February 16, 2004
Nassau Buys Again in NH
*As NERW first reported three weeks ago,
the fast-growing Nassau Broadcasting cluster in northern New
England is adding yet another group of stations in NEW HAMPSHIRE.
This time, it's
the Vox cluster in Concord that's joining Nassau. No purchase
price has been announced yet, but the deal will add classic hits
WNHI (93.3 Belmont), country WOTX (102.3 Concord) and top 40
WJYY (105.5 Concord) to the stations Nassau is buying from Tele-Media
(oldies WNNH 99.1 and, down in Nashua, WHOB 106.3.)
Vox also owns talk WTPL-FM (107.7 Hillsborough), which isn't
part of the deal; it'll continue to be LMA'd to Embro Communications,
which owns crosstown WKXL (1450 Concord) and will be pretty much
the only local competition for Nassau in the Granite State capital.
(And is Vox done selling? All Access reports the company
is near a deal to sell its Glens Falls, N.Y. cluster to Albany
Broadcasting, and we hear several other Vox stations may also
be on the sale block.)
Heading up I-89, the longstanding construction permit for
WQTH (720 Hanover) is another step closer to getting on the air.
We're accustomed to visiting transmitters here at NERW, but this
past week marked the first time anyone brought a transmitter
to us! That's WQTH owner Bob Vinikoor (right) with fellow
New England broadcaster Dennis Jackson in the photo above, and
that's the future WQTH transmitter in the truck behind them.
What were they doing here in Rochester? Simple - up until
last week, that big ol' Gates MW50 transmitter was on the air
as the primary transmitter for the legendary CKLW (800) in Windsor,
Ontario - and Dennis and Bob were on their way back to New Hampshire
after buying and dismantling the beast. That's a 50 kW dummy
load in front of the transmitter, and those are the tubes carefully
packed in the boxes on the right side of the truck.
And we hear there's been a format change in Keene, where WZBK
(1220) has dropped the talk and sports it was doing (as "WKBK-2")
to go to standards as "Unrock 1220."
*In VERMONT, the folks at Radio Free
Brattleboro (107.9) are bracing for another FCC visit, perhaps
as early as this week. The Brattleboro Reformer reports
that the unlicensed station's attorney has received a letter
from the U.S. Attorney's office in Burlington rejecting several
proposals that might have allowed the station to stay on the
air; meanwhile, Brattleboro voters will cast ballots March 2
on a question asking whether they "grant permission"
for RFB to broadcast.
*One MAINE TV story this week: WLBZ
(Channel 2) anchor Rick Tyler is leaving the Bangor NBC affiliate.
The Gannett station offered to renew Tyler's contract if he'd
move to a reporting position from the anchor desk; instead, he's
joining his wife's PR firm full-time.
*Is Sinclair's "News Central" headed
for western MASSACHUSETTS? There's a lot of talk about
some cutbacks on the way in the newsroom at WGGB (Channel 40)
in Springfield, the ABC outlet that's a distant number two (in
a two-station market, more or less) to LIN's WWLP (Channel 22)
- and we wouldn't be at all surprised to see much of WGGB's news
content coming from Hunt Valley, Maryland in the not-too-distant
future. (And is it more than just a coincidence that the station
has recently rebranded from "News 40" to "ABC
We can now report a purchase price for Saga's Pioneer Valley
deal with Vox: Saga will pay $7 million for WRSI (93.9 Turners
Falls), WPVQ (95.3 Greenfield), WRSY (101.5 Marlboro VT) and
WRSI's two translators, W246AM (97.1 Amherst) and W287AK (105.3
And we're happy to report that police in East Longmeadow made
an arrest last week in the fire that was set outside the studios
of Saga's WAQY (102.1 Springfield). Christopher D. Christian,
24, of Springfield pleaded not guilty to two counts of arson;
he'll be back in court next week.
We reported it last
November - and now the Taunton Gazette has taken
notice of the possible shutdown of that southeastern Massachusetts
community's only local radio station. WPEP (1570 Taunton) would
go dark under a plan to boost the power of its former sister
station, WNSH (1570 Beverly) - but it's not going down without
a fight. We hear the station's current staffers are looking for
other ways to keep WPEP alive...stay tuned.
Down in Fall River, Barry Richard is the new morning news
anchor at WSAR (1480); Richard was doing talk over at WBSM (1420)
in New Bedford until he was abruptly dismissed last fall.
Communications is bowing out of the ownership scene in PENNSYLVANIA.
It struck a deal last week to trade its properties in Erie and
Reading to Citadel in exchange for a Citadel cluster in Bloomington,
Illinois. The swap puts Citadel in Erie for the first time, where
it will own standards WRIE (1260 Erie), country WXTA (97.9 Edinboro),
AC WXKC (99.9 Erie) and classic rock WQHZ (102.3 Erie); it also
adds country WIOV-FM (105.1 Ephrata) and sports WIOV (1240 Reading)
to Citadel's large cluster of stations in eastern and central
And Citadel wasted
no time at all making changes to that cluster as it prepares
to bring the country giant that is "I105" into its
fold. On Friday, the lagging 80s pop format at WRKZ (102.3 Carlisle)
disappeared, replaced by country as "Red."
That, in turn, means the imminent demise of another Citadel
country property, "Cat Country" WCAT-FM (106.7 Hershey),
where PD Sam McGuire departed last week. Cat afternooner Tag
Martin is headed to "Red" for mornings, with Cat morning
news guy Brad Flick heading for afternoons on Red.
So with country on 105.1 for Reading and Lancaster and 102.3
for Harrisburg and York, what will become of 106.7's big central
Pennsylvania signal? Stay tuned...
Up in northeastern Pennsylvania, the new Route 81 Radio is
making is first moves as it takes over several stations from
Citadel: in Hazleton, WAZL (1490) has gone dark as it prepares
to move into new studios and launch local programming sometime
in March or April. Up the road in Carbondale, WCWI (94.3) has
ditched its "Cat Country" simulcast (from WCTO 96.1
Easton) in favor of a simulcast of the standards programming
on WNAK (730 Nanticoke), which has always done surprisingly well
in the older Scranton/Wilkes-Barre market.
In Philadelphia, Sam Milkman is out as PD of Greater Media
rocker WMMR (93.3); no replacement has been named yet. And Chuck
Tisa has signed on for three years as PD of Beasley's WLDW (96.5);
are the rumors that the former "Wild 96.5" will soon
be "Wired" true?
*In NEW YORK, WPTR (1540 Albany) is
apparently sticking with its "Legends" oldies format
even as it goes all-automated; contrary to what the message boards
are saying, we hear star jock "Boom Boom" Brannigan
is still with the station, but in a behind-the-scenes role for
now as the station looks towards a relaunch and tries to cut
its costs. Across town, Galaxy has changed the calls again on
its "Eagle" 93.7, flipping WEGB to the old Boston "Eagle"
calls of WEGQ before we could get over there to add a legal ID
to the collection.
Down in New York City, Chad Brown moves over from general
sales manager of WCBS (880) to VP/GM of WCBS-FM (101.1) - and
we're reminded that we've neglected to note the arrival of Annie
Bergen as new morning host at classical WQXR (96.3).
In Syracuse, Tim Noble is the new APD/music director/night
jock at Galaxy's "K-Rock" WKRL (100.9 North Syracuse)/WKRH
(105.9 Minetto), moving over from the former "K-Rock"
Here in Rochester, WGMC (90.1 Greece) has turned off its east-side
translator (W286AE, 105.1 Fairport) now that it's on the air
with increased power from its main transmitter. We hear the translator
high atop Baker Hill in Perinton is on the market to the right
And speaking of translators, the Mars Hill network's W289AE
in Ogdensburg has moved from 105.7 to 105.9, getting away from
the CIKR (105.7 Kingston) signal that signed on a couple of years
Over in Buffalo, the Bills made the easy choice for a new
play-by-play voice to replace 37-year veteran Van Miller, picking
Miller's color colleague John Murphy to take over play-by-play
duties next year. Murphy will keep his day job as sports director
at WKBW-TV (Channel 7) - and speaking of WKBW, it's finally been
granted special temporary authority to get its long-delayed DTV
signal on the air on channel 38.
first CANADA story this week is also something of
a Buffalo story - CFLZ (105.1 Niagara Falls) is applying for
a big power increase that will give it a real signal over the
Buffalo market for the first time.
CFLZ began its life as a travelers' information station on
91.9, moving to 105.1 when CHOW (1470 Welland) moved to FM on
91.7 in the late nineties. In September 2002, the travelers'
information programming moved over to sister station CJRN (710
Niagara Falls) as part of a shuffle that took 105.1 to modern
AC as "the River," picking up much of the local news
and public affairs role that CJRN used to have in the community.
(The River had been on CKEY-FM 101.1 Fort Erie, which became
rhythmic top 40 "Wild 101" aimed at, and partially
programmed from, Buffalo.)
But the River on 105.1 has been hampered by a weak signal
- 400 watts from the top of the Skylon Tower overlooking the
Falls. Now it's hoping to give that signal a big boost, all the
way to 7200 watts (into a directional antenna with a maximum
lobe of 30 kW ERP; unlike the US, which licenses directional
FMs based on maximum power, Canada uses average ERP, which makes
direct comparisons a bit tricky.)
The application may face some tough questions when it goes
before the CRTC April 19, though; for one thing, the CRTC wants
some assurances that CFLZ will be programmed for the Canadian
side of the border and not for Buffalo, where Citadel already
handles sales and some programming for CKEY. Another problem
that may crop up stems from the lag in adding new U.S. applications
to Industry Canada's database - the CFLZ application doesn't
take into account the pending application by WMJQ (105.5 Brockport)
to move to 104.9, where it would be tightly spaced to a more
The CRTC has some other issues on its hands as well; for one,
the future of Astral Media's cluster of AM stations (and CFOM
102.9 Levis) in Quebec after a second proposed sale of the stations
has fallen through. Astral's initial plan to sell the stations
to the big Quebecor media group was tossed out because of market-concentration
concerns, and last week the second proposed buyers pulled out
of the C$12 million deal. Montreal media gossip suggests the
breakdown of the sale came after a second popular CKAC (730)
talk host left the station; Jean Lapierre departed last week
to lead the Liberal Party's Quebec election campaign, leaving
CKAC even weaker than it first looked when top-rated host Paul
Arcand announced he would move over to Corus' FM talk outlet,
And while its regulatory counterparts to the south worry about
Janet Jackson's Super Bowl striptease, the CRTC - not to mention
Parliament - has Conan O'Brien to deal with. While the Super
Bowl broadcast generated almost no complaints in laid-back Canada,
Conan's Canadian visit touched off controversy after he sent
Triumph the Insult Comic Dog to Quebec City to - what else? -
insult the Francophones.
So while U.S. politicians seized on a fleeting glimpse of
Janet to make political hay, their colleagues up north are holding
press conferences attacking the hand puppet for falling afoul
of the rules that ban programming that's insulting to specific
ethnic or language groups. (Ironically, the shows weren't even
broadcast in Quebec; O'Brien's Late Night is seen in Canada
on CHUM's "NewNet" stations, which don't reach Quebec
- so anyone in Quebec who saw the shows saw them on the unregulated
American feed from WPTZ in Plattsburgh...)
A few more Canadian tidbits: CHUM's Ottawa radio cluster is
losing its VP/GM, as Mark Maheu heads east to Halifax to become
VP/COO of NewCap's radio group.
In Peterborough, King's Kids Promotions Outreach Ministries
applies for a 50-watt signal on 88.7, to program contemporary
In Toronto, CJRT (Jazz 91.1) shuffles its jock lineup, welcoming
CJEZ veteran Tish Iceton for mornings. She's now followed by
Terry McElligott in middays and Larry Green in afternoons.
And on the DTV front, Global applies for a Toronto digital
signal on channel 65. It would join several other Toronto DTVs
recently approved by the CRTC: CITS-DT Hamilton on channel 35,
instead of the channel 21 it requested; CTV's CFTO-DT on channel
40; Toronto One's CKXT-DT on channel 66 in Toronto and 15 in
Hamilton; and the CBC's CBLT-DT 20 and CBLFT-DT 24.
*That's it for another week...except for our usual housekeeping
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