WXLO(FM), a Hot Adult Contemporary radio station serving the Boston and Worcester, Massachusetts markets, has become the latest MaxxCasting™ licensee to increase coverage-to-contour ratio immediately after going on air with the system. WXLO’s newly robust FM signal is now reaching Nielsen Portable People Meters (PPM) and audiences throughout both markets, with approximately one-million new listeners at home, in businesses and in automobiles receiving clear signals.
Importantly, the MaxxCasting system makes WXLO a competitive ratings force in Boston, the nation’s tenth largest market, by delivering a listenable signal through the city of Boston in Suffolk County. The system also establishes a ratings presence for WXLO across a broader strategic travel corridor section of adjacent Middlesex County, the largest county in New England by population, covering a large section of eastern Massachusetts north of Boston all the way to the New Hampshire border.
The WXLO MaxxCasting system, which went live in early January, has solved the station’s greatest coverage problems associated with signal density, building penetration and challenging commuter routes. The single-frequency network (SFN) includes three low-power transmission sites, or “nodes,” to maximize coverage for two markets, including a transmission node located on top of the John Hancock building in downtown Boston. All nodes are located in areas prone to weak signal coverage, leveraging GBS’ unique predictive modeling software to eliminate interference in areas where signals overlap. This provides a clean transition between transmitters as listeners commute throughout the region.
The WXLO system represents an important first in MaxxCasting that noticeably improves audio quality. The architecture integrates specialized IP networking technology from GatesAir to support composite digital FM multiplex (MPX) signal transport. GatesAir’s Intraplex IP Link MPX codecs keep FM signals in the digital domain while maximizing network bandwidth, making this the best-sounding MaxxCasting system to date. As usual, the codecs integrate Intraplex SynchroCast technology to tightly synchronize program audio across all transmission nodes.
MaxxCasting systems continue to pay dividends for broadcasters that have long struggled to deliver clear and listenable signals across 100 percent of their legal broadcast contours. As with MaxxCasting’s other Boston licensee, WXRV, as well as licensees live today in Chicago, Milwaukee, Seattle and other medium-to-major markets, WXLO’s broader signal will increase revenue potential by reaching more PPMs and attracting new advertisers.
“We’re excited about how good the station sounds and to reach more potential audience in downtown Boston and beyond with this new technology,” Bob Goodell, Regional Vice President, Cumulus Media.
Bill Hieatt, CTO for MaxxCasting architects GeoBroadcast Solutions, notes that the MaxxCasting system is now delivering a very robust, high-quality audio signal across the Boston area’s most challenging commuter routes. In addition to the sound-quality benefits of digital composite FM MPX transport, the GBS team customized directional antenna patterns at each node to optimize signal propagation across all transmission nodes.
“Downtown Boston is an enormous challenge due to the density of buildings, tunnels and other environmental considerations that make signal penetration difficult,” said Hieatt. “While our transmitter site within city limits solves these problems, our nodes outside of the city deliver listenable signals to drivers commuting to and from Boston Metro West and Worcester for the first time. Around the region, WXLO is now reaching audiences traveling along all major corridors, including I-95 and I-93 heading north and south. WXLO is the latest MaxxCasting system to prove the technical validity and business benefits that our solution offers to radio broadcasters across any terrain.”