WBGZ, the River Bend's local AM radio station based in Alton, has added an FM signal at 94.3 as well as online streaming. “The Big Z” will continue to broadcast at 1570 AM as well.

WBGZ General Manager Sam Stemm, president of Metroplex Communications Inc., licensee of WBGZ, made the announcement Jan. 12. 

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Stemm also announced that the station has begun full-time streaming for online listening, which may be accessed at the station's website, www.AltonDailyNews.com.

“Our goal is to be on every delivery platform accessible to listeners in the River Bend area,” Stemm said. “Local programming is what sets us apart from all the other stations on the dial, and we have just made it easier and more convenient to access that programming.”

The FM signal at 94.3 has generally the same coverage area as WBGZ's AM signal. However, the FM will remain at full power throughout the evening and over night, whereas the AM signal is required to reduce power during those times.  The FM practical effect is a much broader and stronger signal at night.

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“Listeners will find the FM signal much more listenable.  Technically, it's a higher quality signal and will sound much better. But the greatest benefit will be to those who enjoyed our programming by day but could not hear it at night.  Now they will be able to tune to a quality signal 24 hours a day,” Stemm said.

WBGZ was first licensed by the Federal Communications Commission in 1948 as WOKZ. It has served the River Bend continuously since. The call letters were changed to WBGZ in 1984. Stemm was named WBGZ general manager in 1990 and acquired ownership of the station in 2004.

“It has been my goal to improve our coverage with an FM signal for quite some time,” Stemm said.  “This has been an ongoing project for several years, and we have finally negotiated the engineering and regulatory hurdles to make it a reality to the benefit of our community.”

WBGZ's programming of local news and information will be identical on the FM, AM and live stream. 

“We do not want to fragment the local audience. Our goal is to make our quality local programming available on a multitude of platforms, not to make the listener choose between a variety of local options” Stemm said.

WBGZ also operates a local news website, www.AltonDailyNews.com.  WBGZ's news product is also licensed to Riverbender.com.  WBGZ operates from studios at 227 Market Street in downtown Alton.

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