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March 22, 2004

Vox Sells 10 More to Nassau

*One of the most interesting stories we've followed here on NERW in the last decade has been the growth of the Vox group around the region, as Bruce Danziger and Jeff Shapiro began with a handful of stations and built them into one of the dominant ownership blocks in New England.

But with last week's announcement that Vox would part with 10 of its core stations in VERMONT and NEW HAMPSHIRE, the ride appears to be nearing an end. For $22 million, New Jersey's Nassau Broadcasting will add the Barre-Montpelier cluster of talker WSNO (1450 Barre VT), "Froggy" country WWFY (100.9 Berlin VT) and top 40 WORK (107.1 Barre VT); the Upper Valley cluster of sports simulcast 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 rocker WHDQ (106.1 Claremont NH) to its fast-growing station group.

(For those keeping score at home, these 10 stations join 20 more that Nassau bought or is buying in New Hampshire and Maine: WBYA, WBQI and WBQX in the Bangor area; WTHT, WMEK, WLAM, WMTW, WMTW-FM and WBQW in the Portland area; WBQQ and WQEZ in Kennebunk and Kennebunkport; WLNH, WBHG, WEMJ and WLKZ in New Hampshire's Lakes Region; WNHI, WNNH, WOTX and WJYY in Concord and WHOB in Nashua. Nassau says the latest deal will give it more stations than any one owner has ever had in New England, and we can't find any reason to disagree.)

We're already hearing rumors that Nassau has its eye on the Burlington market, and we'd be not one bit surprised to have another headline there in the weeks to come.

Meanwhile, Vox is apparently restructuring under remaining partners Shapiro and Ken Barlow. In an interview with the Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, Shapiro dismissed as "speculative" the possibility floated in last week's NERW that the Vox group in the Berkshires (the largest cluster remaining in Vox) and WNYQ (105.7 Queensbury NY, moving south to Malta in the Albany market) will be sold soon as well. Shapiro says the "Live 105" top 40 format at WBEC-FM (105.5 Pittsfield) will move to another Vox station (we'd bet on WUPE 95.9 in Pittsfield) when WBEC-FM moves east to Easthampton in the Springfield market. And what of the other stations remaining in the Vox group - WEXP and WZEC in Vermont, WTPL in New Hampshire (LMA'd to crosstown WKXL) and the clusters in New York's Southern Tier (Jamestown and Olean)? Time will tell...

*The week's other big story was the release of the 1308 applications received during the FCC's window for major AM changes and new AM station applications. The window opened for one week in January, the first time in three years such applications had been accepted, but it took the Commission a couple of months to get everything ready for public viewing and to sort out the applications that didn't come with all the necessary paperwork (214 of them, leaving 1094 applications ready for processing.)

After spending most of the weekend slogging through application after application, we're ready to tell you what's been requested where in NERW-land, and we'll do it state by state as we make our way through this week's issue.

We may as well start in VERMONT, where there'll be an auction fight between two 1590 applications in the Burlington area. Jet Fuel Broadcasting wants 10 kW day/500 watts night in Winooski, while "RAMS II" (one of the bigger applicants nationally) wants 50 kW day/320 watts at night in Essex Junction. Charles A. Hecht and Alfredo Alonso want 25 kW day/17 kW critical hours/400 watts at night on 670 in Essex Junction as well.

*In NEW HAMPSHIRE, Bob Vinikoor had two applications - one to move his unbuilt WQTH (720) from Hanover to Claremont, using 50 kW into six towers by day and 1700 watts at night, the other for a new signal on 990 in Lebanon, with 5 kW by day and 250 watts at night. Steven Wendell, who never built 540 in Jaffrey, applies for 870 in Fitzwilliam Depot. Ron Frizzell, former owner of WLAM in Maine and WLLH/WSSH in Boston, applied for a new 1340 in Conway. And Barry Lunderville, who owns WXXS in Lancaster and WMOU in Berlin, applied for 1450 in Lancaster and 1490 in Berlin.

(One more Granite State note: Charlie Sherman is leaving WMUR (Channel 9) in Manchester after a long run as sports director there.)

*There were ten applications in the window for MAINE, including a bunch for new stations way up north. Steven Wendell applied for 250 watts on 650 in Raymond. Charles Hecht and Alfredo Alonso want 50 kW day/1500 watts night on 750 in Hampden. In Monticello, Allan Weiner wants to go full-time on WREM, moving it from 710 to 780 with 5 kW day and adding 60 watts at night. Alpine Broadcasting wants 1000 watts on 1120 in Richmond. Advance Acquisition's application for 1230 in Presque Isle will compete with Evangelical Broadcasting's app for 1230 in Fort Fairfield. Dan Priestly's Waterfront Communications (owner of several new AMs around Bangor granted in the last AM window) applied for 1230 in Newport and 1240 in Ellsworth. Cleo Broadcasting (another national applicant) wants 1440 in Orono, with 13,276 watts by day and 664 watts at night, while the "RAMS IV" folks want 1530 in Orono with 50 kW by day and 600 watts at night.

*A veteran MASSACHUSETTS jock has a new gig: Bill Abbate, long of Infinity's WBCN (104.1), is joining Greater Media's WBOS (92.9 Brookline) as Amy Brooks' morning co-host. Meanwhile, Barbara Jean Scannell is leaving Greater Media (where she was general sales manager) to be the new GM at Infinity's WBMX (98.5). WBMX gets a new OM/PD, too, as Jon Zellner arrives from Kansas City's KMXV/KSRC to handle programming for Mix and for WODS (103.3 Boston). Zellner is also Infinity's VP for adult top 40 programming.

And here's some good news: David Brudnoy returns to the air tonight at WBZ (1030), where he's been off the air since last September. We couldn't be happier to welcome him back!

The Bay State AM window applications begin with our old friend Alex Langer, who wants to upgrade WSRO (650 Ashland) again. This time, his plan is to move the station's city of license to Lexington and boost power to 5 kW, with a six-tower directional array down near Walpole.

Salem wants to upgrade WROL (950 Boston), moving the city of license to Revere and building three new towers near its existing day site to go from 90 watts to 1000 watts at night.

Radio Westfield wants 1340 in Westfield with 1000 watts, while Neil A. Rones, Esq. applies for 1000 watts day, 250 watts night, non-directional on 1550 in Nantucket. And in Cordaville, a hamlet on the south side of Southborough, those "RAMS II" folks apply for 1580 with 1000 watts nondirectional by day and 250 watts into six towers at night!

*Two applications in RHODE ISLAND: Alex Langer wants 1140 in Greenville, running 1000 watts day, 213 watts at night, non-directional. And the old WKFD (1370 Wickford) frequency would be resurrected by Radio 786, who wants the channel in Charlestown with 2000 watts day, 500 watts night into two towers.

*WXCT (990) in Southington, CONNECTICUT is getting a new owner, as ADD Media files to sell the talk station to the Davidson Media Group for a reported $1.4 million. Davidson owns or is buying six stations in North Carolina, most of them running either Spanish-language programming or religion.

In Bridgeport, Samantha Stevens (formerly of WKCI in Hamden) joins the airstaff at WEZN-FM (Star 99.9), where she's now doing afternoons.

Only four applications from the Nutmeg State made the AM window, and three of them are from our pal Dennis Jackson, refiling for facilities he was granted but never built in the last window - 250 watts each on 1400 in Falls Village and 1490 in Uncasville and Torrington. In West Simsbury, the "God Radio Group" (don't suppose they'll do religion, do you?) applies for 1040 with 200 watts day (into three towers!) and 129 watts at night, which doesn't seem to meet the minimum class B standards as we read them. (We've since been corrected on that point; the plan is to use tall towers for maximum efficiency, which would meet the minimum field requirements for class B even at that reduced wattage.)

*Another station has dropped the Laura Schlessinger show, and this time it's one of the biggest talkers in NEW YORK state. WHAM (1180) here in Rochester has pulled Laura from its schedule, effective today, replacing her in the 9-11 AM slot with Premiere's Glenn Beck.

(And congratulations to WHAM for being named one of 40 finalists nationwide for the NAB's Crystal Awards for community service; it joins fellow NERW-land nominees WUPE Pittsfield MA, WSYR Syracuse NY, WBAB Babylon NY, KYW Philadelphia, WUSL Philadelphia, WGHT Pompton Lakes NJ, WDEL Wilmington DE and WSTW Wilmington DE in contention for the honor next month in Las Vegas.)

In Binghamton, Dan Michaels crosses Vestal Parkway to take over the assistant operations manager post and midday shift at WLTB (101.7 Johnson City); he trades places with Tejay Schwartz, who just left WLTB to join Michaels' former station, WMXW (103.3 Vestal).

In Syracuse, Shannon Wells joins the morning show at WWHT (Hot 107.9); she comes from WOZN in Greensboro, N.C.

And in Cobleskill, Bob Heckler's finally found a buyer for WXBH (1190), which has been on the block for quite a while now. Cholene Espinoza's "Viva Communications Group" will pay $120,000 for the 1000-watt daytimer.

On to the AM window, which brings lots of interesting applications in New York. WJJL (1440 Niagara Falls) wants to change city of license to West Seneca, going to 5000 watts day/1000 watts night from four towers way down near East Seneca. Here in the Rochester area, two applicants want 1220; Bob Savage's Radio Livingston proposes 2500 watts day and night licensed to Lakeville, using five towers at the site of Savage's existing WYSL (1040 Avon), while that Cleo Broadcasting group would put 1220 in Greece, using three towers for 297 watts day and night. Just east of town, engineer Charles "Bud" Williamson wants 1330 in Ontario, with 1000 watts day and 2000 watts night into three towers near the Monroe/Ontario county line.

Michael Celenza wants 1120 in Little Falls, with 1000 watts by day, 250 watts night, non-directional. The "RAMS III" folks want to resurrect the 1040 Menands that once had a CP but was never built, this time with 900 watts day into two towers and 250 watts night into six towers south of Albany. Also in the Albany area, Bud Williamson's applying for 1280 in Rotterdam, reviving the old Saratoga Springs frequency and asking for 5000 watts day, 400 watts night into two towers just south of the Thruway near Schenectady.

In the Hudson Valley, Sunrise Broadcasting still wants that 1200 frequency on which it once operated WGNY, Newburgh (now back at 1220); it already has a CP for 1200 in Kingston and now applies for 1200 in Highland, calling for 2500 watts day, 650 watts night from five new towers just across the river from Poughkeepsie. Bud Williamson's applying for 1000 watts on 1400 in Middletown.

*Two more New York AM stations want to move to NEW JERSEY, including one biggie. WGSM (740 Huntington) wants to jump right over Manhattan and relocate to Mount Olive, N.J., building six towers just south of Hackettstown to run 50 kW as a daytimer. And WNYG (1440 Babylon) wants to move to Elizabeth, N.J. and 1530, replacing WJDM and running 1500 watts day, 450 watts during critical hours from the WNSW (1430 Newark) towers in Union, N.J.

The morning show at WKXW-FM (New Jersey 101.5) in Trenton has disappeared from the TV dial; the station's deal with Comcast's CN8 ended last Friday, and now the channel is offering viewers an exciting diet of "Yoga Zone" and "Kardio Knockout" instead of the New Jersey 101.5 simulcast.

And we're sorry to report the passing of Bob Balfour, who died March 9 in Union. Balfour was the chief engineer of WERA (1590 Plainfield) and WVNJ (620 Newark) - in fact, he was the last CE for 620 in its WVNJ days.

*A northeast PENNSYLVANIA broadcaster is in trouble with the law. Doug Lane, owner of WWDL (104.9 Scranton), WICK (1400 Scranton) and WYCK (1340 Plains), was arrested last week and charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault and corrupting a minor. Police say Lane molested a boy between 1990 and 1994; the victim, now 25, recently came forward, and media accounts say several others have now also accused Lane of molesting them. Lane is free on $10,000 bail.

(NERW notes that the last radio owner to face such charges, Missouri's Michael Rice, lost all six of his licenses after being convicted, and that those stations, in Missouri and Indiana, remain dark almost three years later.)

On a happier note, WBZR (107.7 Tunkhannock) launched its new format over the weekend; it's now running country as "Buzzard Country."

Rick Edwards is the new morning man at WLEV (100.7 Allentown); he comes to the Lehigh Valley from Wichita's KZSN.

In Philadelphia, Don Cannon's getting ready to retire from his morning gig at WOGL (98.1), having logged stints at WIBG, WFIL, WIP, WIFI and WSNI in addition to Oldies 98.1 during his 35 years in Philly radio. Cannon tells the Inquirer that he'll retire sometime around his 64th birthday this May - in the process missing WOGL's move to a new studio. Infinity is moving WIP (610) from its current location just north of Independence Mall to 2 Bala Plaza in Bala Cynwyd, and WOGL and WPHT (1210) will follow it there in a few months, leaving their longtime home in the WCAU (Channel 10) building at City Avenue and Monument Road.

Paul Barsky is suing Beasley for more than $1.7 million that he says he's owed under his five-year contract with the former WPTP (96.5 Philadelphia). Barsky lost his job at the station (now WRDW-FM) at the end of 2003; his contract there called for a sliding salary that began at $350,000 and was to reach $475,000 at the end of five years.

Out west, Chuck Jewell exits as GM at the Dame Broadcasting group in Johnstown, with Jeanne Feathers adding GM duties to her role as general sales manager.

Lots of AM window applications in the Keystone State, including one station moving over from New Jersey: Disney's WWJZ (640 Mount Holly NJ) applies to change city of license to Horsham Township PA. WWJZ would keep its 50 kW day site in New Jersey, adding an 8-tower site near Skippack in Montgomery County for 25 kW at night.

WPEL (1250 Montrose) wants to move to 800, with 1000 watts daytime only. Northeast Pennsylvania new station applications include Bud Williamson's 1450 in Milford, Romar Communications' 850 in Archbald, the Scranton Times' 1320 in Dickson City (reviving the old WSCR frequency, this time with 3500 watts day, 400 watts night into three towers) and Smith and Fitzgerald's 1580 in Laporte.

Near Philadelphia, Four Rivers Community Broadcasting wants 1390 in Morrisville, with 250 watts day and night non-directional, while Andre Mondelus wants 1400 right in Philadelphia, with 250 watts day and night from a site in North Philly. And WNWR (1540 Philadelphia) applies to change city of license to Bala Cynwyd, which we suspect means a new application for night power to follow.

Just over the state line in Delaware, WTMC (1380 Wilmington) wants to move to Newport and downgrade to a daytimer with 250 watts; the Delaware Department of Transportation ("DelDot") also wants to build a second 1380 station in Dagsboro, at the southern end of the state, to replace a 1380 TIS down there that now relays WTMC's traffic information format.

In central Pennsylvania, Hill and Glover Broadcasting wants 850 in Enola, near Harrisburg, with 750 watts day, 350 watts night into four towers. The Williamsport area is full of applications, including Smith and Fitzgerald's for 1450 Montoursville, competing with Austin R. Kennedy for that channel once occupied in nearby South Williamsport. Advanced Modulation Broadcasting wants 1120 in Hughesville with 1000 watts day, 250 watts night into four towers. Cary Simpson wants 1490 in Lemont, which will compete with Advance Acquisition's and RAMS I's applications for 1490 in nearby State College. In Du Bois, Priority Communications applies for both 1190 and 1490.

In northwestern Pennsylvania, Mark Himmler applies for 1190 in Waterford and 1480 in North East, while the Eaton-Dietrich Partnership wants 1580 in Kearsarge and 1230 in Harbor Creek.

In southwestern Pennsylvania, Renda's WPTT (1360 McKeesport) applies to move to Apollo and 910 as a 9000-watt daytimer, while WAVL (910 Apollo) applies to move to 1360. WKHB (620 Irwin) wants to relocate to Brentwood and sister station WKFB (770 Jeannette) to North Huntingdon, both much closer to Pittsburgh. WURP (1550 Braddock) wants to move to Reserve Township, relocating to the WAMO (860 Millvale) three-tower array with 4 kW day, 32 watts at night. WANB (1580 Waynesburg) wants to move to 1190 with 500 watts, and South Western Pennsylvania Community Radio wants 1350 in Geistown, near Johnstown, with plans for a six-tower array using 850 watts by day and 840 watts at night.

And the region's biggest application comes last: Clear Channel wants to move WWVA (1170) from Wheeling, West Virginia to Stow, Ohio, where it will become a Cleveland-market station with 50 kW by day and 27 kW by night. That application will compete with one from WRTK (1540 Niles OH) to move to the Cleveland suburb of Lakewood and run 300 watts, daytime-only, on 1180; it'll also require WCUE (1150 Cuyahoga Falls) to move or go off the air - and will no doubt provoke a protest in Wheeling, where WWVA cut back considerably on its local news staffing last year. (We'd expect sister station WBBD 1400 in Wheeling to take on some of WWVA's programming and perhaps even the call letters when and if this move happens.)

*CANADA has a new TV signal on the air this week. Rogers signed on the new CJMT-TV (Channel 69) signal from the roof of First Canadian Place (the "Bank of Montreal Building") in downtown Toronto, replacing the low-power channel 44 signal that signed on last year with "OMNI.2" multi-ethnic programming.

NERW reader Mark Lewis got a special tour of the First Canadian Place broadcast facilities and generously shared his images with us; at right you see the three masts that now crown the rooftop, home to a whole slew of signals that can't be accommodated at the nearby CN Tower. (In addition to CJMT, First Canadian Place is home to the CBC's CJBC-FM 90.3 and CBLA 99.1, "Jack" CJAQ 92.5, community stations CKLN 88.1, CIRV 88.9 and CIUT 89.5, urban "Flow" CFXJ 93.5 and Aboriginal Voices Radio's CFIE 106.5 all use this tower - and now Rogers has DTV applications pending for CJMT-DT on channel 44 and for CFMT-DT ("OMNI.1") on channel 64 at this site.)

Mark sends along his thanks to Gus Sondermeyer, who designed the installation, and Steve Martak of CFMT Television for hosting his tour, as well as Bruce Cowan of CHUM TV, who arranged the visit.

We'll feature more of his pictures in an upcoming Tower Site of the Week (and needless to say, we'd love to get up there ourselves someday!)

Up in Montreal, Canadian Hellenic Cable Radio has signed on its new FM signal, CKDG (105.1). "Route 105" features a French-language morning show called "L'espresso," as well as programming in (deep breath now!) Greek, Armenian, Russian, Serbian, Croatian, Tagalog, Romanian, Hungarian and English.

And we'll close this lengthy edition of NERW with a word of advice: if you're at all interested in radio and TV history around Lake Ontario, set aside a few hours and check out Bill Dulmage's new and improved site at

Bill's site has moved to a new, ad-free home and is greatly expanded, with lots of neat tower pictures, jock lineups, surveys and even some audio bits. Don't miss it!

*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.