From THESTREET.COM: I began hearing the buzz about two weeks ago.
People were talking about a new radio station here in New York City. It's playing dance music and it sounds great.
I asked "where is it on the dial?" and I was told 87.7.
87.7 MHz? That's not on the FM dial. Officially, in the U.S., FM starts at 87.9 MHz. We actually have a radio station in town on that frequency, WBAR, the voice of Barnard College. Sometimes WBAR is on the air, sometimes it's not.
But back to 87.7.
It sounded great, but -- as far as I knew -- that frequency was officially a television station signal for Channel 6. The nearest TV stations broadcasting on that channel are in Philadelphia and Providence, R.I.
Was this dance station running a pirate operation?
I contacted the experts at the Federal Communications Commission. They should know -- they license radio stations. A few days later, they sent me back a Web link that said I was listening to the audio output of a legally licensed, low-power TV station in this area.
Now it was time to talk to the people running the station. MegaMedia Group's (MMDA) CEO Alex Shvarts set me straight.
The station, known as Pulse 87, is officially licensed by the FCC. Its real call letters are WNYZ and it is licensed as a low-power television station licensed for the immediate New York City area.
Since low-power stations are legally allowed to broadcast separate audio and video signals, MegaMedia used the audio portion of the Channel 6 signal first to air Russian-language programming -- and now nonstop dance music 24 hours a day.
Their studios are on Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn, and the broadcast antenna is in Long Island City.
The really clever twist here is that since Channel 6 is right below the official FM dial, WNYZ's audio, being broadcast on 87.7 is also right below the FM dial. So, legally, these guys can broadcast their radio station, which can be picked up by most listeners in New York City on nearly every FM radio in existence.
Shvarts is smart. He's been hiring the best talent on the planet for his station. Personalities include Star and Buck Wild in the mornings, Jewelz Lopez middays, Jimmy "Showboat" Fields evenings and Laura Stylez on weekends and afternoons.
Since word has begun to spread, top dance DJs from all over the world are busy contacting Shvarts to get a turn spinning tunes at night during Pulse 87's long mix sessions.
He also hired New York City radio programming veteran/legend Joel Salkowitz, (Jammin' 105, Hot 97 and lots more) as his program director for the new format. Salkowitz is one of the big reasons the station sounds as good as it does.
The radio station has been on the air for five weeks. The viral "word of mouth" by listeners has been as incredible as well. Just look at the radio station's Web site to see a constant stream of listener quotes singing the praises of Pulse 87.
Shvarts told me the station is subscribing to the Arbitron ratings service -- and that very preliminary numbers are good. The future looks promising.
Now that the station is up and running, everyone involved is looking toward the future.
The musical format may have appeal outside of the New York City area. The station's early success has gotten the attention of station owners in other cities. They've been busy contacting MegaMedia to ask about bringing this new format to their town. With many stations facing slumping listener numbers, Pulse radio could be the answer for higher ratings -- and more revenue.
WNYZ/Pulse 87 is still in "gearing up" mode.
Expect to hear a lot more about Pulse 87 in the near future.