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November 1, 2004

Sox Win Fires Up Boston Airwaves

*It was quite a week in MASSACHUSETTS, wasn't it? As the whole world knows by now, the Red Sox blew all that "curse" stuff right out of the water with their sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals and their first Series win in 86 years - and that was more than enough excuse for us to point the ol' NERW-mobile eastward late last week to check out the scene in Boston for ourselves (and to show official NERW baby Ariel the biggest parade she'll probably ever see in her lifetime!)

We knew even before leaving home that we'd hear a lot of special Sox material on the airwaves; the special IDs were running on WBZ (1030 Boston) within an hour or two of the win, for instance. But it was still nice to cross the state line (where those "Home of the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots" signs need some company now) and hear a Sox celebration song playing on WSBS (860 Great Barrington). And we rolled quite a bit of tape on the Boston morning shows on Friday, all of which seemed to have their own song parodies, montages of game audio, and so on.

The TV dial was just as much fun, with nightly Sox specials on WBZ-TV (Channel 4) and sister station WSBK (Channel 38), and lots of coverage on the other news stations as well.

And what of the broadcast coverage of the largest parade in Boston history on Saturday morning? The city's TV stations were all over it, in a most cooperative manner, pooling feeds from key camera locations along the route - including live shots (apparently sent back over some sort of streaming wireless connection) from several of the duck boats carrying Sox players and officials. All the usual suspects were in on the coverage - WBZ-TV (simulcast on WSBK for the benefit of outlying viewers in the New England hinterlands and beyond), WCVB (Channel 5), WHDH-TV (Channel 7, with the added bonus of having its studio right along the parade route at Government Center), WFXT (Channel 25), New England Cable News, NESN and Fox Sports New England. About the only disappointment was the rainy, foggy weather that kept helicopters grounded - but there were still aerial shots from a few good high rooftops along the way. By the time we made it away from the parade route and over to a TV set, WB affiliate WLVI (Channel 56) was out of parade coverage (if it carried the parade at all) and into...ABC sports? Yup - the college football game scheduled for WCVB ended up over at channel 56 when it was bumped by parade coverage, probably the first time ABC had been seen on channel 56 since its long, long, long-ago days as WTAO-TV in the fifties. (One more coverage note: Fox's WFXT tried to get permission from Major League Baseball to rerun the historic Game 4 of the World Series on Sunday afternoon, but was turned down.)

Radio was out in force as well, with WEEI (850), WZLX (100.7) and WBCN (104.1) all distributing signs along the parade route. WBZ brought weekday anchor Gary LaPierre in ("I'm Gary LaPierre...and yes, I'm working on Saturday") to anchor its coverage, and we heard coverage from the parade route interspersed with the call-ins on WEEI, too.

*There was other news in the Bay State, too, though not much: up in Gloucester, the FCC approved two translator applications, granting W243CD (96.5) to Radio Assist Ministry and W279BQ (103.7) to Edgewater Broadcasting. Both companies are headed by Clark Parrish and based in Twin Falls, Idaho, also home to Calvary Satellite Radio, and they both filed for thousands of translators in the last filing window, apparently with the intent of selling the construction permits to other religious broadcasters. W243CD's application proposed to relay WMSJ (89.3 Freeport ME) over the air, while W279BQ proposes the even more incredible feat of an over-the-air pickup of WYFP (91.9 Harpswell ME); we'd expect those to change at some point, especially if the FCC approves (as groups like Radio Assist, Edgewater and Calvary devoutly hope it will) a plan to allow translators in the commercial part of the FM band to be fed by satellite.

*One we missed in the rush of Sox excitement last week: former WXKS-FM (107.9 Medford MA) jock Ed McMann stays in the Clear Channel family, moving south to RHODE ISLAND and oldies WWBB (101.5 Providence), where he replaces Big John Bina in middays. Amy Hagan, formerly of WHJY (94.1 Providence), takes over afternoons from Crusin' Bruce Palmer. And right there in the same building on Oxford Street (albeit in the Hall cluster on a different floor), Robby Bridges moves up from evenings to afternoons on "Cat Country" WCTK (98.1 New Bedford MA).

*Now that Air America has a more-or-less permanent spot on the dial in southern MAINE, the folks at WLVP (870 Gorham) are bringing the network's star personality to town. Al Franken is doing his afternoon show live from Portland today (Monday); on Tuesday, he'll be in Cambridge, Mass., doing his show from the Hotel Marlowe for WXKS (1430 Everett)/WKOX (1200 Framingham).

*Now that Vox Communications has closed on the sale of most of its northern New England properties, Vox principal Jeff Shapiro is turning his attention to his remaining NEW HAMPSHIRE property, WTPL (107.7 Hillsboro). He's got veteran New England programmer Clark Smidt working for him, and it's no coincidence that the station shares some ties with WNNH (99.1 Henniker), the station Smidt built into a major force in the Concord market before selling it a few years back to Tele-Media (it's now part of the Nassau machine that's also absorbed most of the former Vox signals). WTPL operates from the Pat's Peak transmitter site that WNNH used to use, and now it has former WNNH morning guy Peter St. James doing wakeup duty, too, with operations manager Bob Lipman as his co-host. The rest of the day on "The Pulse" includes Arnie Arnesen's talk show, Dr. Joy Browne, Howie Carr, CNN news, ESPN sports and a simulcast of WMUR-TV (Channel 9)'s 6 PM news, long a signature of WNNH.

*One of the longest-running tower disputes in the country is still brewing in VERMONT, but the latest chapter is at least something of a victory for Burlington Broadcasters' WIZN (106.7 Vergennes). Neighbors of WIZN's tower on Pease Mountain in Charlotte have been fighting against it for years (notwithstanding that it's really one of the least conspicuous sites we've ever encountered), claiming that the RF emissions from the site could cause cancer. They filed suit in the mid-nineties to force WIZN to get a permit for the tower under Vermont's Act 250 development control law, and after that permit was granted in 1999 the neighbors then appealed to the state's Environmental Board.

Now the Environmental Board has ruled that the tower's RF emissions may indeed have negative effects on neighbors' health, but that the science is "inconclusive" and that WIZN can stay put. (NERW continues to wonder how many of the neighbors have spent considerable time discussing the case on their cellphones, pumping a lot more RF energy at a more potent frequency a lot closer to their addled brains...)

On the TV front, WBVT-LP (Channel 39) changes calls to WGMU-CA under its new ownership.

*A new translator in CONNECTICUT: our old pal Dennis Jackson (he owns WQQQ up in Salisbury and WMEX up in New Hampshire, among others) has been granted W276BV (103.1) in Greenwich. Dennis applied for the translator as a relay of WMNR (88.1 Monroe), but we'll see what it turns out to be once it's on.

And there's late word that WAVZ (1300 New Haven) has dropped Fox Sports in favor of Air America as "The Voice"; much more next week on this one...

*Some changes in the overnight sound of NEW YORK radio: Steve Malzberg has departed the late-night hours of WABC (770 New York) after 23 years at the station. As of this morning (Nov. 1), he's the new morning man on WWRL (1600 New York), working alongside Karen Hunter and trading the huge signal of WABC for more civilized hours on the more limited reach of WWRL. Over at WABC, program director Phil Boyce plugs in the syndicated "Coast to Coast AM" with George Noory, at least for now.

Over at Infinity, WCBS (880 New York) brings in veteran KGO (810 San Francisco) news anchor Mary Ellen Geist as its new afternoon co-anchor, dropping the "Drivetime Live" tag on its afternoon news block.

Inner City Broadcasting's WBLS (107.5 New York) names Deon Livingston as its new general manager, replacing Kernie Anderson, who's now at sister station WHAT (1340 Philadelphia). Livingston's inbound from Radio One's Indianapolis cluster.

Up along the Delaware River, Robert Wein's Port Jervis Broadcasting Company has sold WDLC (1490 Port Jervis)/WTSX (96.7 Port Jervis) to the new P J Radio LLC, headed by none other than James Morley, longtime general manager of WEZN-FM (99.9 Bridgeport CT). Morley's been out of the picture for a few years since helping to engineer the sale of his NewCity group to Cox; now he's back in the business with a $4 million purchase of the oldies simulcast. (Wein gets $3 million, while Clear Channel gets $1 million to buy out its option on the stations, which it had been LMA'ing until just recently.) Dick Kozacko of Kozacko Media Services and Mike Rice of New England Media brokered the deal.

In Binghamton, Ed Walker gets a big promotion: the WHWK (98.1) PD is now operations manager for the five-station Citadel cluster there.

We're sorry to report (and belatedly, at that) the passing of one of the more colorful station owners on the upstate New York radio scene. Dr. David Wolfe was a dentist, a pastor (at Gates Baptist Temple) - and a radio guy, buying WASB (1590 Brockport) and building a network that included WASB-FM (105.5 Brockport, now K-Love outlet WMJQ) and WRSB (1310 Canandaigua). Wolfe was 68 when he died on October 14; he's survived by his wife Marilyn, two children and a flock of grandkids.

An interesting new translator grant southeast of Buffalo: W221AB (92.1 Holland) will translate an LPFM, religious WNAR-LP (100.3 Arcade). (And it may be short-lived; it's likely to get displaced by the new 92.1 signal in Amherst once that allocation gets a licensee and gets built out.)

*The listeners spoke, and now the southern tip of NEW JERSEY has its standards station back. After just a couple of days of simulcasting an oldies format with WMID (1340 Atlantic City), WCMC (1230 Wildwood) returned to adult standards last Tuesday (Oct. 26), in no small part because of the outspoken listeners who staged a rally outside the station's Wildwood studios. (Our thanks to DJ Kris Lane for the picture!)

WCMC's morning man Jim McMillan is back in the saddle there as well, we're told; the oldies continue on WMID, which overlaps much of WCMC's coverage during daylight hours.

WPST (97.5 Trenton) is on the move, at least in one sense. Nassau Broadcasting's flagship FM station won FCC permission last week to move its class B allocation to Burlington, which puts it in the Philadelphia market now. The move doesn't include a change of transmitter site - yet - but as a grandfathered pre-1964 allocation that's surrounded by other grandfathered pre-1964 allocations, it should be possible for WPST to put a city-grade signal over its new city of license from a transmitter site right in the heart of Philadelphia if it so chooses. (There's no protection of third-adjacent signals between pre-1964 allocations like WPST and Philly's WOGL on 98.1, you see...)

In New Brunswick, WMGQ (98.3) hires Mike Manion for mornings; Manion was most recently at WLEV (100.7 Allentown PA) and has worked at a whole bunch of stations around the region.

*Speaking of Allentown, PENNSYLVANIA, a controversial station merger there appears to be on the verge of collapsing. Community radio station WDIY (88.1 Allentown), facing budget deficits and declining membership, was exploring a merger with public TV station WLVT (Channel 39) - but the last week has seen four pro-merger WDIY board members step down, leaving the board with a majority opposed to the merger. In addition, WDIY has signed a one-year extension of its lease in Allentown's Flatiron Building, averting a crisis that might have forced the station to move in with WLVT. Will WDIY be able to regain financial stability without WLVT's resources? Stay tuned...

New translators around the Keystone State: WEZX (106.9 Scranton) adds another 107.3 signal, this one in Hazleton (W297AV). Shawnee Productions gets W269BX (101.7 Hillsville) to relay WCSD-LP (104.9 Shawnee-on-Delaware PA). EMF Broadcasting gets W292DH (106.3 Uniontown) as part of its plan to link up a network of translators to relay the "K-Love" signal from WDKL (95.9 Grafton WV). And in Erie, Bible Broadcasting Network sells W254AJ (98.7) to Family Life Ministries. (We're still puzzling over the ad BBN ran when it was trying to sell W254AJ, claiming it was relaying one of BBN's stations in the Carolinas, something a translator in the commercial band can't legally do. W254AJ was silent the last few times we passed through Erie this summer...)

And we send our best wishes to Jay Lloyd, who's retiring after 35 years with KYW (1060 Philadelphia). Lloyd founded KYW's suburban bureau in Montgomery County back in 1972 and has been there ever since.

*It was a bad week for one station in CANADA: CJMX (EZ Rock 105.3) in Sudbury, Ontario was off the air after a fire damaged its transmission line. Milkman UnLimited reports that CJMX was off the air for 25 hours in all, from late Wednesday night until just after midnight Friday, when a replacement antenna was brought in from Thunder Bay to get the station back on the air.

In Peterborough, CKKK (99.5) is now testing its signal. The station won't use its calls on the air (which is probably a good idea, considering) - instead, it'll be "Kaos FM," with programming aimed at the under-18 audience in south central Ontario.

Over in Quebec, CFGE-1 (98.1 Magog) is now testing from Mont Orford near Sherbrooke. The 364-watt signal will relay "Rhythme FM" from CFGE (93.7 Sherbrooke).

*You're now just two months away from 2005 - so why haven't you ordered your Tower Site Calendar 2005 yet?

It's now for sale, among other outlets, at the NAB Store - yup, that was the 2005 edition on the counter in San Diego - as well as being on the racks at Universal Radio in Ohio.

And we're pretty sure the cover of the Tower Site Calendar 2006 has now been photographed - but we won't spoil the surprise just yet, will we?

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/ 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?

Order the 2005 Tower Site Calendar for $16...
Order the 2005 and 2004 Tower Site Calendars together for just $20...
...or subscribe to NERW at the $60 level and get a FREE 2005 Tower Site Calendar
...and you can still order the 2004 Tower Site Calendar at our special clearance price of $8! (US and Canada only - e-mail us for overseas ordering information.)

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.)

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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 2004 by Scott Fybush.