WYCU-LD, ATBA’s 2017 Station of the Year, showcases the qualities that make LPTV stations a hallmark in their communities. With so much going against Low Power TV in the current age, it takes a station with dedication and determination to see a future for themselves in broadcast. It also takes a certain amount of courage to continue to update to reach their current audience and plan for expansion.
Cross Hill Communications did just that when the company acquired Yankee Communications Network in 2011 and also bought WVBQ-LP. Upgrades were completed in 2013 to the facility to carry digital and HD signals to provide a carefully tailored blend of local programming and syndicated television from Retro TV through an arrangement with Luken Communications. In addition to the upgrades, CHC rebranded their new network to YCN and station call letters to WYCU to reflect the brand rather than the delivery system.
The network saw the station as a way to focus on multiple platforms for delivery and therefore bring local content to communities through web and broadcast.
YCN implements web traffic heavily into their delivery services. With over 98,500 views and almost 57,000 visits in 216, YCNnow.com makes available on demand every show and segment they produce displays logos and links to major advertisers. Show segments are also posted on Facebook and Twitter to help drive traffic to the website.
Meeting the must carry requirements with local programming and an LPTV license in a county without a full power stations, it wasn’t long before WYCU was picked up by two cable providers. Combined with their over-the-air signal and cable, the stations reaches approximately 70,000 homes in the Darmouth/Lake Sunapee region of New Hampshire and Vermont.
YCN produced on average six hours of original programming a week in 2016 that directly focused on the communities in their viewing audience. Coverage of 13 high school football games to produce the game of the week has led to recognition with the New Hampshire Broadcasters Association’s Granite Mic. Another important facet for this network is grass roots politics, giving a weekly look at politics with the program Capitol Connections. No small feat was featuring every presidential candidate when they visited the area. A unique segment, YCN SoapBox, is a cultivated Pre-Election series that allows any candidate up to five minutes for an unedited stump speech, played at the end of the YCN News and again on Election Eve.
YCN provided the communities with an outlet for events and issues important to them. The Kearsarge Chronicle has provided a magazine style broadcast for the Lake Sunapee region, and recently, YCN added River Valley Chronicle for the Dartmouth and Connecticut region. Both provide a voice for non-profits, cultural institutions and churches with over half of the guests serving in one of these venues. With tourism a major industry for the area, YCN’s Explore provides a seasonal look at recreation activities.
All of this content and so much more is accomplished with just five individuals on full time. The General Manager & COO, Sales Manager and Master Control Operator each pitch in to help with production responsibilities, allowing them to stay connected to their communities and in touch with local officials and industry leaders in the area.
Looking toward the future, CHC expects the network to continue to expand with more sports and live recreation programming. That future was briefly threatened when a local cable provider tried to drop the station. As a result, leaders from six communities urged the provider to continue coverage. Today, WYCU is still carried and has been extended into other towns, bringing their schools and community events into their line-up.