Recent Issues:

June 26, 2006

June 19, 2006

June 12, 2006

June 5, 2006

2005 In Review

9/11 Plus One: The World Trade Center Broadcasters Recover - The New Place to Talk Radio

Your message here - contact to reach thousands of NERW readers every week!

July 3, 2006

WCRB Move Nears Completion

*It's still not completely official - and won't be until sometime after the holiday, at the earliest - but it's now abundantly clear that the WCRB calls and the classical music format will survive in eastern MASSACHUSETTS after Greater Media buys the existing WCRB (102.5 Waltham) facility from Charles River Broadcasting.

Nassau acknowledged last week that it's negotiating with Greater Media to acquire the "intellectual property" - calls, format and staff - of WCRB, as well as the license to what's now country WKLB (99.5 Lowell), which will end up with the WCRB calls and classical format when country moves to 102.5.

We don't yet know a price tag for either end of the deal - the 102.5 sale to Greater or the 99.5 sale to Nassau - but we can make some educated guesses. On the Greater Media side of the ledger, trading 99.5 for 102.5 moves WKLB's signal coverage over a more central part of the Boston market. While 99.5, like 102.5, is a full class B (50 kW/492' equivalent) signal, its transmitter location on Wood Hill in Andover is too far north to reach much of the south shore or even Boston proper, where the high signal levels from the FMs on the Pru (including Greater's other four signals) keep almost anything from out of town from penetrating. With an antenna on the "FM128" tower in Newton, 102.5 will give WKLB full Boston-market coverage for the first time since the calls and country format were on 105.7 almost a decade ago.

For Nassau, the new WCRB on 99.5 will mesh nicely with its existing network of four "W-Bach" classical signals that stretches all the way up from the New Hampshire seacoast to down east Maine. And since those "W-Bach" signals get their programming from WCRB's World Classical Network, the Nassau purchase of WCRB will also bring the programming source in-house. (Nassau is already making noises about rolling the classical format out in some of its other markets, in fact.)

It's almost a given that the move of WCRB to 99.5 will prompt complaints from loyal listeners in Boston, Brookline, the western suburbs and the south shore - all areas where the 99.5 signal is either weak or overwhelmed by stronger nearby FM transmitters. (There's a parallel to be found in Cleveland, where longtime classical voice WCLV sold its full-market class B signal on 95.5 five summers ago, trading down to a rimshot class A on 104.9 that was located on the other side of the market from most of the station's listener base.) But compared to the alternative - no WCRB at all, or one reduced to an HD-2 simulcast - it's not as bad as it could have been, and we're sure that will be the party line once the deals are complete.

(And of course it's always possible that some piece of this complex chess game could yet fall apart, so we're eager to see the official word of this deal before we speculate too much more.)

Speaking of complex games with surprising outcomes, there's a postscript to the Entercom-Red Sox radio rights deal: to help pay for the record-setting contract, Entercom is now looking to sell naming rights for the Red Sox radio network next season. "The WEEI Red Sox Radio Network" is already a bit of a mouthful for Joe and Jerry, and "The WRKO/WEEI Red Sox Radio Network" promises to be even worse next year - but "The TD BankNorth WRKO/WEEI Red Sox Radio Network" (purely hypothetical, we assure you) rivals WBZ's "Subaru Dealers of New England All-Wheel Drive Traffic on the Threes" for the tongue-twister award! (And we wonder what happens to the prominent Sox radio affiliate that routinely snips off the network identification and covers it with a local ID entering each break in the game...)

Where Are They (Going) Now?: Clear Channel Worcester market manager Art Volpe is trading central Massachusetts for coastal Virginia - he's moving over to Entercom to become VP/sales for that company's four-station cluster in the Norfolk/Hampton Roads market. No replacement has been named yet in Worcester.

STILL HERE - BUT NOT FOR FREE: If you're a fan of the national radio message-board sites, you're probably feeling a little disoriented lately by all the changes they're going through.

Here at NERW, we're now in our twelfth year of regular, uninterrupted service to our readers, and we're not going anywhere. Same address, same weekly columns, same old design. (OK, perhaps a few things could use some freshening this year.)

And if we've learned anything after all those years in the radio website business, it's this: good things don't come for free. Or at least when they do, they don't last forever. But thanks to our loyal subscribers and our growing fleet of advertisers, we've built a solid community here. We were here in 1994, we're here in 2006, and assuming there's still a radio dial to cover, we have every intention - with your support - of still being here in 2018. (I wish I could say the same about my hairline.)

If you still haven't subscribed yet for this year, do it right now at our Support page - and enjoy another exciting year of NERW, guilt- (and password-) free. And if you have become one of our many subscribers, thank you!

*Upstate NEW YORK was hit with some of the worst flooding in recent memory over the past week, but the impact on broadcasting facilities in the region appears to have been relatively minor. When we passed through Utica on Thursday, WUTQ (1550) didn't seem to be on the air, which was no surprise considering how low-lying its transmitter site near downtown Utica is. We've heard little about the state of things in Binghamton, the other major community hit by flooding, but since all of that city's transmitter facilities are located on hills, the only potential damage was to the studio sites downtown. (More - we hope - next week!)

Just west of Binghamton, WEBO (1330 Owego) is running a loop announcing that it will relaunch under new ownership - former Rochester promotions/programming guy Dave Radigan - on July 4. Stay tuned!

Over in Albany, Regent Communications already has a pretty potent cluster of stations - country giant WGNA (107.7), hot AC "Buzz" WABT (104.5 Mechanicville), rockers WQBK (103.9 Rensselaer)/WQBJ (103.5 Cobleskill) and sports WTMM (1300 Rensselaer) - but now it's adding another signal to its cluster, paying Vox $4.9 million for WNYQ (105.7 Malta).

That's the signal that's moving south from the Glens Falls market, and with a class B1 facility at the Bald Mountain transmitter site of WNYT (Channel 13), 105.7 should have good coverage of most of the Albany market. There's no word yet on what Regent might program on the currently silent signal, which the rumor mill hinted was going to go to rival Albany operator Pamal.

Even without buying WNYQ, there was still some news out of Pamal last week: at WYJB (95.5 Albany), morning guy Chuck Taylor adds PD stripes, taking on those responsibilities from Kevin Callahan, who remains PD/OM of "Edge" WZMR (104.9 Altamont). And over at Clear Channel, Capone replaces Lisa Biello as PD of WHRL (103.1 Albany), moving up from APD/music director at the modern rocker.

We suspected Clear Channel wasn't going to give up the venerable WVOR calls right away after flipping their longtime Rochester home at 100.5 to WDVI, "the Drive." But we didn't expect the calls to stay right in the local cluster - as of last Tuesday (June 27), they've replaced WISY on "Sunny 102.3." The Canandaigua-licensed soft AC rimshotter has even resurrected WVOR's old "Heart of Gold" imaging, at least at the top of each hour.

Central New York's WRVO is expanding the reach of its public radio signal. It's worked out a deal with Colgate University under which WRVO's NPR news and talk programming will be heard on Colgate's WRCU (90.1 Hamilton) when students aren't programming the station. WRVO had a similar arrangement with WSUC (90.5 Cortland) at SUNY Cortland, which may be renewed soon.

In Dunkirk, WDOE (1410) has now joined sister station WBKX (96.5) in making a format change - it's flipped from standards to oldies.

More from the callsign desk: the new 107.1 down in Livingston Manor (in the Catskills) now has calls. Mark down "WVZX" for that signal, at least for now.

On Long Island, Clear Channel's WALK-FM (97.5 Patchogue) launched its new HD-2 subchannel last week - it's "Long Island Country 97.5-HD2" on the secondary service there.

(And while we're thinking about HD Radio in the New York area, we should note that WABC signed on its HD service on 770 last week as well.)

Out on the East End, Hedy Krebs-Dimaio has been promoted from sales director to GM at the Long Island Radio Broadcasting group, which includes AAA WEHM/WEHN, WBAZ and WBEA.

Best wishes to Sam Hall, news director at WQXR (96.3 New York), who retired on Friday after a long career that's included stints at NBC, WOR and WNEW.

You can have your ad here! Click here for information on the most economical way to reach tens of thousands of Northeast radio and TV people each week.

*They're doing the callsign shuffle at several Millennium stations in NEW JERSEY. Almost two years after the "New Jersey 101.5" talk simulcast for Atlantic City moved from WKOE (106.3 Ocean City) to WIXM (97.3 Millville), the WIXM calls (which spelled "Mix" before the flip) have finally been retired, replaced by WXKW, a set of calls that have a long history in Allentown and before that in Albany. To avoid any ratings diary confusion, the sister ESPN Radio outlet on 1450 changes its calls from WKXW to WENJ. And for the seriously callsign-geeky among you, the mothership on 101.5 in Trenton changes its calls from WKXW-FM to just plain WKXW.

*Has any market in PENNSYLVANIA seen as much change in the last few years as State College? In the latest installment of the format merry-go-round in Happy Valley, Forever has pulled the plug on top 40 "Hot 103.1" WJHT, moving the "Quick Rock" format to 103.1 from its current home on WQWK (98.7 Pleasant Gap). The WQWK calls will move to 103.1 as well (their fourth home in State College, having started on 96.7 State College, which later became the 97.1 University Park facility that's now oldies WOWY) - and 98.7, under new calls, will simulcast "Froggy" country from WFGY (98.1 Altoona). (NERW notes that State College has had a "Froggy" in the past - the 94.5 that's now smooth jazz WSMO was once WFGI.)

What happened to the deal Nassau had to sell its cluster of stations in Easton/Allentown (WEEX/WTKZ/WODE/WWYY) and the Poconos (WVPO/WPLY/WSBG) to Access.1? NERW hears it's now dead in the water - and that Nassau ends up retaining $3 million of earnest money that Access.1 put up when the sale was announced last October.

On the TV front, Comcast is pulling the plug on the Philadelphia news operation at its CN8 regional network, which will leave 40 people without jobs. (Some are expected to be reassigned to new regional programming to be developed at CN8.)

Gregg Henson is the new PD at sports talk WPEN (950 Philadelphia), moving north from KWNX in Austin, Texas.

In western Pennsylvania, Kathy Aparo has returned to middays at WSHH (99.7 Pittsburgh), voicetracked from Florida, where she's also got a successful career in real estate and in voiceovers. (And we thought we had a lot on our plate...)

*From CANADA comes word that CHTN-FM (100.3 Charlottetown PEI) is now testing its new FM signal, which means that CHTN will vacate the 720 spot on the AM dial within a few months. CHTN does oldies on 720, but the FM will be "Ocean 100.3," with more of a classic hits format.

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!)

July 4, 2005 -

  • *Citadel never got much respect for its attempt to do a pop-oriented top 40 in central PENNSYLVANIA, and last week the company pulled the plug on "Cool Pop" at WCPP (106.7 Hershey), replacing it on Thursday with soft AC as "Mix 106.7."
  • That wasn't the only change Citadel made in the Harrisburg area; the company also announced that it's selling WQXA (1250 York) to Wilkins Communications Network, which runs a chain of 10 religious stations that includes WWNL (1080 Pittsburgh). The $250,000 sale has already brought an end to WQXA's "Real Country" programming, with Wilkins taking over via a time brokerage agreement last Friday.
  • Over in the State College market, WGMR (101.1 Tyrone) dropped its "Revolution" moniker in favor of "G101," completing its transition from modern rock to top 40.
  • And we join the Keystone State engineering community in remembering Jeff "Bix" Bixby, who died June 25 at age 61. Bixby was known for his work with complex AM antenna systems, including KDKA in Pittsburgh and WINS in New York. He had most recently been running his own engineering firm, BixTech LLC of Lykens, Pennsylvania, and had just been awarded the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters' "Broadcast Tube" plaque for his contributions to the industry.
  • There was one format change last week in NEW YORK, and it came in response to the impending demise of AP's All News Radio format. WDNB (102.1 Jeffersonville), which had been using the AP service to bring news radio to the Catskills, flipped to country as "Thunder 102."
  • Don't sound the death knell yet for WSMN (1590) in Nashua, NEW HAMPSHIRE. The station signed off in January after losing its studio and tower site just off Route 3 - but now the license has been purchased, for a reported $250,000, by Tom Monaghan's Absolute Broadcasting, which also owns WSNH (900 Nashua). Monaghan says he'll have the station back up and running from a temporary transmitter site by the end of August; NERW wonders whether a replacement for WSMN's three-tower directional array could ever be built in what's now a very pricey and NIMBY-prone part of New England...(2006 update: No new DA yet, but WSMN is back on the air at lower power from the tower of sister WGAM 900.)

July 11, 2001 -

  • PENNSYLVANIA is a good a place as any to start the news, with format changes in three major markets. Philadelphia's "Jammin' Gold" didn't live to see another summer on Greater Media's WEJM (95.7); that station took on the "Mix" moniker at the end of June, becoming an AC outlet under the programming leadership of Chris Ebbott (inbound from Los Angeles' KFI, where he was marketing director). Greater Media ditched the format at its Detroit outlet that same week, flipping "Groove" WGRV (105.1) to "Magic" WMGC-FM and launching a shot across the bow of Clear Channel's market-leading AC WNIC (100.3 Dearborn) with a talent raid that brings veteran WNIC morning host Jim Harper to the new "Magic."
  • To Harrisburg, next, as Clear Channel made the anticipated change from oldies to "Kiss" CHR on WWKL-FM (99.3) July 1, with new calls expected soon. Countering the move is WEGK (92.7 Starview), which dumped its classic rock format the same day to become "Big 92.7" with oldies as WHBO(FM).
  • Up in Erie, we just missed a call swap that restores a heritage call to its longtime home: Talker WLKK (1400) returned to its old call of WJET(AM), while the WLKK calls moved to the former WJET(FM) at 102.3, which remains modern AC as "the Point."
  • Plenty of news in NEW YORK, but we'll start with the one bit that hasn't actually happened yet: the rumor mill's been churning about a format change at Buffalo's WWKB (1520). For more than a decade, the Entercom-owned station has been running a series of little-noticed fringe formats, including satellite country, talk and business news. Last week, the message boards lit up with word that the erstwhile WKBW would be returning to its musical roots with a 70s-pop format. As we go to print with this issue, though, it's still business talk and leased-time religion on 1520...
  • Rochester's WXXI (1370) is going through some cutbacks. The public broadcaster marked its 17th anniversary last week by laying off veteran producers Bill Flynn and Carol Colella and cancelling its late-night blues show, one of the last remnants of the "news-and-jazz" format the station launched with back in 1984. Replacing the music in the overnight hours will be satellite-delivered World Radio Network programming, leaving host Jim McGrath also out of a job.
  • The big deal in CANADA was, literally, a big deal: the long-dormant Standard group flexed its muscles this week with an agreement to buy 62 radio stations in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia from Telemedia. The latter group already cashed out of its Quebec and Maritimes interests with a sale to Astral last month. The deal turns Standard into a 75-station group with outlets in almost every major community in Ontario, including a four-station cluster in Toronto that adds Telemedia's sports CJCL (The Fan 590) and AC CJEZ (EZ Rock 97.3) to Standard's news-talk CFRB (1010) and hot AC CKFM (Mix 99.9). No sale price has been announced.

New England Radio Watch, July 5, 1996

  • Boston-area radio listeners found quite a surprise on Independence Day when they tuned into talk-formatted WRKO (680). The American Radio Systems flagship gave the talk hosts a couple of days off...and in their stead is a revived version of "the Big 68," the top-40 legend that was WRKO from 1967 until 1980. The station did not try to bring back the legendary 'RKO jocks, instead using the current talk hosts (Pat Whitley & Marjorie Clapprood, Jerry Williams, Howie Carr, and the "Two Chicks," Leslie Gold and Laurie Kramer) to introduce what's being billed as the "Top 96 of 1968." A few of the old Drake jingles have been resurrected, notably that top-hour sounder that aired on *every* RKO/Drake station of the era, and the "20/20 News" sounder (ditto!) The same countdown is airing in a 4 or 5-hour repeat cycle until Saturday morning, when the talk returns. A correspondent to the Boston-Radio-Interest mailing list notes that the countdown WRKO is running (number 1 is "Hey Jude") does NOT match the actual end-of-1968 countdown WRKO issued...but instead corresponds to the national Billboard rankings. Ah well...
  • Elsewhere in New England...the 96.5 frequency is getting even more crowded. Last week, the newcomer was class-A WAEF Bedford-Manchester NH. Now it's been joined by W243AI Newport RI, the Ocean State's first FM translator. W243AI uses 55 watts on 96.5 from the Newport Hospital. NERW traveling correspondent Garrett Wollman reports the signal to be adequate into Fall River, some 15 miles north of Newport. W243AI rebroadcasts WCRB 102.5 Waltham MA, Boston's commercial classical outlet. It helps rectify a lack of classical music in Rhode Island... the only other full-time classical outlet is 95.9 WVBI Block Island, which runs the SW Classic FM service with a very weak signal.
  • Up in Vermont, the former WBFL 107.1 Bellows Falls-Brattleboro has been reborn under new ownership as WZSH, soft ac "Wish 107." The WZSH calls were last seen about six years ago, on what's now WNVE 95.1 South Bristol-Rochester NY, also as a soft ac station called "Wish." NERW wonders whether the CP for WSSH 101.5 Marlboro VT will turn out to be a simulcast. (The WSSH calls also spelled "Wish" for years in their former home on 99.5 Lowell-Boston, now WOAZ.) WBFL's former simulcast partner, WNBX 100.5 Lebanon NH, continues as AAA "River." And Garrett Wollman offers several additional Vermont tidbits: WWGT 96.7 Vergennes had resumed testing as of late last week, with a modern rock format that was not city-grade in downtown Burlington, and WNCS 104.7 Montpelier now calls itself "The Point," though it's made no change to its rock format.
  • One of New Hampshire's newer radio stations has changed format and calls again. 98.7 in Somersworth NH (near the Seacoast) began its life as a CP with the calls WTSN-FM (its sister AM is WTSN 1270). It took air two years ago as AC WRGW "The Rock Garden," then went through a series of changes a few months back, becoming WRDX and briefly running an adult-standards format as "Radio Deluxe" before returning to AC. Now M Street reports 98.7 has become WBYY, "The Bay." The WBYY calls were last spotted on a little all-sports AM station near Grand Rapids MI.

You can sponsor this new weekly feature! Click here for information!

*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.