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October 22, 2007

More AM Uncertainty in NYC, Boston


*If NEW YORK radio listeners - at least those who listen to WABC (770) in the mornings - are a little confused this week, we don't blame them. After all, it's been a week now since the Drudge Report "confirmed" that Don Imus would be heading to WABC for morning drive, beginning December 3.

That would mean the end of the Curtis (Sliwa) and (Ron) Kuby morning show that's become a fixture on WABC, and indeed, Kuby signed off last Monday by saying what sounded like a farewell to his audience...except that no official announcement of the change followed, and indeed, a week later there's still been no confirmation from Citadel management that it's bringing Imus back to the airwaves, or that Kuby's really gone from the station.

Is Imus really coming to WABC? Probably...but we'd expect a more coordinated announcement from Citadel than what we're seeing so far, if only to provide Kuby a more dignified exit. (Sliwa will stay with WABC, says the rumor mill, perhaps in what's now John Gambling's midday slot.)

Out on Long Island, translator W245BA (96.9 Manorville) has changed primaries - instead of WLIR (107.1), it's now relaying Spanish tropical WBON (98.5 Westhampton).

In Binghamton, more than 175 current and former broadcasters - and special surprise guest Chubby Checker - attended the Binghamton Broadcasters Reunion Saturday night. Stay tuned - we'll have photos and stories from the big event in next week's issue. (We'd have been there ourselves, if not for a certain big game at Fenway Park that evening...)

Poughkeepsie's WKIP (1450) is taking another stab at the news-talk format, several years after flipping to standards. The all-syndication lineup includes Pittsburgh's Quinn and Rose in morning drive, as well as Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity and Michael Savage.

With former PD/morning host Paul Vandenburgh heading over to the competition (Regent's WTMM 1300), Pamal's WROW (590 Albany) has picked a replacement: former WGY talker Scott Allen Miller, most recently heard in mornings at Boston's WRKO, comes to WROW to direct programming and host the morning show.

Where are they now? Dave Mason, whose memories of his days at WSAY in Rochester we recently chronicled on Tower Site of the Week, has moved on from Clear Channel in San Diego (where he was doing mornings at KOGO) to the San Diego Union-Tribune's, where he's the station manager and morning man for the new SignOn Radio, which is being billed as the first newspaper in the country to offer a full-time webcast. (Thanks to our buddy Chris Carmichael over at for catching this one for us!)


Think the arrival of the new phone book is an exciting time of year? (We do, actually, with apologies to Steve Martin, but that's not the point.)

Here's a really exciting spot on the calendar - in fact, it is the calendar. Yes, the 2008 Tower Site Calendar is back from the printer and ready for shipping all over the US and beyond.

This year's edition is a particularly fine one, if we do say so ourselves. From the cover photo of KAST in Astoria, Oregon to the back cover shot of the Blaw-Knox diamond tower at WBNS in Columbus, this year's calendar features 14 all-new full-color shots of famous broadcast sites far and wide. There's KROQ in Los Angeles, KFBK in Sacramento, WESX in Salem, WGAN in Portland, Black Mountain in Vegas, Mount Spokane in Spokane, and many (ok, several) more.

If you've been following our adventures, you know that the 2006 and 2007 editions of the calendar sold out. If you've been following postal rates and the cost of printing, you know they've both gone up.

Even so, we still think this year's edition is a bargain - just $18 with shipping and handling included.

Or better yet, beat our move to mandatory subscriptions (also coming later this fall) and get a free calendar with your $60 subscription to NERW for 2008. (Remember, the proceeds from both the calendar and the subscriptions help keep NERW right here on the web, as we head into our fourteenth year of news and analysis.)

So click right here and you can be one of the first to have your very own Tower Site Calendar 2008! (And thank you!)

*It's not just the Curtis/Kuby/Imus transition that's not going quite the way it was meant to go - in MASSACHUSETTS, Howie Carr continues to fight the ruling that's preventing him from making the jump from Entercom's WRKO (680) to Greater Media's WTKK (96.9). Earlier last week, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Allen van Gestel ruled in Entercom's favor, saying it had the legal right to match WTKK's offer, and thus to keep Carr's services locked up until 2012.

Carr and his legal team are appealing the ruling; Carr's not returning to WRKO willingly; and in the meantime both WRKO's afternoon shift (hosted, for the moment, by Todd Feinburg) and WTKK's morning drive (where Michael Graham is holding forth for now) remain in limbo. (With, we'd note, the looming question of a new Boston home for Imus if he does indeed return to syndication - could that be WRKO's cue to cut its losses on the flailing Tom Finneran morning show and install former WTKK fixture Imus in its morning slot?)

Amidst all the turmoil at Entercom Boston, there's one morning host whose position is stable as can be: Greg Hill has signed up for another five years in morning drive on WAAF (107.3 Westborough), with no walkouts, lockouts or lawsuits needed. (Congratulations...)

Down the hall from WAAF, Entercom's "Mike FM" (WMKK 93.7 Lawrence) is going commercial-free on weekday mornings; it'll run without spot breaks (but possibly with other sponsor announcements) from 9 AM until noon each day.

A schedule shift today at WBUR-FM (90.9 Boston): Fresh Air and Day to Day swap places on the weekday lineup, with Fresh Air moving to 1 PM and Day to Day taking the 3 PM slot leading into All Things Considered.

Over at Boston Radio Watch, there's word that WWZN (1510 Boston) is now leasing out its overnight hours to "Brother Stair," the South Carolina-based preacher who's heard all over the shortwave dial.

Out on the Cape, there's the start of an airstaff at the revived "Cape 104" (WKPE 103.9 South Yarmouth): Steve Binder is doing mornings, with Shaylene Jackson in afternoons.

In Springfield, Chris Kellogg is the new morning man at WMAS-FM (94.7), where he replaces Paul Cannon (who also served as PD there). Kellogg, who'll work alongside Dina McMahon and Logan Lopez on the "Kellogg Krew," moves north from Cox's WCTZ (96.7 Stamford CT), where Tommy Vas has moved from afternoons to temporarily replace him in mornings.

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*In PENNSYLVANIA, there's a new PD at WIP (610 Philadelphia), as former WYSP'er Andy Bloom returns to the radio business to take the seat vacated not long ago by Tom Lee.

Route 81 Radio did indeed flip WNAK (730 Nanticoke) from standards to Spanish last Monday, turning it into a simulcast of Spanish tropical WCDL (1440 Carbondale) as "Caliente."

Up in Du Bois, WDBA (107.3) ended more than three decades of independent Christian broadcasting last Monday, when the station changed hands from the Du Bois Area Broadcasting Company to upstate New York-based Family Life Ministries, which has turned WDBA (and its Clearfield translator at 103.7) into a simulcast of its region-wide Family Life Network.

*There's a new PD at one of MAINE's biggest stations: Matthew Jeff moves across the state line from WNHW (93.3 Belmont NH) to take the PD chair at Saga's WPOR (101.9 Portland); he fills the seat left vacant by Harry Nelson when he retired over the summer.

Over in Standish, St. Joseph's College has surrendered the license to its FM station - so cross WSJB (91.5 Standish) off your lists. (NERW wonders whether any astute noncommercial operators up that way caught the chance to apply for a new 91.5 in the application window that ends this afternoon...)

*Most of the commercial radio stations in Rutland, VERMONT are now operating from a single studio/office location, now that Pamal has completed its move of WSYB (1380 Rutland) and WZRT (97.1 Rutland) from the WSYB transmitter site on Dorr Drive to the Opera House studios that began as the home of WJJR (98.1 Rutland) and later added WJEN (94.5 Rutland) and WEBK (105.3 Killington).

The Dorr Drive facility will continue to house the WSYB transmitter, of course, as well as storage space for Pamal.

Over in the Upper Valley, we've been remiss in not mentioning the format change at WMXR (93.9 Woodstock) that replaced "Rock 93.9 & 101.7" with news and talk as "93.9 the Pulse," a sister station to WTPL (107.7) over in Concord, NEW HAMPSHIRE. The talk format includes a local morning show with Greg Fennell, Glenn Beck, the Gardner Goldsmith show from WTPL, WMUR-TV news simulcasts and Red Sox baseball. The rock format, including the Manchester-based "Morning Buzz" show, continues, for now, on WVRR (101.7 Newport NH) - but that's likely temporary, with WVRR moving to 101.9 in the Keene market sometime soon.

*A studio move in RHODE ISLAND: Davidson's WKKB (100.3 Middletown) has relocated from 1185 North Main Street in Providence (still home to silent WALE 990 Greenville, at least in theory); it's now the eighth radio station to be housed at 75 Oxford Street, where three broadcast companies now rent space. (The other two are Clear Channel, with four stations, and Hall, with three.)

*In CANADA, an AM-to-FM move has yielded a new format in Kingston, Ontario. CFFX-FM (104.3) had been testing for a month or so before turning on a simulcast of oldies CFFX (960) two weekends ago) - and then last Monday, it launched for real with an AC format as "Lite 104.3 FM."

Milkman UnLimited reports that the former CFFX air staff, including Dave Holmes and Ray Bergstrom, remain on the air. The AM signal's still on the air for now, too, simulcasting "Lite" until it signs off for good in a few weeks' time.

Radio listeners in the Bolton-Caledon area of Peel Region, northwest of Toronto, will soon have some new listening choices. Rick Sargent, who operates tourist information station CFGM (102.7 Caledon), has won CRTC permission to begin running advertising on that station - and to open another station, on 105.5 in Bolton, that will offer an "eclectic adult contemporary" format.

The CBC wants to expand the reach of its Radio Two network into western Nova Scotia: it's applying for a new transmitter in Yarmouth, with 48.2 kW DA/139.5 m on 98.5, that will relay CBH-FM (102.7 Halifax).

And some callsign fun in Toronto: some sharp-eyed folks in the DX community noticed something we didn't - a call change for the venerable CKFM (99.9 Toronto), which filed to pick up the CFMX calls that were dropped when Moses Znaimer bought "Classical 96.3" and renamed it CFMZ. Turns out the call change that would have put "Mix" calls on "Mix 99.9" was never implemented, because of potential confusion between the two Toronto signals come ratings time. So it's still CKFM on the books (and even on the air, occasionally.)

*Oh, and one more thing...GO SOX!!! (We have a reputation to maintain here in this column, after all...)

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!)

October 23, 2006 -

  • The AM dial in CANADA just keeps getting emptier - at least everywhere outside its biggest cities. Last week, three more AM signals in eastern Canada applied to move to FM, even as three other applicants filed for new AM signals in Toronto and Montreal.
  • The AM-to-FM moves first: CHUM Ltd. wants to get off the AM dial in Peterborough and Kingston, Ontario. In Peterborough, it's hoping to move CKPT (1420) to 99.3, with 17 kW DA (5.7 kW average ERP)/91.5 meters, while in Kingston it wants to move CKLC (1380) to 98.9, with 15 kW DA (8.7 kW average ERP)/132.3 meters. If approved by the CRTC after a hearing December 18, the moves would leave each city with one AM (Corus' CKRU 980 and CFFX 960, respectively), and would give CHUM three FM signals in Peterborough (counting CKLY in Lindsay) and two in Kingston.
  • The December 18 hearing will also include three applications for new AM signals: Radio Humsafar wants 1400 in Montreal, with 1 kW; S.S. TV Inc. wants 1650 in Brampton, Ontario, with 1 kW day/680 watts night; and Neeti P. Ray wants 1650 in Mississauga, Ontario, with 1 kW. All three of these stations would be multi-ethnic.
  • In western MASSACHUSETTS, they've been wondering for a while about the status of WVEI-FM (105.5 Easthampton), the Springfield move-in that will become the newest relay of Boston's all-sports WEEI whenever it finally gets on the air from Mount Tom. Now there's a date - WEEI has been promoting October 26 as sign-on day for 105.5.
  • Greater Media picked up the WJJZ calls and smooth jazz format abandoned by Clear Channel in eastern PENNSYLVANIA - and now it's picking up the PD, too. Michael Tozzi programmed the old WJJZ (106.1 Philadelphia) from 2001 until its flip to rhythmic AC in August. Now he'll join the new WJJZ (97.5 Burlington NJ) for its November launch, serving both as PD and as midday jock.

October 21, 2002 -

  • Like it or loathe it, Ibiquity's "HD Radio" system now has the official blessing of the FCC (all day for FM, daytime only for AM) -- and New York's WOR (710) couldn't wait to be first in the country to sign on with the system.
  • FCC approval came Thursday, October 10, and when the sun rose over New Jersey the next morning, "WOR-HD" was on the air, to decidedly mixed reviews. Since receivers for the digital system aren't yet available, the initial reaction came from analog listeners. At least among the trained ears of the medium-wave DX community, the initial reports suggested that WOR's analog audio, constrained by the bandwidth requirements of the digital signal, sounded much thinner than usual. And since the "in-band, on-channel" system actually utilizes bandwidth from adjacent channels as well, there were immediate reports of significant digital hash as far down the dial as 690 kHz and as far up as 730 kHz. We'll have more thoughts in the weeks to come about the viability of the "HD Radio" system for AM, in particular where night service is concerned...stay tuned.
  • We'll go to PENNSYLVANIA next, and we'll start right at the western edge of the state, where WAKZ (95.9 Sharpsville) will get to double power to 6 kW as part of a three-way deal with other stations near its frequency in adjoining parts of Ohio. WNPQ-FM (95.9 New Philadelphia OH) will go up to 4.1 kW and WEEL (95.7 Shadyside OH) will go from a class A to a class B1 operation with 6.75 kW. What's behind it all? Clear Channel, mostly; WAKZ is the Youngstown market "Kiss" station and WEEL is part of the company's Wheeling cluster, and CC was happy to sign off on a bit more interference to its WAKS (96.5 Akron) and WKST-FM (96.1 Pittsburgh) in exchange for more power in each market.
  • The real "more power" winner this week was WAMO-FM (106.7 Beaver Falls), which left behind its old tower overlooking Beaver Falls (still in use by former sister station WBVP 1230) in favor of a new site in Wexford, along I-79 north of target market Pittsburgh. WAMO lost some Pittsburgh audience a few years back when it traded away its huge signal on 105.9 to Clear Channel (it's now modern rock WXDX) in exchange for the Beaver Falls stick, which served Youngstown better than Pittsburgh most days; this move will help the urban station get its signal back to the neighborhoods it's targeting anyway.

October 23, 1997-

  • We'll start, for a change, up in MAINE, where an out-of-state broadcaster is buying into the Bangor and Augusta markets in a big way. Cumulus Broadcasting, which owns 8 AMs and 27 FMs in the midwest, is picking up rocker WTOS (105.1) Skowhegan from Mountain Wireless, and country WQCB (106.5) Bangor and CHR WBZN (107.3) Old Town-Bangor from Castle Broadcasting. Mountain Wireless keeps its other Skowhegan properties (sports simulcast WSKW 1160/WHQO 107.9 and AC WCTB 93.5 Fairfield). WTOS has long been a dominant station in much of central Maine, with a potent signal from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain (hence the "TOS" calls and the "Mountain of Rock" nickname) that reaches Augusta, Bangor, and south almost to Portland. WQCB, better known as "Q106", is the market-leading country station in Bangor, while WBZN ("Z107.3") is an up-and-coming CHR outlet.
  • Don Imus made the rounds of his Maine affilaiates this week, stirring the controversy over his Bangor affiliate's aborted plan to decorate a local landmark in his honor. WWMJ (95.7 Ellsworth) was denied permission to put a "Welcome to Bangor, Mr. Imus!" T-shirt on the giant statue of Paul Bunyan downtown. To prevent future disputes, Bangor city leaders have now banned all clothing on city-owned statues in the future...and Imus devoted a chunk of Tuesday's show in Bangor to ribbing the mayor and other officials about the decision. Imus also visited Portland affiliate WZAN (970), broadcasting from there on Wednesday.
  • Moving west to NEW HAMPSHIRE, Concord's RadioWorks group is expanding its regional reach with the purchase of WNHQ (92.1) in Peterborough. WNHQ will drop its current AC format on November 3 to become a simulcast of adult CHR WJYY (105.5 Concord). The staions will be known on-air as "New Hampshire's Hottest Hits, 105-5 JYY and 92-1 NHQ." This will be RadioWorks' second Granite State simulcast; classic rockers WNHI (93.3 Belmont) and WRCI (107.7 Hillsborough) have been simulcasting as the "I-stations" for several years.
  • Longtime WSMN (1590 Nashua) general manager Maury Parent has been dismissed by the station's board of directors, after allegedly throwing a mouse pad at a WSMN employee, who then filed assault charges against Parent.
  • In RHODE ISLAND, Providence's WLKW (790) made the long-rumored switch to an all-sports format Monday morning, sending the adult standards format (and eventually the WLKW calls) down the dial to WPNW (550) Pawtucket-Providence, which is using a not-quite-legal ID of "W-P-N-W-L-K-W Pawtucket/Providence" at the moment.

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