February 26, 2007
Canada's Astral Buys Standard
TOWER SITE CALENDAR 2007 - SELLING OUT FAST!!!
*While the FCC's commissioners spent Friday
in Harrisburg, PENNSYLVANIA talking about media consolidation
(and staying longer than planned, as big public turnout pushed
the scheduled 2:30 PM ending time to 3:30 PM), a real-life example
of the trend was playing out up north in CANADA.
after the markets closed, Standard Radio and Astral Media, already
two of the largest broadcasters in the country, announced plans
for a C$1.3 billion sale that will put Standard's 52 radio stations
in the hands of Astral, creating the largest privately-owned
radio group in Canada.
For Astral, the purchase will finally take the company's radio
holdings national, expanding beyond its current footprint in
Quebec and the Maritimes. It's a goal Astral has had for some
time, including an unsuccessful bid for CHUM Limited last summer.
For Standard, it marks the end of 22 years of Slaight family
ownership. (The family will retain Standard's other assets, including
a share in Sirius Canada.)
The merger gives Astral a toehold in Toronto, where Standard
owns news-talk CFRB (1010), soft AC "EZ Rock" CJEZ
(97.3) and hot AC CKFM (99.9), as well as a new presence in Hamilton,
London, and most of Canada's major western markets.
It also creates new
clusters in Ottawa/Gatineau, where Standard's CKQB (106.9 the
Bear) joins Astral's "Energie" CKTF (104.1) and "Rock
Detente" CIMF (94.9), and most dramatically in Montreal,
where Standard's English-language news-talk CJAD (800), AC CJFM
(Mix 95.9) and rock CHOM (97.7) join Astral's "Rock Detente"
CITE (107.3), "Energie" CKFM (94.3), as well as rimshot
"Boom FM" outlets CFEI (106.5 St.-Hyacinthe) and CFZZ
(104.1 St.-Jean-sur-Richelieu). Will the CRTC mandate a sale
of some of those overlapping signals?
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*There's plenty more news from north of the border this week,
including a new station on the air in Montreal.
from "Radio Shalom,"
CJRS (1650), have been widely heard by DXers in the eastern US
and as far afield as Scotland. When the station begins regular
programming soon, it will feature a lineup of shows aimed at
the Jewish community, as well as several other ethnic groups.
Another Canadian ethnic X-bander, Spanish-language CHHA (1610
Toronto), has reportedly returned to the air from its new transmitter
site at the Port of Toronto.
The CRTC granted Bayshore Broadcasting a new signal in Goderich,
Ontario. The new 5.3 kW "classic AC" station on 104.9
will join Bayshore's existing 1 AM/2 FM cluster in Owen Sound
and its FM in Port Elgin. Speaking of the Owen Sound cluster,
Bob Wallace and Diana Meder take over in mornings at "Mix"
More new station grants: FormationPLUS has been granted a
new 40-watt signal on 95.9 in Chapleau, Ontario, simulcasting
CHYC (98.9 Sudbury).
In Oshawa, CKDO (1580) has been granted a power boost for
its FM relay. CKDO-FM-1 (and shouldn't that be CKDO-1-FM, really?)
will go from 250 watts, nondirectional, to 2 kW DA (average ERP
665 watts) to help it overcome co-channel interference on 107.7
from WLKK (107.7 Wethersfield NY) across Lake Ontario.
In Lennoxville, Quebec, CJMQ (88.9) applies to boost power
from 500 watts to 1.67 kW/108 m, with a change from "class
B" to "class A" community radio status. In its
application, CJMQ notes that with the demise of CKTS (900 Sherbrooke)
last year, it's now the only independent English-language voice
in the Sherbrooke/Estrie region.
In Hamilton, Ontario, CHML (900) veteran Roy Green will retire
at the end of March. Green joined the station in 1973, and for
the last 17 years he's been the host of the midmorning "Roy
Green Show." CHML says it hopes to find a way to keep Green
on the station on at least an occasional basis after his retirement.
*Crossing the border to upstate NEW YORK,
we can now put a price tag on the deal between EMF Broadcasting
and Galaxy Broadcasting, which turns out to involve a third Galaxy
station. In addition to the two Albany-market FMs that flipped
from "Bone" rock to EMF's satellite-delivered religious
formats last week (WBOE 94.5 Ravena to "K-Love," WOOB
93.7 Scotia to "Air One"), EMF's $3.65 million purchase
from Galaxy also includes Syracuse-market WSCP-FM (101.7 Pulaski),
which is heard in Syracuse via translator W267AL (101.3).
WSCP-FM dropped its
classic country format late last week and flipped to contemporary
Christian "K-Love," creating a network of "K-Love"
outlets along the Thruway that now stretches from Rochester's
WKDL (104.9 Brockport) through Syracuse to WKVU (100.7 Utica)
and the Albany stations.
And what of WSCP (1070 Sandy Creek), the erstwhile AM simulcast
of WSCP-FM? When we tuned in Sunday afternoon, it had flipped
from classic country to a simulcast of Galaxy classic rocker
WTKW (99.5 Bridgeport)/WTKV (105.5 Oswego), "TK 99 and TK
While Don Imus' morning show is gone from the Albany market,
he's found a new affiliate to the north. WWSC (1450 Glens Falls)
began carrying Imus' show earlier this month.
Downstate, veteran Long Island morning man
Steve Harper has found a new job. The former WBLI (106.1 Patchogue)
jock, who turned down a gig across Long Island Sound at Cox's
WEZN-FM (99.9 Bridgeport), will instead head for the East End,
where he's the new PD of WBEA (101.7 Southold) and afternoon
jock at sister stations WEHM (92.9 Southampton)/WEHN (96.9 East
Jim Somich was better known for his long
career in radio engineering in Northeast Ohio, but he made his
mark on the New York City scene as well, when Malrite brought
him to town in 1983 as the first chief engineer of WHTZ (100.3
Newark NJ). Somich worked closely with Scott Shannon, Frank Foti
and other big names to create the "Z100 sound," and
he was one of the engineers involved in the design and planning
of the ERI master antenna and combiner at the Empire State Building
before he returned to Cleveland and Malrite's WHK/WMMS/WOIO(TV)
later in the eighties. Somich died last week in Cleveland, at
65, leaving a big void in the engineering community there.
*In PENNSYLVANIA, CBS is getting ready to
vacate the Independence Mall building that's been home to KYW
(1060) and KYW-TV (Channel 3) since the early seventies, and
more recently to WYSP (94.1) and WPSG (Channel 57) as well.
The radio stations are moving a block away, to 400 Market
Street (is that close enough to keep using the "From Independence
Mall" stagers on Newsradio 1060?), and the TV stations are
moving to the huge office building at 1500 Spring Garden Street.
Some business offices have already moved, and the last of the
studio and newsroom operations should be gone from Independence
Mall by mid-March, we're told. The KYW building at Fifth and
Market will be demolished and replaced by a new museum of American
Jewish history, scheduled to open in 2010.
Radio People on the Move: Production goddess Lucy St. James,
late of Radio One and before that with WEGX and Schenectady's
WGFM, has landed a new job as production director at Clear Channel's
Philadelphia cluster. Meanwhile, former WIOQ (102.1) APD/MD Marian
Newsome-McAdam has landed as music director of Beasley's WRDW-FM
Just across the line in DELAWARE, the all-but-inevitable
ax fell on Friday at WILM (1450 Wilmington), the unusual small-city
all-news station that hung on with a remarkably large newsroom
staff even after its sale to Clear Channel a couple of years
back. Five members of WILM's news staff - veterans Joe Backer
and Wayne Aikens, along with Ted Efaw, Jason Hinchcliff and Natalie
Sannutti - lost their jobs Friday, just days after WILM moved
from its home of 33 years at 1215 French Street to new suburban
digs at 920 W. Basin Road in New Castle, shared with sister stations
WRDX (94.7 Dover) and WWTX (1290 Wilmington), which moved from
Philadelphia Pike in Claymont, Delaware.
Over on the western edge of the Keystone State, Harold Glunt's
WEXC (107.1 Greenville) has been granted a change of antenna
height. It'll go from 3 kW/328' to 2.1 kW/391' at its existing
tower site in Shenango, PA.
And in Erie, they're mourning Kenneth Husband, former chief
engineer at WICU radio and television. Husband stayed with the
radio side, which became WRIE (1330), when radio and TV split
in the sixties, and remained the station's chief engineer until
it was sold in 1989. Husband died Feb. 20 at age 80.
*In NEW JERSEY, Greater Media is applying
for a bit of a power increase at WDHA (105.5 Dover). The rock
station hopes to boost its power from 1 kW to 2 kW, though a
directional antenna that will limit its signal to its current
strength in the directions of WDAS-FM (105.3 Philadelphia) and
WDBY (105.5 Patterson NY) means the power increase will only
improve WDHA's signal toward the Jersey Shore and to the northwest.
*A veteran MASSACHUSETTS program director
is heading west. Max Tolkoff is leaving the PD chair of WFNX
(101.7 Lynn) to take over as PD of Entravision's LA-market "Indie
103.1" (KDLD 103.1 Santa Monica/KDLE 103.1 Huntington Beach).
Tolkoff will continue to consult WFNX, where APD/afternoon jock
Keith Dakin will take over as PD.
*In MAINE, Mountain Wireless' WFMX
(107.9 Skowhegan) has been granted a power increase. "Mix
107.9" will go from its present 5.98 kW/666' C3 signal to
15 kW/666' as a C2 from its existing site near Norridgewock,
improving its signal to the south into Augusta and Gardiner.
CONNECTICUT, Entravision's Univision affiliate, WUVN (Channel
18), is flexing its "must-carry" muscles, moving to
channel 18 on most of the Hartford-New Haven market's Comcast
systems after being scattered on a variety of channel positions.
*Two new sets of calls in
VERMONT: John Fuller's new 97.5 in Bristol, serving the
Burlington market, will be WTNN. And up north along the Connecticut
River, Barry Lunderville's new 93.7 signal, which is applying
to move from Groveton, NEW HAMPSHIRE to Lunenburg, Vermont,
takes the calls WXBN.
And we've been remiss in not making note of the death earlier
this month of Charlie Liese, who joined the staff of Burlington's
WCAX in 1954 to supervise the construction of its new TV station,
WMVT (Channel 3), atop Mount Mansfield. Liese served as chief
transmitter operator at WMVT/WCAX-TV from the station's sign-on
until 1972, when he became the station's chief engineer, a post
he held until his retirement twenty years later. Liese's earlier
career included World War II service in the Air Force and several
years as a flight radio officer for Pan Am's trans-Atlantic service.
Liese died Feb. 4 in Berlin, Vermont; he was 84.
*With that, on with the second part of the NERW
Rant that we started a month ago:
When we left off a few weeks ago, this space was bemoaning
the lack of vision displayed by too many radio operators, large
and small. Whether under giant corporate control or small local
ownership, we're hearing too many radio stations that are just
treading water, keeping a transmitter on the air without bringing
anything new or useful to the airwaves, and in a few cases operating
with so little attention to detail as to be literally unlistenable.
To add insult to injury, it's most often those same stations
that are filling unsold air time (of which there's plenty) with
well-meaning industry ad campaigns that promote HD Radio and
bash satellite radio, most of which has the unintended effect
of turning listeners off to anything branded as "radio."
And there's an interesting trend that we're just beginning
to see as we review radio station sales around our region: for
the first time in many years, the prices of some radio stations
are beginning to decline. It's not a universal trend, and it's
certainly not affecting the biggest markets in the region, but
it's showing up both in small towns and larger cities, and we
believe it sends a message about the effects of this "make-do"
radio over the long term.
The message? Stations that invest in stable, high-quality,
locally-focused programming are holding their value when it comes
time for a sale, while stations with less well-defined identities
are often being sold for considerably less in 2007 than their
sellers may have paid during the boom years earlier in the decade.
We know of one cluster in a fairly important market somewhere
in NERW-land with two identical full-market FM signals, one of
which is being offered for twice the price of the other - simply
because it comes with an established identity that's been built
over 20 years of service to its community.
We'll take that concept one step further: the stations that
continue to command premium prices in an otherwise flat market
are doing so, we'd contend, precisely because they're not succumbing
to the fear that seems to have gripped so much of the industry
in the last few years.
It's true that the media universe is changing quickly and
dramatically. It's true that many of the new technologies out
there - not just satellite radio and portable music players,
but the inevitable arrival of near-universal mobile high-speed
broadband, making any stream available to anyone anywhere - pose
serious threats to much of today's radio landscape. Stations
with little or no local connection to their listeners are right
to be afraid of what's coming down the road, and the market is
appropriately reducing their value.
But there's a smaller subset of radio stations that will survive,
thrive and even continue to add value for their owners, and they
do it precisely by not being afraid of the future. Whether
it's WYRK in Buffalo (which helped CBS Radio pull in a record
price when it sold its cluster of stations there), WENT in Gloversville,
WDEV in Waterbury or WBZ in Boston, these stations have made
an investment in the people needed to make good community radio,
and by extension in their communities themselves.
(That, by the way, is about the only common thread among this
diverse group of "stations that get it" - just like
our poster children for sloppy radio in the first part of our
Rant, these stations run the gamut of format, market size and
ownership size. The only other common factor here is patience
- none of these stations is a member of the "format of the
month" club, and most have built their identities over the
course of many years, if not many decades.)
What's more, because the value of these stations lies as much
in the content they generate as in the spectrum they occupy,
which gives them even less reason to fear whatever the future
brings. We've already seen some of these stations in other parts
of the country successfully transplant their heritage from AM
to FM, as Bonneville in particular has demonstrated with its
launches of news-talk FMs in Washington, Salt Lake City and Phoenix.
Some of our "stations that get it" are using their
strength in over-the-air content to build web content that's
more than just gimmicky - again, we point to WBZ, where Carl
Stevens is taking his many years of experience as a radio reporter
and using it to create short videos for the station's website.
That sort of content will transfer seamlessly to whatever
medium comes next, and it will keep building value in the meantime,
while we all wait to find out what that medium might be.
Next week - some concluding thoughts on what the latest round
of station sales, and the dramatic change in station values,
might mean when it comes to creating more new "stations
that get it."
(And as always, we welcome your thoughts at rant at fybush
dot com - let us know if it's OK to use your name when we present
reader reaction in an upcoming issue of NERW.)
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!)
February 27, 2006 -
- It's been a turbulent time for sports radio in eastern MASSACHUSETTS
- and it's not getting any quieter any time soon. The last few
months have brought the launch of ESPN Radio on WAMG (890 Dedham)/WLLH
(1400 Lowell and Lawrence); staff changes, new transmitters and
the impending end of the Red Sox contract at WEEI (850 Boston);
the return of Eddie Andelman at WTKK (96.9 Boston) - and now
the third all-sports player, WWZN (1510 Boston), is officially
up for sale, along with the rest of its parent company, The Sporting
- The company's billionaire owner, Paul Allen, confirmed last
week that he's hired an investment firm to review several offers
that he's received to sell the company, which includes the flagship
magazine as well as Sporting News Radio (formerly One-on-One
Sports) and its three stations, WWZN, WSNR (620 Jersey City NJ-New
York City) and KMPC (1540 Los Angeles). WSNR dropped most Sporting
News Radio programming several years ago and now runs leased-time
ethnic programming, and WWZN let most of its local staff (including
Andelman) go last year. (It also lost its flagship sports franchise,
the Celtics, to WEEI's sister station WRKO.)
- Does a nation still coming to terms with the impending loss
of UPN and The WB really need another new TV network? Whether
or not it does, it's getting one - at least in NEW YORK and nine
other markets where Fox Television Stations needs something to
fill the prime-time slots about to be left empty by the demise
of UPN. Fox will replace UPN on WWOR (Channel 9) with something
called "My Network TV," a mini-network that will launch
with two English-language "telenovelas," an attempt
to translate the success of that format in the Spanish TV world,
where nightly hour-long dramas that run for several months at
a stretch are a programming staple.
- And there's a new station on the air in CANADA's capital
city. Evanov's CJWL (98.5 Ottawa) signed on last Monday (Feb.
20) at 10 AM. It's running a soft AC/standards format as "Jewel
98.5," with a 700-watt signal that doesn't reach much beyond
the city itself. The station's studios are located at 124 York
Street in Ottawa's Byward Market area, just a couple of blocks
away from CHUM's MediaMarketMall and right across from the former
studios of CHEZ (106.1).
February 25, 2002 -
- A pair of station sales in NEW HAMPSHIRE and VERMONT top
this week's brief report, as Saga adds four more outlets to its
New England cluster and Tele-Media further shrinks in the region.
The properties in question are the venerable AM/FM combos of
WKVT in Brattleboro, Vermont and WKNE in Keene, New Hampshire;
the former consisting of a 1 kW news-talk graveyarder on 1490
and a class-A rocker on 92.7, the latter of news-talk on 1290
and the big-signal CHR on 103.7. The price tag? Saga will pay
$9.08 million to add the Brattleboro-Keene stations to a group
that includes nearby holdings in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts
and Manchester, N.H. Will the AMs join the three-station simulcast
that includes WHMP in Northampton? We'll keep you posted...
- Not much to report from MASSACHUSETTS, except for the effort
on Beacon Hill to persuade the NFL to allow WBCN (104.1) and
WEEI (850) to present the rebroadcasts of the Super Bowl play-by-play
they'd hoped to offer the week after the Patriots' big win. The
NFL stepped in and barred WBCN from rerunning the Gil Santos/Gino
Cappelletti call, as well as preventing WEEI from presenting
the Westwood One national call that was never heard in Boston;
now state lawmakers want to urge the NFL to change its mind and
allow the broadcasts.
- We'll start our NEW YORK news with the conclusion of the
auction for channel 51 in Pittsfield, Mass., which will serve
the Albany market when it signs on. Venture Technologies won
the station with a $1,323,000 bid; its down payment is due March
4, with a completed application for a construction permit due
to the FCC March 20.
- Down in New York City, Pete Fornatale was off the air at
WFUV (90.7) for the past two weekends, as he negotiates his future
with the Fordham University-owned public radio station. Fornatale
is apparently upset about criticism he received from station
management for political comments he made on his February 9 "Mixed
Bag" show; he's also negotiating for extra money for the
Web archives of the show, we hear.
February 28, 1997-
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- Two of Boston's largest FM stations
have new owners. CBS is trading WBOS (92.9 Brookline-Boston)
and WOAZ (99.5 Lowell-Boston), along with WMMR (93.3 Philadelphia)
to Greater Media, in even exchange for Greater's KLSX (97.1 Los
Angeles) and KRLA (1110 Pasadena-Los Angeles). CBS was under
Justice Department orders to sell WBOS and WMMR, as part of its
purchase of Infinity. WOAZ simply went along with the deal, just
as it did when Infinity acquired it from Granum just a few years
ago. No immediate format changes are expected at AAA WBOS or
at smooth jazz "Oasis," which now form a group with
AC WMJX (106.7), oldies WROR-FM (105.7 Framingham-Boston), country
WKLB-FM (96.9), and WNFT (1150). WNFT is in search of a new format,
following the demise of KidStar, the Seattle-based childrens'
network that had been leasing 1150 for some four months. KidStar
folded abruptly last week, sending 1150 back to its default mode
of simulcasting 96.9 until someone else signs up to lease it.
Rumor has it that rival kids' programer Radio AAHS is contemplating
a deal for 1150.
- We now know what Salem will call AM
1260, the former WEZE Boston. The new calls are WPZE, for "Praise
1260." The WEZE calls move to 590, the former WBNW. Both
stations are still simulcasting for the moment, but separate
programming for 1260 is expected soon.
- Squeaking through: WRPT (650 Ashland
MA) made it on the air with just hours to spare before the February
9 deadline for keeping its license. Like sister station WJLT
(ex-WBIV) 1060 Natick, WRPT is operating from one tower of the
WKOX (1200) site on Mount Wayte Avenue in Framingham. WRPT is
running the "Talk America #2" network programming for
now. Also back in time were WEAV (960 Plattsburgh NY), which
is being leased by crosstown WZBZ (1070) to simulcast its talk
programming, and WAUB (1590 Auburn NY), which is simulcasting
WLLW 93.7 Clyde NY for now. We don't know the fates of WHWB (970
Rutland VT), WEGP (1390 Presque Isle ME), or WSCP (1070 Sandy
Creek NY) -- and we'd like to hear from anyone who does! Dead
and gone are WQQW (1590 Waterbury CT) and WLNG (1600 Sag Harbor
- Rhode Island's got something to dance
to: WDGF (100.3 Middletown) has dropped its simulcast of WDGE
(99.7 Wakefield-Peace Dale, "The Edge") to become dance
music "The Beat." WDGF is the former smooth jazz WOTB;
it had been simulcasting WDGE for only a year or so.
*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 Fybush.com
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
2007 by Scott Fybush.