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June 28, 2004

Millennium Adds Two in NJ

COLORADO SPRINGS -- Yes, NERW's on the road again - and if you've ever harbored secret fantasies of seeing a "Tower Site of the Week" all about the AM sticks of Pueblo, Colorado, we've got the goods. (Not that there's much to be said for most of the AM sticks of Pueblo, but that's a story for another day.) In any case, before we get to the week's news, a schedule update: there will be no regular NERW column on Monday, July 5, when we'll be in Fort Wayne, Indiana. NERW will return on Monday, July 12, and if there's major breaking news between now and then, we'll post it right here.

*In NEW JERSEY, the major breaking news this past week was something insiders had been expecting for a long while now: the sale of WCHR-FM (105.7 Manahawkin) from Nassau to Millennium. In addition to classic rock "Hawk," though, Millennium's getting another FM outlet for its $40 million, as Nassau throws in smooth jazz WOJZ (104.9 Egg Harbor City) to the deal.

*In NEW YORK, we now know who'll replace the syndicated Doug Banks in mornings on WBLS (107.5 New York). Rick Party's coming up from Miami's WEDR (99.1) to take over the shift on July 6. He'll be joined by Sonia Colon, who's headed uptown from WQHT (97.1). And new in middays at WBLS is Adimu, who heads east from KKBT (100.3) in Los Angeles.

Up in Rochester, Clear Channel's getting ready to swap facilities at two of its FMs.

On July 4, classic hits "Fox" WFXF (107.3 South Bristol) will take over the big 50 kW class B signal now occupied by WNVE (95.1 Honeoye Falls), while modern rock "Nerve" will relocate from the market-blanketing 95.1 to the rimshot-on-a-good-day class A 107.3 signal that emanates from 35 miles out of town.

(Some back story here: A few years ago, Clear Channel moved 95.1 from the perch atop Bristol Mountain that it had occupied for half a century, changing its city of license from South Bristol to Honeoye Falls and co-locating it with WVOR 100.5 on Baker Hill in Perinton, much closer to the city. To make that improvement, though, the 107.3 signal was effectively sacrificed, leaving its Honeoye Falls city of license and Bloomfield tower site to go to the more distant Bristol site and become the replacement "sole local service" - cough, cough, hack - to the 1200 or so souls of South Bristol.)

Amazingly, despite having no airstaff, not much signal and almost no promotion, 107.3 placed respectably in the ratings as "The Fox," enough so that Clear Channel's giving the format a shot at the big stick and a better chance to shave some numbers off Infinity's heritage classic rocker WCMF (96.5) and Entercom's classic hits WBZA (98.9).

As for the Nerve, we suspect its fate was sealed when Clear Channel took Howard Stern off its airwaves in February; will it be anything more than a placeholder on 107.3 in its new incarnation?

Up north, WPAC (96.7 Canton) and WNCQ (102.9 Morristown) are swapping call letters; we hear this is a prelude to 96.7's power increase (well, effectively - technically, 102.9 is upgrading and swapping frequencies with 96.7, but that gives even us a headache to contemplate) and a swap of formats that will bring country down to 96.7.

*A new station is on the air in PENNSYLVANIA: WRXV (89.1 State College) is testing at half power and waiting for its license to cover. It's doing Christian rock as "Rev FM."

And we're sorry to report the passing of Paul Brown, the longtime voice of Erie public broadcaster WQLN. Brown came to the station as its second employee in 1967, following a career that had begun 21 years earlier at WAZL in Hazleton and then at WMGW in Meadville. Brown served as PD of WQLN-TV (Channel 54) and hosted "Two Cents Worth" on WQLN-FM (91.3). Brown, who died June 12 at 79, retired from WQLN in 1998.

*Just after NERW went to press last Monday, Vox made some big changes at its remaining stations in western MASSACHUSETTS, killing off the very soft AC at WMNB (100.1 North Adams) and the AC at WUPE (95.9 Pittsfield) and replacing both with an oldies simulcast as "Whoopee."

"Whoopee" has a full airstaff: Joanne Billow moves to mornings there from the morning show at sister WBEC-FM (105.5 Pittsfield). Alex Seseske, who was doing WUPE's morning show, moves to middays, followed by PD Dave Isby in the afternoon and A.J. Kelley at night.

Over at Live 105.5, Billow's former co-host Steve Murray moves to afternoons and OM Mike Patrick takes over mornings.

One valley over, we hear Air America Radio is coming to Northampton and the Pioneer Valley next week. That's when Saga's WHMP (1400 Northampton)/WHNP (1600 East Longmeadow)/WHMQ (1240 Greenfield) will pick up some Air America programming. Still no sign of a Boston affiliate...

*In CONNECTICUT, we hear WKZE (1020 Sharon) is dropping its classic rock format and going with a simulcast of sister AAA WKZE-FM (98.1 Salisbury).

*A call change in RHODE ISLAND: in a few days, "Swing FM" WADK-FM (99.3 Block Island) will become WJZS, differentiating itself from sister station WADK (1540) in Newport.

*A MAINE morning show host is running for vice president: Pat LaMarche, who does wakeups on WEBB (98.5 Waterville) under the air name "Genny Judge," was picked this past weekend as the Green Party candidate to replace Dick Cheney in an undisclosed secret location. It's not her first run for office; the former WGAN talk host ran as the Green candidate for governor of Maine a few years back, too.

*Just one note from CANADA: we see on Milkman's site that the former CISD (107.7 Iroquois ON) is unloading its equipment now that it's gone silent. Contact Jim Millard if you're in the market for the station's studio and remote gear...

*Finally this week, we know it's already June - and almost July, even - but perhaps a bargain price will convince you that you still need a 2004 calendar. After all, the 2004 Tower Site Calendar is more than just a bunch of boxes with dates in them - it's also a collection of some of the niftiest broadcast transmission facilities in North America.

Still on the way for later this year are WMT Cedar Rapids IA, WPTF Raleigh NC, WAJR Morgantown WV, the mighty 12-tower night site of 1190 in Dallas (KFXR, at least this week), Lookout Mountain in Denver (shown at left), CKLW in Windsor and WBT in Charlotte, not to mention lots of fun anniversary dates for stations large (Channel 9 in New York) and small (WFAR Farrell PA).

And as we get ready to put the 2005 edition of the calendar into production, we're offering a special deal to clear out our stock of 2004 calendars. For just $8 postpaid (New York orders add 66 cents sales tax for a total of $8.66), you can still own a 2004 Tower Site Calendar.

Maybe you need an extra for the office, or you've marked up your copy and you'd like a pristine one to stash away, or perhaps you've been meaning to get one as a gift for that special someone. Or perhaps you're just cheap (hey, this is radio, after all!) Doesn't matter; the point is, this is your best chance to get a 2004 Tower Site Calendar at a bargain price.

Order this week, and we'll even throw in a third calendar, free, if you order two. (That's $16 postpaid, $17.32 in New York State!)

We'll also throw in an extra calendar, free, for anyone who subscribes to NERW at the $60 level. Remember, your support is what keeps NERW coming to you week after week.

Now what more could you want? (A live jock at 3 AM, maybe?)

Order the 2004 Tower Site Calendar at our special clearance price of $8! (US and Canada only - e-mail us for overseas ordering information.)
...or subscribe to NERW at the $60 level and get a FREE 2004 Tower Site Calendar

Don't want to order by credit card? You know the drill by now - make those checks payable to "Scott Fybush," be sure to include sales tax ($0.66 per calendar) for New York state calendar orders only, and send them along to 92 Bonnie Brae Avenue, Rochester NY 14618. (Sorry - we can't take orders by phone.)

Thanks for your support!

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 2004 by Scott Fybush.