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November 14, 2005

Newton Poised to Approve New Towers

*If you'd cornered us a year ago and asked us to place a bet that WKOX (1200 Framingham) would ever be able to build its new directional array at the WUNR (1600 Brookline) site in Newton's Oak Hill neighborhood, we'd have declined. At the time, it didn't appear that the local political climate would ever allow Clear Channel to follow through with its plan to replace WUNR's existing pair of towers (each 350 feet tall) with five 199-foot unpainted, unlit towers to be used by WKOX (with 50 kW), WUNR (with 20 kW) and WRCA (1330 Watertown, moved from Waltham) with 25 kW day, 17 kW night.

Things change, though, especially when you have a patient plaintiff with deep pockets and a very good case to make against the city of Newton - and so it came to pass that the city and the stations finally reached a settlement last week (thanks to Mark at Boston Radio Watch for sniffing that out!) that could lead to construction getting underway at the site as early as the end of this week.

The settlement, which is due to be approved by Newton's Board of Aldermen on Wednesday, would establish a $100,000 remediation fund to help neighbors near the site deal with increased RF levels after the towers are built and the stations have been on the air for three years. (In the first three years that stations are operating with their new facilities, the stations themselves will be required to assist neighbors within the blanketing zone with RF-related issues, which is not much more than the FCC requires, anyway.)

The settlement also limits what the stations can do at the site in the future without city approval - no power increases, and no adding wireless services to the towers, either.

In sum, though, it seems to represent a pretty convincing win for the stations - especially for WKOX, which will get a decent Boston signal out of the deal. We'll be following this story closely as construction gets underway.

*Elsewhere in MASSACHUSETTS, Gary LaPierre returns to WBZ (1030)'s morning drive today, a month and a half after he suffered a heart attack.

On the FM side, Paul "Neanderpol" Marshall is out as afternoon jock at WAAF (107.3 Westborough), but he didn't stay on the beach long enough to get sand between his toes. He's now over at WBCN (104.1 Boston), where he'll fill a yet-to-be-announced shift.

Out on the outermost reaches of Cape Cod, Living Proof Inc. (the same California religious broadcaster that's involved in the fight for 91.7 west of Boston) has been granted a frequency change for its unbuilt construction permit for WWTE (90.7 Wellfleet). WWTE will instead operate at 90.1, with 2500 watts, vertical only, into a directional antenna 80 feet above average terrain (which, out there, is also 80 feet above ground and 80 feet above sea level!)

That directional antenna will actually send most of WWTE's power east and west, which means that on a peninsula that runs north and south, the station is likely to be serving more fish than people.

(And, NERW would note, it would be completely unsustainable if the FCC imposed any kind of local studio or origination requirement, but that's a rant for another time...)

Heading west, Vox has modified its application to move WBEC-FM (105.5 Pittsfield) to Easthampton, in the Springfield market. WBEC-FM has now applied to operate its new signal from the top of Mount Tom, the highest broadcast site in the area, with 720 watts into a directional antenna at 1237 feet above average terrain, a facility that would put a more-than-decent signal over Springfield.

Meanwhile, back home in the Berkshires, Vox has parted ways with WNAW (1230 North Adams) newsman Ted Bassani, a week after Bassani filed a complaint alleging that the mayor of North Adams hit him in the chest with a bag.

We're hearing that the Boston Globe's Bill Griffith will be taking a buyout and leaving the paper at month's end, still further reducing the amount of intelligent commentary on the media available to New England readers. (And what's with the toilet paper now being used to print the Globe on, anyway? Cost-cutting gone mad?)

And we're sorry to report the death of Don Gordon, whose long career as a Boston radio news reporter included many years at WMEX and later at WEEI. Gordon worked for Norfolk County DA Bill Delahunt after leaving radio. He died Saturday (Nov. 12) at age 74.

*Up in MAINE, Bud Sawyer is out at Nassau's WLAM, Lewiston (1470) after a very long career that's included long stints at WPOR in Portland and at earlier incarnations of WLAM. The station's flipping to ESPN sports from standards at the end of the month, it seems.

Meanwhile, the morning show at WLOB (1310 Portland/96.3 Rumford) is now being simulcast on Fox affiliate WPFO (Channel 23).

*In NEW HAMPSHIRE, Lou Bortone moves from WZMY (Channel 50) in Derry to the promotions director post at WZID (95.7 Manchester).

*VERMONT is getting a new TV newscast. WFFF (Channel 44) in Burlington is advertising for a news director as it prepares to launch a 10 PM newscast; we'd guess that once that's up and running, WFFF will eventually be producing some sort of news product for ABC quasi-sister station WVNY (Channel 22) as well.

*In RHODE ISLAND, David Bernstein is out of a job as WPRO (630 Providence) program director. Bernstein came to WPRO in May 2003 after stints programming WOR and WBZ; he's now back home in New Jersey (where he had been commuting to Providence), and no replacement has been named yet in Providence.

*The changes keep coming at CONNECTICUT's WEZN (99.9 Bridgeport) and its Cox sister stations. Last week, the stations (including WPLR and WYBC-FM) got a new general manager, as Lee Davis arrived from New York (where he'd been GM of WFAN) to manage the stations for regional manager Kim Guthrie.

*More management shakeups in NEW YORK: WOR (710 New York) has sent PD Maurice Tunick packing, and the position won't be filled. Instead, GM Bob Bruno will handle programming duties.

On WNYE (91.5 New York), the "guest DJs" from country stations around the nation will continue (from 7 AM-noon and 1-7 PM) through Tuesday, courtesy of the Country Music Association. (The promotion is all leading up to the CMA Awards in New York Tuesday night.)

Michael Wallace is the new afternoon newsman on WCBS (880 New York), moving from the Wall Street Journal Radio network to join Wayne Cabot on the drive home.

In Albany, WPTR (96.7 Clifton Park) names morning host Gary McElyea as PD, as well as naming former WZMR (104.9) jock Peter Kaye as afternoon host.

Just up the road, WHAZ-FM (97.5 Hoosick Falls) launched its "Gospel Gold" format last Monday (Nov. 7).

In Syracuse, WZUN (102.1 Phoenix) becomes the first station upstate to go all-Christmas. (It made the flip on Thursday, and we hear Clear Channel's Hudson Valley "Lite" trio - WRNQ/WCTW/WFKP - made the flip over the weekend, too.)

Way up north, Randy Michaels' RadioActive LLC is applying to the FCC to move the new class A signal on 92.5 from Old Forge to Black River, which would also give it coverage of much of the Watertown market.

And in Buffalo, Brian B. Wilde becomes assistant PD at WKSE (98.5 Niagara Falls), while keeping his music director role there as well. (The Kiss website shows him as PD, interestingly enough...)

*In NEW JERSEY, Press Communications' WKOE (106.3 Ocean City) is making an Atlantic City move. It's been granted FCC permission to change city of license to Bass River Township, and to change frequency to 106.5, which will reduce interference from WJJZ (106.1 Philadelphia) and from sister station WHTG (106.3 Eatontown).

WKOE and its "Breeze" sister stations are also getting some programming help from a veteran New York City PD. Joe McCoy, who programmed WCBS-FM (101.1) before it became "Jack," has become the "programming advisor" for WKOE, WBHX (99.7 Tuckerton) and WWZY (107.1 Long Branch.)

And there's a new station on the air in south Jersey: WVBV (90.5 Medford Lakes) signed on last week, carrying Calvary Satellite Network programming. Its 21 kW signal is aimed mainly to the northwest - towards Philadelphia - from its transmitter site along the Atlantic City Expressway near Hammonton.

*It was a mostly quiet week in PENNSYLVANIA, with just one FCC application of note: WXXP (1580 Waynesburg) modified its major-change application, which originally specified 1190 kHz and 500 watts daytime, to specify 1210 kHz and 5 kW daytime/710 watts critical hours, instead.

In Berwick, WFBS (1280) is replacing its morning music programming with sports talk from Sporting News Radio, beginning November 28.

*Just one bit of news from CANADA, courtesy of Milkman UnLimited: CJRT (91.1 Toronto) has hired veteran freeform broadcaster Reiner Schwartz (of early CHUM-FM and CHOM fame) to host a show from 10 PM Fridays until 4 AM Saturdays.

*And how about some hockey? We promised you a look at the AHL last week, and here we go:

  • The Portland Pirates have a fairly extensive network this year, including flagship WJAE (1440 Westbrook)/WJJB-FM (95.5 Topsham), WTME (780 Rumford)/WKTQ (1450 South Paris) and WPHX (1220 Sanford).
  • The Manchester Monarchs are heard on WGIR (610 Manchester) and sister stations WGIN (930 Rochester), WGIP (1540 Exeter) and WTSL (1400 Hanover).
  • The Lowell Lock Monsters continue on WCAP (980 Lowell).
  • The Springfield Falcons have a new flagship this year, WMAS (1450 Springfield).
  • The Providence Bruins, as we noted earlier, move to a new network that includes WARL (1320 Attleboro MA), WNRI (1380 Woonsocket), WQRI (88.3 Bristol), WBLQ (88.1 Westerly) and some games on WAKX (102.7 Narragansett Pier).
  • The Hartford Wolf Pack are on WPOP (1410 Hartford).
  • The Bridgeport Sound Tigers appear not to have any local radio this year, as best we can tell.
  • The Albany River Rats play on WABY (1160 Mechanicville).
  • The Binghamton Senators continue on WINR (680 Binghamton).
  • The Syracuse Crunch are on WHEN (620 Syracuse).
  • The Rochester Amerks, NERW's hometown team, are on WHTK (1280 Rochester), except for a few conflict games on WBER (90.5). There's also some TV coverage on Time Warner's WB16 and cable channel 98.
  • The Hamilton Bulldogs play on CHAM (820 Hamilton).
  • The new Toronto Marlies will have some games on CFMJ (640 Toronto).
  • The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins play on WQFM (92.1 Nanticoke)/WQFN (100.1 Forest City).
  • The Hershey Bears are now on WQIC (100.1 Lebanon), as well as WLPA (1490 Lancaster).
  • The Philadelphia Phantoms get their very first broadcast coverage with a handful of games on WIP (610); the rest will be webcast at

*Tower Site Calendar 2006 is just back from the printer, and we've got to say, we're especially proud of the way this one turned out.

Once again, we bring you more than a dozen images from the collection that have never seen print before, including that nifty nighttime view of New York's WMCA that graces the cover. You also get to see WSB, KTAR, Mount Wilson, CBV and many, many more, plus all those fun dates in radio and TV history, civil and religious holidays, a handy full-page 2007 calendar, and the always-popular hole for hanging.

And we do it all with no increase in price, for the fourth year running!

The calendars are shipping now, so there's no need to wait until the holidays to enjoy all that tall steel and all that broadcast history. Order now and beat the rush!

You can get one free with your 2006 subscription to NERW at the $60 level, or order the calendar (plus other goodies) at our brand new Store! We think you'll like this one - and as always, we thank you 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 2005 by Scott Fybush.