Lewiston-Auburn community radio expands into FM

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AUBURN — Local radio station owner Dick Gleason figures a good formula for the Twin Cities is a little bit of community news mixed with a little Miley Cyrus.

“To me, the music choice is very important,” Gleason said. “We’ve hired a professional programmer so we play the very best music, but we have local interest and news.”

Gleason officially announced his new FM radio station, Z105.5 Wednesday. The station will broadcast out of Gleason’s Center Street office with a signal that will cover up to 25 miles around the Twin Cities.

Gleason calls the station’s new format Community Radio. The day starts with community programing and Twin Cities newsmakers and nonprofits discussing local events.

“I think the key to the future of radio is to interact with its listeners,” Gleason said. “We’re doing it in any way possible. We have the morning show with interviews, obviously with the phone line for shout-outs and requests and with social media. We are not just an entertainment force. We are an interactive force.”

It veers back into entertainment for the rest of the day, featuring popular new music mixed with hits dating back to the 1980s.

“We have such a wide range of demographics,” Station Manager Bonnie McHugh said. “Including past hits, we are engaging everyone. We have the current hits and then something that may bring back memories.”

The station will also cover high school sports, Portland Sea Dogs baseball and Portland Pirates hockey. It’s not the first FM station in Gleason’s lineup, but it is the newest. He also operates WOXO Country on 92.7 and 100.7 FM, WTME Family on 780 and 1450 AM and WEZR 1240 AM.

The new FM station was added as an adjunct to the 1240 AM station by the Federal Communications Commission earlier this year and both will carry the same programming. Listeners will be able to hear the same thing on both AM and FM dials, but it’s new programming from a new location. Most of Gleason’s programming originated from offices in Norway or Mexico before.

Gleason has operated the 555 Center St. studio, across from the Auburn Mall, for 10 years but only on Sundays. It was used to record Connie Cote’s popular Sunday show “La Revue Francaise.”

Cote’s Sunday morning show will continue, now on both the FM and AM stations, and now the rest of the station joins her in LA.

“It has a long history of doing it, and I’m proud of that,” Gleason said. “She has been doing a radio program, in French, for more than 50 years.”

The station’s broadcast booth is in the center of the office and it’s not insulated at all from the rest of the operation. Listen while the on-air hosts are talking and you might catch smatterings of background office talk or ringing telephones.

“It makes me think of the television show ‘Northern Exposure,'” Gleason said. “We have this wide open, un-soundproofed booth.”

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