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March 15, 2004

Entercom Lands Buffalo's WNSA

TUESDAY UPDATE: Nassau has bought again in New England, and in a big way. For $22 million, Lou Mercatanti's group is picking up most of what's left of Vox: the Barre-Montpelier cluster of WSNO (1450 Barre VT), WWFY (100.9 Berlin VT) and WORK (107.1 Barre VT); the Upper Valley cluster of WNHV (910 White River Junction VT), WTSV (1230 Claremont NH), "Bob Country" WSSH (95.3 White River Junction VT)/WZSH (107.1 Bellows Falls VT), "Oldies 104" WXOD (104.3 Hartford VT)/WCFR (96.3 Walpole NH) and the big signal of WHDQ (106.1 Claremont NH). That leaves Vox with the stations it's upgrading in Albany NY and Springfield MA (below), as well as small clusters in Pittsfield/North Adams/Great Barrington MA and Jamestown/Olean NY and single stations in Rutland (WEXP 101.5 Brandon VT) and Bennington (WZEC 97.5 Hoosick Falls NY); we hear the ownership of those stations will be reorganized under Vox principals Bruce Danziger and Ken Barlow, with Jeff Shapiro exiting the group completely. Much more next Monday right here at NERW...

*The bidding's all done, and western NEW YORK's FM sports station will soon have a new owner. Amidst the debris of Adelphia's bankruptcy, WNSA (107.7 Wethersfield Township) and its translator W297AB (107.3 Williamsville) will go to Entercom for $9 million as soon as the courts approve.

The purchase gives Entercom a signal that covers most of the Buffalo market - and neighboring Rochester, too - and it includes a newly-renovated transmitter plant and tall tower in Wyoming County. And it's already got the rumor mills flying about what comes next for 107.7.

Entercom's existing Buffalo cluster includes news-talk WBEN (930), R&B oldies WWWS (1400), oldies WWKB (1520), top 40 WKSE (98.5 Niagara Falls), AC WTSS (102.5) and WNSA's chief competitor, sports outlet WGR (550).

Will Entercom move the best of WNSA's sports format - notably, afternoon host Howard Simon - with its existing lineup of hosts on WGR?

And will the new 107.7 format (we're hearing rumblings about rock) also target Rochester, where 107.7 comes in quite well, and where Entercom already owns news-talk WROC (950), country WBEE (92.5), oldies WBBF (93.3 Fairport) and classic hits WBZA (98.9)?

Or will NERW's long-held wish of a "KB-FM" finally come true? We wouldn't bet on it...but stay tuned.

Speaking of Entercom Rochester, a few changes to note: Chris Keyzer is out as PD/afternoon drive at WBEE, which is now looking for a replacement there as well as a new night jock; down the hall at WBZA, Dem Jones (late of Infinity's WZNE) joins for middays.

And congratulations - and best wishes - to veteran WXXI (1370 Rochester) newsman Mark Giardina, who's crossing the great divide from news to politics to join the staff of new county executive Maggie Brooks.

Down in Binghamton, Tejay Schwartz leaves WLTB (101.7 Johnson City) to take over mornings at Clear Channel's WMXW (103.3 Vestal); across town, Kate Kelley's leaving her morning co-host gig at Citadel's WWYL (104.1 Chenango Bridge).

Up in the Adirondacks, St. Lawrence University's WSLU (89.5 Canton) may soon have even more translators; the FCC's close to granting construction permits for new signals on 92.7 in Wells, 93.5 in Lake George, 97.3 in Newcomb and 102.1 in Chateaugay, as well as allowing W204BJ (88.7 Old Forge) to move to 103.7.

Albany's WXXA-DT has been granted a change of channel: instead of being built on channel 4, it'll run 10 kW on channel 7.

In New York, WOR (710) won't renew its deal to carry New Jersey Nets basketball, which it's broadcast since 1996. The station says it wants fewer interruptions to its nighttime talk lineup, which includes Lionel and Michael Savage. And veterans of WNBC (660) and WYNY (97.1) are being invited to a reunion June 20 at the Hard Rock Cafe; contact Matt Seinberg at for all the details.

A new Arbitron market? You bet - the East End of Long Island will soon be market #257, with AAA's stations there (WEHM 92.9, WHBE 96.7, WBEA 101.7 and WBAZ 102.5) signed up as the first clients. The East End will be an "embedded market" in the Nassau/Suffolk book, which is in turn embedded in the New York market.

*Vox has some big plans to rearrange the high end of the FM dial in New York and nearby MASSACHUSETTS - and it plays out like this: WNYQ (105.7 Queensbury) is supposed to be moving south to Malta (in the Albany market) as a class A signal, but it's now applied to upgrade to a 25 kW B1 signal (essentially the same as the present Queensbury facility.)

To make that happen, Vox has to move WBEC-FM (105.5 Pittsfield) out of the way. It's applying to relocate the class A 105.5 signal to Easthampton, in the Springfield market some 40 miles east of its present location.

Assuming the moves are granted, will Vox put these signals up for sale? It's already sold off the rest of the Glens Falls cluster that WNYQ was part of, and it recently sold its other stations near Springfield to Saga.

Translator news: public radio WFCR (88.5 Amherst) has been tentatively approved for a slew of new Berkshires translators. Assuming no objections are filed in the next few days, WFCR will add 93.9 Pittsfield, 96.3 North Adams, 98.3 Lee, 98.7 Great Barrington and 101.1 North Adams, giving some competition to Albany's WAMC, which is now the main public radio service in the area.

LPFM news: The FCC's out with a list of 98 mutually-exclusive groups of LPFM applicants in several states, including Massachusetts. Based on a point system that gives credit for established local ownership and promises of local programming, the FCC is now allowing applicants to come up with time-sharing proposals for each of the disputed frequencies. In Massachusetts, nine applicants are tied for 99.7 in Springfield (though we believe the Assembleia de Deus application has been withdrawn; that group applied for numerous LPFMs across the region in spite of the "one-to-an-owner" rule), with two applicants for 104.9 in Holyoke and Springfield and just one (Torres Ministries) cleared to get 107.9 in Springfield. In Greenfield, Greenfield Community TV and Living Waters Assembly of God were tied for 107.9, and for some reason the FCC mistakenly seems to have included two Trenton, N.J. applicants in this group as well. Out on Martha's Vineyard, 93.7 in Menemsha and Oak Bluffs had three tied applicants, though one was Assembleia de Deus and another - M&M Community Development - also has numerous applications around the country in seeming violation of the rules, leaving "The Drum Workshop" as the only legitimate local applicant. In Dudley and Charlton, Nichols College and St. Joseph's Radio Station Inc. can fight it out for 97.5, and in Gardner 102.9 goes to Amanecer de Esperanza Ministries.

And on the RHODE ISLAND border, WSNE (93.3 Taunton) parts ways with afternoon jock Doug O'Brien.

*In VERMONT, it's court time for Radio Free Brattleboro (107.9), as station co-founder Larry Bloch answers the government's complaint against the unlicensed broadcaster today. Meanwhile, that LPFM window may spell the end of RFB soon; the station has promised it will sign off when a licensed LPFM begins operating in town, and Vermont Earth Works' application for 107.9 was cleared by the FCC for filing last week.

In Burlington, Radio Active Burlington and Spectrum Youth and Family Services are tied for 94.3, while another tie exists between New England Educational Fellowship for 94.7 Springfield and Main Street Claremont Inc. for 94.9 Weathersfield. In West Townshend, Calvary Church of West River gets 107.9.

*The lone radio station in Millinocket, MAINE may soon be off the air, at least on FM. WSYY-FM (94.9 Millinocket)'s lease has run out on its Hammond Ridge transmitter site. The Magic City Morning Star reports that Katahdin Timberlands, which owns the site, won't renew the lease past June 2005; it's offered station owner Katahdin Communications a short-term lease extension until then, but the company says it's not interested in selling the site to the station under any conditions.

*A few southern NEW JERSEY LPFM applications made that FCC list: 106.5 West Creek goes to Calvary Chapel of Southern Ocean County; 101.7 is tied between Middle School of Pleasantville and Mainland Regional High School in Linwood; Calvary Chapel of Toms River gets 104.7 in Lakewood and 101.5 Cape May goes to the Center for Community Arts.

Over at WTKU (98.3 Ocean City), PD/morning co-host Jerry Beebe is out; David Allen Pratt stays on in mornings and takes over as PD.

And the new 88.1 Cape May Court House CP has call letters: WJPG.

*A PENNSYLVANIA LPFM has a new nickname. WFSJ-LP (103.7 Indiana) signed on last year as "The Fish," but that's a service mark of the much bigger contemporary Christian broadcasters at Salem Communications, who asserted their rights in a cease-and-desist letter to the station. So WFSJ and its sister LPFM in Florida, WZPH-LP (96.7 Dade City), are now "The Switch."

Near Erie, WEYZ (1530 North East) continues to be silent, though we heard WEYZ IDs on sister station WWCB (1370 Corry) as we drove through on Thursday. Down in Greenville, we hear a new format is coming to WGRP (940), which had been simulcasting oldies WMVL (101.7 Lineville) and reportedly playing some dance music as well.

The FCC's latest LPFM list includes five Keystone State facilities: 94.5 Nanticoke to St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, 103.5 Johnstown to Greater Johnstown High School, 100.3 Berwick to Berwick Adventist Broadcasting, 104.9 Oil City tied between Pride of Oil City and Oil Valley Center for the Arts and 95.3 Lancaster tied between Lancaster Educational Radio and Youth Working for Justice.

And there's a new set of calls for a Pennsylvania construction permit: mark down WWCF for 88.7 McConnellsburg.

*In CANADA, Standard Broadcasting is crying foul at what it says is an illegal move of two Corus stations to bigger markets. CKDK (103.9 Woodstock) has long served London with its "Hawk" classic rock format, while CING (95.3 Hamilton) and its country format covers nearby Toronto - and Standard says Corus is overstepping the CRTC's localism rules and operating the stations as London and Toronto facilities, registering them with the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement (BBM) in the London and Toronto ratings and programming them from studios in the larger cities, where it already owns the maximum of two FM stations in each market.

Corus says it's maintaing studios in Woodstock and Hamilton, but the CRTC's concerned enough about the accusation that it's getting ready to monitor each station for a full week, looking for evidence of local programming aimed at the smaller cities.

In Simcoe, CHCD (106.7) has been granted its move to 98.9, where it will power up from 3.42 kW to 14.37 kW. It'll have 60 days to simulcast on the 106.7 frequency.

Ottawa's Kiss (CISS 105.3) has a new jock lineup: Scott, Doug and Laura in the morning, followed by Robin Michaels in middays, Samantha Stevens moving from mornings to afternoons and Jeff Graham at night. Graham comes from Cobourg's Star (CKSG 93.3), where he's been replaced in afternoons by Dave Devine of CHTM (610 Thompson MB), reports Milkman UnLimited.

And way up north, Haliburton Broadcasting adds CKNR (94.1 Elliot Lake) to its holdings, paying North Channel Broadcasting C$625,000 for the station.

*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 March 5 have now been shipped, so if you've already ordered, you should be enjoying your calendar any day now. (And if you ordered before February 28 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.