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December 25, 2006

Cox's Big Westchester (or NYC?) Move


*CONNECTICUT's loss will be New York's gain, at least where the FM dial just north of New York City is concerned, as Cox Radio applies to move WCTZ (96.7 Stamford) down I-95 to a new city of license of Port Chester, N.Y., an allocations shift granted by the FCC just before it departed for its Christmas vacation.

In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released Friday, the FCC announced that it's considering what turns out to be Cox's second try at making that move. In 2005, the FCC returned an earlier petition to move the allocation (then WKHL) to Port Chester after determining that the existing 96.7 signal doesn't cover Port Chester with a 70 dBu signal level.

Cox then returned to the FCC with terrain data that shows that the 96.7 signal does, in fact, cover Port Chester, allowing the city of license to be changed without requiring an application for a new transmitter location as well. (Under the FCC's current rules, you don't apply for both a new city of license and a new transmitter site at the same time; ironically, those rules will change in January, creating a "one-step" process that would have significantly streamlined a move like this.)

What happens now? Assuming the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proceeds without objections and the city of license change is approved, as seems likely, 96.7 is a "pre-1964" grandfathered allocation, with no limitations at all on how close it can move to New York City's powerful class B stations on 96.3 (WQXR) and 97.1 (WQHT). Nor, unlike most of the class A suburban stations ringing New York, does it have nearby co-channel stations in New Jersey or on Long Island - just a class A co-channel signal (WTSX) to the northwest in Port Jervis, New York. More significantly, any move for WCTZ will be limited by spacing rules that will keep it at least 15 km from WBLS (107.5) on the Empire State Building - and it will have to continue to put 70 dBu over Port Chester, wherever it may move to.

What's Cox up to with this move? We'll know more in 2007...stay tuned!

On the TV side of things, WVIT (Channel 30) anchor Janet Peckinpaugh departed the NBC station Friday, ending an 11-year run there and a 29-year career that began in Virginia and included anchor stints at WTNH (1984-87) and WFSB (1987-95).

Peckinpaugh's departure came just a couple of weeks after the departure of her 5:30 PM co-anchor, Logan Byrnes, and just a week after the departure of WVIT's 6 and 11 PM anchor, Joanne Nesti.

*In MASSACHUSETTS, the big farewell to WBZ (1030) morning institution Gary LaPierre winds up this week with Gary's final broadcast on Friday, an event that the station will mark with not only streaming audio but also streaming video, along with the ongoing "LaPierre Through the Years" vignettes that have been running on the air and on the website, and no doubt a full slate of celebrity visits to the studio as well.

If your editor may be forgiven a personal note here (and knowing how many of my former colleagues read the column, a note that I hope will find its way to Gary before the week is out):

It's been a decade - almost exactly - since I moved on from 1170 Soldiers Field Road, leaving WBZ and Boston for other new and exciting challenges. Wherever I've gone, and whatever I've done, it has always been a point of great pride to be able to say "I was one of Gary's writers."

It is no exaggeration to say that Gary's voice rings in my ears, often, as I'm writing news copy. Writing for him - and hearing him rip my copy to shreds after each newscast - was a graduate education in real-life radio journalism that no university could match. Hearing that voice reading my words every morning was one of the greatest thrills a young radio news guy could ever have.

No doubt Ed Walsh will do just fine as Gary's successor. But it's hard to imagine any other voice in morning drive on WBZ, and almost impossible to imagine that any radio newscaster will ever again have the impact on the Boston community that Gary has had over his 42 years at the station.

I remember, not long after switching to the morning shift, asking Gary and Gil how long it took to get used to the hours - and I especially remember Gary growling back at me, "You never get used to it."

Here's to many, many mornings of sleeping in. Congratulations, Gary - and thank you!

Another farewell took place - and rather abruptly, at that - last Monday at 75 Morrissey Boulevard, as the staff of Tribune's WLVI (Channel 56) said goodbye to viewers on a final edition of "The Ten O'Clock News," then found themselves not only out of work but out of the building as moving crews hired by new owner Sunbeam arrived to lock up and move equipment over to the station's new home at the WHDH-TV (Channel 7) studio at Government Center. (The Herald reports there were little skirmishes all day, as a Sunbeam-hired crew arrived to replace the "Ten O'Clock News" billboard facing the Southeast Expressway atop the WLVI studios, only to be turned away by Tribune employees who told them to wait until the transition was complete.)

The actual signoff of the Tribune-produced newscast was a classier affair, featuring a long credit roll over video of the staff waving goodbye, as well as a final commentary from original "Ten O'Clock News" anchor (and 50-year Boston news veteran) Jack Hynes. Mincing no words, Hynes said "someone (else) should have bought the station" and kept it independent, calling Sunbeam's shutdown of the news operation "a tragic chapter in Boston's television history."

Tuesday night, WHDH debuted its version of "7 News at 10" on WLVI, featuring WHDH anchors Frances Rivera and Matt Lorch in an even faster-paced version of WHDH's already high-intensity newscasts. (The Herald reports ratings were flat for the debut of the new newscast.)

Meanwhile, back on the radio dial, Clear Channel indeed pulled the plug on progressive talk at WKOX (1200 Framingham) and WXKS (1430 Everett) at noon on Thursday, launching Spanish tropical "Rumba 1200, Orgullo Latino."

The new PD and morning man at WKOX/WXKS is Raffy Contigo, late of WXDJ in Miami and KMGG in Denver.

After 15 years with Boston's WCVB (Channel 5), reporter David Boeri is moving across the aisle to the public radio arena. He's joining the staff at WBUR-FM (90.9) early next year, where he'll serve as a host and special correspondent.

(Could the presence of his longtime WCVB boss Paul LaCamera as president of WBUR have helped draw him back to the world of public broadcasting, where he worked years ago at WGBH and at Seattle's KCTS?)

What were the top 10 radio and TV news stories in the northeastern US and eastern Canada in 2006? We'll have our list next week in our annual NERW Year in Review issue - but we want to hear from you, too! Send your nominations for the top 10 stories to nerw at by Thursday, December 28, and check back here at on Monday, January 1, for NERW's Year in Review 2006.

*Lots of Radio People on the Move in Pittsburgh, PENNSYLVANIA this week: Scott Paulsen has departed Clear Channel's WDVE (102.5), where he was the station's longtime morning man and was more recently heard mixing talk and music in the evenings. Paulsen wanted to do more talk, and he'll get that opportunity once his non-compete is over and he starts over at CBS Radio's WRKZ (93.7). That will happen in April, in a timeslot to be announced later on.

Over on the AM side of the CBS cluster, KDKA (1020) has pulled John McIntire's "Flip Side" show off the air after three years, replacing him in the 7-10 PM slot with the syndicated Neal Boortz after his show this Friday (Dec. 29).

While initial reports said McIntire was losing his job with KDKA, the station now says it hopes to find a new timeslot for him. KDKA is also cancelling its "I.C. Lite Sports Tonight" show from 6-7 PM, replacing it with a second hour of evening news.

That report that WEAE (1250 Pittsburgh) was going "all-Christmas"? Not exactly - just the bumper music between segments on the ESPN Radio outlet, as it turns out.

Up in Erie, our friends at report that WXNM-LP (95.9) is now on the air with religion, which isn't sitting well with fans of co-channel CFPL-FM ("FM96") from across the lake in London, Ontario. FM96 has no protected reception on the US side of Lake Erie, of course, but its superpower signal slams across the water nonetheless, and we'd be not one bit surprised if WXNM eventually tries for a frequency change to get away from the co-channel interference.

*In NEW YORK, the rumor mill's working overtime about changes at CBS Radio's struggling WNEW (102.7 New York). The station's morning show, with Michelle Visage and Joe Causi, is already history, and Allan Sniffen's New York Radio Message Board is reporting that the rest of the full-time airstaff at "Mix 102.7" is history now as well. What else will be changing at the rhythmic AC outlet after the holidays? Stay tuned...

The WWPR (105.1 New York) DJ who was shot during a robbery outside his Manhattan apartment December 7 died Saturday (Dec. 23). Carl Blaze (real name: Carlos Rivera) was just 30 years old. New York police still haven't made any arrests in the case.

In Buffalo, Regent has closed on its purchase of CBS Radio's five-station cluster; no changes have been reported so far at the stations, including market-leading country WYRK (106.5), AC WJYE (96.1) and urban WBLK (93.7 Depew).

With progressive talk gone from WHLD (1270 Niagara Falls), the Buffalo-market AM signal has flipped to black gospel. "Word 1270" is a sublet of sorts, with Niagara Independent Media continuing to LMA the station from Citadel, then leasing the airtime in turn to the black gospel programmers from Excel Media who'd been running the format on daytimer WBBF (1120 Buffalo), which is simulcasting with WHLD for now.

In Albany, the WABT calls are gone from the Mechanicville-licensed 104.5 signal that's now doing ESPN sports; the Regent station is now WTMM-FM.

Downstate, Christmas Day brings an end to the country Christmas format on WRWC (99.3 Ellenville); it'll flip Monday night to a simulcast of country WRWD-FM (107.3 Highland).

From the TV side of things: Rochester's WHAM-TV (Channel 13) is wasting no time expanding its news presence on its new "CW-WHAM" digital subchannel. Starting January 15, WHAM-TV's morning news will be simulcast on the CW channel from 5-7 AM (it's already seen there from 5-6 AM), and will continue exclusively on the CW channel from 7-9 AM, displacing the syndicated "Morning Buzz" show. How long until WHAM launches a 10 PM newscast on its CW channel?

*In CANADA, the CRTC has denied an application from Pellpropco's CHSC (1220 St. Catharines ON) to broadcast up to 40% of its programming in Italian and Polish. CHSC argued that the Niagara region isn't served by any of its own "third-language" broadcasters - but the ethnic broadcasters across the lake in Toronto weighed in, claiming Pellpropco was trying to bypass the CRTC's rules on third-language radio (which usually require the airing of programs in a variety of languages). Oh, and by the way - they submitted a monitoring report that claims to show that CHSC is already programming Italian music and talk far in excess of the CRTC's 15% maximum.

Were you suffused with curiosity about the calls for the new 1690 facility in Toronto? It'll be CHTO - and it needs a new transmitter site, after its original plan to operate from a site in Scarborough was thwarted by zoning regulations. It's now applying to run 1 kW from a new site at O'Connor Drive and St. Clair Avenue East in North York.

More new Canadian call letters you'll probably never actually hear on the air, with thanks to Bruce Elving's FMedia! for the detective work: My Broadcasting's new Strathroy, Ontario signal (just granted a move to 105.7 from the originally-applied-for 91.1) will be CJMI; the new classcal signal on 92.7 in Quebec City will be CJSQ; the new French community station on 98.5 in Halifax will be CKRH; and the new community religious station in Bedford, Nova Scotia on 89.1 will be CHSB.

The new community station on 98.7 in Renfrew, Ontario has calls, too - and it's even using them: it's CJHR, and its website at says it began testing December 11 and will be on the air full-time sometime in January.

In Quebec, the CRTC denies an application from MX Media for a new station on 106.5 in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, west of Montreal.

*And that's it for NERW for 2006! Join us back in this spot in one week for our big 2006 Year in Review special edition, and be here January 7 for the first regular NERW of 2007. From our family to yours - Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and the happiest of holiday seasons to all of you.

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!)

January 9, 2006 -

  • The new year marked the end of WBZ (1030 Boston)'s contract to carry Paul Harvey's daily broadcasts, which have been a fixture there for years. The CBS Radio station chose not to renew its deal with ABC for Harvey (though it is apparently still using some ABC News Radio material), and so far there's been no replacement in the market. (NERW notes that the relationship between WBZ and Harvey extended to the use of morning anchor Gary LaPierre as a substitute host on the Harvey broadcasts on several occasions in the mid-nineties.)
  • A few other Radio People on the Move: Ben Parker moves from the WRKO newsroom to the PD chair at WEIM (1280 Fitchburg). At WZLX (100.7 Boston), Beau Raines' run as PD came to a close at the end of 2005. WUMB (91.9 Boston) is losing music director Sarah Wardrop to New York - she's headed for a new gig at WFUV (90.7) there. And a couple of "Where Are They Now?" items - veteran Boston jock "Hutch" has resurfaced as the sidekick to David Lee Roth's CBS Radio morning show (heard locally on WBCN), while former WODS morning man Paul Perry is looking for work now that his contract with Chicago's WJMK has ended. (Perry was doing mornings on WJMK's HD subchannel for the latter half of 2005, after the main channel flipped from oldies to "Jack.")
  • Out on Long Island, the end of 2005 was also the end of analog TV for Riverhead's WLNY (Channel 55). The independent station won FCC permission to shut off its analog signal earlier than scheduled, as part of a nationwide sale of the channel 55 bandwidth to Qualcomm for its new MediaFLO broadband service, and now WLNY is seen over the air only on WLNY-DT (Channel 57) and three LPTV signals; its main viewership, of course, is on cable and satellite.
  • So much for "ChannelCasting": The Morey Organization has stopped using that term on its three East End FMs, and things are pretty much back to the way they were at rocker "Bone" WBON (98.5 Westhampton), dance-top 40 "Party" WDRE (105.3 Calverton-Roanoke) and modern rock WLIR (107.1 Hampton Bays), with highly reduced spotloads the only remnant of the failed "ChannelCasting" concept.
  • In Scranton, WQFM (92.1 Nanticoke) and WQFN (100.1 Forest City) relaunched after Christmas as "92.1 QFM," playing an AC blend that's heavy on music of the nineties. Meanwhile in Carbondale, WCDL (1440) has changed musical direction, ditching classic country for standards.

December 24, 2001 -

  • We start this week in NEW YORK's Capital District, where Ed Levine's Galaxy Communications was cleared to put its newest signal on the air this week. The FCC finally granted the application to move WHTR from 93.5 in Corinth, in the Glens Falls market, south to Scotia (near Schenectady) on 93.7. Why the delay? According to WHTR's FCC filing, the FAA has been so busy with other matters since September 11 that it's been unable to process a request to raise the existing tower where WHTR hopes to put its 93.7 signal. Rather than wait, WHTR modified its application slightly, specifying a new antenna height of 218 meters (down from the original proposal for 224 meters above average terrain), but maintaining the proposed 1.15 kW power. The new height will allow WHTR to proceed immediately with the application, since the tower in question, just southeast of the Thruway near Rotterdam Junction, won't need to be raised.
  • Up north - way up north - Paul Smith's College, deep in the Adirondacks, has its radio station back. WPSA (98.3 Paul Smiths) was deleted a couple of years ago after apparently neglecting to file an application for license renewal; the FCC finally bowed to repeated petitions this week and reinstated the little Class D license, thus restoring a signal to a very radio-poor area.
  • One item from Long Island this week: WGSM (740 Huntington) has indeed made the flip from a simulcast of WHLI (1100 Hempstead) to Korean music; we're also hearing that the station has returned to 24-hour operation under its new owners.
  • Speaking of Univision, they have indeed changed the calls on their Telefutura outlet-to-be in MASSACHUSETTS. What was WFUB (Channel 66) in Marlborough has become WUTF(TV); we're awfully glad we caught a WFUB legal earlier this month when we did.
  • Up in the Poconos, we hear there's a format change on the way at WILT (960 Mount Pocono). The station, whose towers are easily seen from I-380 near the I-80 junction, has been running ESPN sports - but we hear it will be simulcasting new Nassau Broadcasting sister WVPO (840 Stroudsburg) as early as the first of the year.

New England Radio Watch, December 26-30, 1996

  • Folk music is rapidly becoming an endangered species on Boston radio, with the rapid demise of the format on what was once America's only commercial all-folk station, WADN (1120) Concord MA. WADN ended the year by eliminating nearly all of its weekday folk music, replacing it with a local morning talk show, followed by existing specialty talk shows from 10-11 AM, and then a full day of the Bloomberg business news recently dropped by Boston's WBNW (590). The last remaining folk on "Walden 1120" is on weekends; a far cry from the days just six years ago when WADN was a vibrant station run by many of the people who used to do folk on the late WCAS (740) Cambridge. We've seen a lot of stations and a lot of formats come and go around here; still, "Walden 1120" is one that will be particularly missed on this listener's dial.
  • The Upper Valley region of New Hampshire and Vermont is losing an adult alternative station -- and gaining a country simulcast. Radio South Burlington, Inc. is selling WNBX (100.5) Lebanon NH to Bob and Cheryl Frisch, who own WXXK (101.7) Newport-Claremont NH and WTSL (1400) and WGXL (92.3) in Hanover NH. On January 13, a simulcast of WXXK's ``Kixx Country'' format will begin on WNBX. This brings to a close several years of ``The River of Music,'' the AAA format that began when talker WNTK (1020) Newport NH ended its LMA on 100.5. For a while, the River format was simulcast on WBFL (107.1) Bellows Falls VT, but that station changed format and calls a few months ago, becoming soft AC WZSH. Radio South Burlington continues to own WQQQ (103.3) Sharon CT and the construction permit for WMEX (102.5) Westport NY. A little bit of historical trivia: When the WNBX/WXXK simulcast begins, WNBX will have been a simulcast of both halves of the old WCNL AM/FM in Newport. WNTK is the descendant of the old WCNL(AM) 1010, and WXXK is the descendant of the old WCNL-FM 101.7.
  • A silent station is back on the air in Connecticut. WSNG (610) in Torrington left the airwaves on January 19, and would have lost its license next February had it remained silent. WSNG was purchased last month by Buckley Broadcasting, and returned to the airwaves last weekend simulcasting Buckley's WDRC (1360) Hartford, with an adult standards format. WDRC's daytime signal is adequate in the Torrington area, some 24 miles west of Hartford, but at night WDRC has a deep null in that direction to protect co-channel stations in Binghamton NY and Newton NJ. WSNG will help fill in some of that gap, as suburban sprawl keeps edging further west from Hartford.
  • Radio with pictures: Another long-darkened station has reappeared. WHRC (Channel 46) in Norwell MA left the airwaves in late 1989, the victim of bankruptcy. It returned this month, carrying religious programming from a 500 kilowatt transmitter in Brockton MA, some 20 miles south of Boston.
  • And former WCVB (Channel 5) news director Emily Rooney is returning to town after a stint in New York, where she was executive producer of ABC's World News Tonight for a few months, followed by some time with Fox News. Rooney will produce and host a new nightly public-affairs show called ``Greater Boston.'' It's slated to debut January 27 on WGBH-TV (Channel 2), replacing the strange talk show called ``The Group,'' which itself replaced the late, much-lamented ``Ten O'Clock News'' four years ago.

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*It's here! As seen in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Omaha World-Herald and the Chicago Sun-Times, Tower Site Calendar 2007 is now shipping!

This year's edition features what we think are the finest tower images yet - from the cover image of WCCO Minneapolis all the way to the back-cover centerfold of WBZ in Boston, and from KGO San Francisco to KOIL Omaha to Philadelphia's famed Roxborough tower farm, captured in a dramatic dusk shot with the lights all aglow.

This sixth annual edition once again contains plenty of historic dates from radio and television history in the Northeast and beyond, and as always, it comes to you shrink-wrapped and shipped first class mail for safe arrival.

You can even get your 2007 calendar free with your new or renewal subscription to NERW at the $60 level.

Visit the Store and place your order today - and be among the first to get the Tower Site Calendar 2007!

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.