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January 22, 2007

Shapiro's Back in the Upper Valley


*Nearly three years after his Vox group sold most of its stations in NEW HAMPSHIRE and VERMONT to Nassau Broadcasting, Jeff Shapiro is coming back to the Upper Valley as owner of the "other" cluster in the market.

Shapiro's Great Eastern Radio LLC is buying Clear Channel's signals, including news-talk WTSL (1400 Hanover NH) and WTSM (93.5 Springfield VT), AC WGXL (92.3 Lebanon NH), rock WMXR (93.9 Woodstock VT)/WVRR (101.7 Newport NH) and country WXXK (100.5 Lebanon NH), for an as-yet-undisclosed price.

"We are thrilled to be returning to the broadcasting community in the Upper Valley," says Shapiro, who owned WHDQ in Claremont for almost 20 years before selling to Nassau in 2004.

The Upper Valley stations will join Concord-market WTPL (107.7 Hillsboro) under the Great Eastern umbrella.

Meanwhile, over in Burlington, WVMT (620) is shifting its schedule around now that it's losing the Howie Carr show out of Boston. Jerry Doyle will replace Carr on WVMT, and in his last few shows heard in Burlington, Carr tried to rally listeners to find a way to bring him back to the market.

It's still not clear exactly why Carr's show is leaving the market - we're told that WVMT's morning show spent much of last week criticizing Carr's home base, WRKO, for "pulling him" from regional syndication.

(Carr's show also disappears from WKBK 1290 in Keene, N.H., with Eric Scott moving to afternoons from late mornings and Glenn Beck moving from sister station WZBK to Scott's former slot on WKBK; we'd reported this move as a fait accompli two weeks ago, but it takes effect today, or so we're told.)

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*In PENNSYLVANIA, Marconi Broadcasting's WHAT (1340 Philadelphia) relaunched late last week with a rather daring new format. In place of the urban talk that former owner Inner City Broadcasting offered, Marconi CEO Tom Kelly is turning the little AM signal (for which he paid $5 million) into "Skin Radio," which will mix modern rock and hip-hop. Alvin Clay is the PD of the new station, which will feature what Kelly describes as "young non-radio folks" on the air.

We're big fans, here at NERW, of any sign of fresh thinking on the air, especially on the AM dial, but if you believe, as we do, that "Skin Radio" will end up drawing most of whatever audience it gets from its webcast, you've got to wonder what Kelly was thinking by spending as much as he did on the broadcast signal. And since Kelly's an experienced radio player (he's keeping his music-research business going even as he launches "Skin Radio"), we're particularly eager to find out. Stay tuned...

Across town, CeCe McGhee is the new morning jock on Radio One's WPPZ (103.9 Jenkintown), coming on board from a stint with WJKS (101.7 Canton NJ) after a run in mornings on Clear Channel's WUSL and WDAS.

In Scranton, Jim Dorman exits as OM/PD of Citadel country outlet WSJR (93.7 Dallas). Up the road in the Poconos, Nassau has flipped WVPO (840 Stroudsburg) and WILT (960 Mount Pocono) from locally-hosted oldies to satellite talk, including Don Imus in morning drive.

In Allentown, WAEB (790) finally revealed what it meant with all those "the oldies are returning" promos it's been running for the last few weeks: the Clear Channel news-talker has launched a streaming audio channel called "WAEB Oldies Online," mixing the oldies that used to be heard on sister station WKAP (now WYHM 1470) with some voicetracking from former WKAP jock Mike Mittman and news and weather updates from WAEB.

The Carlisle Sentinel is reporting that WHYL (960 Carlisle) is being sold, with Royal Broadcasting taking over from Route 81 Radio. No word yet on a price; we'll have more on this one once it's filed with the FCC.

The man who gave his initials to the old WRKZ (106.7 Hershey, now WMHX) has died. Robert K. Zimmerman was the president and co-founder of Tele-Media Broadcasting, which at one point owned 13 stations around Pennsylvania, including WRSC/WQWK in State College. That's where Zimmerman ended up after retiring from station ownership, teaching at Penn State's College of Communications. Zimmerman died last Monday (Jan. 15) at 73.

On TV, WTXF (Channel 29) launches its new 5 PM newscast today.

Just across the state line in DELAWARE, the WAMS calls that spent so long on Wilmington's 1380 (now WTMC) have moved again, jumping once more from 1260 in Newark (now WNWK) to 1600 in Dover, ex-WJRE.

*Two NEW JERSEY stations are making power increases. At the southern end of the state, WBZC (88.9 Pemberton) has completed its power increase, going from 7.5 kW vertical/350 watts horizontal to 10 kW vertical/470 watts horizontal, with a vertical directional antenna. (The new WBZC antenna ends up 15 meters lower than the old one.)

Up north in the New York market, Salem's WWDJ (970 Hackensack) has been granted a daytime power boost from 5 kW to 50 kW, using its existing three-tower array. Salem will move and downgrade WAMD (970 Aberdeen MD) to make the WWDJ power increase possible.

The "Big Jay and Anita" morning show is history, for now, at WJRZ (100.1 Manahawkin), now that Jay Sorensen is out from the station. Anita Bonita remains on wakeup duty, with night guy Spyder McGuire moving into the co-host chair - and will the "Big Jay and Anita" show eventually make a return elsewhere on the dial? Stay tuned...

WYGG (88.1 Asbury Park) returned to the air January 13, after being silenced by the FCC for allegedly broadcasting from an unauthorized location. The station's running 80 watts under an STA while it applies for a new permanent transmitter site.

*Two NEW YORK public broadcasting executives are preparing to move on from their leadership posts. At WNET/WLIW in New York City, Bill Baker will step down in early 2008 after 20 years as president, with former NBC News president Neal Shapiro replacing him. (Shapiro's already on board at Educational Broadcasting Corporation, WNET's parent, for a yearlong transition process.)

Up the Hudson, Deborah Onslow's retiring as president of WMHT Educational Telecommunications in the Albany/Schenectady market. Onslow joined the stations in 2001 from WGBY in Springfield (and from WXXI in Rochester before that); no word yet on a replacement at WMHT.

A format change in the Finger Lakes: The Radio Group has pulled WSFW (1110 Seneca Falls) out of the "Finger Lakes News-Talk Network" simulcast with WGVA (1240 Geneva), WCGR (1550 Canandaigua) and WAUB (1590 Auburn). The daytime-only signal on 1110 is now the "Finger Lakes Visitors Channel," with a repeating loop of travel information and weather forecasts.

There's a new talk show starting today on WYSL (1040 Avon). Rochester attorney and political activist Bill Nojay, who was a regular substitute for WHAM's Bob Lonsberry, has landed a regular 2-3 PM weekday slot on WYSL, where he'll be talking about Rochester's economic future.

Congratulations to Hank Brown, who's celebrating 50 years of morning radio in the Mohawk Valley this week. Brown started at WLFH (1230 Little Falls) in 1957, and even as the station's gone through some big changes, he's still there. The "Hank Brown Show" is now heard not only on 1230 (now WIXT, though the Herkimer newspaper article about Brown still uses the old WLFH calls) but also on its three "Sports Stars" simulcast partners in Utica, Rome and Remsen.

Speaking of Utica morning radio, Bill Keeler is back. The former WRCK (107.3) morning host, who's been doing a weekly TV show on WKTV (Channel 2), resurfaced earlier this month in morning drive on Clear Channel's WSKS (97.9 Whitesboro)/WSKU (105.5 Little Falls).

Rob Eilenberg, son of the former owners of WRNY in Rome and himself a former WRNY jock, died January 10. Eilenberg had been working for the Oneida County Social Services Department. He was just 52.

And a belated obituary notice: Ed Slusarczyk, who joined Utica's WIBX as a farm reporter way back in 1938, left to found WREM (now WADR 1480) in Remsen in 1956, and later founded the Ag Radio Network, died Dec. 29 in New Hartford. He was 84.

*In MASSACHUSETTS, the layoff ax was swinging at CBS' WBZ-TV (Channel 4) in Boston at week's end. We hear that 10 staffers at Channel 4 lost their jobs, including one producer who'd been at the station for more than 30 years and a graphic designer with 25 years' tenure there.

Kevin Redding is exiting the afternoon slot at Greater Media's WROR (105.7 Framingham) after the station declined to renew his contract; he remains on the air until WROR finds a replacement.

Will the operators of the "Touch 106.1" pirate FM station in Roxbury regret the publicity they got in Saturday's Boston Globe? A lengthy feature on the front page of the Living/Arts section praised the station's focus on Boston's black community - and acknowledged that "WTCH" is operating without a license. Its operators claim they can operate legally without one, since they run less than 100 watts. How long until the FCC proves them wrong?

(And we wonder what the "real" WTCH - on AM 960 in bucolic Shawano, Wisconsin - would think about its Boston doppelganger?)

Congratulations to WCAI/WNAN on Cape Cod - the WGBH outlets there have won a duPont/Columbia Award for their series, "The Two Cape Cods," which was broadcast in the spring of 2006.

*A call change in MAINE: Dick Gleason's WCNM (1240 Lewiston) changes to WEZR. No word yet on any format change up there.

On TV, Sinclair and Time Warner have settled a carriage dispute that threatened to take WGME (Channel 13) in Portland off the former Adelphia systems in Maine just before the Super Bowl. A new national deal between the two companies finds Time Warner adding HD signals from WGME and other Sinclair stations (including WUHF here in Rochester), as well as continuing to carry their analog signals.

*A CONNECTICUT college radio station is getting a reprieve. You'll recall that WQAQ (98.1 Hamden) lost its tower over the summer when administrators at Quinnipiac University decided it was an eyesore in the middle of the campus. While they had no immediate plans to provide a new home for WQAQ's antenna, leaving the station silent and in danger of losing its license, friends of the station rallied - and now WQAQ has been granted a CP to move to a new site on the western edge of the campus. (It'll even get a bit of a power increase, from 16 watts/-25 meters to 18 watts/-24 meters.)

*A weekend radio change in RHODE ISLAND: After more than 13 years on the air via the Wheeler School's WELH (88.1 Providence), Rhode Island College is losing its Sunday evening timeslot on the noncommercial station. Brown Student Radio, which already leases evenings the rest of the week, will take over Sunday nights as well. (WELH programs leased-time Spanish much of the rest of the week.)

*In CANADA, the CBC is about to make another round of programming changes on its radio services, especially at Radio Two, where an aging audience is prompting concerns about the network's future. So beginning in March, and continuing over the next year, the mostly classical programming on Radio Two will be joined by an increasing amount of jazz and pop, with a strongly Canadian flavo(u)r to it. Radio One, meanwhile, will lose most of its music programming, and its afternoon "Freestyle" pop culture show will be replaced by a new Toronto-based arts show hosted by Jian Ghomeshi.

In Sarnia, Ontario, CHOK (1070) flipped from oldies to country on January 12. In Brantford, Ontario, we're hearing that January 25 will be the day CKPC (1380) flips the switch on its power increase from 10 kW to 25 kW.

United Christian Broadcasters is getting two new relay transmitters for its CKJJ (100.3 Belleville). Its "UCB Canada" religious programming will be heard on 50-watt transmitters at 100.9 in Cobourg and at 99.9 in Brockville. And speaking of Cobourg, CHUC-FM (107.9) is applying for a power increase. It would jump to 20 kW DA/215.5 meters, resolving some reception problems it's suffered since moving to FM from AM 1450 last year.

More new signals on the air: My Broadcasting's new CJMI (105.7 Strathroy) is testing its signal west of London, with an official launch coming soon. And My's new Napanee entry, on 88.7, now has calls: it'll be CKYM.

And we remember Canada's pioneering TV meteorologist, Percy Saltzman, who died last Monday (Jan. 15) at 91. Saltzman was working for the federal weather service in 1947 when he began providing forecasts for CBC radio, and when CBC TV went on the air five years later, Saltzman was the very first live air talent to be seen on the new service. Saltzman spent 20 years with the CBC before joining CTV as part of the inaugural staff for the new "Canada AM" morning show. In 1974, he moved to the new CITY-TV, and later worked for Global before retiring in 1982. (Just last year, Saltzman put up some wonderful photos and clippings on a new website at

*With that, on to our promised NERW Mini-Rant:

As we headed back home from the WOR tower demolition last weekend, we did what we often do on a long drive - dialing around, listening to what's changed since our last trip along that route, and trying to collect IDs for our even more radio-obsessed pals at It's often a recipe for finding some really bad radio, and this trip didn't disappoint.

There was the little AM station that had dropped its simulcast partner a month earlier, still ID'ing with both frequencies at every break. There was the "Radio Gets Results" promo, all about the value of radio advertising, tagged out with the nicknames of two FM sister stations, and not a word about the AM signal on which it was airing. There was another AM, not too far up the road, running the same segment of a syndicated Broadway show over and over again - then dumping to its usual weekend automation, a few minutes before the top of the hour, and of course running right through the top of the hour with no ID. (This was, I think, the very same station running a painfully overblown anti-satellite-radio ad that painted the satellite services as expensive, unreliable purveyors of nothing but shock talk.) Did I mention that this same station also had network news audio playing right over the automated music for most of the end of that hour?

An hour or two later and a few more miles up the road, there was another AM station with a recently-changed talk format, one whose clock clearly didn't match the automation, which was dumping local IDs in the middle of network talk segments and leaving the appropriate local breaks (including, yep, the top of the hour) in dead air.

Is it any wonder that the rest of the trip home was accompanied by the sweet sounds of the NERW-mobile's CD changer?

Sadly, this sort of "nobody's home" style of broadcasting has become par for the course for many AM signals, not just in the smallest of markets (at least one of these stations was in a top-50 market) and not just on a Sunday afternoon. I'm not even mentioning the call letters or the specific owners of these particular stations, because it's not my intention here to single them out. In fact, the problem is pervasive enough that, in a funny way, it ends up contradicting one of the most strongly-held beliefs of those who argue that ownership consolidation is at the root of all that's wrong with radio today.

We here at NERW have earnestly argued in the past that radio owners would, if limited to only a handful of stations per cluster, pay more attention to each individual station in their portfolio. Alas, one of our "nobody's home" AM signals that Sunday afternoon belonged to a local owner with just four stations, total, under its control. That one, sadly, was indistinguishable from the one that belonged to a small cluster that's part of a small group owner - which was, in turn, hard to tell from the one owned by one of those Big Evil Mega-Groups.

Ironically, our little listening experience came just a few days after another one of the cherished myths of the ownership-consolidation opponents surfaced yet again in the blogosphere. We addressed the story of the Minot, North Dakota train disaster in a NERW Mini-Rant way back in 2003, and we never expected back then that the story would still be getting so much play four years later. But there it is in a new book, and there it is getting debunked yet again by Jack Shafer in a recent Slate column, and there it is getting further exhumed and analyzed in the responses to Shafer's column.

As long as it's out of the grave and lumbering about again, we'll add two more points to our 2003 comments on Minot. First, even without formal re-regulation, the circumstances in Minot have changed. As Shafer notes, there are two new independently-owned FM signals on the air in Minot in the last few years. And as Shafer failed to note, Minot is one of the many small markets that Clear Channel is exiting as it restructures under private ownership. Not all those markets will follow the example of the Upper Valley, right up there at the top of this week's column, and return to local ownership, but some of them will, and that's a good thing.

Second, and it's something we should have noted in greater detail then: even if those Minot radio stations had all been under local ownership that cold January weekend night five years ago, and even if those stations had all had local newspeople on duty at that late hour to answer the phone and get the news of the train derailment on the air immediately - who would have had their radios on and been listening at 1:30 in the morning? (It's interesting how often those who would use Minot to prove a point fail to mention the timing of the disaster; on the other hand, it's far from obvious to us that the level of radio listening in Minot would have been high enough at any time of day to allow a hypothetical broadcast warning to have prevented more injuries or saved a life.)

It seems, at least from this vantage point deep in the trenches of real-world radio in the early 21st century, that many of the critics of broadcast deregulation and consolidation are expecting more from radio than it can be expected to deliver today. Yes, we can dream of a world in which there's always a live body behind the mike of every signal on the dial, playing just the right eclectic mix of local artists, with comprehensive news on the hour and half-hour. What too many of the critics ignore in pursuit of that dream is that radio at its best must also be, at least to some extent, a mass medium; too often, their vision turns out, at its core, to be nothing more than "a station that plays only what I like." That's rarely, if ever, a recipe for a commercial radio station, or even a sizable noncomm, to achieve economic success - and few are the stations that can survive long under those circumstances. (In a world in which we can each have our own customized programming as close as a webstream or an MP3 player, it's a function best served by media other than broadcast radio, anyway.)

At the same time, our Sunday drive across the AM wasteland stands as evidence that too many stations (under all sorts of ownership, corporate and local) are being operated these days with no concern for anything but the bottom line. When the mandate to hold down expenses eats as deeply into the bones of programming as it did at those neglected AM signals, it's a sure sign to whatever listeners might be left that it's time to look elsewhere for something to listen to.

To our ears, perhaps the clearest sign of a lack of vision on the part of some of those operators was that anti-satellite-radio attack ad we heard. As we've been saying for years in our editorials, and as the more farsighted owners we know have long understood, the threat to good local radio comes not from satellite radio but from all the other media vying for consumers' limited attention spans. Sadly, many of the points on which the ad attacked satellite radio - narrow playlists, no personality, generic content - hold just as true of the "local" station on which the ad was running. In the end, the ad (and the content surrounding it) played out more as a trashing of all radio than as an encouragement to listen to "terrestrial" radio, and that does our medium no favors at all. Radio is radio, no matter how it's delivered (see our 2005 Year-End Rant for much more on that point), and it needs all the positive promotion it can get.

We hope there's a middle ground emerging here, as the dust settles from the contraction of the big groups. Even if it's unlikely that the spinning-off of all those smaller Clear Channel and CBS Radio stations will produce another WLNG, WIRY, WJIB or WVOX, to name just a few of the more distinctively local signals in our area, we can hope that the new owners will follow the trails blazed by people like our friends Dennis Jackson and Clark Smidt, who've demonstrated over the years that they know how to keep costs down and create programming that's local, relevant and interesting. You're no more likely to find a live jock answering the phone at 2:30 in the morning on their stations than you would anywhere else in today's radio environment - but you're also not going to hear an entire weekend of automation glitches and double audio.

As we keep driving down the highway of 21st century radio, can we realistically ask for much more than that - and should we have to expect anything less, from any owner?

In the second part of our Mini-Rant (which isn't so "mini" anymore, is it?) next week, we'll dig deeper into the economic realities of radio, 2007-style, as we try to answer some of those questions.

(Your comments are always welcome at nerw at fybush dot com. Be sure to let us know if it's OK to use your name if we print them!)

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 23, 2006 -

  • There aren't many folks alive today who were listening to the radio when the first FM stations lit up the dial in the late thirties. Many of us - your editor included - are too young to have any memory of the first regular color TV broadcasts in the mid-fifties, or of the dawn of FM stereo in the early sixties. So it's a neat thing, we think, to have a front-row seat for the debut of another new medium. While it may not have been immediately apparent to anyone but the tiny handful of HD Radio receiver owners (most of whom are also broadcast engineers or managers, anyway), last Thursday's coordinated announcement of new HD multicast formats from the big groups that are part of the HD Radio Alliance represented the biggest infusion of new radio formats on the dial at one time in history.
  • Clear Channel had its five FMs ready to go on Thursday. Perhaps the biggest news from that cluster was the return of country, on the HD2 channel of WKTU (103.5), which was the city's last full-signal country station back in its WYNY days. WHTZ (100.3) has "new top 40," featuring entire albums from the station's core artists. On WAXQ (104.3), it's "deep tracks," complementing the classic rock on the main channel. WWPR (105.1) has "Power Espanol," adding a Spanish-language flavor to the hip-hop that's on the main channel. And WLTW (106.7) has "Lite Classics," a sort of return to the softer sounds Lite played in its earlier years.
  • In other news from the Empire State, Emmis is losing its market manager for its three New York stations. Barry Mayo, who took over from the legendary Judy Ellis in 2002, has decided not to renew his contract when it expires February 28. He'll remain with WQHT, WRKS and WQCD until a replacement is named, and he says he'll continue to consult the stations as well.
  • Congratulations to WBIX (1060 Natick) - now back under the ownership of Alex Langer, officially, the station turned on its new Broadcast Electronics 4MX50 transmitter (the first in the country) last Wednesday at 8:30 AM. Chief engineer Grady Moates reports that the new box tuned up nicely into the unusual load of the triplexed antenna system (also home to WKOX 1200 and WSRO 650), and that it's sounding, as he'd say, "loud and clean."

January 23, 2002 -

  • The sound of sports talk is coming to southern CONNECTICUT this week, as yet another Clear Channel station ditches the standards format in favor of satellite-delivered talk. This time around, it's WAVZ (1300) in New Haven making the change. As soon as tomorrow (Jan. 24), the 1000-watt station will become "The Zone, Fox Sports Radio 1300," airing the 24-hour Fox Sports feed distributed by Clear Channel's Premiere Radio. WAVZ was already carrying local sports programming that included Ravens AHL hockey; that will continue, but the station doesn't expect to add much more in the way of local talk. The standards continue for New Haven listeners on WQUN (1220 Hamden).
  • Elsewhere in the Nutmeg State, we noted the arrival of some "refugee" call letters from South Florida, buried amidst the FCC's call changes this week. Those would be "WTMI," recently sent packing after decades in Miami, where they were associated with the classical music format on 93.1 FM. Cox Radio turned off the classics in Miami on New Year's Eve, flipping the station to dance as WPYM, "Party 93.1," which opened the door for the folks at Marlin Broadcasting to apply for the WTMI calls for WCCC (1290) in West Hartford. There's a family connection there: Marlin sold WTMI to Cox a few years back, and WTMI's classical programming, from Marlin's Beethoven network, is still heard on 1290, at least after Howard Stern's show is over each morning.
  • Clear Channel picked up another FM in MAINE this week, converting its LMA of Gopher Hill Broadcasting's WQSS (102.5 Camden) into full-fledged ownership for $1.72 million.
  • Down in Portland, Chuck Igo landed on his feet as the new afternoon-drive jock on oldies WYNZ (100.9 Westbrook). Igo, who's always lived in the Portland area during his long career in Boston radio (most recently in overnights on WROR), will keep making the haul down I-95 to do weekend work at the Greater Media cluster in the Hub.
  • We'll begin our NEW YORK report just across the border from Canada, at WWJS (90.1 Watertown), where a dispute that involves the station's operators, the church that supported it and the city of Watertown has taken the religious station silent for now. WWJS is licensed to the Liberty Christian Center, which is hoping to receive tax-exempt status from Watertown. It had been operated by Charles and Karleen Savidge, who are the in-laws of Liberty pastor Steven Bryant, until Bryant locked them out of the 210 Court Street building shared by the church and the radio station. Bryant told Watertown media outlets that he holds the WWJS license; the Savidges say that's impossible, because Bryant is a Canadian citizen. For now, WWJS's equipment remains locked inside the Court Street building and the station remains off the air; we'll keep you posted as this situation heads to court.
  • Over here in Western New York, the voices are about to change on Rochester oldies outlet WBBF (950 Rochester/93.3 Fairport), as PD Bobby Hatfield gets ready to depart the Entercom station. (Under his real name of Joe Reilly, he's the new owner of WHLM 930 down in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, which will inaugurate regular programming next month.) Dave Symonds, who's already operations manager for the Entercom cluster, will assume PD duties for WBBF, while Mike Vickers moves from middays to Hatfield's old afternoon drive slot. Dave Radigan will take over midday and assistant PD duties, we're told.

New England Radio Watch, January 18, 1997

  • The talk radio wars in Hartford have claimed a victim: WPOP (1410) abruptly cancelled all its programming last week, and after a weekend of dance/CHR music, re-emerged Monday (1/13) as "Sports Radio 1410," minus its entire programming staff. The format change comes just on the heels of WPOP's sale to SFX Broadcasting from Multi-Market Communications, which had run the station as a mix of local and satellite talk. Among the shows that originated at WPOP was the syndicated "Judy Jarvis Show," which has shifted production to the Robinson Media Arts Center next to the Connecticut School of Broadcasting in Farmington. Jarvis no longer has a Hartford-area outlet. Jarvis needed to move no matter what, since the WPOP studios in Newington are being sold as part of SFX's consolidation of its many Hartford stations.
  • Yo-ho! Yo-ho! More news from the pirate front: We begin this week with our friends down at "Praise 105.3" in Connecticut, that unlicensed gospel-music station that NERW first noticed about a month ago. It seems "Praise" has been noticed by a few others as well, most notably the folks down at licensed WKND (1480) in Windsor CT, who say they're losing something like $10,000 a month to "Praise." Someone's called the FCC (yes, they really do still exist!), and "Praise 105.3"'s "Sponsor Appreciation Day" on Thursday was marred by the sudden discovery by some of those sponsors that the station they were advertising on is illegal. Marichal Monts, the pastor of the Citadel of Love in Hartford, and a gospel show host on Wesleyan University's WESU (88.1) Middletown, says he's pulling his support from "Praise 105.3." Monts told the Hartford Courant that he knew the station was unlicensed, but didn't realize it was illegal -- and he's "not trying to break the law." The operator of "Praise 105.3," one Mark Blake, refused to answer questions from the Courant. Published reports put the station at 701 Cottage Grove Road in Bloomfield CT, which suggests that the station is probably running over a hundred watts of power, given how good its signal is in Hartford's north, west, and east suburbs.
  • Boston University's public radio station, WBUR (90.9) Boston, is taking yet another step towards 24 hour news and talk. 'BUR is pulling the plug on Tony Cennamo's overnight jazz block. Cennamo is an opinionated host whose views on what does (and doesn't) make good jazz have polarized many in the Boston jazz community. He's also been with 'BUR for what seems like forever. No word on whether anyone else in town will pick up Cennamo's show.
  • And finally this week, a major programming note from NERW Central: After seven years in Boston, I'm picking up the radio and heading west next month. Starting February 3, I'll be the assignment editor of R News, Time Warner's 24-hour cable news channel in Rochester NY. As most of you know, I've spent the past five years as a newswriter and editor at Boston's WBZ, and while it's been an exciting, rewarding place to work, I'm ready for a new challenge -- even if it is TV! (2007 update: But I came back to radio in the end...) Don't panic, though -- NERW will live on. The nice thing about the Internet is that I can use it just as easily from Rochester NY as from Waltham MA. I'll still be getting regular Boston updates from NERW's many friends up here, including Boston Radio Archives co-creator Garrett Wollman and contributing editors Peter George, Donna Halper, and so many others. The scope of this column will change a bit, though -- as we change the name to "North East Radio Watch." You can still call us "NERW" for short, and we'll still cover the goings-on on and off the air in the six New England states. Starting this spring, though, you'll also read about what's happening in upstate New York here in NERW, as I begin re-acquainting myself with the radio dial I grew up with (it was emptier then!)

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*It's here! As seen in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Chicago Sun-Times, and soon on WCVB's "Chronicle," Tower Site Calendar 2007 is not only now shipping - it's close to a sellout! If you're waiting for the 2007 edition to go on clearance sale, don't keep waiting - the word from the shipping department is that fewer than 200 copies remain, and we expect to sell them all in the next month or two.

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 2007 by Scott Fybush.