February 23, 2004
Vox Sells (Most of) Glens Falls Cluster
FRIDAY EXTRA: In addition to the disappearance of Howard Stern
from Clear Channel-owned stations, including WNVE (95.1 Honeoye
Falls) in Rochester, there's more big news we're tracking for
you here at NERW Central. NERW has learned that Pamal is preparing
to flip WXPK (107.1 Briarcliff Manor) from a simulcast of top
40 WSPK (104.7 Poughkeepsie) to AAA, becoming the first commercial
adult album alternative outlet within listening range of New
York City. Many more details on these big stories next Monday,
right here at fybush.com...
sell-off of Vox's properties around the Northeast continued last
week, as Bruce Danziger and Jeff Shapiro's group filed to sell
most of its stations in Glens Falls, NEW YORK to
Jim Morrell's Pamal group.
Even as Vox has been selling off many of its stations in the
region (the Pioneer Valley to Saga, Concord to Nassau), Pamal
has been busy expanding, adding stations in Springfield and Westchester
- and now, for $2.5 million, Vox's sports WMML (1230 Glens Falls),
standards WENU (1410 South Glens Falls)/WENU-FM (101.7 Hudson
Falls) and country WFFG (107.1 Corinth).
Those are four of the six stations Vox bought when it created
the cluster back in 2000 - WMML, WFFG (then WHTR) and WZZM (93.5
Corinth, now WEGQ 93.7 Scotia) from Starview Media and WENU (then
WBZA), WENU-FM and WNYQ (105.7 Queensbury) from Bradmark. Vox
sold off WZZM to Galaxy once it had moved it south to the Albany
market, and a move to Albany is also in store for the one remaining
station in Vox's Glens Falls arsenal. In fact, the application
to move WNYQ south was also filed this week - it'll be licensed
to Malta, in southern Saratoga County, and will run 4800 watts
at 112 meters from the same tower just north of Schenectady that's
already home to WDCD (96.7 Clifton Park), WKKF (102.3 Ballston
Spa) and WABT (104.5 Mechanicville). (With a big cluster already
in place in Albany, including the maximum of five FM signals
and WROW 590, there's no way Pamal could add the relocated WNYQ
to its stable, which explains its absence from the deal.)
Meanwhile up in Glens Falls, Pamal will add its four new purchases
to its existing station in the region, modern AC WKBE (100.3
Warrensburg) - and the whole market will be down to just two
players, Pamal and Entertronics (WWSC 1450 Glens Falls, WCQL
95.9 Queensbury and WCKM 98.5 Lake George).
And before we leave Albany behind, we hear listeners there
will begin hearing announcements today promoting a frequency
swap to take place next week: on March 1, the religious programming
now heard on WDCD (96.7 Clifton Park) will move to 1540 Albany,
while the WPTR calls and oldies "Legends" format will
move from 1540 to 96.7. This will be the second go-round for
WDCD on 1540; Crawford Broadcasting simulcast its religious programming
on the AM side for several years before launching "Legends"
In Syracuse, WSYR (570) has a new news director to replace
Bill Carey, who's now at crosstown competitors News 10 Now and
WFBL (1390). Dave Bullard comes to WSYR from the "Fulton
Daily News" website and its companion sites serving Oswego
and Baldwinsville; he'll remain involved in those sites and their
reporters will begin contributing material to WSYR.
in Rochester, we mourn the passing of Bill Klein, the entertainment
reporter who spent 38 years entertaining the region, first on
WVOR (100.5) and later on WHAM (1180), where he was a fixture
on the morning show.
"The Klein" was particularly well loved for his
annual Oscars party, which several years ago outgrew its original
home at the George Eastman House and now takes over an entire
movie theater every year.
Klein collapsed before an appearance at the University of
Rochester Wednesday morning (Jan. 18); he was only 60. His Oscar
party will go on as scheduled next Sunday, with proceeds (as
always) benefiting WHAM's "Heart of Gold Childrens' Foundation."
Another voice disappeared from WHAM as well last week, albeit
with far less impact on the community. Joe Pagliarulo, who'd
been doing the 11 AM-2 PM talk shift formerly occupied by Bob
Lonsberry, told listeners at the end of Friday's show that it
was his last for now. "Joe Pags," who's also the weeknight
anchor for WRGB (Channel 6) and weekend talk host for WGY (810)
in Schenectady, had been doing the show mostly via an ISDN hookup
from Albany. WHAM's not saying who the talk slot's next occupant
will be...stay tuned later today on NERW for the latest.
(Tuesday update: Former WRKO/WPHT talker Jeff Katz is doing
the shift this week from right here in Rochester; meanwhile,
WHAM's Jeff Howlett checks in to let us know that Pags will,
in fact, be back next Monday. Still no permanent host for the
slot; WHAM's Web site lists Pagliarulo as a "part-time fill
How slow was the broadcasting beat downstate? So slow that
the Daily News ended up leading its radio
column on Saturday with none other than the Tower Site Calendar
2004. (Not that we mind...thanks, David Hinckley!) There was
this, at least - the Jets have re-signed with WABC (770) and
WEPN (1050) to carry their games next season.
*Things were hopping in central PENNSYLVANIA
last week, at least, as Harrisburg listeners said goodbye to
"Cat Country" WCAT-FM (106.7 Hershey) - and, after
several long days of a loop of "Pop Goes the Weasel",
said hello to something called "Cool Pop" under the
What's a "Cool
Pop"? Like "Jack" up in Canada - or the late "Blink"
in New York, for that matter - it's hard to pin down to a traditional
format label. We've heard it described as everything from hot
AC to top 40/pop, and it sounds to us (based on the playlists
we've seen) like a cross between the two, apparently with a healthy
Blink-like dose of celebrity news and gossip to be mixed in.
The only air talent on board so far are former Cat morning team
Michelle Cruz and Dennis Mitchell ("Michelle and Mitchell");
at the helm of programming is Claudine DeLorenzo, who's been
promoted from PD of sister stations WQXA-FM and WRKZ to director
of programming for the entire Citadel/Harrisburg cluster.
(Down the hall at "Red" country 102.3, those WRKZ
calls have changed to WCAT-FM. And former WCAT-FM 106.7 PD Sam
McGuire is now APD/MD and afternoon jock at WCAT-FM 102.3)
One more WCAT-FM note: former 106.7 overnight host/music director
Gwyneth "Dandalion" Seese has filed an age discrimination
lawsuit against Citadel. Seese, a 23-year veteran of the station,
was 64 when she lost her job there in June 2002.
Over in St. Mary's, Dennis Heindl's WDDH (97.5) is sold to
Michael Stapleford's Magnum Broadcasting; no word on whether
any changes are planned to the country format at "The Hound."
In Pittsburgh, Sal Patitucci's "Radio Italia" has
a new home: it's now heard weekdays at 5 PM and Sundays at 1
PM on WKFB (770 Jeannette) after many years at WEDO (810 McKeesport).
And in the State College market, WGMR (101.1 Tyrone) has moved
from modern rock to top 40, still calling itself "the Revolution."
*One DELAWARE note: WAMS (1260 Newark) has changed
calls again - this time to WNWK. We hear it's been running a
satellite soft AC format.
*One NEW JERSEY note, too: Darrin
Smith has resigned as PD of WHTG-FM (106.3 Eatontown); he'll
stick around into next month as a replacement is found.
*More bad news for VERMONT's best-known
unlicensed broadcaster: Vermont's U.S. attorney has filed a lawsuit
on behalf of the FCC to shut down Radio Free Brattleboro (107.9)
and to seize the 10-watt station's equipment. RFB responded with
a filing asking the federal courts to prevent the FCC from shutting
down the station until it can have its case heard in the courtroom.
(Tuesday update: the folks at RFB point out that their
filing asking for an injunction was filed February 13, four days
before the U.S. Attorney's office asked the court for
a cease-and-desist order against the station; also, no warrant
of seizure has been issued against RFB. Stay tuned...)
NEW HAMPSHIRE, a legal LPFM is about to hit the airwaves.
February 29 is the target sign-on date for WCNH-LP (94.7 Concord),
which will program classical music for the Granite State's capital
city under the leadership of Harry Kozlowski, former PD at WJYY/WNHI
across town. (Speaking of those stations, we can now put a price
tag on Vox's sale to Nassau - it'll get $9 million for WJYY,
WNHI and WOTX.)
*MAINE is getting a New England Cable
News bureau, thanks to the purchase of WMTW-TV (Channel 8) by
NECN co-owner Hearst Argyle. The bureau at WMTW's downtown Portland
studio will be staffed by reporter Kevin Kelley (formerly of
crosstown WCSH) and photojournalist Dave Brosemer, who comes
to Portland from NECN headquarters in Needham, Mass.
*MASSACHUSETTS listeners welcomed
a familiar voice back to the airwaves last week. David Brudnoy's
still not up to the task of talking for three hours nightly,
but he appeared for an hour of his usual WBZ (1030) shift last
week to let listeners know that he's regaining his strength and
is back in the classroom at Boston University. Brudnoy's been
off the air at 'BZ since late September.
Another Bay State talk voice has resurfaced: former WBUR "Connection"
host Christopher Lydon was filling in last week on Minnesota
Public Radio's "Midmorning," and he's rumored to be
in the running as the new permanent show host.
*Is there any broadcast engineer in southern
New England who hasn't known for years about toxic waste issues
at the transmitter site of RHODE ISLAND's most powerful
AM station? Probably not - at least judging by the number of
them who asked us if we were glowing after visiting the site
years ago - but that didn't stop the current operators of WALE
(990 Greenville) from claiming to have been taken by surprise
by environmental issues at the six tower Burrillville site. The
Providence Journal reports that Cumbre Communications
has filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy to avoid closing on its $2.35
million deal to buy WALE from North American Broadcasting, itself
in bankruptcy. Cumbre officials tell the paper that North American
concealed the environmental problems at the site, including a
$15,000 fine a decade ago for improper storage of hazardous waste.
Under a settlement deal, North American will set aside $400,000
of the money it's still owed by Cumbre to be used for cleanup
costs at the property. And who's now in control of Cumbre? The
company's former president and CEO, Jaime Aguayo, has sold his
79 percent interest in the company to Peter Arpin, whose ADD
Media also owns nearby WARL (1320 Attleboro MA).
(Cumbre is also still claiming that it plans to change the
call letters of 990 to WMAX, which will still come as a surprise
to the Michigan station that has those calls and presumably has
no intention of giving them up.)
One more problem for North American: the FCC last week upheld
a $4,000 fine against its remaining station, KFNX (1100 Cave
Creek AZ), for failing to power down from 50 kW to 1 kW at sunset.
Elsewhere in the Ocean State, we've been remiss in failing
to note a big power increase application: WADK (1540 Newport)
wants to add two more towers to its existing site north of town,
using the three-tower array to run 20,000 watts at night. It
would need all that power just to overcome the huge signal WPTR
in Albany puts into New England, and it still wouldn't cover
much beyond Newport after dark. (WADK would stay at 1000 watts,
non-directional, by day.)
Martz is taking aim at CANADA again. Now that he's
boosted the power on WRCD (101.5 Canton NY), the border broadcaster
is promoting "The Fox" all over Ottawa, including a
new Web site at www.byebyechez.com.
This isn't the first time Martz has taken a Web snipe at a Canadian
rival; his WYUL (94.7 Chateaugay NY) launched "nixthemix.com"
to target Montreal's CJFM (95.9) - only to have CJFM owner Standard
Radio buy a 25% interest in Martz' radio group. Standard has
a reason to take on Ottawa's Rogers-owned CHEZ (106.1), too;
in addition to its interest in WRCD, it owns Ottawa rock rival
CHCQ (100.1 Belleville) dropped its "Q100 Quinte Country"
identity - and its entire airstaff - last week. It's now "Cool
100," still playing country but without jocks for now. Down
the road in Cobourg, Don Martin is retiring after 29 years in
local radio, 10 of them at CHUC (1450), to join the Northumberland
Over in Peterborough, Kings Kids amends its application for
a new 50-watt contemporary Christian station to specify 99.5
instead of 88.7 MHz.
In Quebec, a CRTC
hearing on the license renewal of Genex's CHOI (98.1) brought
out politicians and listeners - and plenty of strong opinions
about the freewheeling modern rock/shock talk station.
Quebec City mayor Jean-Paul L'Allier asked the CRTC to silence
the station and its outspoken morning team of Jeff Fillion and
Andre Arthur, who have been vocal critics of the mayor and of
police, calling for a more intensive investigation into a teen
prostitution ring that reportedly counted powerful politicians
as clients. Meanwhile, fans of the station crowded the hearing
room to show their support for the morning show - and the station's
owner says he was assaulted by one of the station's critics during
a break in the hearing.
A correction from last week: we're reminded that while no
Quebec broadcaster carries Conan O'Brien's late night talk show,
it's still widely available there: satellite subscribers can
see the show on other local Canadian stations, it's carried on
a national cable network, and of course it can be seen on NBC
via WPTZ (Channel 5) down in Plattsburgh, NY.
And we'll close by saluting a true local broadcaster: Wayne
Harrett not only does the excellent "On
the Air in Atlantic Canada" site, he's also the volunteer
operator behind CFEP, "94.7 Seaside FM" in Halifax
- and when a huge winter storm battered the area, he sprung into
duty, making his way to the station and pulling a 7 AM to 9:15
PM airshift, keeping the area informed despite heavy snow and
*That's it for another week...except for our usual housekeeping
notes. First, a reminder that while we don't ask you for a password
to read NERW, this isn't a free product, either. Many of you
have already sent in subscription payments for 2004, and to all
of you we say "thank you." If you haven't, what are
you waiting for? Your contribution - of any amount
- makes it possible for us to keep NERW, now in its tenth year,
coming to you week after week after week...and if you sign up
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Site Calendar. For all the details - and easy credit card/PayPal
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If you haven't seen it yet, don't miss our roundup of all
the news that was fit to remember from last year... Click
here for our 2003 Year in Review package!
if you still haven't ordered one, we still have plenty
of 2004 Tower Site Calendars still available for your
Just as in past years, the calendar features a dozen spiffy
8.5-by-11 inch full-color images of tower sites from across the
nation - everything from Washington's WTEM to New York's WCBS/WFAN
(shown at left) to Los Angeles' KHJ to WCTM in Eaton, Ohio.
Other featured sites include Cedar Hill in Dallas, Lookout
Mountain above Denver, CKLW Windsor, WELI New Haven, WPTF Raleigh
NC, WBT Charlotte NC, WAJR Morgantown WV, WMT Cedar Rapids IA
and the mighty 12 towers of KFXR (the old KLIF 1190) in Dallas.
Unlike last year, this year's calendar features heavier paper
(no more curling!) and will be shipped shrink-wrapped on a cardboard
backing to make sure it arrives in pristine condition.
All orders received by February 21 have now been
shipped, so if you've already ordered, you should be enjoying
your calendar any day now. (And if you ordered before January
10 and haven't received your calendar yet, please let us know!)
If you haven't ordered yet, what are you waiting for? It's
too late for Christmas gift-giving - but perhaps you still need
a calendar for 2004...or maybe you didn't find one under the
tree, despite all those hints you dropped.
So order now and help support NERW and Tower Site of the Week.
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Thanks for your support!
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2003 by Scott Fybush.