Rock Radio Station May Return After Dropping Off MD Airwaves
ANNAPOLIS, MD - An alternative and rock radio station may soon return to the Maryland airwaves.
WRNR is in talks to buy 99.9 FM and 810 AM in Annapolis, multiple reports said in recent weeks.
The news comes about a year after Annapolis-based WRNR sold its 103.1 FM signal to a Christian music broadcaster. WRNR retained its call letters and left the signal in early 2023. WRNR then continued with a minimalistic online stream.
It's not yet known whether WRNR will return to its full-fledged programming schedule or instead broadcast the modest stream already playing online.
Station General Manager Steve Kingston expects WRNR to return "on or about April 1st."
"We received [Federal Communications Commission] approval for the purchase of 99.9 FM," Kingston told Patch in a Tuesday email. "We expect to close within weeks."
99.9 FM has previously carried the simulcast of the Annapolis-based 1430 AM WNAV.
The future of WNAV's FM simulcast is unclear.
This reported sale does not seem to affect 99.9 FM WFRE, a country music station based in Frederick.
What We Know
Kingston declined to disclose the purchase price for 99.9 FM and 810 AM.
He also did not answer Patch's questions about whether WRNR DJs and live shows will return on either station.
Patch listened to the WRNR online stream for about 11 hours split between Monday and Tuesday.
We did not hear any live DJs or advertisements.
The music included alternative, classic rock, punk rock and folk. Artists ranged from Bruce Springsteen and Red Hot Chili Peppers to Foo Fighters and Bob Marley & The Wailers. Newer artists like Imagine Dragons, Noah Kahan and The Lumineers were also played.
A message at the top of the hour declares that it's "The voice of the bay. WYRE Annapolis and WRNR Online."
That WRNR online stream is currently simulcasted on 810 AM, which was owned by WYRE.
Kingston said 810 AM WYRE carried WRNR's 103.1 FM simulcast from September 2018 to late 2020.
810 AM WYRE then converted to an oldies station, Kingston said.
Kingston said 810 AM WYRE started carrying WRNR's online stream again in February 2023 when WRNR left 103.1 FM.
InsideRadio reported this Jan. 30 that Kingston's company, Cortona Media, bought 810 AM from WYRE's Richard Dent. That would let WRNR own the signal rather than rent it from WYRE.
"We have filed for transfer of license to our company, Cortona Media LLC," Kingston said. "The application was filed last week."
Kingston said he is buying 810 AM "in anticipation of the purchase of 99.9 FM" as a "'translator' whose content must be fed via an AM frequency."
InsideRadio and Radio+Television Business Report both said in December 2023 that Cortona Media was buying 99.9 FM in Annapolis for $75,000. The reports said the 99.9 FM signal was previously owned by Hope Christian Church of Marlton, New Jersey.
InsideRadio said 99.9 FM was expected to continue carrying the 1430 AM WNAV simulcast.
Radio+Television Business Report said "WNAV had been operated under a now-concluded lease agreement by Maryland Media One."
Patch called and emailed WNAV for more information on its relationship with 99.9 FM. We have not yet heard back. We will update this story if we get a response.
Patch has not yet been able to independently find any of these proceedings in the Federal Communications Commission's record database.
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How We Got Here
WRNR sold its 103.1 FM signal to Peter & John Radio Fellowship for $1.54 million in November 2022, reports said.
WRNR stopped broadcasting on 103.1 FM in February 2023 and converted to its online-centered format. WRNR has continued posting on Facebook since the sale, but its page has not yet addressed its future plans.
Bright-FM started airing its Christian contemporary music on 103.1 FM on Feb. 11, 2023.
WRNR listed its office address as 179 Admiral Cochrane Drive in Annapolis. Its 103.1 FM transmitter was located in Grasonville, Queen Anne's County.
When it broadcasted on 103.1 FM, WRNR's coverage area included Baltimore City, the District of Columbia and these counties: Anne Arundel, Queen Anne's, Baltimore, Harford, Talbot, Kent, Prince George's, Calvert, Howard and Montgomery.
Fans can still listen to the WRNR online stream for free at wrnr.com.
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