EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

March 21, 2009

Local Spanish radio station first in state to broadcast on FM dial

METHUEN — The Federal Communications Commission has granted Costa Eagle Broadcasting on Merrimack Street a temporary license to broadcast its WNNW POWER 800 AM signal on the FM band, becoming the first Hispanic radio station in Massachusetts to do so.

Programs are now broadcast simultaneously on 92.1 FM and 800 AM.

"This decision made history in the commonwealth of Massachusetts and opens a new window of opportunity to all Hispanics throughout the state," said the station's general manager, Patrick Costa.

Programming on 800 AM and now 92.1 FM include a daily morning show from 6 to 10 a.m., Total Request Live (TRL) Latino, a nationally syndicated show hosted by former Miss America Susie Castillo of Methuen, and various music shows for teens and adults.

"I always had the dream of having an FM station in this market," Costa said. "But it was out of reach financially."

Costa said the FCC made some changes on March 12, allowing AM radio stations to retransmit on the FM band through an FM translator.

He said it costs between $20 million and $30 million to purchase an FM station. He would not reveal how much he paid for the FM translator.

Costa said the company began the process last summer. It is under a 30-day trial until it receives final approval by the FCC and receives a permanent license for that dial position.

"The fact that we were given the STA (temporary license) is a big step," he said.

Costa Eagle Broadcasting has a 400-foot antenna in Andover. "This frequency was chosen because it's the best for our area and we can get more power," he said.

Program director Johnny McKenzie said he is often asked why the station is not on FM.

"This is a dream come true for our people. They're elated," McKenzie said.

The primary listening audience for Power 800 is Greater Lawrence, but the signal reaches as far as Boston, Lynn, Peabody, Revere and Nashua, N.H.

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