July 3, 2006
WCRB Move Nears Completion
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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*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.
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 LARadio.com
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
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- 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.
*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
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
fybush.com 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
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 fybush.com
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
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learn how you can help make continued publication possible. NERW
2006 by Scott Fybush.