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April 11, 2005

K-Rock, WBBF Change Directions

*There was a time when radio stations prided themselves on stability and consistency, celebrating decades of history and heritage call letters.

Today, at least in upstate NEW YORK, it seems that the thing to be is "Fickle." In any case, that's the new nickname for the Entercom station formerly known as oldies WBBF-FM (93.3 Fairport), which flipped Thursday morning (Apr. 7) to a "random" mix of classic hits and hot AC tunes that sounds awfully similar to all those "Jack" stations and their clones from coast to coast, albeit developed locally by operations manager Dave Symonds and GM Mike Doyle.

WBBF's "Ace and Marti" morning show continue, but the station's running automated the rest of the day, at least for the moment. And as of this morning, the heritage WBBF calls (which have been in the market since 1953, most of that time on the sister facility at 950 now known as WROC) have been replaced on 93.3 by "WFKL."

(Interesting trivia: every single one of the signals in Entercom's Rochester cluster - 950, WBEE 92.5, 93.3 and WBZA 98.9 - has had the "WBBF" calls at some point in its history.)

*Meanwhile at the other end of the Empire State, WXRK (92.3 New York) is still "K-Rock" - but as of last Monday morning, it's traded in the alternative rock it's been playing since 1996 for a broader rock format that includes older artists such as Motley Crue, calling itself "K-Rock. Great Rock. Period."

The new (or perhaps "the new old") K-Rock ran jockless all last week (with the exception, of course, of Howard Stern in morning drive), but the jocks will be back this week, we hear. The modern rock lives on as a webstream called "Krock2."

Elsewhere in New York, Univision Radio's won FCC permission for a Manhattan booster for WZAA (92.7 Garden City). The 2.5-watt booster will operate from a rooftop site near Columbus Circle (NERW believes it's the Roosevelt Hospital building) - and, of course, it will be simulcast with WCAA (105.9 Newark NJ), which blankets the area from the nearby Empire State Building. (Why the duplication? The booster was originally proposed by 92.7 when it was Jarad's WLIR.)

In Albany, WAMC (90.3) has a new news director, as Clarence Fanto comes on board after serving as managing editor of the Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, Mass. Former ND Joe Donahue stays with the station, doing news and hosting the Roundtable talk show. (WAMC's also closing on its purchase of WRUN 1150 in Utica, which is one big reason why WRUN didn't pick up the Yankees broadcasts this year, leaving no local Yanks outlet in the market.)

In Binghamton, Kirsten Van Slyke leaves WICZ-TV (Channel 40), where she's been a reporter, to take Jeff Steele's slot in morning drive on WWYL (104.1 Chenango Bridge), alongside morning host Riley.

The FCC has rescinded its grants of two new Binghamton-area LPFMs on 95.7. Living Water Ministries was granted a Binghamton CP, while Latter Rain Network was granted 95.7 in Sanitaria Springs - but each would have had four years of an eight-year, nonrenewable license term. The two applicants say they didn't have a chance to work out a share-time agreement for the frequency that would have allowed them to get renewable licenses, so they're asking the FCC for another chance.

In Elmira, J.J. Morgan's leaving the OM/PD/morning host gig at Backyard Broadcasting's WNKI (106.1 Corning), returning home to Wichita and a PD/mornings job at KFBZ (105.3 Haysville KS).

Here in Rochester, Amanda "Ty" Tynan has departed middays at WZNE (94.1 Brighton). She's looking for a new gig (and has an on-line resume and such at

And in Buffalo, WHTT (104.1) has a new lineup in the wake of Tom Shannon's retirement at the end of March. Harv Moore moves into afternoons, and that opens up the midday slot for the versatile Jim Pastrick, who'd been doing part-time air work there.

*In NEW JERSEY, WNNJ (1360 Newton) gets a morning man - and what a morning man they're getting! Max "SuperMax" Kinkel, whose career has included stints at CKLW and WCBS-FM, started at the station last week (and, yes, they do stream.)

Meanwhile, another great oldies jock is out of work in the Garden State. Don Tandler, "The Record Handler," had been spinning the tunes on Saturday nights at WKXW-FM (101.5 Trenton) for 14 years, but things had been changing at New Jersey 101.5. First the station changed his playlist, eliminating the older oldies and, in the process, Tandler's weekly homages to the old WABC - and now Tandler's out of the station completely.

And WKMB (1070 Stirling) is back on the air after spending most of last week silent, due to a transmitter failure.

*In PENNSYLVANIA, former WPLY (100.3 Media) morning team Preston and Steve spent the week in court, hoping to invalidate the non-compete deal that would keep their new employers, Greater Media's WMMR (93.3 Philadelphia) from putting them on the air until August.

"Big Mack" is leaving afternoons at WRBT (94.9 Harrisburg) to go to the Lehigh Valley and afternoons at WLEV (100.7 Allentown).

And over in western Pennsylvania, Lighthouse Christian Academy is selling silent WLOG (89.1 Markleysburg) to Edgewater Broadcasting, for $10,000.

And the FCC has granted a construction permit to Iorio Communications for the 102.7 in Clarendon that it won at auction.

*New signals could soon be on the air in CANADA, once the CRTC wraps up a hearing June 6 in Niagara Falls. On the TV side, TVN Niagara Inc. wants channel 22 in St. Catharines with 401 kW for a new independent station focusing on the Niagara region. On the radio side, there's a big fight over the 104.7 frequency in the Woodstock-Tillsonburg area. In Tillsonburg, CKOT (1510), the last remaining daytime-only Canadian AM, is trying again to move to FM, asking for 2.3 kW for a country format. Over in Woodstock, competing applicants for 104.7 include Byrnes Communications (1.9 kW, AC format), Standard Radio (2.63 kW, modern rock), CHUM Ltd. (3.2 kW, soft AC), Newcap (3.2 kW, "gold AC") and Sound of Faith Broadcasting (moving CJFH from 94.3 to 104.7 with 3.1 kW).

Additional applications for new FM signals are in Halliburton (Halliburton Broadcasting, 93.5, 6 kW), Pembroke (My Broadcasting, 104.9, 1.62 kW, apparently to operate in conjunction with CHMY 96.1 Renfrew) and Wasaga Beach (Bayshore Broadcasting, 97.7, 1.8 kW).

There are new FMs on the air now, too: CKDO-FM-1 Whitby, on 107.7, relaying CKDO 1350 Oshawa, and CKQB-FM-1 Pembroke, on 99.7, relaying CKQB 106.9 Ottawa.

And in Chatham-Kent, Blackburn Radio is buying the three-station group owned by Bea-Ver Communications. Bea-Ver owned CKSY (95.1) and bought CFCO (630) from Blackburn in 1997; it subsequently signed on CKUE (94.3) and then swapped frequencies between CKUE ("The Rock") and CKSY's AC format. (CKUE, now on 95.1, subsequently added a Windsor transmitter and studio.)

*In VERMONT, Nassau is trying again to move WWOD (104.3 Hartford) across the state to the Burlington market from its present home in the Upper Valley. Previous owner Vox had applied a couple of years ago to move the 104.3C3 allocation from Hartford to Keeseville, N.Y., across Lake Champlain from Burlington - but the move was quashed when a competing proposal offered 94.1A as a brand-new channel at Keeseville, while leaving 104.3 at Hartford.

Never count out a clever allocations engineer, though: Nassau now suggests that that 94.1A allocation could be moved to as-yet-unserved Morrisonville, N.Y., while 104.3C3 moves to Keeseville and WXLF (95.3) moves its city of license from White River Junction to Hartford to preserve "first local service" in Hartford. (Which, NERW notes, is something of a confusing situation, since White River Junction is actually part of the town of Hartford, but we digress.)

And just to make the whole thing more appealing to the FCC, Nassau also proposes the addition of 104.3A at Enfield, N.H., another community now lacking "first local service" (though it's just east of Lebanon, and could probably be served pretty well from the existing 104.3 WWOD site.)

*The end of a NEW HAMPSHIRE tradition? WNDS (Channel 50) in Derry has cut its 10 PM newscast back from half an hour to about 8 minutes, and we hear that much of the staff could be cut there. (Is veteran weatherman Al Kaprielian safe?)

Up north, the FCC denies Barry Lunderville's petitions to deny against new translator CPs granted to sister companies Edgewater Broadcasting (95.3 Littleton) and Radio Assist Ministry (106.7 Berlin).

*It took ten years, but CanXus Broadcasting finally has a construction permit for a new class A signal on 98.1 in Van Buren, MAINE. The new signal will run 6 kW from 27 meters above average terrain, up there between Presque Isle and Madawaska.

*In MASSACHUSETTS, it sounds as though some changes are on the way at Greater Media's WBOS (92.9 Brookline); we hear that morning team Bill Abbate and Kristin Lessard and middayer Amy Brooks are out, and speculation is growing that a "Jack"-type format is coming. (Or will WBMX get there first?)

*RHODE ISLAND will continue to have public radio service on WRNI (1290 Providence) and WXNI (1230 Westerly). Boston University's WBUR announced late last week that it's officially dropping any thought of selling the two stations, ending a saga that started last fall and helped to bring about the downfall of longtime WBUR station manager Jane Christo. BU is reportedly talking to Bryant University about helping it manage the Rhode Island stations.

We're pleased to report that Jim Taricani is once again a free man. The WJAR (Channel 10) reporter served four months of his six-month house arrest for refusing to disclose the source of tapes that helped uncover a City Hall scandal. A judge reduced the sentence by two months for good behavior - and Taricani will be back on the job at Channel 10 on Wednesday.

Congratulations to Keri Rodrigues, who's just joined the morning team at WWBB (101.5 Providence); she'll continue doing news on sister station WHJJ (920) as well.

And former WWBB jock Bruce Palmer has a new full-time gig - he's now doing 1-4 PM weekdays on WSRS (96.1 Worcester MA).

*In CONNECTICUT, WXLM (102.3 Stonington) made the flip from AC "Mix" to news-talk (simulcasting, apparently, with WSUB 980 Groton) just in time for the start of the Red Sox season last weekend. (And, after the start the Olde Towne Team has had this year, we'll refrain from doing much crowing this week...)

*Finally, this scheduling note: we'll be on the road at the NAB convention in Las Vegas next week, so expect a reduced or delayed NERW on April 18. We'll be back on our regular schedule April 25 - and if you'll be out in Vegas, do say hello!

*Our special clearance pricing continues for fans of the Tower Site Calendar 2005. We're well aware that many of the calendar's fans buy it for the pictures, not the actual calendar pages...but that doesn't change the fact that by this time of the year, we're not exactly shipping 'em out the door at a breakneck pace, and Mrs. NERW would very much like a corner of her living room back.

So while she rediscovers the floor beneath those boxes of calendars and we begin to line up the images for Tower Site Calendar 2006, you get the very first crack at our Calendar Clearance Deal for 2005.

Here's how it works: instead of our list price of $16 for this fabulous, full-color, glossy calendar, you can now pick one up for just $8, postpaid. ($8.66 to New York State addresses.) Better yet, if you order two calendars at this special clearance price, we'll throw in a third for free - $16 for THREE calendars, with nine exciting months of 2005 yet to go. (That's $17.32 in NYS.)

Maybe you've already hung your original 2005 calendar on the wall, and you're thinking it would be nice to have another copy to stick away in pristine condition. Maybe you really want to frame that spectacular September page right now - but you still need a calendar later this year. Maybe you just want to help Mrs. NERW clean out the living room and give happy NERW baby Ariel more space to practice walking.

Whatever your motive, now's your big chance, because while there are still 2005 calendars left, there may not be any in a few weeks. (Remember, the 2002 and 2003 editions were total sellouts, and I've had to turn away several of you who were hoping to add these now-rare calendars to your collections.)

And we've got two more great deals for you, too. We still have a few 2004 calendars left, and while they're getting rare, Mrs. NERW wants them gone - so they're yours, in pristine condition, for just $5 postpaid. (Buy two and the third is free!) Or order the 2004 and 2005 calendars together for just $10, postpaid. (What a deal!)

(New York orders pay $5.41 for the 2004 calendar, $10.83 for the 2004 and 2005 together.)

And as always, the calendar's free with your $60 or higher subscription to NorthEast Radio Watch/ In fact, we've got a great deal for new or renewing $60 subscribers: we'll send you two 2005 calendars if you subscribe now. Or, if you'd prefer, we'll hold a brand-new Tower Site Calendar 2006 for you with your subscription, and you can be among the very first to see the 2006 edition when it's released this summer. Remember, we count on your subscription dollars to keep NERW coming each and every Monday morning!

You can use PayPal, below, or send your check or money order, payable to Scott Fybush, to 92 Bonnie Brae Avenue, Rochester NY 14618. (Please note that the prices below are valid for U.S. and Canadian orders only; please e-mail for information about overseas shipping.)

Order the 2005 Tower Site Calendar on CLEARANCE for $8...
Order the 2005 and 2004 Tower Site Calendars together for just $10...
...or subscribe to NERW at the $60 level and get two FREE 2005 Tower Site Calendars
...and you can still order the 2004 Tower Site Calendar at our special DEEP clearance price of $5! (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 2005 by Scott Fybush.