The Boise radio dial seems to be in continuous expansion mode. Much of that growth is coming from Impact Radio Group – the Idaho-owned company that has undergone a complete transformation in recent years.
Sunday, Impact launched 92.7 The Alternative – giving the group its sixth format in the main Boise market*¹.
92.7 FM is broadcasting an alternative rock format – featuring artists like Nirvana, Coldpay, Red Hot Chili Peppers and more. I even heard a track from an artist I didn’t recognize – Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness (thanks, Siri).
You might remember that Impact previously had an alternative station of sorts, originally known as 99.1 The Virus. The group later shortened the name to V-99.1, before dropping the format entirely and trying something else in its place (99.1 FM eventually moved to the Twin Falls market). Here’s a YouTube clip of a TV spot for V:
When the station died, it held onto its Facebook page, and even hinted at the time that it might come back some day.
In recent weeks, posts started to pop up on the mostly dormant page hinting at a revival. Then Sunday, a post confirmed the revival, albeit under a new name and tweaked format.
The station will go up against heritage alternative station KQXR/100.3 The X, much as V-99.1 FM did. Impact GM Darrell Calton says V was “pretty wide open,” in terms of playlist. The Alternative will stick more to a traditional alternative-type format in its attempt to grab ratings in the market. In the spring, KQXR was the fifth-highest rated station in the market among those 12 and older.
Calton tells me that engineering crews have been working for several weeks to get not one but two frequencies tuned and ready to go – both aimed at launching the new station.
In addition to 92.7 – which is intended as a translator station and licensed to Horseshoe Bend, Impact has launched HD radio on KQBL/101.9 FM. This is the first fully functioning commercial HD station in the market*², and gives the group the ability to launch the new frequency for all — and upgrade the quality for others.
Here’s how it works:
92.7 will be the “primary” station for consumers, as you would guess, for something called Alternative 92.7. However, using a 2010 FCC decision, 92.7 FM is actually a translator that “rebroadcasts” from a multicast channel that lives at 101.9-3 FM. From the FCC’s perspective, 101.9-3 is really this new Alternative station’s “home,” but Impact is able to jump through some governmental hoops to get it on to 92.7 FM so everyone can hear.
Why does this matter? Most folks still don’t have HD radios – especially in any place but their cars. In vehicles, about 200 makes come with HD radios standard – but you might still buy a brand new car without the technology. For those that do have an HD radio, they’ll be mapped over to 101.9-3 automatically and will generally get a clearer, sharper signal.
Impact is also utilizing this trick for its existing 96.5 ESPN Boise station. The sports talker will be on 101.9-2 with a rebroadcast on the existing 96.5 FM translator (which had previously been rebroadcasting an AM transmitter, essentially).
Impact now has a full cluster of stations serving Boise – including KWYD/Wild 101 FM (now with its own booster translator in Boise at 101.5), KZMG/My 102.7, KSRV/96.1 Bob FM, KNFL/96.5 ESPN Boise, KQBL/101.9 The Bull — and KQBL/92.7 The Alternative.
*¹ = Impact also operates KSRV-AM/Oldies 1380 AM which is focused primarily on the Ontario part of the area.
*² = Scripps’ KRVB/94.9 The River also went HD this past week, though for now it is not promoting this fact nor is it utilizing any multicast subchannels. In addition, Boise State Public Radio has been broadcasting in HD for some time, but it’s not a commercial station.
Don Day was the editor of IdahoRadioNews.com for a jillion years about a jillion years ago. He’s also the digital sales and product manager for KTVB Digital.