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August 2, 2018

Midcoast AM radio station now airs on FM, too

WCME, an AM radio station in Brunswick that first aired in 1955 and relaunched six years ago, is now also broadcasting an FM signal.

The Forecaster reported that "Maine's Midcoast News Station," as WCME advertises itself, began transmitting last week at 99.5 FM, in addition to its 900 AM signal. From its studio at the Fort Andross Mill business complex, the station also streams content on www.tunein.com and the WCME website.

Station President Jim Bleikamp told the Forecaster the additional signal was possible because of a new Federal Communications Commission policy aimed at helping small AM stations expand.

"A fairly large number of stations have done this and (now) we're doing it," he said.

A former anchor for the Wall Street Journal Radio Network in New York City, Bleikamp said he expects the signal to draw new listeners, especially since FM is now the "dominant band" of radio. But he noted that AM remains popular with people tuning in for local news, weather and sports coverage, which represents a large portion of WCME's programming.

Bleikamp bought WCME and rights to its AM frequency in 2009, after the station had undergone ownership changes and eventually went off the air. In 2011, the Brunswick Town Council approved a zoning change for the station's 1,000-watt transmission tower, and Bleikamp began broadcasting the next year, reaching Bath, Brunswick, Freeport and Topsham.

Radio stations broadcast more than 140 AM and FM signals in Maine, but fewer than a dozen stations are licensed in the Midcoast area.

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