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May 24, 2004

WNSA Relaunches as "The Lake"

*It was a quiet week in NERW-land...so quiet, in fact, that we're leading with a not-all-that-exciting stunt just down the road from us. WNSA (107.7 Wethersfield) dropped its weeklong simulcast of sports WGR (550 Buffalo) on Friday and began running a repeating loop of splashing water and cricket noises. A cicada invasion? Nope - it seems to be the prelude to "107.7 the Lake," or so the local rumor mill would have it.

Entercom has reportedly hired Hank Dole (late of WZBA Baltimore and KHHL Leander-Austin TX) as PD of the station, which we're hearing will be a AAA-ish classic rocker. Across town at Citadel, they've gone and registered www.107thelake.com, which was being forwarded to the WHTT-FM site for a while. What next? Stay tuned...we'll be listening.

MONDAY NIGHT UPDATE: WNSA relaunched at 3 PM as - yup - "The Lake," with a rather esoteric blend of classic rock and 80s pop and whatnot. First two songs: "Swimming in Water" by Peter Gabriel and "Radio, Radio" by Elvis Costello; subsequent listening has turned up everything from Traffic to Bonnie Raitt. New calls are apparently on the way, too, judging from the bare-bones Web site (1077thelake.com), as the station picks up the WLKK calls that lived for many years down the Thruway in Erie, Pennsylvania.

An interesting side effect of Entercom's purchase of WNSA, which came with radio rights to the Buffalo Sabres, is that the NHL team will return to the Rochester airwaves this fall (if, of course, the NHL is playing at all), as Entercom's WROC (950 Rochester) picks up the team's games from sister station WGR (550 Buffalo.)

(NERW spent the better part of the weekend - or perhaps the worse part of the weekend - in Buffalo watching the AHL Rochester Amerks, exiled from their usual home at Rochester's Blue Cross Arena by a visiting circus, lose two critical Calder Cup playoff games to the Milwaukee Admirals, and it was strange indeed to see the video ring around the HSBC Arena displaying 950's logo so prominently!)

Still more Entercom Rochester news: WBEE-FM (92.5 Rochester) promotes the hard-working Billy Kidd to PD, replacing Chris Keyzer, who left a few months back. Kidd will do afternoon drive, which means one of his first challenges will be filling his own former shift at night.

On the TV side, Rochester's WHEC-TV (Channel 10) had "Drew Carey" instead of local news at 11 on Friday night...severe technical problems of some sort, it would seem.

In Ithaca, Saga Communications is trying again to buy Eagle Broadcasting's four stations - news-talk WHCU (870), oldies WTKO (1470), AC WYXL (97.3) and country WQNY (103.7). Saga had filed to buy the stations back in 2000, for $13.4 million, but the deal was never consummated; no word on the price tag for the latest version of the deal.

One new translator grant this week: W262AT (100.3 Carthage), up near Watertown, will relay WOTT (100.7 Henderson); meantime, Equinox Broadcasting's application for 102.9 Chenango Bridge (near Binghamton), relaying WCDW (100.5 Conklin), was accepted for filing. (And we still want to know how WKGB 92.5 managed to change its city of license from Susquehanna PA to Conklin NY while WCDW never made the reciprocal move, thus leaving Susquehanna without the all-important "first local service"? Could it be because WKGB is still operating under the construction permit from its new "Conklin" facility, having not yet applied for a license to cover there?)

On the LPFM front, WKHV-LP (103.9 Kingston), from Kingston Outreach Services, applied for a license to cover.

Anyone who knows William O'Shaughnessy, owner of New Rochelle's WVOX (1460)/WRTN (93.5), knows that he's never at a loss for something to say about just about anything - and now he's out with a third collection of his commentaries and interviews. We've just started to flip through the advance copy of More Riffs, Rants, and Raves (Fordham University Press) that arrived last week - it weighs in with more than 700 pages - but we've already checked out some of O'Shaughnessy's writings on the value of community radio, including his defense of the WFUV tower in the Bronx (read on for more WFUV below...)

The venerable trade magazine Broadcasting and Cable got a little confused last week (which, by itself, isn't news; call letters get transposed there on a weekly basis these days) when it tried to report on the digital future of New York's WWOR-TV (Channel 9, licensed across the river in Secaucus, N.J.)

Reporter Bill McConnell correctly reported that WWOR will have little choice but to keep its digital allocation at channel 38 when the time comes to select a permanent channel for DTV operation, since there's a new digital signal on channel 9 from WBPH in Bethlehem PA (inaccurately reported as "Philadelphia"), which will have to leave behind its channel 60 analog allocation when the "core" TV spectrum shrinks down to channels 2-51.

But McConnell then went on to extrapolate that WWOR will have to abandon the "channel 9" identity it's had since it signed on 55 years ago - and anyone who's spent any time actually watching over-the-air DTV knows that's just not so. Thanks to the miracle of the PSIP data that's sent along with the DTV signal, digital broadcasters can - and already do - transmit virtual channel numbers. So regardless of whether the signal from WWOR-DT travels on VHF channel 9 or UHF channel 38, New Yorkers will still be tuning it in as "Channel 9" many years from now. (And anyone who's visited Palm Springs or Fort Myers, just to name a few prominent examples, knows that "virtual channel numbers" have been a reality for many years in all-UHF markets that have heavy cable penetration. Fort Myers' WBBH-TV transmits on UHF channel 20, but it's universally known as "NBC2" there.)

At least they got the call letters right...

(One more NYC TV note: WXNY-LP, which currently operates on channel 32 and has a CP to move to 43, applied last week to move to channel 6, where it will operate with 3 kW from a very directional antenna in Long Island City, Queens.)

Back to radio: the FCC assessed "L.A.C.A., State of New York", which appears to be a Spanish-speaking religious group, with a $10,000 fine for running unlicensed transmitters on 96.1 and 96.5 in the Bronx, way too close to New York's WQXR-FM (96.3). The FCC visited Rev. Fernando Rodriguez multiple times last summer and warned him to shut the station down.

While WFUV (90.7) waits to move to its new Bronx location, it's about to go on the air with IBOC digital; Bill Weeks shared with us this view of the transmitter building beneath the infamous tower - and there on the left is a Harris Z16HD IBOC transmitter, which will feed the existing antenna atop the tower through high-level combining. (That's the current BE analog transmitter at the center of the picture.)

And WQCD (101.9 New York) PD Charlie Connolly is heading up I-95; he'll soon become PD at WEZN-FM ("Star 99.9") in Bridgeport, CONNECTICUT.

*Up in Torrington, WAPJ (89.9) is facing some problems that may take it silent: the Nutmeg Conservancy for the Arts, the station's licensee, is pulling its support for the station, saying it can't afford the $12,000 a year it's spending on WAPJ and it needs the space that the station takes up. The station does some local programming and relays WWUH (91.3 West Hartford) in other hours.

*A new LPFM in MASSACHUSETTS: Cape Cod Christian Broadcasting's WXLJ-LP (97.7 Harwich) applies for its license to cover. And in Gloucester, Oscar Aguero Ministry is granted translator W268AM (101.5), which says it will relay WYCM (90.1 Charlton) over the air.

*NEW HAMPSHIRE broadcaster Paul Hatch died last Sunday (May 16) at 66; in addition to being general manager of WASR (1420 Wolfeboro) at the time of his death, Hatch had worked at WBNC in North Conway, WWNH/WZNN in Rochester and WEZS and WLNH in Laconia. A former movie theater owner, Hatch had also served as a state representative since 2002.

EMF Broadcasting (the K-Love folks) had their application for a translator on 101.9 in Manchester accepted for filing.

*In MAINE, WYNZ (100.9 Westbrook) has applied to make its temporary site atop one of the WGAN (560 Portland) towers permanent - or at least semi-permanent, until the downed WYNZ/WMGX tower can be rebuilt.

And Communications Specialists Company gets its application for a 106.1 translator in Sanford (relaying WWPC 91.7 New Durham NH, which is also heard over WSEW 88.5 Sanford, operating from the very same hill as the 106.1 would use) accepted for filing.

*It was all about the translators last week in VERMONT: Vermont Public Radio's application for a 105.7 translator in Waitsfield was accepted for filing, as was Clear Channel's, for 96.3 in Colchester (relaying WXZO 96.7 Willsboro NY, from the tower behind the cluster's studios.)

And the Vermont Association of Broadcasters needs your help: Mary Collins is working on a 50th anniversary book and CD for the group, and she's looking for old audio, photos, promotional items and "where are they now" stories from Vermont broadcasters. Catch up with her at [email protected] or 802-888-9831.

*In southeastern PENNSYLVANIA, a widely-heard pirate radio station is off the air - and it turns out that "El Sol 95.3" was actually operating from across the river in Pennsauken, NEW JERSEY. It took a team of federal agents to do it - and when they did, they found the station being operated by a group called "The Moors," who say they're not subject to U.S. law because they've lived here for thousands of years. (They showed agents a "license" signed by one "Queen Ali.")

More on Nick Berg: in addition to the work we told you about last week, we heard from Charlie Slezak down in Delaware at Delmarva Broadcasting, who says Berg did a lot of work for his stations in the southern part of the state and remembers him as "a very pleasant guy to be around." And we'll have more next week on a memorial scholarship program.

Over in Pittsburgh, Dave Labrozzi has departed Clear Channel, where he was regional VP/programming and PD of WWSW (94.5 Pittsburgh); he's headed to Infinity in Baltimore, where he'll be VP/programming. (And what's this we hear about former WJJJ PD Clarke Ingram getting back into the business in a big way? He's been warming up with weekend shifts on WKHB 620 and WKFB 770...)

New translator grants: Pittsburgh public radio WDUQ (90.5) gets W222AP (92.3 New Baltimore), W263AW (100.5 Johnstown) and W281AJ (104.1 Ligonier), while Edgewater Broadcasting gets W234AQ (94.7 Muncy), which will relay WGRC (91.3 Lewisburg).

On the application, Priority Communications (for 106.1 in Brookville, to relay WDSN 106.5 Reynoldsville/Du Bois) and Kevin Fitzgerald (for 97.5 in Hazleton, to relay WPGP 88.3 Tafton) were accepted for filing.

*Not much from CANADA: CFWC (99.5 Brampton ON) was granted permission to move to 93.9 and boost power from 50 to 250 watts, while CJRF (89.5 Sherbrooke QC) will move to 93.1, still as a low-power church outlet.

And John Van Driel will be the new GM/CEO of classical CFMX (103.1 Cobourg/96.3 Toronto) when Peter Webb leaves the station in mid-August.

*We're reminded that we never got around to posting baseball-on-the-radio information for the AA Eastern League, but it's never too late, is it?

The Altoona Curve are on WFBG (1290 Altoona), the Binghamton Mets are back on WNBF (1290 Binghamton), the Erie SeaWolves on WFNN (1330 Erie), the Harrisburg Senators are on WKBO (1230 Harrisburg). The New Britain Rock Cats are on WDRC (1360 Hartford), with additional coverage on WDRC's sister stations around Connecticut (WWCO 1240 Waterbury, WSNG 610 Torrington, WMMW 1470 Meriden) and on WAVZ (1300 New Haven). The new New Hampshire Fisher Cats are on WKXL (1450 Concord) and WFEA (1370 Manchester). The Norwich Navigators are again on WICH (1310 Norwich), as well as WILI (1400 Willimantic), WLIS (1420 Old Saybrook)/WMRD (1150 Middletown) and WBLQ (88.1 Westerly RI); the Reading Phillies on WIOV (1240 Reading) and the Trenton Thunder on WBUD (1260 Trenton). And the Portland Sea Dogs have an ever-growing network: in addition to flagship WLVP (870 Gorham) and WLAM (1470 Lewiston), it includes WKTQ (1450 South Paris), WTME (780 Rumford), WPHX (1220 Sanford), WMEX (106.5 Farmington NH), Friday games on WIGY (97.5 Madison) and WFAU (1280 Gardiner) and select games on WRKD (1450 Rockland) and WZON (620 Bangor).

And the one Eastern League team that falls just across the border from NERW-land is also the defending champion: the Akron Aeros are heard on WTOU (1350 Akron) for most of their games, and on WHLO (640 Akron) when there's a conflict with NASCAR racing.

In two weeks, we'll preview the radio lineup for the short-season A New York-Penn League, which starts up June 18.

*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.

If you haven't ordered yet, what are you waiting for? 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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