August 30, 2004
CHOI Wins a Reprieve
*Its long-term survival is still
in question, but CANADA's most controversial radio station
is at least assured of staying on the air beyond the middle of
this week. CHOI (98.1 Quebec City) was due to have its license
pulled this Tuesday (August 31) after the CRTC denied its application
for renewal - but late last week a Canadian court told station
owner Genex Communications that CHOI could remain on the air
for now, as it challenges the license revocation in court. A
bow to public opinion after CHOI brought some 50 buses full of
supporters to Parliament Hill?
In Toronto, the CRTC renewed the license of CHEV, the unusual
mobile low-power AM station that used to travel around the city
and broadcast from sporting events - but with a catch. CHEV won't
be able to stay on 1610 when a new (and stationary) station signs
on there in the next few months, so it will have to find - and
apply for - a new frequency to continue operating. (NERW notes:
we haven't heard much about CHEV operating lately, so it's possible
that the station may not return at all.)
Former CHFI (98.1 Toronto) morning co-host Erin Davis is returning
to the air for a while: she'll fill in for CJEZ (EZ Rock 97.3)
morning host Christine Cardoso when she takes maternity leave.
Davis will take over at CJEZ on Sept. 7 and hang around through
February 1, 2005.
Some reshuffling underway at classic rock "Y108"
(CJXY 107.9 Burlington): the morning team of Jason Farr and Darrin
Laidman is out, reports Milkman UnLimited, with no replacement
named yet. Down the Niagara Peninsula, "The River"
(CFLZ 105.1 Niagara Falls) is losing its veteran morning host,
as Tami Jeanneret leaves the business after Tuesday morning's
show. (And what's up with its sister station, tourist information
CJRN 710? We were listening while crossing the border on Sunday,
and not only were the usual traffic reports missing - thus condemning
us to an hour-long delay - but the events being promoted were
more than a month old!)
*Across the border in upstate NEW YORK,
a familiar midday voice is back on the air after nearly a year's
absence. You'll recall that Bob Lonsberry made quite the media
splash when he was ousted from the 11-2 slot on WHAM (1180 Rochester)
last September after making comments that many interpreted as
a racial slur on the city's mayor, who was then embroiled in
a heated (and ultimately unsuccessful) race for Monroe County
Whether it was a question of Lonsberry repenting, the political
pressures easing - or simply ratings and revenue desperation
(WHAM's numbers were off significantly over the last year, and
its sales were reportedly suffering as well), the appropriate
deals were done and Lonsberry was suddenly (and without any advance
publicity) back in the saddle on Thursday, broadcasting from
his home in Mount Morris, fielding call after call from listeners
happy to have him back and apologizing, in a tone that seemed
just short of completely sincere, for his remarks last year.
(At the same time, we'd note, he was reminding just about every
caller to tune into the rest of WHAM's lineup as well.)
An interesting note here for media conspiracy theorists: the
news of Lonsberry's impending return was broken, in a solid,
clean scoop, by WROC-TV (Channel 8)'s Rachel Barnhart. Why does
that matter? Of WROC's major competitors, WOKR (Channel 13) is,
like WHAM, owned by Clear Channel. WHEC-TV (Channel 10), they
of the "Digging for Answers, Reporting them First"
tagline, has Lonsberry's once-and-future producer as its 11 PM
producer, and he was no doubt sworn to secrecy on the move. And
readers of this column know by now our opinion of the local newspaper's
coverage of radio - which was borne out in full by day-late,
dollar-short, catch-up reporting sourced from TV, and attributed
not to WROC but to WOKR, which just happens to be in a news-gathering
partnership with the paper.
(Full disclosure here: your editor himself draws income from
Clear Channel, albeit indirectly, through the M Street Corporation,
which has no operational connection to Clear Channel Radio or
Clear Channel Television.)
other big story came from the other end of the Empire State,
where Arthur Schwartz left his longtime post as restaurant critic
for WOR (710 New York), in what was apparently a dispute over
how much influence advertisers would be permitted to have over
the content of his daily restaurant talk show. Substitute hosts
filled that 11-noon slot last week; its long-term future is unclear.
The FCC granted two more New York translators this week: W222AT
(92.3 Hamilton) to the State University of New York (it'll relay
public radio WRVO 89.9 Oswego), and W225AR (92.9 Webster), to
Family Life Ministries.
On the TV dial: WKTV (Channel 2) in Utica has come to the
end of its contract to produce a 10 PM newscast for Fox outlet
WFXV (Channel 33); in any case, WFXV is now co-owned with WKTV
archrival WUTR (Channel 20), though WUTR has no local news presence
any more. The last 10 PM WKTV show on WFXV will be Tuesday; beginning
Wednesday, the 10 PM news will instead air on cable-only WB affiliate
"WBU," which is programmed by WKTV (and which doesn't
reach the Rome side of the market.)
More engineering news: WLVL (1340 Lockport) won FCC permission
this week to drop its unusual directional antenna configuration.
Since the early seventies, WLVL has been one of the few
class C (old class IV, or "graveyard") stations to
run a directional antenna. The DA was originally needed to protect
CKDK on 1340 in Woodstock, Ontario when WLVL went from 250 watts
to a kilowatt in 1973 - but it's been many, many years since
CKDK moved from 1340 to the FM dial (it's now "the Hawk"
on 103.9), and now WLVL has convinced both the FCC and Canadian
regulators that the DA is no longer needed, which means it can
go non-directional both day and night.
*We'll jump next to VERMONT, where the FCC handed something
of a defeat to an inventive plan to move WWOD (104.3 Hartford)
from the Upper Valley market clear across the state to the Burlington
market. WWOD's owner, Vox, applied a while back to change the
city of license of sister station WSSH (95.3 White River Junction)
to Hartford - and then to move WWOD's class A allocation all
the way west to Keeseville, N.Y., across Lake Champlain from
Vermont's biggest city.
It would have worked,
too, if a rival applicant hadn't pointed out to the FCC that
there was another potential channel that could be allocated to
provide first local service to Keeseville without doing the WWOD
shuffle - and so the FCC denied the WWOD move and instead allocated
94.1A to Keeseville, where it will now sit in the backlog of
new allocations awaiting auction (or designation as noncommercial.)
The FCC also approved a whole slew of new translators for
the Green Mountain State: W233BD (94.5 Burlington) to Vermont
Public Radio, W247BC (97.3 White River Junction) to Clear Channel
(it'll relay WZRT 97.1 Rutland), W251AX (98.1 St. Albans) to
Radio Broadcasting Services Inc., and W295AU (106.9 Manchester)
*Over in MAINE, WYNZ (100.9 Portland)
had its application granted to make its current transmitter site,
on one of the WGAN (560) towers on Lane Avenue, into its permanent
licensed facility. WYNZ had been operating there under special
temporary authority since its old tower in South Portland collapsed
last year. (It runs 25 kW from 93 meters, almost identical to
its old facility of 25 kW at 100 meters.)
*Just one little tidbit of MASSACHUSETTS news
on this otherwise-quiet week: the University of Massachusetts
was granted a CP for a North Adams translator. W266AW (101.1)
will relay WFCR (88.5) from Amherst.
And we're hearing buzz of a format change in the works at
WCRN (830 Worcester); the former standards "Swing 830"
was running ABC's "True Oldies Channel" service over
*In CONNECTICUT, WFSB-TV (Channel
3) will be moving out of the studio facility it's called home
ever since its debut in 1957. Station owner Meredith is selling
the building at 3 Constitution Plaza to the city of Hartford
in exchange for a new site on the underdeveloped north side of
I-84, along Main and Trumbull streets, where it will build a
new studio that it plans to occupy in early 2007.
*Our biggest piece of PENNSYLVANIA-area
news this week actually comes from beyond the state line - Wilmington,
DELAWARE to be exact - where Clear Channel is paying
some $4 million to buy WILM (1450 Wilmington) from E.B. Hawkins
and his mother, Sally. WILM was one of the last independently-owned
news-talk AMs in the country (it's survived by KQV in Pittsburgh),
and it'll now be absorbed into the cluster that includes sports
WWTX (1290 Wilmington), talk WDOV (1410 Dover), country WDSD
(92.9 Smyrna) and classic hits WRDX (94.7 Dover).
Air America, fresh from big affiliation adds in Ann Arbor,
San Diego and Denver, is getting some clearance in Philadelphia
as well: Inner City Broadcasting, whose WLIB (1190 New York)
is the network's flagship, will add AAR's Al Franken and Randi
Rhodes to the schedule at WHAT (1340 Philadelphia), whose talk
programming has heretofore catered to the city's black population.
The new WHAT lineup: Mary Mason 6-9 AM (losing an hour), Thera
Martin-Connolly 9-noon (from afternoon drive), Franken 12-3,
Rhodes 3-7, Bev Smith 7-10 and Reggie Bryant 10 PM to 1 AM.
Over on the FM dial, WSNI (104.5 Philadelphia) applies to
move its antenna just a bit - it wants to move from its longtime
home on the WPHL-TV ("Banks") tower across Domino Lane
to what's now its auxiliary site on the WPSG-TV ("Gross")
tower. The move, which will find WSNI sharing an antenna with
format competitor WMWX (95.7), will allow the station to put
IBOC digital on the air.
New translators in the Keystone State: W232BK (94.3 DuBois),
to Cary Simpson; W236BB (95.1 Tunkhannock), to Family Life Ministries;
W273BE (102.5 Huntingdon), to Penn State University's WPSU (91.1
*Some housekeeping: we're busy as anything getting ready for
the National Radio Club's annual convention, which we're hosting
in western New York and southern Ontario beginning this Thursday.
If you'll be in the Batavia - or Buffalo or Rochester or Toronto
- area next weekend, you're invited! Drop us a line for more
information about one of the nation's biggest gathering of radio
And between that and the upcoming Labor Day holiday, we'll
probably be taking next week off from NERW. If there's major
breaking news, we'll post an update here - and otherwise, we'll
be back in the saddle on Monday, September 13...
...at which point the 2005 Tower Site Calendar will
be back from the printers and ready for early shipment! Stay
tuned to this page just after Labor Day to find out more about
this year's edition - and about our special deals for early purchasers.
*In the meantime, 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
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? Perhaps a 2005 calendar, chock-full
of pretty pictures of stations like WBBR, KXNT, WDEL and WDEV?
Just hang tight - next year's edition will be available for ordering
next week - and it will ship right after Labor
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
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2004 by Scott Fybush.