XRB AM 1610 Brownsburg Remembered

December 8, 2019-by William C. Walker
The LPAM Network
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If you live in or near Brownsburg, Indiana, surely will recall listening to WXRB, a Part 15 AM Radio station that served Hendricks County for several years until becoming a licensed LPFM radio station. I met with former owner and GM, Shane Ray recently to reminisce about the station and then discuss the metamorphosis to a LPFM station. Part two of this article will be published soon and talk about WYRZ, the LPFM station in Brownsburg. Focusing on the transition from a Part 15 station to licensed station shows how all the success of the Part 15 station helped set the foundation for the licensed station.

(Below. GM Shane Ray at his desk.)
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"William: What was your background in radio broadcasting prior to starting XRB AM 1610 in Brownsburg?"

Shane: I started at WYMC in Mayfield, KY. I liked the hometown atmosphere that we projected there. Though it now has an FM translator, it was an AM only station at the time. I got on there my senior year at Graves County High because I was in the TV/Audio class in school. From the time I was five years old I knew I like the idea of playing records all day for a living after visiting one of my dad's friends who worked at another local station. Little did I know there was a LOT more to it. I remind that friend of my dad when I see him that he is the one to thank or blame for saving me from a life of prosperity. After a few years at WYMC, I worked ONE night at the local "big FM" station and learned I didn't want to work in corporate radio. I walked away from radio for several years.

" William: When did XRB AM officially sign on the air in Brownsburg? And then WYRZ FM?"

Radio Brownsburg signed on July 12th 2008 at noon. It was fairly big deal at the time as we had town council members there, a ribbon cutting with the Brownsburg Chamber of Commerce, food vendors and classic cars in the parking lot. There was no other radio station physically located in Hendricks County anymore so we became "the hometown radio" radio station that everyone wanted. That fact alone gave us quite an advantage and still does today.

WYRZ-LP went on the air October 27th of 2015 at 10am. We didn't make as big of a deal about it locally as we did with Radio Brownsburg. But we had several friends in the studio as it happened and people stopping by all day to wish us well. In both cases, the first song played was "Rock Around The Clock" by Bill Haley and the Comets followed by my personal favorite "Kentucky Rain" by Elvis Presley.

(Below, Shane Ray with his wife Teresa at the XRB Ribbon Cutting in Brownsburg)

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"William: How successful was the Part 15 AM station in terms of the number of listeners via the over the air signal and also internet streaming? Also, was the station able to turn a profit or were you usually running in the red? Some Part 15 stations do actually make a profit after being on the air for a couple of years through advertisements, sponsors for high school sports and live remotes?"

Shane: Radio Brownsburg had several lucky elements in place when we it started. The first and most important was my AWESOME wife. She tells me it wasn't luck since someone special has to know how to use the "lucky elements". She says that "someone special" could only be me. The station operated in the red for about six months, as it was at least paying for itself after that time. It was probably a year before I started paying myself and was able to keep that up until we pulled the plug in December 2017 when the last client left (yes we kept it going even after the LPFM went on the air). During that time we would do ALMOST ANYTHING for money. We did live remotes, local high school sports, local news, weather reports, etc. We tried to sound as much like a big station as we could. AND IT WORKED!
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"William: Were you able to develop local shows on XRB AM other than your morning drive time show prior to starting WYRZ FM?"

Yes. We developed a show that started out as an interview show with a town councilman. When he left office it became a show with the Town Manager. I was also the host of a community affairs program where I talked with just about anyone that was a local news maker - authors,town officials,some local and national celebrities, etc. We did a high school coaches show, Sunday morning shows, Business of the Week interviews, etc. We also had several syndicated and local prerecorded music shows.

"William: At what point while running XRB AM did you decide to pursue a LPFM license for Brownsburg? And how easy and how long did it take to develop a non profit group allowing you to be eligible for a license?"

From day one of Radio Brownsburg we had people telling "I love your station. When will you get on FM so I can drive around the county and hear you?" After The Community Radio Act passed in 2011 we knew it was a matter of time and we had the template as well as already making a name for ourselves in the county. But had no idea how hard it was going to be to get the FM going. It took several months of getting the non profit status. We learned the hard way that the less you tell the government on an application the better. Not because we needed to hide something, but because long answers leads to more questions. Since all of this was done through the mail we had several months of "explaining" what we meant by an answer,and "expand" on our answers, or give "multiple examples".

Putting the board together was not a big problem as I was friends with several business owners who loved the idea of being on a radio station board. We were also lucky to have Bruce Quinn guiding us the whole way. He was the former owner of WKLU in Brownsburg and now the ED of an LPFM in Columbus, Indiana. He really wanted us to succeed in his old hometown and we would have had an even harder time without him.

"William: Part two of this article will be published by the New Year's weekend. A continuation of the transformation from a Part 15 AM station to licensed LPFM will be covered in more detail."