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April 3, 2006

WKHL Drops Oldies for "Coast" AC

*It's been a rough year for fans of oldies in the New York metropolitan area, what with the demise of WCBS-FM and all. But oldies aficionados in the CONNECTICUT suburbs and nearby parts of Westchester and Long Island still had somewhere else to turn - Cox's "Kool" WKHL (96.7 Stamford) - at least until last Wednesday night at 10, when the Box Tops' "The Letter" faded out, replaced by "The New 96-7, the Coast, Fairfield County's Greatest Hits."

The new station, which is running jockless for now, kicked off with Billy Joel's "Big Shot" (a wee bit ironic, perhaps, for a station that's billing itself as being "all about Fairfield County" to debut with Long Island's favorite son?), and the music mix appears to be somewhere between all-out adult hits and mainstream AC.

New calls for the station are apparently WCTZ.

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*Over in RHODE ISLAND, rumors began swirling late last week that Brown Broadcasting Service was preparing to sell WBRU-FM (95.5 Providence), the modern rock station that's operated (commercially) by a mostly-volunteer staff of Brown University students. An article in a local alternative weekly led to a story Thursday night on WJAR (Channel 10), and by Friday the message boards were aflame with talk of WBRU's imminent demise.

Friday afternoon at 4, the WBRU jocks said their farewells, to the tune of Green Day's "Time of Your Life," and were abruptly replaced by an automated adult hits format as "Buddy FM," a nod to imprisoned former Providence mayor Buddy Cianci. The stunt lasted 20 hours, until the WBRU jocks "broke in" to the Benevolent Street studios Saturday afternoon and "liberated" the station from its new corporate overlords at "Initek."

Yes, it was April Fool time in the Ocean State. And yes, "Initek" is the infamously clueless corporation from the movie "Office Space." And, yes, it was fun watching the message boards - and the TV stations - take the whole thing seriously.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the state, Chris DiPaola's WBLQ-LP (96.9 Ashaway) has been granted a move to 96.7, which will reduce the interference it's been suffering since WHBE (96.7 East Hampton NY) moved to 96.9.

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*The big news in MASSACHUSETTS is all about signals - new ones and moved ones.

From the "new" file, our ears on the South Shore have been hearing the initial testing of CSN International's new WSMA (90.5 Scituate), which is running 7700 watts horizontal, 5 watts vertical from a site 150 meters above average terrain off Route 3A down in Plymouth, using a directional antenna that throws most of its power north and southwest, with a deep null toward co-channel WICN (90.5 Worcester).

Out on Cape Cod, WWTE (90.1 Wellfleet) has applied for its license to cover, though we've yet to hear any reports from anyone who's heard the station on the air. WWTE changed hands late last month from Living Proof, Inc., the California religious broadcaster that's been fighting to get a station on the air in Leominster, to Horizon Christian Fellowship, a Fitchburg-based religious broadcaster. As part of the $150,000 transaction, Horizon also gets translator construction permits for W241AU (96.1 Plymouth), W258BH (99.5 Sandwich) and W296BR (107.1 Barnstable).

From the "moved" file, WFNX (101.7 Lynn) turned on its new transmitter site atop One Financial Center in downtown Boston late last week, dramatically improving its signal in the city. WFNX had been transmitting from the old WEEI-FM site on the Medford-Malden line since 1987, and from the WLYN (1360 Lynn) tower on Route 107 before that, never quite getting enough signal into the parts of Boston where most of the station's young audience lives, works and goes to school.

(Many thanks to WFNX chief engineer Chris Hall for a tour of both the new and old sites during our visit last week; we'll have a comprehensive Tower Site of the Week on WFNX later this spring.)

Entercom's WAAF (107.3 Worcester) has quietly returned to the WUNI-TV (Channel 27) tower on Stiles Hill in Boylston. WAAF's initial move from its longtime home on Mount Asnebumskit in Paxton a few months ago didn't go well, with many complaints of poor reception around the market, so the station returned to Paxton while it worked things out at Stiles Hill. We'll be looking forward to hearing from listeners around the area - especially in Boston and its immediate suburbs, where the move is aimed - about how WAAF sounds from Stiles this time.

(Before we leave WAAF, we should note that PD Ron Valeri has a new title. He was promoted last week to director of FM programming for Entercom Boston, putting him in charge of sister station WMKK 93.7 as well.)

More moves: the bulldozers are already on site at WUNR (1600 Brookline), where the existing transmitter will be moved into a trailer when work begins any day now to gut the transmitter building. That'll be the first phase of the project to replace WUNR's current two-tower, 5 kW signal with a five-tower site shared by WUNR, WRCA (1330, moving from Waltham to Watertown) and WKOX (1200, moving from Framingham to Newton). We'll bring you updates on this fascinating (and long-delayed) project as it progresses.

Eddie Andelman returned to the Boston airwaves last night, with the debut of his 7-10 PM Sunday "New Sports Huddle" on WTKK (96.9 Boston). The FM talk station quietly canceled the Sunday afternoon "Calling All Sports" show the previous weekend; its hosts are now looking for a new radio home in town.

(And speaking of WTKK owner Greater Media, the company celebrated its fiftieth anniversary last week. While it's now based in New Jersey, Greater began in 1956 at WESO in Southbridge.)

Out in Pittsfield, the moves begin this week at the Vox cluster. We hear that WUHN (1110 Pittsfield) will flip from standards to a simulcast of oldies "Whoopie" (WUPE 95.9 Pittsfield/WMNB 100.1 North Adams) on Wednesday, with Larry Kratka's "Upfront" talk show moving from WUHN to sister WBEC (1420) at 11 AM. April 17 is now set as the date for WBEC-FM (105.5) to begin simulcasting its "Live" top 40 on 95.9, which will become the sole home of "Live" when 105.5 moves to the Springfield market as a WEEI relay shortly thereafter.

What's Steve Provizer, founder of the defunct Allston-Brighton Free Radio, up to these days? He's got "Zumix Radio" on the air at a youth center in East Boston, broadcasting (over an unlicensed Part 15 transmitter) at 1630 and webcasting at

*There's a call change - and potentially a format tweak, too - at a NEW HAMPSHIRE sports station. WSNH (900 Nashua) changed calls to WGAM ("The Game") last week. And we're told the station has been telling listeners that it, and new sister station WKBR (1250 Manchester), may be losing their ESPN Radio affiliations. Stay tuned...

*One of MAINE's most respected broadcasters has died. Bruce McGorrill started his career at WCSH in Portland as an announcer in the fifties, and rose to become the chairman of parent company Maine Broadcasting System, which owned WCSH, Bangor's WLBZ and KMEG in Sioux City, Iowa. McGorrill, who was also known as a humorist and public speaker, retired from the stations in 1996. He died last Tuesday (Mar. 28) in Portland, at 74.

Portland's WGME-TV (Channel 13) is looking for a new general manager. After seven years in the post, Alan Cartwright departed last week to become executive vice president of the Maine Children's Alliance.

*In NEW YORK, the big buzz last week continued to be about the fate of troubled CBS morning man David Lee Roth. The former Van Halen frontman was off the air Wednesday and Thursday, with midday hosts JV and Elvis filling in at flagship WFNY-FM (92.3 New York), while other affiliates were left to their own devices. Roth was back on Friday, with a show that focused on the hassles he's said he's getting from management...but for how much longer?

A few notches down on the dial, WKRB (90.9 Brooklyn) has quietly extricated itself from the interference that it's suffered ever since it signed on from Kingsborough Community College in 1978 as one of the last class D (10-watt) FM stations the FCC authorized. WKRB briefly moved to 103.1 in the early eighties, but that grant was rescinded. More recently, "B91" tried to move to 91.9, but with no luck. Now that WFUV (90.7) is on the air from its new site in the Bronx, with improved coverage into Brooklyn, WKRB's situation had become considerably more dire - and in February, it applied for and was granted (without anyone - even us - noticing) a move to 90.3, which was completed last week.

Heading up the Hudson Valley, two new noncommercial FMs are coming to the region. The Monroe (Connecticut) Board of Education, licensee of WMNR (88.1 Monroe), has been granted a 30 watt/207 meter signal on 88.3 in Beekman, transmitting from a tower in West Pawling. And the WGMY calls have already been granted to a new signal on 88.1 in Montgomery, licensed to River Broadcasting. WGMY will have 100 watts/52 meters from a tower at the junction of routes 17K and 208 in Montgomery.

Radio People on the Move, Hudson Valley edition: Kristen Delaney is the new market manager for Clear Channel Radio in Albany, replacing the departed Dennis Lamme. Randy Turner, former PD of WCZX (97.7 Hyde Park), has landed as production director at Pamal's cluster (WSPK/WHUD/WXPK/WBNR-WLNA) in Beacon. And Michelle Taylor moves up from promotions director to PD for Clear Channel's "Lite FM" stations (WRNQ/WCTW/WFKP).

In the Albany market, public broadcaster WMHT (89.1 Schenectady) is once again airing separate programming on its recently-purchased sister station, WBKK (97.7 Amsterdam). Both stations remain classical, but the Albany Times Union's Joseph Dalton reports WBKK is now carrying shorter, more accessible classical pieces under the tagline "Casual, Comfortable and Classical," with several WMHT staffers voicetracking most of the day.

Syracuse's NBC affiliate, WSTM (Channel 3), and its UPN LPTV offshoot, WSTQ-LP (Channel 14), have a new owner, as Barrington Broadcasting pays Raycom $262 million for WSTM/WSTQ and a dozen other stations in nine markets around the country. No sooner was the deal announced than WSTQ completed its agreement to become Syracuse's CW affiliate this fall. My Network TV, meanwhile, signed with WPNY-LP in Utica, making it all but inevitable that CW will land on cable there (and likely in Watertown, Binghamton and Elmira, too.)

Speaking of Elmira, W39CP in Corning changed its calls to WJKP-LP last week, confirming the speculation that it (and likely W06CD Elmira) will be the new home of My Network TV this fall in that market. WJKP will be a sister station to "Big Fox" WYDC (Channel 48) in Corning.

Great moments in newspaper fact-checking: Referring to all the publicity on CBS for hot new pop star Teddy Geiger, a native of the Rochester area, a certain local daily declared "CBS is a part of Sony Entertainment, as is Geiger's record label.". Sony, of course, never owned CBS - and it's been almost two decades since the Japanese media giant bought what was then CBS Records. (Do we even need to tell you which paper was responsible for that howler, or to point out that no correction has run?)

In Buffalo, Entercom's WTSS (Star 102.5) has a new PD, as Brian Demay arrives from WBQB in Fredericksburg, Virginia to take the chair last occupied by Dave Universal. Up the road at WJJL (1440 Niagara Falls), morning host Dan Krull is out, after being caught in a child pornography sting by federal officials.

And not that many Buffalonians probably noticed, at least not if the ratings were any indication, but the "Ten O'Clock News" on Sinclair's WB affiliate, WNYO-TV (Channel 49), bowed out Friday with a nice montage of behind-the-scenes clips from its not quite two years in business. The closure came as Sinclair shuttered "News Central" operations in the remaining markets that were getting the half-local, half-national product. Unlike other markets, such as Pittsburgh and Las Vegas, where Sinclair is now outsourcing news to other stations in town, there are no plans to continue a 10 PM newscast on WNYO, leaving LIN's WNLO (Channel 23) alone with news at that hour.

*In NEW JERSEY, WPST (94.5 Trenton) parted ways with morning man Chris Centore last week. No replacement has been named.

Down at Radio Disney's WWJZ (640 Mount Holly-Philadelphia), Robert Minton has been named station manager. Minton was marketing director at ABC's WRQX/WJZW in Washington.

*Over on the PENNSYLVANIA side of the river, WIP (610) has yet to name a replacement for midday co-host Mike Missanelli, who was sent packing last week after a fistfight with his producer at a remote a few days earlier.

In Scranton, CBS affiliate WYOU (Channel 22) is looking for a news director, now that ND/anchor Frank Andrews is leaving to begin his campaign for state representative.

There's a new PD in the Scranton market, too, as KJ Bryant heads south on I-81 from WWYL (104.1 Chenango Bridge) in Binghamton, where he's been PD since "Wild 104" debuted in 2002. He's moving to Citadel sister station WBHT (97.1 Mountain Top)/WBHD (95.7 Olyphant). (And at this address, he's still remembered as "Norm on the Barstool" from his days at WPXY in Rochester...)

And in Pittsburgh, KDKA (1020) has named John McIntire the permanent host for the 8-10 PM slot, where he's been hosting "The Flip Side" since January.

*Some new signals are on the way in southern ONTARIO. In Woodstock, "104.7 Heart FM" (CIHR) is reportedly testing in preparation for its official launch this spring. Not far away in Chatham-Kent, United Christian Broadcasters (UCB) has been granted its second license. It's already on the air in Belleville, and now it will add a 16.7 kW signal on 89.3 in the Chatham area. In Toronto, CJKX (95.9 Ajax) has been granted an 80-watt on-channel repeater to strengthen its signal in the downtown Toronto area. (The country station tells the CRTC that it will maintain its studio in, and its programming focus on, the suburbs north and east of Toronto.)

Toronto's jazz station, "JAZZ91" (CJRT 91.1), is moving into new studios. After a decade and a half in a Ryerson University building on Mutual Street, the station's relocating to new streetside digs in the Liberty Village neighborhood, on Pardee Avenue near King and Dufferin.

CIEL (103.7 Riviere-du-Loup QC) won't be getting a 1.4 watt relay on 97.3 in Edmundston, New Brunswick. The CRTC denied the application, ruling that Edmundston is not within CIEL's existing coverage area, and that any new signals there would threaten the already shaky finances of the city's two existing stations.

And we're sorry to report the untimely death of "Fred FM" (CFRK 92.3 Fredericton NB) midday jock Juanita McKnight, who was hit by a car in Moncton last Thursday. She died the next day, survived by her three children and a saddened radio station.

From the NERW Archives

(Yup, we've been doing this a long time now, and so we're digging back into the vaults for a look at what NERW was covering one, five and ten years ago this week, or thereabouts - the column appeared on an erratic schedule in its earliest years as "New England Radio Watch," and didn't go to a regular weekly schedule until 1997. Thanks to for the idea - and thanks to you, our readers, for the support that's made all these years of NERW possible!)

April 4, 2005 -

  • A VERMONT television pioneer has died. Stuart T. "Red" Martin, Jr. was president of Mount Mansfield Television, the family-owned company that has owned WCAX-TV (Channel 3) in Burlington since it signed on as WMVT in 1954. (The station took on its present calls, WCAX-TV, the following year.) Martin was instrumental in designing and building WCAX's transmitter site high atop Mount Mansfield. In addition to his management duties, Martin delivered on-air editorials at Channel 3 into the seventies, and continued to go to work at the station as recently as a few weeks ago. Martin also served for 40 years on the CBS Television Affiliates Advisory Board.
  • In Downeast MAINE, Nassau pulled the plug on adult standards at WBYA (105.5 Islesboro) Friday, but it was no April Fool's joke. The station relaunched as classic hits "Frank FM," sharing air talent with the Frank mothership in Portland, WFNK (107.5 Lewiston) and promoting the addition of Patriots play-by-play this fall, too.
  • An upstate NEW YORK institution said his farewells - for now - Thursday afternoon. After a half-century in the business, including stints at Buffalo's WXRA and WKBW, the legendary CKLW in Windsor and stints in radio and TV in Detroit and Denver, Tom Shannon pulled what he says was his last full-time shift on WHTT (104.1 Buffalo), where he's worked since 1997, packing those final four hours with congratulatory greetings from colleagues, including a lengthy chat by phone with Detroit icon (and Buffalo native) Dick Purtan and a long conversation with Buffalo News radio critic Anthony Violanti.
  • A quick run 'round the dial to see who was stunting how on April Fool's Day: in the Albany market, WFLY (92.3) ditched "Fly 92" for a few hours to become "Ring 92," the world's first all-ringtone station. Up the road, WEQX (102.7 Manchester VT) took off from the "Jack" craze to tell its audience, "We know Dick," stunting rather cleverly for the day as "Dick FM." In Syracuse, it was the ol' wheel of formats for WWHT (107.9), including some time as "Kiss" and as "Mix 108." Here in Rochester, WZNE (94.1 Brighton) made a most unconvincing stab at pretending to flip to Spanish, running three liners and a dozen songs or so as "La Zona" for a couple of hours after Howard Stern. (And down in Westchester County, WVWA emerged from the mists of legend for another run on Tower Site of the Week...)
  • The future of several northeast PENNSYLVANIA radio stations is in some doubt after the conviction of station owner Doug Lane on charges of molesting a 15-year-old boy and possession of child pornography. After his first trial ended in a mistrial, the second began and ended last week with just two days of testimony and 90 minutes of jury deliberations, finding Lane guilty on eight of the 11 counts and subjecting him to up to 80 years behind bars. In the past, the FCC hasn't looked kindly on station owners convicted of such serious crimes, and local prosecutors in Scranton have already said they'll attempt to seize the property connected to Lane's stations, WWDL (104.9 Scranton), WICK (1400 Scranton) and WYCK (1340 Plains). (Lane also provides programming to WITK 1550 Pittston PA, which simulcasts WICK/WYCK.)

April 4, 2001 -

  • Back when we toiled in the radio business in MASSACHUSETTS, the buzzword du jour was "synergy," as radio stations, TV newsrooms and newspapers fought to see who could create the most alliances with erstwhile competitors. This week, though, the object of the game appears to be just the opposite, as radio, TV and newspapers all engaged in what looks like one big catfight. It all started, apparently, with the Boston Globe's 1999 decision to ban its sports reporters from the Glenn Ordway show on WEEI (850 Boston). That ban didn't provoke much of a media frenzy, but last week, when the Globe extended the ban to WEEI's morning show, hosts John Dennis and Gerry Callahan decided to make an issue out of it. Globe columnist Eileen McNamara fanned the flames when she then wrote a column (against editors' orders, it seems) about being banned. The Globe declined to publish the column, and McNamara then decided to go on the Dennis/Callahan show in violation of the ban.
  • That's not the end of the cross-media fireworks lighting the sky over Boston Harbor, though: WEEI itself has been playing the ban game, exiling Globe writers from its other shows (which were still acceptable to Globe editors, since the content actually focused on sports instead of the typical male-oriented morning show fodder.) Oh yeah...WEEI has also barred the Herald's Jim Baker from its airwaves.
  • Meanwhile, across town on Soldiers Field Road, the once-friendly relationship between WBZ (1030) and sister station WBZ-TV (Channel 4) turned sour last week when radio talk host David Brudnoy invited WCVB (Channel 5) anchor-icon Natalie Jacobson to be a guest on his 25th anniversary show. The Herald's Monica Collins reported Saturday that the guest stint, which put Channel 4 anchor Joe Shortsleeve in the odd position of having to do a radio cut-in promoting his 11 PM show right in the midst of his competitor's appearance, prompted a memo from 'BZ-TV general manager Ed Goldman that put the brakes on the long cooperation between the radio and TV sides at 1170 Soldiers Field Road. Collins says the memo bans (there's that word again!) WBZ radio personalities from appearing on Channel 4, stops radio news crews from using the TV side's gear, and halts the shared promotions between the two stations.
  • Elsewhere in the Bay State, the new formats are now fully in place on Ernie Boch's Cape Cod FMs. WTWV (101.1 Mashpee), now doing hot AC as "the Wave," even has an airstaff in place: Mina and Doug in mornings, operations manager Boy Troy in middays and music director Lisa Garvey in afternoons. Down the hall at modern rock WDVT (93.5 Harwich Port), music director Peter Maxx is also serving as production director for the entire Boch group. "The Vault" is jockless for the moment, but we're told that will change.
  • We'll make VERMONT our next stop as we flesh out the rumors to which we alluded last issue. Clear Channel is indeed shifting some of its Burlington-market signals, and it plays out something like this: The smooth jazz that was this year's format on WXPS (96.7 Willsboro NY) showed up on another spot on the dial Monday morning, replacing oldies on WLCQ (92.1 Port Henry NY). Once that temporary simulcast ends, 96.7 will reportedly become WXZO, "the Zone," simulcasting talk programming (including Imus in the Morning) from WEAV (960 Plattsburgh NY). 96.7 was talk once before, doing sports back before its smooth-jazz days -- and it was simulcasting WEAV back then, too! We're also hearing about some tweaking going on down in the Middlebury area, as Steve Silberberg gets to work on WRRO (93.7 Addison). Gone, we're told, is much of the classic rock, replaced by AAA-ish fare such as Paula Cole and Elvis Costello. And if that sounds reminiscent of Silberberg's Boston-market "River" (WXRV 92.5 Haverhill MA), it should: we're also told the River folks are advising WRRO on programming.
  • Next stop, RHODE ISLAND and a surprise station sale and format change: Pawtucket's WICE (550) dropped its talk format ("550 the Buzz") Monday morning (4/2) to become the second Radio Disney affiliate in the Providence market. Owner AAA Entertainment (formerly Back Bay Broadcasting) is selling WICE to Disney for what we hear is a price north of $3 million.

New England Radio Watch, April 3, 1996 -

  • The big news is the April Fools' joke that wasn't: the move of veteran WBCN morning host Charles Laquidara to co-owned classic rocker WZLX, allowing Howard Stern to move from evenings on BCN (where he's been since March 1993) to morning drive. Here's what the fallout looks like so far: Most of Charles' crew moved with him to WZLX (the exception is sports guy Tank, who stays with WBCN to do Patriots games there), displacing morning host George Taylor Morris. Evenings are back to music on WBCN, with no permanent jock named yet. At his press conference today, Stern slammed all the usual Boston media suspects, but from what I'm told, said he's especially determined to beat the all-news station, which would be perennial AM drive leader WBZ. I wasn't able to get Howard's April 1 and 2 shows on tape, and would be grateful to hear from anyone who did. I *did* tape part of Laquidara's first show on WZLX.
  • Red Sox season is underway, on a radio network that includes flagship WEEI 850 Boston, and for AM DXers to the west, WTIC 1080 Hartford. TV viewers are still trying to find the Carmine Hose, who have parted company with WSBK-TV 38 after two decades. Thanks to its Sox, Bruins, and Celtics coverage, TV38 had built itself into a regional superstation found on almost every cable system from Long Island Sound north into Canada and west into upstate New York. The Sox' new flagship, WABU-TV, is a 3-station UHF network on 68 in Boston, 21 (WNBU) in Concord NH, and 58 (WZBU) on Cape Cod. Other areas are filled in with full-power TV (WGME and WPXT in Portland ME) or LPTV (WLNE-LP in Providence, WWIN-LP in Burlington VT, and WDMR-LP in Springfield). Berkshire County, in Western Mass., was a trouble spot, since neither WDMR-LP nor WABU reach out there. After weeks of confusion and distress among Sox fans, the local cable companies agreed to pick up a satellite feed of Sox games on basic cable. Nobody wants to drop WSBK for WABU, because of WSBK's Bruins and Celtics coverage and its stronger slate of syndicated programs and news.

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*Didn't find a Tower Site Calendar 2006 under the tree/menorah/Blaw-Knox diamond tower model of your choice over the holidays? Our supply is running low, but we have a few still available at special clearance prices!

We've got to say, we're especially proud of the way this year's calendar 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!

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 2006 by Scott Fybush.