A new FM radio signal has launched in Cape Breton as CBC begins transmitting its AM programming on 92.1.
Known as "nested FM," the signal is intended to improve reception to listeners already within the range of the 1140 AM frequency, which has been on the air since 1948.
Reception of the AM signal is frequently hampered by terrain and sometimes even weather.
Wendy Bergfeldt, the host and producer of CBC Cape Breton's Mainstreet, broadcast live from the transmitter into Information Morning as the time approached to launch programming on 92.1 FM.
She was joined by some of the contestants in a poetry contest related to the launch. They included the Brookland Elementary School Grade 5 classes of teachers Neeta Kumar-Britten and Jack Kelloway. The kids helped with the countdown to the signal launch.
The winning poem by Randy Pointkoski, a Cape Bretoner who works out West, was set to the melody of Leon Dubinsky's Rise Again and performed by the Iona Legion Legends. Their performance was the first thing listeners heard on the new signal.
A mock-up of an old-fashioned start button was pushed just after 8:20 a.m. by 91-year-old Rod MacNeil of Iona.
"This has been such a long time coming," said Wendy Bergfeldt, the host and producer of CBC Cape Breton's Mainstreet.
"I can hardly believe it's happening. For years, when we would go out on the road, the most common complaint we heard was that listeners loved the shows, but they couldn't hear them because the signal was spotty."
Listeners in many areas of Glace Bay, scarcely 20 kilometres from the transmitter, could not hear 1140 AM for much of the day. It was the same for listeners in East Bay, 21 kilometres away, Big Bras d'Or, 40 kilometres away, and scores of other communities.
"Our 1140 AM signal has its challenges, which is a family-friendly way of describing its often poor quality," said CBC Cape Breton Information Morning producer Don Munro.
"It's a huge relief to me to know that a majority of our listeners, who have been so patient and forgiving really, will now receive this stronger signal."
A test of the FM signal over the last several weeks has elicited positive comments from several areas poorly served by AM and extended the broadcast area on the edge of 1140's reach.