Sunday, August 11, 2013


Many of you may have seen the movie "Frankenstein", about a man created by a mad scientist inside a laboratory. Enviromentalists throw about the term "Frankenfish", fish created inside a laboratory. Well, this "Franken" was NOT created in a laboratory. What "Franken" wasn't created in a laboratory? A "Franken-FM".

The term "Franken-FM" refers to a low-power analog television station on VHF Channel 6 that operates as an FM radio station. The audio frequency for an analog TV station on VHF Channel 6 is 87.75 MHz. Many FM receivers tune the frequency 87.7 MHz. During the analog era, that enabled listeners in cars to tune in the audio of an analog television station on VHF Channel 6. This is how I've logged numerous Channel 6 stations. The closest station to me in analog format on Channel 6 was WPSD Paducah, KY. I often used this station to detect FM reception conditions into southern Illinois, southeastern Missouri and western Kentucky. Other Channel 6 stations were used as a barometer for band conditions into other areas, such as KWQC in Davenport, IA, WRTV in Indianapolis, IN, KMOS in Sedalia, MO and even KEMV in Mountain View, AR. Since I had a local on VHF Channel 5 (KSDK) and 88.1 MHz (KDHX), the best way to get tropo on VHF Channel 6 was through the audio channel. This is also how I've gotten a few E-skip logs on the channel, such as WLNE in New Bedford, MA (Providence, RI market), XET-TV Monterrey, NL, Mexico or WTVJ Miami, FL.

To the best of my knowledge, the first "Franken-FM" appeared in Anchorage, AK when a low-power TV station operated as an FM radio station, only putting its call letters on the screen. The "Franken-FMs" started appearing in the Midwest just after full-power TV stations transitioned from analog to digital. The first "Franken-FM" I heard was WLFM-LP Chicago, IL; it was then carrying the Smooth Jazz format that was dumped by Clear Channel's WNUA 95.5 (which I logged in 1999 while WFUN-FM Bethalto, IL was off the air). The format evolved to Smooth AC by the time I made this recording in 2011. The following year, I logged this station on one of the hottest days in St. Louis as WKQX-LP. The WKQX calls were a longtime resident on 101.1 in Chicago (which was originally WMAQ-FM). Later in 2011, I also pulled in WPGF-LP Memphis, TN with a simulcast of WMPS 1210 in nearby Bartlett, which carried a Conservative Talk format at the time. I logged this again at midnight on August 5, 2013, this time simulcasting WHBQ 560 Memphis with its all-Sports format.

The days of the "Franken-FM" are numbered, though...the drop-dead date for low-power analog TV, from what I've heard, is sometime in 2015. Digital TV technology has allowed for audio feeds to be broadcast on DTV channels, as is the case with one of the newest stations on the 3 Angels Broadcasting Network, K25NG on UHF Channel 25 in St. Louis. 3ABN's English radio feed on channel 25.5, 3ABN's Spanish radio feed on channel 25.6, and Radio 74 Internationale on channel 25.7, along with four channels of video. I wonder if the FCC will allow analog FM translators to carry the audio channels of DTV stations, like they do with the second and third digital channels of FM radio stations (like K297BI 107.3 St. Louis, which carries the second digital channel of KIHT 96.3). 

Get as many "Franken-FMs" as you can.

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