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March 1, 2004

WZZD Flips to Conservative Talk

*There's a format change on the way in PENNSYLVANIA in a few weeks. On April 5, Salem will flip WZZD (990 Philadelphia) from the format of religious teaching and music that it's had for 23 years to conservative talk. 990 will get new calls, WNTP, and a program lineup that will include the syndicated offerings from Laura Ingraham, Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and Michael Savage.

Salem has been rolling out its conservative talk in many of its markets, including last year's launch of WTTT (1150) in Boston; in addition to the April 5 launches in Philadelphia and Dallas (KSKY 660 Balch Springs TX), Salem is also introducing a national morning show hosted by William Bennett and veteran talk PD Tom Tradup. "Bill Bennett's Morning in America" will also be heard on WTTT, replacing the current Jimi Carter morning show there; NERW suspects it's just a matter of time before Salem clears that show and the rest of its network on one of its New York outlets (WMCA 570 or WWDJ 970) as well.

Another call change in Philadelphia: WLDW (96.5) has become WRDW-FM, reflecting its new "Wired" identity; those calls have a long heritage down in Augusta, Georgia, where owner Beasley has WRDW (1630) - and where there's also WRDW-TV, no longer co-owned with the radio station.

Just over the line in DELAWARE, WAMS (1260 Newark) applied for new calls WNWK last week, but apparently never used them; it's being heard lately with ABC's soft AC satellite format.

There's a fight brewing in Chambersburg over the land where the four towers of WCBG (1590) now sit. City officials began building a water tower right next door to the site, apparently without realizing that the RF field from the station would interact with the new structure. Now the city says it will condemn the land on which the towers will sit, offering Verstandig Broadcasting a paltry $30,000 for relocating to a city-owned landfill site. The station, understandably, doesn't want to move; we'll keep you posted on how this one plays out.

Up in the Scranton area, WKJN (1440 Carbondale) applies to change its calls back to WCDL; new owner Route 81 Radio is planning to build new studios in the Carbondale city hall building to get the station back on the air soon. (Sister station WCWI 94.3 has changed calls to WNAK-FM and is now simulcasting standards WNAK 730; another Citadel spin-off, WCWY 107.7 Tunkhannock, is changing calls to WBZR under its new owner, Geos Communications.)

Tom Bass is the new PD at WEZX (106.9 Scranton)/WPZX (105.9 Pocono Pines); he's probably best known in the region for his many years in Connecticut, where he programmed WRKI and WHCN.

In State College, WBHV (103.1) segues from top 40 to hot AC; it's still "Beaver 103."

Howard Stern fans in Pittsburgh are making do without the shock jock for now; WXDX (105.9) there was one of the six Clear Channel stations that abruptly pulled the Stern show from their airwaves on Thursday. "The X" played music Thursday and Friday mornings, and it's not clear yet whether the Stern show will be back there (or on Clear Channel's WNVE 95.1 in the Rochester market, which also went Stern-less) any time soon.

Just over the state line in Wheeling, WEST VIRGINIA, Keymarket took control of WVKF (105.5 Bethlehem WV) on Friday, precipitating a format flip at another station as well. Clear Channel keeps the WVKF calls and the "Kiss" top 40 format, moving them down the dial to the former WEEL (95.7 Shadyside OH) - and the oldies that had been on WEEL move up to 105.5 as "Cool," with new calls WUKL on the way.

And up in Greenville, we hear WGRP (940) has been back on the air for a few weeks with a simulcast of oldies WMVL (101.7 Lineville).

*A format flip in NEW YORK's Capital District leads things off this week; as we'd hinted last week, Crawford Broadcasting will move the oldies "Legends" WPTR (1540 Albany) over to the FM dial today, swapping calls and format with religious WDCD (96.7 Clifton Park). While the religious programming gets the big 50,000 watt AM signal, we're hearing that some tweaks to "Legends" are on the way at its new FM home, where it will compete with Clear Channel oldies WTRY (98.3 Rotterdam) and its emphasis on the 60s and 70s, as well as Pamal's WKLI (100.9 Albany) and its standards format.

One WPTR jock won't make the move to the FM dial: Kenneth "Hubcap" Carter, whose Saturday night oldies show (based at Crawford's KAAM in Dallas) was heard on WPTR and on WLGZ in Rochester, died Friday (Feb. 27) at his home in Dallas. Carter was 60.

(One more upstate note: WBUG 1570 in Amsterdam has changed calls to WVTL; no word yet if there's a format change from "Bug Country" to go with it.)

Heading down the Hudson, NERW was first to report (in a Friday extra last week) that Pamal will soon flip WXPK (107.1 Briarcliff Manor) from its current top 40 simulcast of Poughkeepsie's WSPK to adult album alternative - and now we can fill in some of the details. Peter Mutino, late of WGCH (1490 Greenwich CT), will be the station's general manager, and it'll be based at Pamal's studio facility in Beacon. Latest word is that the new 107.1 will debut on April 1; the message boards have already noted that the signal's original calls of WRNW are available (and, as one wag noted, early WRNW jock Howard Stern just might be, too.)

Out on Long Island, WMJC (94.3 Smithtown) snags another former WLIR (92.7) staffer: the "English Muffin" has joined many of her former colleagues at "Island 94.3."

Former WCBS (880 New York) news director Frank Raphael has joined Sirius satellite radio, heading up its new local news and traffic service.

And we're sorry to report the passing of Al Casey, former PD at WXLO (98.7 New York, now WRKS). Casey died February 23 in Washington state; he was 60.

*In CONNECTICUT, Steve Marcus has exited as PD of Cox's WEZN-FM (99.9 Bridgeport); the search is now underway for a new PD at "Star 99.9."

WRYM (840 New Britain) has new owners - Lucio Rozzier's "Eight Forty Broadcasting" is paying Hartford County Broadcasting $1.06 million for the Spanish-language outlet.

And Fox DTV is coming to Connecticut - we hear WTIC-DT (Channel 31) was due to sign on over the weekend.

*A quiet week in MASSACHUSETTS - though we can report a format change (of sorts) at WCCM (1490 Haverhill), which drops its overnight sports in favor of oldies from 3 PM until 5:30 AM daily.

And congratulations to Greg Strassell, who's been promoted from VP/programming at Infinity's WODS/WBMX/WZLX in Boston to senior VP of programming.

*In NEW HAMPSHIRE, WASR (1420 Wolfeboro) has filed to officially change hands; Al Severy's Radio Wolfeboro will sell the station to Grant Hatch's Winnipesaukee Network, which has been operating WASR under an LMA for several months.

*Call changes are relatively rare in CANADA, but we have three of them this week, all related. Rogers flipped CISS (92.5 Toronto) to "Jack FM" almost a year ago, and now it's finally changed the calls there to CJAQ. The CISS calls replace CKBY on 105.3 in Ottawa, which became top 40 "Kiss" earlier this year - and the CKBY calls follow the country format south to "Y101" in Smiths Falls, the 101.1 outlet formerly known as CIOX.

Up in North Bay, CJTK-FM-1 was denied a power boost and frequency change; the religious station wanted to move from 89.5 (with 33 watts) to 99.3 (with 800 watts).

In Niagara Falls, CKEY (101.1 Fort Erie) won a short-term renewal from the CRTC; the license extension to August 31 will allow "Wild 101" to stay on the air while the CRTC decides whether or not it's being programmed from across the border in Buffalo.

"Special Ed" moves from CIHT (Hot 89.9) in Ottawa to CFMK (Joe 96.3) in Kingston, where he takes over mornings.

And in Montreal, the new 105.1 station won't go on the air from Mount Royal - it's applied to change transmitter sites amidst all the concern over too-high RF levels at the community site in the middle of a popular park.

*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 at the $60 level, you even get a free 2004 Tower Site Calendar. For all the details - and easy credit card/PayPal payment links - just click here.

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!

*And if you still haven't ordered one, we still have plenty of 2004 Tower Site Calendars still available for your enjoyment!

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 27 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. Better yet, place your subscription for 2004 at the $60 level by using the handy buttons below, and you'll get your 2004 Tower Site Calendar absolutely FREE. What more could you want? (Local news on the weekends, maybe?)

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NorthEast Radio Watch is made possible by the generous contributions of our regular readers. If you enjoy NERW, please click here to learn how you can help make continued publication possible. NERW is copyright 2003 by Scott Fybush.