Portland’s only commercial radio station carrying classical music, WBACH, is returning to the airwaves next week after a seven-month absence.
The station, whose license is owned by Binnie Media of Portsmouth, N.H., will broadcast beginning Monday on 96.9 FM in Greater Portland on a frequency Binnie has been using to simulcast its country station, The Wolf. That station will continue to be heard on its main frequency, 99.9 FM, said Patrick Collins, vice president of operations for Binnie Media/New England.
WBACH will return with the same basic format of classical music it had before going off the air in September, Collins said.
WBACH’s absence from Portland’s airwaves was the result of Nassau Broadcasting going into bankruptcy and selling off its Maine stations, including the WBACH stations, said Collins.
Binnie Media bought the WBACH licenses, allowing it to broadcast on 106.9 FM in Rockland and 107.7 FM in Ellsworth, while Mainestream Media bought the license to the WBACH signal previously heard in the Portland area, 104.7 FM in Kennebunk.
Mainestream Media converted 104.7 FM to a contemporary music station now known as “Hot 104.7.” Meanwhile, Binnie Media sold the 107.7 FM license for Ellsworth but continued to broadcast WBACH in Rockland.
Collins said Binnie Media had gotten many letters and emails from WBACH fans lamenting the loss of the Portland area’s only full-time classical radio station. Maine Public Broadcasting Network stations carry classical music, but only about three hours per day in the mornings.
To bring WBACH back to Portland, Binnie Media bought new equipment that allows the signal to be broadcast as a subchannel of The Wolf, which goes by the call letters WTHT. So WBACH will technically be listed under the call letters WTHT-HD2.
WBACH’s Portland signal will be broadcast from the top of the Eastland Hotel in downtown Portland, giving the station a stronger signal in the Portland area than it has ever had before, Collins said. The signal will be heard around Greater Portland, including Biddeford, Saco, Scarborough, Westbrook and Falmouth.
People with HD radios will be able to get the WBACH signal much farther away, in large sections of southern and central Maine, said Collins.
When Binnie Media bought the WBACH license for Rockland, it also retained the WBACH broadcasting facility in Kennebunk and retained its popular on-air hosts, including Scott Hooper, Don Spencer and Larry King. Therefore, the programming heard on WBACH in Portland will also be originating from the Kennebunk studio, featuring the same on-air staff.
“We had gotten a lot of requests to bring this back to Portland, and now with this new equipment, we can,” said Collins.
Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: