After nearly six months of radio silence, Brockton’s WXBR-AM (1460) is poised to make a comeback and return to the airwaves within a matter of weeks, according to the station’s owners.
“Our engineers are working to get the station on,” said Jhonson Napoleon, president of Azure Media LLC, the Miami Gardens, Fla., company that bought the talk radio station from a Connecticut-based firm for $250,000 last year.
Many Brocktonians have wondered about the fate of WXBR since Napoleon’s company acquired the station and took it off the air in August.
In addition to relocating WXBR’s studios to 250 Belmont St., Napoleon said, Azure Media needed to update and replace the station’s transmitter and equipment.
At WXBR’s tower site in West Bridgewater, Napoleon said, company officials encountered something they were not prepared for: Approximately 100 feet of copper plates that ran between the tower and the transmitter went missing.
The copper “was all stolen,” said Napoleon. “We discovered this December when we installed the new transmitter. . . . It’s something you can’t run the radio station without.”
In addition to the missing copper plates, they found other unexpected problems that needed to be fixed before WXBR could return to the air.
“Once we opened that conduit box, we had to look at building a brand-new radio station,” said Napoleon.
Now that a new Nautel 6-kilowatt digital transmitter has been installed, he said, the station should be back on the air in February.
It’s been a lengthy hiatus for WXBR, an AM station with a long history in Brockton. It first went on the air in 1946 as WBET and operated from the The Enterprise newspaper building at 60 Main St. In 2006 it went under new ownership and its call letters were changed to WXBR.
Although the radio station changed hands several times in recent years, it continued to identify itself as community-oriented, with grass-roots programming that included broadcasts of high school football games and locally-produced shows like “Real Estate Today,” hosted by South Easton real estate agent Bernie Hassan, and “MetroSouth Morning News” with Kevin Tocci.
Brockton Ward 5 City Councilor Dennis DeNapoli used to produce a sports program and an oldies show on Friday nights, until the station went off the air last summer.
“I signed off on Aug. 3 at 7 p.m.,” he said. “My voice was the last voice to say 1460 WXBR Brockton, Massachusetts. It was a sad day.”
DeNapoli said WXBR’s aging studios were held together with “paper clips and bobby pins” but the station managed to keep going.
The longer WXBR stays off the air, he said, the more he has grown concerned about its future.
He said he’s also worried that WXBR’s towers are on leased land, and wonders what that will mean for the future of the station long-term. When the lease expires, he said, “what happens to the station?”
DeNapoli said there is no other radio station that can take the place of WXBR. “It’s missed,” he said.
As local radio listeners are left waiting for WXBR’s silence to be broken, many of the familiar voices of WXBR’s on-air personalities have moved on to other parts of the dial.
Tocci, the former news director and host of “MetroSouth Morning News,” can be heard on WATD-FM (95.9) in Marshfield. Jim Larkin, the longtime host of “Sounds of the Emerald Isle,” broadcasts his Irish music show over the Internet and on WVBF-AM (1530) in Taunton.
DeNapoli said he would like to continue his shows on WXBR, but he has yet to hear anything from Azure Media. “They haven’t been keeping anybody in the loop,” he said.
Napoleon said he understands the frustration felt by members of the community since WXBR went off the air. He reiterated WXBR will be back on the air soon, and it will remain an English-speaking station with programs that focus on the community of Brockton.“We built a brand-new studio,” said Napoleon. “It’s going to be a station that will last.”