and Lower Cape, complementing WBUR’s existing 3,000-watt signal, 92.7 FM on Martha’s Vineyard, which reaches the Upper and Mid Cape, as well as Massachusetts SouthCoast communities. Both 89.1 and 92.7 are in addition to WBUR’s primary 50,000-watt signal, 90.9 FM, which broadcasts across all of metropolitan Boston and eastern Massachusetts.
The genesis of this brand-new radio station is 10 years in the making. WBUR identified the opportunity for a new public radio frequency on Cape Cod in 2004. At that time, however, the FCC had a freeze in place for Non-Commercial Educational (NCE) applications. In 2007, the FCC opened an NCE filing window and received 13 mutually exclusive applications for an outer Cape Cod station on the previously unused frequency of 89.1. After FCC review, WBUR came in second to Home Improvement Ministries, and HIM was issued a three-year CP on April 14, 2011.
By fall 2013, HIM had not yet built a station. Recognizing that the permit would soon expire, WBUR offered to cover the minimal expenses HIM had incurred, and HIM accepted. With the construction permit now in hand, WBUR applied for the license, began building the station from scratch with a new transmitter and secured a rental tower for the signal in Eastham, Mass. The FCC officially granted WBUR the license to operate 89.1 WBUH, Brewster, on 3/14. Like all noncommercial licenses, it was free, and so WBUR’s total expenses for 89.1 are a fraction of the usual costs incurred to create such a powerful station.