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November 26, 2007

Entercom/CBS Deal Gets FCC Blessing


*Entercom won't have to wait until Christmas to open the present that arrived in its mailbox on Black Friday: after more than a year of waiting, the company finally has FCC permission to add to its upstate NEW YORK holdings by purchasing CBS Radio's Rochester cluster, a deal that's part of a $220 million package that also includes CBS stations in Memphis, Cincinnati and Austin.

As expected, the approval comes with some conditions: because Entercom already owns three FM stations (WBEE-FM 92.5 Rochester, WFKL 93.3 Fairport, WBZA 98.9 Rochester) and one AM (WROC 950 Rochester) in the market, it can't absorb CBS Radio's four FMs (WZNE 94.1 Brighton, WCMF 96.5 Rochester, WPXY 97.9 Rochester, WRMM-FM 101.3 Rochester) without going over the ownership caps that would limit the company to no more than five FMs.

What held up the approval for so long? (The initial transfer application was filed back in August 2006.) There were a few factors: perennial Entercom opponent Royce International, which has been trying for years to undo a deal it made to sell a Sacramento FM station to the company, threw every objection in the book against the deal, including the infamous "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" contest that led to the death of a contestant at a different Entercom-owned Sacramento station. The FCC tossed out Royce's complaints, referring the company to civil court to settle its long-running dispute with Entercom.

In the end, the big delay was the Rochester ownership-cap question. It's worth noting that the CBS cluster in Rochester has its roots in a much earlier ownership-cap dispute, when the Justice Department first weighed in on the matter back in the mid-nineties as the old "one to a market" rules were falling by the wayside.

So it's safe to say that this transaction has been on the DoJ's radar screen since the beginning, and indeed it was just over a year ago - at the end of October 2006 - that Entercom, CBS and the feds agreed on a plan under which Entercom would "pursue" divestiture of three of the seven FMs, with the stations to be placed in trust if no spinoff deal was consummated within 60 days of FCC approval.

The FCC isn't fond of issuing waivers these days, much preferring that stations go right into a trust if they'd exceed ownership limits. This time, though, with the enforcement power of the Justice Department at its back, the Commission agreed to a six-month waiver of the ownership limits, on the condition that Entercom continue to operate at least two of the stations under separate management from the rest of the cluster, and under the condition that Entercom file the application to put the stations into a trust right away, to be executed if they're still not sold six months from now.

So how will this all play out in the real world? Even before the FCC granted approval of the deal, work was already well underway on expansion of Entercom's High Falls studios, adding sales office space on the third floor and studio space for two more FMs on the first floor. For now, it appears that those two FMs will be classic rocker WCMF and top 40 WPXY, with the spinoff sales effort focused on AC WRMM and modern rock WZNE from the CBS cluster, as well as adult hits WFKL from the existing Entercom cluster.

It's been a rough year for station sales, though, and at least from where we're sitting, it would appear that most of the usual buyers haven't been interested in paying the prices Entercom is seeking for the stations (especially big biller WRMM, routinely a top-three player in the market). For that matter, it seems like a reasonable guess that even some of the second-tier buyers (think EMF, which has been a vigorous buyer across the region) have had their chances to examine the stations, too, and haven't made acceptable offers. Will Entercom have to lower its price? We'll be watching closely...


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!)

The 2008 Tower Site Calendar is dedicated to the memory of Robert Eiselen (1934-2007), whose digital imaging skills made even a bunch of pictures of radio towers look almost like art. His contributions were essential to the calendar's evolution from 2003 to the current edition, and he will be missed dearly.

Another bit of Rochester news before we move on: amidst all the local headlines in the last few weeks about the possible demolition of the Midtown Plaza complex downtown, there's been very little said about the fate of one of its biggest tenants: the Euclid Building, one of several older office buildings that were incorporated into the plaza when it was built in the early sixties, is home to Clear Channel's local radio cluster. That cluster almost moved out to suburban Greece a few years back - plans were drawn up, zoning permission obtained for an STL tower, and so forth - but a last-minute package of incentives persuaded Clear Channel to stay put and to embark on an expensive renovation project. (Suppose they'd be interested in the space CBS Radio now occupies a couple of blocks away in the HSBC Building?)

We should note, too, that plenty of older broadcasting history would crumble to dust if Midtown is demolished: the original WVOR (100.5) antenna still sits on a mast on the roof of Midtown Tower, which also housed WVOR's studios in several locations, as well as studios for WBBF and its FM sisters. And another of the older buildings in the plaza, the B. Forman Building, was a later home for the WBBF cluster - which eventually became the Entercom cluster, and moved to High Falls a few years back.

As the talk radio wars begin to heat up in Albany (Paul Vandenburgh's WCBI 1300 Rensselaer launched this morning), new WROW (590 Albany) PD/morning man Scott Allen Miller has made his first hire. Mark Williams returns to Albany (where he spent a few years in the late nineties at WGY) from Sacramento. He'd been working for KFBK there, then doing freelance talk hosting. At WROW, Williams will take the afternoon shift - which means the Albany simulcast of "Mike and the Mad Dog" from New York's WFAN will come to an end. (Most of Albany can hear WFAN itself just fine, anyway.)

The big news from New York was a management shuffle at CBS Radio that moves Jennifer Donohue from general manager of WCBS-FM (101.1) to senior VP/director of sales for all six of the company's New York signals. Maire Mason, VP/GM of CBS' WWFS (Fresh 102.7), adds GM duties for CBS-FM, which she managed through most of the nineties.

The 2007 NCE Window: We promised you a special look at the noncommercial FM applications filed during the October application window, and this week, we'll deliver, state by state.

There were 184 applications filed in New York state, all but six of which were initially either dismissed as ungrantable (like those 91.9 applications in Yonkers and New York City, which called for 1-watt class D signals that the FCC won't grant these days) or which fell into mutually-exclusive (MX) groupings.

The lucky six: Geneva's WEOS, for a new 4.7 kW 90.3 in Auburn; North Country Public Radio (St. Lawrence University), for 2.6 kW on 88.7 in Canton and 1.4 kW on 90.5 in Gouverneur; the Positive Radio Network, for 2.2 kW on 89.7 in Medina, west of Rochester; the Town of Roxbury (deep in the Catskills), for 1.3 kW on 91.3 in Roxbury; and Ithaca Community Radio, for 1.3 kW on 91.9 in Watkins Glen.

Several of those applicants also filed in other communities as well: WEOS also sought 89.5 in Macedon, just east of Rochester, while North Country had additional applications in Boonville (88.1 and 91.7), Cape Vincent (88.1), Lake Placid (91.7), Lowville (89.7) and Tupper Lake (88.3) and WSKG applied in Cherry Valley (90.5) and Addison (88.1, part of a big MX group in the Elmira/Corning area.) Ithaca Community Radio also applied for 88.9 Homer, 89.9 Odessa and 88.1 Marathon.

Other public broadcasters got in on the action, too: Albany's WAMC, always on the hunt for ways to expand its reach, has applications in for Brewster (88.5, MX'd to several religious broadcasters), Cooperstown (90.5, MX'd against WSKG in Cherry Valley), Lake Placid (91.7, MX'd against North Country and Northeast Gospel Broadcasting), Mount Kisco (88.9, already dismissed by the Commission), Norwich (88.1, MX'd against Oswego's WRVO), and Stamford (90.1), as well as several outside the state, which we'll see later on. As for WRVO, which is licensed under the State University of New York, it has applications in for 88.1 Boonville, 89.3 Clayton, 88.9 Cortland, 88.9 Hamilton, 88.1 Norwich and 91.7 Rome.

Even New York's giant WNYC got in on the act: it applied for 88.5 at Brewster Hill, part of a big MX pileup in Putnam County, as well as 88.7 Cedar Glen West NJ and 90.9 Central Manchester CT.

The religious broadcasters were extremely active in the window, too: California's Family Stations, Inc. (the Oakland-based group that does business as "Family Radio") applied for 89.9 in Bath, which is home base for the growing regional chain that goes by a similar name, Family Life Ministries. It applied for only three new signals in New York: 91.7 Belfast, 89.3 Silver Creek (MX'd against applications for 89.3 Irving from the Seneca Indian Nation, whose territory sprawls across the Thruway in that area southwest of Buffalo, 89.3 Gowanda from "Community Public Radio," a misleadingly-named religious broadcaster, 89.3 Lake Erie Beach and 89.3 "North East NY," which is really North East PA, with both of the latter applications coming from Seventh-Day Adventist churches) and 88.9 Unadilla. (Across the state line in Pennsylvania, Family Life applied for 89.9 Cambridge Springs, 89.3 Castanea, 90.1 Kratzerville, 88.3 Titusville and 90.3 Williamsville.)

Syracuse's Mars Hill Broadcasting stuck to its central New York territory, applying for 91.1 Cold Brook, 89.1 Boonville and 88.1 Richfield Springs. To the east, Northeast Gospel Broadcasting (the WNGN group in the Glens Falls area) filed nine applications, including 88.1 Ilion (part of a big MX group in the Utica area), 91.7 Lake Placid, 88.5 Dolgeville, 89.1 Old Forge, 90.9 Gloversville and, way out on the eastern end of Long Island, 89.1 Riverhead, which ends up as part of another big MX group made up mostly - but not entirely - of small religious broadcasters. One of the applicants, "Long Island Broadcasters Wireless," is a nifty community group that includes a bunch of names well known in the New York radio community - Long Island engineers Mike Erickson and Jerry Mehrab, just to name a few. They're proposing to work with the Riverhead schools and Suffolk Community College to train kids in the ways of radio. (There's another MX group out on the East End that includes a whole pile of applicants for 91.7.)

In Albany, there's a three-station MX group that includes new players Hudson Valley Community College (89.9 Troy), the Media Alliance (89.9 Albany) and Pensacola Christian College, seeking to reactivate an earlier application for 89.9 Amsterdam.

Speaking of community broadcasters, Syracuse Community Radio is back at it, applying for a 6 kW signal on 88.7 in Marcellus, in the hills southwest of Syracuse. Unlike SCR's earlier effort, the now-silent (we think) WXXE (90.5 Fenner), this signal would actually cover much of the Syracuse market. It's MX'ed to two applications for 88.9 in the Cortland-Homer area and to an application from Auburn's Tyburn Academy for 88.7 in Fleming, south of Auburn.

Last - and least only in power - there's an unusual little application from Irondequoit High School's WIRQ (104.7 Rochester), which seeks to return its 19-watt class D signal to the 90.9 frequency where it signed on way back in 1959 as the first noncommercial station in the Rochester area. WIRQ was displaced when the FCC began eliminating class D signals in the eighties, landing on 93.3, then 94.3, then 104.7 as each of its previous frequencies was occupied by commercial signals. Most recently, the 104.7 signal has been suffering interference from EMF's WKDL (104.9 Brockport), leaving no further space in the commercial part of the dial for WIRQ to survive.

WIRQ's 90.9 application is short-spaced to second-adjacent WBER (90.5 Rochester), which has granted a waiver, and to WXXI-FM (91.5 Rochester), which itself indicated it was willing to accept interference (such as it was) from WIRQ (already well-established on 90.9) when it came on the air in 1974.

*In NEW JERSEY, there were 31 applicants in the window, with no "singletons" making the cut.

Most notable among the applications was one from Educational Media Foundation, the California-based "K-Love" and "Air 1" operator, which is hoping to get around the FCC's limit of 10 applications per applicant by filing a bunch of applications to move existing signals to new communities. One of the longest-distance moves is to Manasquan, where EMF would relocate KJAR (88.1 Susanville CA), proposing it as a 160-watt signal on 89.3.

Even if the FCC lets EMF evade the 10-application cap that way, there's still a cluster of MX'd applications involved there, including the lone app from the New Jersey Public Broadcasting Authority (89.3 Marlboro) and one from the "FM Pregnancy Centers" (we couldn't make that up if we tried) for 89.3 in Freehold.

WYRS (90.7 Manahawkin) has an application for 91.7 Lakehurst that's MX'd to six other Garden State applicants, including two in Princeton from Princeton Community Television and the Al Dia Foundation.

Hope Christian Church of Marlton, another fast-growing religious broadcaster, has three Jersey applications: 91.7 New Egypt, 91.7 Stone Harbor and 88.1 Barnegat Light, as well as additional applications in Pennsylvania anad Maryland.

*In PENNSYLVANIA, there are new calls at Pittsburgh's B94 - mark it down as WBZW (93.7 Pittsburgh) instead of the former WTZN, effective tomorrow.

In Philadelphia, it's no surprise that WYSP (94.1) is moving Kidd Chris to mornings; that move will happen today. The CBS Radio rocker has also hired a new assistant PD, as "Spike" returns home from Chicago's WKQX for that job and an airshift to be named later.

And back we dive into the noncommercial FM application pile, where we find 132 applications from across the Keystone State.

We'll start on the western edge, in Greenville, where Thiel College surrendered the license to its WTGP (88.1) earlier this year, proclaiming it was focusing its energy on Internet radio - and now it's reapplying for, yep, 88.1. While the new Thiel application doesn't appear to have any MX competition, it also failed to appear on the FCC's "singleton" list, for some reason. (And go visit our friends over at to learn more about why Thiel is applying to get its old station back...)

Of the seven that did make the singleton list, two belong to new entrant broadcaster Muncy Hills Broadcasting (related to Colorado station owner Victor Michael), 88.9 Lakewood and 88.3 Midland. Muncy Hills also applied for a bunch of signals that ended up in MX groups: 89.9 Loganville, 88.7 Yeagertown, 88.7 Titusville, 89.3 Corry, 88.5 Scandia, 90.9 Turbotville, 88.5 Mifflinville, and 88.1 Windsor NY.

Other supposed singletons include a revived Pensacola Christian College application for 91.3 Annville (which shows on the FCC database as "accepted for filing," even though there's also a 91.3 Annville application from Salt and Light Ministries), 88.1 Ellwood City (Aquinas Academy of Pittsburgh), 88.5 Jersey Shore (The Williamsport Guardian, Inc.), 90.5 Laceyville (Scranton's Telikoja Educational Broadcasting) and 91.3 Longswamp Township, near Allentown (Berks Radio Association).

All five applications from Scranton's WVIA were MX'd, including 91.5 Blooming Grove, 89.5 Honesdale, 90.5 Laureldale, 88.1 Sylvania and 91.7 Wysox. Ditto for Harrisburg's WITF (90.1 Selinsgrove, 90.9 Sunbury, 90.7 Hanover); Philadelphia's WXPN (91.3 Carlisle); Pittsburgh's WDUQ (91.5 Berlin, 88.7 Cranberry, 90.1 Everett, 88.5 Marion Center) and Allentown's WDIY (90.7 Bangor and 90.5 Kutztown).

Big religious players in Pennsylvania included Invisible Allies Ministries (WRXV State College), which applied for 90.5 Allport, 89.3 Beech Creek, 90.1 Everett, 88.7 Milroy, 91.9 Philipsburg, 88.3 Ridgway and 91.1 St. Mary's; Salt & Light Media Ministries (WGRC Lewisburg), which applied for 91.3 Annville, 88.5 Benton, 91.1 Gratz, 91.3 Newville, 90.9 Shamokin and 88.7 Snow Shoe, west of Bellefonte; Four Rivers Community Broadcasting (WBYO Sellersville), which applied for 90.5 Bechtelsville, 88.3 East Nottingham, 90.9 Elysburg, 90.1 Freeburg, 88.5 Girardville, 91.9 Kulpmont, 89.1 Mohrsville, 90.1 Newburg, 91.5 Palmyra and 90.7 Spring Grove; and Bible Broadcasting Network, which applied for 88.3 Leesport and 89.5 Erie

That Erie application is part of a big MX pileup on 89.3 and 89.5 there that includes four other applications in Erie proper (including one from the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine) as well as applications in Corry, Union City, North East, and even Geneva, Ohio. The North East applications in turn become part of an MX group that stretches almost up to Buffalo, while that Geneva application is part of an MX group that stretches south and west to Youngstown. It should all make for a real mess as the parties involved try to reach some sort of settlement by the FCC's January deadline.

(We'll continue our look at the NCE window applications next week, when we tackle the six New England states!)

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*In MASSACHUSETTS, the keys to Lowell's WCAP (980) officially changed hands last week, as Clark Smidt's "Merrimack Valley Radio, LLC" closed on its purchase of the station from Maurice Cohen, who'd owned the station since its first day on the air back in 1951.

It didn't take long for Smidt and his management group to begin making some changes at the venerable station: the overnight oldies hours programmed by Gary Francis are now under the title "Beatles and Before," with voicetracks from erstwhile Boston announcer Dick Summer.

(In the photo at right, that's Cohen and attorney Dick Howe in the front row; Lowell 5 Savings Bank's James Flood, attorney Bradford Cook and Merrimack Valley Radio's managing partners Sam Poulten and Smidt in the back row.)

This morning, WCAP will launch its new morning show, "Merrimack Magazine," with hosts Dean Johnson (formerly of the Boston Herald), Jack Baldwin and Teddy Panos.

And within the next few months, the station's studios will be reconfigured for the first time in many years. (One thing that won't change, though: Smidt promises that Cohen will have an office at WCAP for as long as he wants one.)

Over in Fitchburg, WEIM (1280) is making a format shift this Friday night. While "AM 1280 the Blend" will retain its current full-service hot AC/news-talk format during the day, it will go Spanish overnight. From 7 PM until 5 AM daily, WEIM will be known as "Mega 1280," playing a mix of Spanish tropical hits as well as local news and information in Spanish.

Station manager Ben Parker says WEIM will add bilingual announcers to its staff to help program the new nighttime format.

*In MAINE, Citadel has named a PD for newly-acquired WCLZ (98.9 Brunswick), as Ethan Minton moves down the hall from WMGX (93.1 Portland), where he's been APD/music director and afternoon jock. (He'll remain music director for WMGX.)

*There's one more radio station in NEW HAMPSHIRE this week, though it's not a "new station," strictly speaking. Saga's WSNI (97.7 Winchendon MA) has been edging its way north into the Keene market for a few years now, having moved its transmitter over the state line to Fitzwilliam. Now the class A signal has completed its move all the way into Keene, changing city of license from Winchendon to Swanzey and moving its transmitter to Keene's West Hill tower site. That's becoming a busy spot - not only is Saga's WINQ (98.7 Winchester) already there, but Great Eastern's WTSM (93.5 Springfield VT) has a pending CP to change its city of license to Swanzey and to move to West Hill as well.

The big news up on the Granite State's highest point is, quite literally, electrifying: 70 years after broadcasting came to Mount Washington, there's finally "shore power" up on The Rock. Bob Perry, chief engineer for Citadel's WHOM (94.9 Mount Washington) and WPKQ (103.7 North Conway), tells NERW that the new power line that runs up the path of the incline railway on the mountain's western flank was switched on last week, providing the first non-generator power that's ever been available to the mountain's broadcasters.

*A belated congratulations to a VERMONT morning team on a big anniversary: Steve Cormier and Tom Brennan marked the 15th anniversary of their "Corm and the Coach" morning show on November 10. The show started on WIZN (106.7 Vergennes) in 1992, then moved to their current home base, "Champ" WCPV (101.3 Essex NY) in 1998. (They're also heard in central Vermont on the Champ simulcast, WCVR 102.1 Randolph.)

*In CANADA, the CRTC is postponing the December 3 public hearing for new FM applications in the Ottawa/Gatineau market, citing "recent developments related to technical limitations" on the frequencies that were being applied for (99.7 and 101.7/101.9). The CRTC has set a new deadline of January 25, 2008 for those broadcasters to resubmit their applications.

And the CRTC has granted the CBC a new Radio One transmitter at Brockville. The 3 kW signal at 106.5 will relay CBCK (107.5 Kingston), which carries a mixture of Ottawa- and Toronto-based local and regional programming.

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!)

November 27, 2006 -

  • Who'll replace Gary LaPierre on the morning news at WBZ (1030 Boston)? Former WOR (710 New York) morning anchor Ed Walsh, that's who. Walsh has been working nights at WCBS (880 New York) for the last few months, and he'll take over from the veteran LaPierre on January 1, 2007.
  • Every year at this time, your editor puts on one of his other hats - news editor of, the radio directory site - to help compile what we believe to be the most accurate list of stations flipping to an all-Christmas format during the run-up to December 25. This year, there's an unusual flip amidst the normal batch of AC and oldies stations suddenly playing "Little Drummer Boy" over...and over...and over again. It's Clear Channel's WFKP (99.3 Ellenville), which last made headlines here in April 2005, when it flipped from top 40 "Kiss" (simulcasting with WPKF 96.1 Poughkeepsie) to soft AC "Lite" (semi-simulcasting with WRNQ 92.1 Poughkeepsie) by way of a couple of days as "Cupid 99.3."
  • Now WFKP is flipping again. Beginning December 25, it'll be simulcasting yet another of Clear Channel's Poughkeepsie-cluster FMs, market-leading country outlet WRWD-FM (107.3 Highland). But until then, it's playing a nonstop diet of country Christmas tunes. Once it flips, WFKP will help extend WRWD's reach into the Catskills to compete with Cumulus' "Wolf" country WKXP (94.3 Kingston)/WZAD (97.3 Wurtsboro); we'd note, too, that WRWD-FM is already simulcasting in Ellenville on WRWD (1370), though the AM signal doesn't reach down to Middletown as the FM does.
  • Our big headlines from MASSACHUSETTS this week are mostly TV-related, starting with the FCC's approval of Tribune's sale of CW affiliate WLVI (Channel 56) to Sunbeam Television, which already owns Boston's NBC affiliate, WHDH-TV (Channel 7). Sunbeam has set a date - December 19 - for the launch of its own WHDH-produced 10 PM newscast on Channel 56, which means the current "Ten O'Clock News" will shut down sometime before that, putting a talented staff out of work just before Christmas. WHDH general manager Mike Carson tells the Herald that there may eventually be a morning newscast (again) on WLVI, but he won't be around to oversee it. He's retiring next July 1, handing the reins over to sales manager Randi Goldklank.
  • Up in CANADA, Thanksgiving's been over for weeks now, and the CRTC was open for business all last week, granting Corus its move off the AM dial across most of Quebec. CJRC (1150 Gatineau-Ottawa) will go to 104.7 (11 kW DA/95 m); CHLT (630 Sherbrooke) will move to 102.1 (23 kW DA/91 m); CHLN (550 Trois-Rivieres) will move to 106.9 (100 kW DA/87 m) and CKRS (590 Saguenay) will move to 98.3 (100 kW DA/148 m). With the closure last week of CKTS (900) in Sherbrooke, that city will have no AM station once the CHLT move is complete, while the CKRS move will silence the AM dial in the Saguenay region and the CHLN move will leave only relay station CKSM (1220 Shawinigan) on the air in the Mauricie region.

November 25, 2002 -

  • Perhaps it seemed like a strange, post 9/11 aberration around this time last year, when dozens of stations (mostly AC and oldies) around the country ditched their usual playlists for an entire month to play nothing but Christmas music. Well...not so. In your editor's other life as Webmaster of the radio directory site, the flips have been coming fast and furious this year as well. In NERW-land, they start in PENNSYLVANIA, where Entercom's 80s "Buzz" (WBZJ 102.3 Pittston/WBZH 103.1 Freeland) in the Scranton market, Clear Channel's oldies WWSW (94.5) in Pittsburgh and Clear Channel's AC "Sunny" (WSNI 104.5) in Philadelphia are all ho-ho-ho'ing already.... and now there's word that WSHH (99.7 Pittsburgh) is also joining the party.
  • Speaking of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the changes keep on coming at the Citadel cluster there: the hot talk that had been on WEOZ (95.7 Olyphant) went away last week, as "Z-Talk" gave way to a simulcast of the top 40 from WBHT (97.1 Mountain Top). The only remnant of the "Z-Talk" format is Bob & Tom, who land in mornings on WARM (590).
  • MASSACHUSETTS is in the holiday mood, too; out on Cape Cod, WTWV (101.1 Mashpee) and WDVT (93.5 Harwich) have already made the flip to Christmas tunes, as has WSNE-FM (93.3 Taunton), which of course really serves Providence, RHODE ISLAND. Joining them after Thanksgiving will be WXKS (1430 Everett) in the Boston market, with more no doubt on the way.
  • WB affiliate WLVI (Channel 56) is losing one of its "Ten O'Clock News" anchors; Jeff Barnd joined Karen Marinella on the anchor desk in 1995 -- and what with the shakeups on the VHF side of the dial, that made the pair the longest-running anchor team on the Boston airwaves at the moment. No word on what Barnd, whose contract runs until 2005, will do next...
  • Steve Solomon has been named the new VP/programming of Superadio Networks (the "Open House Party" folks); you probably know him as Steve McVie, director of operations for Cape Cod's Makkay Broadcasting cluster. He starts his new job on December 2. Speaking of Cape Cod, "Cape Cod Christian Broadcasting" has been granted an LPFM on 97.7 in East Harwich.

November 26, 1997-

  • Radio Disney is finally on the air in MASSACHUSETTS. Boston's WPZE (1260) changed hands last Friday afternoon, with new owner Hibernia unceremoniously ending the simulcast with Salem's religious WEZE (590) and throwing the Mouse on air shortly after 4:30.
  • Over at CBS/Boston, veteran WBZ-TV (Channel 4) anchor Jack Williams did a turn on the radio side, filling in for WBZ (1030) talk host David Brudnoy Tuesday night in what some observers see as a test run for an expanded role for Williams at BZ radio. Down the hall at WODS (103.3), John Potter has joined the oldies station as the replacement for "Austin of Boston" in morning drive. Potter comes from a stint in Salt Lake City, with stand-up experience before that in Las Vegas.
  • Up in NEW HAMPSHIRE, Capstar continues to expand its portfolio. Nashua's WHOB (106.3) is about to become Capstar's latest Granite State outlet, starting with an LMA with owner Mario DiCarlo, and ending with what NERW hears will be a $4 million sale. Capstar owns WGIR AM-FM (610/101.1) in Manchester and WXHT (95.3 York Center), WHEB (100.3), and WTMN (1380) in the Portsmouth market, with the purchase of two more FMs from ARS/CBS pending. No word on potential changes to WHOB's modern-CHR format.
  • And just in time for the holidays, the FCC had a nice little present for Bob Vinikoor of WNTK AM-FM (1020 Newport/99.7 New London), granting his application for 50 kilowatts day, 500 watts night on 720 kHz. Expect construction to start in a few months on this one. (2007 update: ten years and many lawsuits later, Bob's still trying to get this one on the air!)
  • Some new calls in RHODE ISLAND: Providence's 790, ex-WLKW, WWAZ, and WEAN, is now WSKO, "the Score." And 99.7 in Wakefield-Peace Dale, most recently WDGE, is now WXEX, matching its "99-7X" identity. We're still waiting for the third part of this transaction, in which the WLKW calls officially go to WPNW (550 Pawtucket), which has been using them anyway for several weeks.
  • A CONNECTICUT station is about to return to the air. WMMM (1260) in Westport will be back in a few weeks, simulcasting sister station WSUF (89.9 Noyock NY) with NPR talk during the week, and simulcasting its other sister station, WSHU (91.1 Fairfield) on weekends.
  • A few tidbits from NEW YORK: Syracuse's WOLF (1490) has filed for yet another frequency change. WOLF already holds a CP to move to 1510; now owner Craig Fox has applied to move WOLF to 1090, with 10 kilowatts by day and nothing at night.

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