September 20, 2004
WBUR To Sell WRNI/WXNI
The future of public radio in RHODE ISLAND is
in more than a little doubt this week, as listeners, donors and
public officials digest the Friday morning announcement that
Boston's WBUR has put its Ocean State outpost, WRNI (1290 Providence)/WXNI
(1230 Westerly) up for sale.
Rhode Island lost its distinction as one of the last states
with no public radio outlet when WBUR shelled out $1.975 million
in 1998 to buy what was then Portuguese-language WRCP (1290);
the next year, the $300,000 purchase of what was then WERI (1230
Westerly) expanded service to southern Rhode Island and southeastern
WBUR had big plans for WRNI, building new studios at Providence's
Union Station, upgrading the 1290 signal from 5 kW to 10 kW and,
for a while, offering a daily two-hour newsmagazine, One Union
Station, specifically for the Rhode Island audience.
Budget problems beginning in late 2001 slowly eroded some
of those advances, though; One Union Station was cancelled
and replaced with a weekly one-hour show that was itself cancelled
a few weeks ago, and much of WRNI's news staff was either laid
off or moved to the mothership in Boston.
WBUR head honcho Jane Christo was reportedly tight-lipped
with donors at the Friday meeting in Providence; the Providence
Phoenix reports that she wouldn't address questions about
WBUR's own financial problems, and the extent to which they might
be driving the sale of the Rhode Island stations, saying only
that it's time for the community to step up and buy the station
if it wants it to remain as a public radio outlet.
For the donors who led the fund-raising campaign to help WBUR
buy the stations in the first place, and those who have given
money to WRNI/WXNI in its six years on the air, that attitude
was understandably insulting. Several have complained about having
to, in effect, buy the station twice - and yet, if they don't,
the stations will likely be sold to a commercial owner. (They're
also unhappy about the timing of the announcement, asking for
some extra time to put together a plan before the station is
offered to commercial sellers; right now, the plan is to begin
offering the station as early as today, through Media Services
This one's not over yet; stay tuned...
*Some lineup shakeups in MASSACHUSETTS last
week, at Clear Channel's "Kiss 108," WXKS-FM (107.9
Medford): veteran midday jock Ed McMann is out (though he keeps
voicetracking for other CC stations in the northeast), and so
is afternoon guy Artie the One-Man Party, himself a fairly recent
replacement for Dale Dorman. Dierdre Dagata moves over from sister
WJMN-FM (94.5 Boston) to take middays, while Romeo moves up from
nights to afternoons, which in turn brings Kory in from nights
at WKCI (101.3 Hamden CT) to do Kiss' night shift.
Over on the AM dial, WRKO (680 Boston) gives New York-based
talker Jay Diamond a longer weekend shift, moving him from Saturdays
10-midnight up to Saturdays 7-11 PM.
And on the TV dial, Telemundo outlet WTMU-LP (Channel 32)
has moved to channel 67, which in turn will allow Pax to put
WBPX-DT on the air on channel 32 sometime soon.
Last month, the FCC granted Juan Alberto Ayala of Texas a
CP for a new translator, W249BU (97.7 Montvale), which will supposedly
relay New Hampshire Public Radio's WEVO (89.1 Concord) via an
off-air pickup to the Winchester-Woburn area. Now a petition
for reconsideration has been filed against the grant - could
it be that NHPR never consented to the relay of its signal? (And,
for that matter, why would the pastor of the "Comunidad
Cristiana" in Cedar Hill, Texas want to bring NPR to the
suburbs north of Boston in the first place?)
Out west, former Boston-area engineer Dana Puopolo asks the
FCC to allot a new class A (6 kW) signal on 98.9 in Adams; the
FCC is taking comments on the proposal through Nov. 8.
*In MAINE, there's still no sign of
a signal on WDEA (1370 Ellsworth), which hits the one-month mark
on its protracted absence from the airwaves this week. The latest
word from Cumulus to the local papers is that a new Harris transmitter
is finally on order and will be delivered within a few days;
it's still hard for us to believe that the company would leave
standards and Sox fans in the dark for this long.
Up the road in Millinocket, WSYY (94.9) morning man and former
station manager David Keys is headed to federal prison for 18
months for possession of child pornography. Keys, who's worked
at WSYY for 30 years, was also a Little League baseball and basketball
coach for the Millinocket schools.
Light of Life Ministries (WWWA 95.3 Winslow) received five
translator CPs from the FCC this week: W233BE (94.5 Richmond
Center), W252BT (98.3 Freeport), W255BI (98.9 Lincoln), W264BQ
(100.7 Bangor) and W272BV (102.3 Yarmouth).
*One new translator CP in VERMONT:
W273BH (102.5 Middlebury) was granted to WCLX (102.9 Westport
NY); the new CP means WCLX will again be heard on the 102.5 dial
position it occupied before moving up to 102.9 this year.
*One new translator CP in CONNECTICUT,
too: WMNR (88.1 Monroe) will add W287AZ (105.3 Southport) to
America and other liberal talk programming came to the airwaves
of western NEW YORK Friday, when Entercom's WROC
(950 Rochester) dropped its talk lineup of Laura Ingraham, Bill
O'Reilly and Sean Hannity in favor of Air America's Unfiltered,
Al Franken and Randi Rhodes, as well as the syndicated Ed Schultz
and Lionel shows.
WROC's move takes it out of direct competition with the much
more powerful WHAM (1180) and its talk lineup, including Rush
Limbaugh and Michael Savage. It also appears to have prompted
a fair number of calls to WROC-TV (Channel 8), which felt compelled
to run a story in its Friday night newscasts reminding viewers
that it shares only call letters (and news simulcasts) with 950,
but not ownership.
Across the street from WROC, the engineers at WXXI (1370/91.5
Rochester) had a busy week, moving the public radio stations
out of the studios they've occupied for years (WXXI-FM had been
in its studio space since its sign-on in late 1974, while the
AM was in a converted suite of offices that had been in use since
1987) into brand-new rooms across the hall (with, for the first
time, windows to the outside world!)
Down I-390 a bit, WYSL (1040 Avon)'s application to boost
day power to 20 kW was reinstated at the FCC; some problems with
the Commission's electronic filing system had caused several
exhibits to the application to be mislabeled initially.
Lots of new translators this week for Calvary Church of the
Finger Lakes' WZXV (99.7 Palmyra): it was granted CPs for W227BQ
(93.3 Watkins Glen), W239BA (95.7 Lockport), W243BW (96.5 Akron),
W248AT (97.5 Corfu), W279BO (103.7 Arcade), W283AU (104.5 Houghton),
W285EB (104.9 Wayland) and W287AX (105.3 Medina), in an elaborate
daisy-chain of signal reception and retransmission that would
surely be blown apart by unusual tropospheric ducting like the
conditions that prevailed across the region early last week.
(It was nice to be able to hear the entire Ottawa FM dial from
Rochester, we'll admit...)
Speaking of Watkins Glen, Backyard Broadcasting flips the
calls of WGMF (1490) there to WTYX, apparently to warehouse those
calls after they've been taken off a Backyard-owned FM station
in Jackson, Mississippi.
A few more translators? Why not - the FCC also granted CPs
this week to W294AW (106.7 Dansville, relaying WKPQ 105.3 Hornell),
W281AN (104.1 Ellenville, to John Katonah to relay WLJP 88.1
Monroe), and W256BA (99.1 Salamanca, to Edgewater Broadcasting
to relay WZXV 99.7 Palmyra in a hard-to-imagine-it's-possible
Over in Jamestown, WRFA-LP (107.9) applies for a license to
cover; it's owned by the Arts Council for Chautauqua County.
Downstate, WNYU-FM-1 (89.1 New York) has filed for its license
to cover; the 5-watt booster at the corner of Bleecker and Mercer
Streets is meant to fill in the New York University station's
signal over NYU's main campus in Greenwich Village. (Its main
transmitter is way uptown, in the Bronx.)
And even though it never actually existed, legendary made-up
(900 Pound Ridge) was back in the headlines this past week when
its call letters were assigned for the first time to an actual
broadcast station. The new "real" WVWA-FM is the former
WHEL-FM (105.1 Helen GA), now half of Clear Channel's "Viva"
regional Mexican simulcast serving Atlanta. (The other half of
the simulcast has some famous borrowed calls, too: what had been
talker WMAX-FM 105.3 Bowdon GA is now WWVA-FM. And yes, those
WMAX-FM calls saw use in the Empire State a few years ago, too.)
*In NEW JERSEY, WKMB (1070 Stirling)
moved out of its longtime (and only) home at 1390 Valley Road
on Friday afternoon, relocating to the old WERA (1590 Plainfield)
studios at 120 West 7th Street in Plainfield. (NERW hopes WKMB's
unique air chain, including the homebuilt "Rontimod"
processor, gets donated to a worthy home...)
a new "Pickle" on the way to western PENNSYLVANIA?
It sure seems that way as Keymarket and Forever settle into the
former Clear Channel cluster in New Castle. The hot AC "Star"
format that was on WJST (92.1 Ellwood City) moved over to WBZY
(1280 New Castle) as "Star 1280," and WJST is taking
on new calls of WKPL, which sure sounds like the "Pickle"
oldies that Frank Bell's using at WPKL (99.3 Uniontown) and WASP
Down the road in Pittsburgh, talker WPTT (1360 McKeesport)
flipped its lineup last week, moving "Uncle Doug" Hoerth
to 7-10 AM and Jerry Bowyer to 3-6 PM.
The syndicated Bob & Tom show is gone from WEEO-FM (103.7
McConnellsburg), replaced by the equally syndicated Steve &
D.C. morning show.
Over in Philadelphia, Walt Cooper moves from afternoons at
WFIL (560) to the PD chair at WHAT (1340); meanwhile, WIP (610)
is stunting in a variety of ways to fill Howard Eskin's afternoon
slot while the sports talker sits out a 30-day suspension as
part of a libel settlement. This week is "Eagles Week"
at WIP, with current and former members of the team talking football.
Lots of new translators this week in the Keystone State: the
Scranton Times' WEZX (106.9 Scranton) gets a construction permit
for W287AY (105.3 Mount Pocono), WITF (89.5 Hershey) gets W247BF
(97.3 Kutztown), and Temple University's WRTI (90.1 Philadelphia)
gets W229AW (93.7 Gettysburg), W236BF (95.1 Oxford), W263BH (100.5
Lancaster), W270BG (101.9 Cape May NJ), W271BA (102.1 Orrstown),
W287AW (105.3 Biglerville), W296BM (107.1 Millersville) and W297AT
(107.3 Marshalltown DE).
And another Dana Puopolo FM allocations request: he's asking
the FCC to put a class A signal on 92.7 in Lawrence Park PA,
near Erie. Because of the close spacing to CJBX (92.7 London
ON), which puts a huge signal across the lake, this allocation
would be limited to a mere 225 watts instead of the usual 6000
watts for a class A. Comments on this one are due Nov. 8 as well.
*A quiet week in CANADA: Toronto's
Humber College was granted a 5-watt license for a student-run
station on 96.9. And in Quebec City, the court decision that
granted CHOI (98.1 Quebec City) a stay of execution also meant
some changes for the CRTC's (potentially premature) call for
applicants for new licenses to serve the provincial capital.
The CRTC amended that call for applications last week to note
that applicants must now specify a frequency other than 98.1,
and to extend the deadline to October 29. The CRTC also opened
calls for applications for new stations in New Glasgow, Nova
Scotia and North Bay, Ontario.
*And now, the moment you've all been
waiting for... (well, we've been waiting for it, anyway):
Tower Site Calendar 2005 is back from the printer and
sitting in several big boxes in the garage waiting to be distributed
to all of you!
Attendees at the
recent National Radio Club convention got a sneak preview of
it, and it's now on the racks at Universal Radio in Ohio. We'll
also have copies available later this week at the Society of
Broadcast Engineers' regional conference (the 32nd Annual SBE22
Broadcast & Technology Expo) at the Turning Stone Casino
This year's calendar begins with WSTW/WDEL in Wilmington,
Delaware on the cover, ends with Sutro Tower in San Francisco
on the inside back cover - and along the way makes stops at WNBF
in Binghamton, CFNB in Fredericton, Poor Mountain in Roanoke,
KXNT in Las Vegas, WBBR in New York, Gibraltar Peak above Santa
Barbara, WDEV in Waterbury, Vermont, WRIB in Providence, WOOD
in Grand Rapids, KFJZ in Fort Worth, KYPA in Los Angeles and
the top of Chicago's Hancock Tower.
We're holding the price from last year, notwithstanding increases
in printing costs and PayPal fees - just $16 postpaid ($17.32
including sales tax to New York addresses). And as always, it's
free with your $60 or higher subscription to NorthEast Radio
Watch/fybush.com. You can use PayPal, below, or send your check
or money order, payable to Scott Fybush, to 92 Bonnie Brae Avenue,
Rochester NY 14618.
And here's an even better deal - We still have
plenty of 2004 calendars left, so how about this? For just $20
postpaid ($21.65 in New York), we'll send you both the 2005 and
2004 editions. It's almost like getting an extra calendar free!
(Or, if you just need the 2004 edition, that's still on clearance
at $8 - and if you buy two 2004 calendars, your third is free!)
So why wait until the last minute? Why make us wait until
the last minute? Why not let me park my car back in the garage
where it belongs? Buy your calendars now, won't you?
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 (8.25%) 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
2004 by Scott Fybush.