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December 24, 2007

WAMC Backs Down in Noncomm Fight


*It's unusual to see one of NEW YORK's most aggressive public broadcasters back down from a fight, but Albany's WAMC and its outspoken leader, Alan Chartock, has withdrawn from what turned out to be a high-profile battle over an open noncommercial frequency up in Lake Placid.

As we reported in our November 26 issue, WAMC was one of three applicants for 91.7 there. That's a frequency rival public broadcaster North Country Public Radio (WSLU 89.5 Canton) has been using for W219AK, a translator that's been operating since 1993. North Country applied to use 91.7 for a full-power signal, with 100 watts, and it fought hard to defend its frequency once WAMC's rival application became public. In addition to newspaper articles in the local paper and in the Albany Times-Union, North Country held two "listener meet-ups" in Lake Placid to rally support for its bid for the frequency.

Late last week, WAMC backed down, reaching a deal to withdraw its Lake Placid application in exchange for an agreement to acquire the W219AK license if North Country is granted the full-power facility. WAMC would seek to move W219AK to a new frequency in order to bring its programming to the area.

But North Country isn't out of the woods yet - it still faces another rival for 91.7. Brian Larson's Northeast Gospel Broadcasting (WNGN 91.9 Argyle) also applied for a Lake Placid 91.7 signal, and it believes it has the edge on the frequency. That's because of the way the FCC decides between competing applications for noncommercial frequencies: the point system favors applicants with fewer existing signals (Northeast Gospel has only WNGN, while North Country has seven), and it favors applicants whose proposals will cover more land area and population, an edge that's likely to go to Northeast Gospel's 8 kW application over North Country's 100-watt application.

Can North Country and Northeast Gospel reach some kind of settlement before the FCC's January deadline for such deals? And if it can't - and if Northeast Gospel wins the 91.7 license - will North Country lose its Lake Placid coverage completely? Stay tuned...


Still haven't ordered your 2008 Tower Site Calendar? Maybe you're waiting to see if it shows up under the tree on Christmas morning. We sure hope it does - but if your loved ones just didn't quite pick up on all those clues, never fear. We're here to help - but don't wait too long! We're already down to the last 200 or so calendars, and they're going fast. The 2006 and 2007 editions of the calendar sold out, and this one will do so as well, possibly as soon as next month.

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.

The calendar is 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 sure 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.

Congratulations to Ithaca's WHCU (870), which will mark its 85th anniversary with a special morning show on January 23. The Saga-owned station signed on in 1923 as WEAI, spent some time operating out of Elmira as WESG, took its current calls in 1940, and remained in Cornell University's hands until 1985, when it was sold to Eagle Broadcasting and then to current owner Saga Communications. Morning co-host Dave Vieser is seeking former WHCU employees and anyone with older airchecks of the station; drop him a line at dvieser at cyradiogroup dot com if you can lend a hand with the celebration!

Down the road in Binghamton, Tejay Schwartz is back on the air at WLTB (101.7 Johnson City), where he's now doing weekends and working as traffic manager.

Max Kinkel's stint in morning drive at WVOS-FM (95.9 Liberty) was apparently short-lived; the Max-Man has disappeared from the station's airwaves, and its website as well.

On the TV side of things in Syracuse, veteran WTVH (Channel 5) anchor Maureen Green has lost her job at the Granite-owned CBS affiliate. Green came to WTVH in 1983 after a year at WIXT (now WSYR-TV, channel 9) and had been there ever since, with the exception of a two-year maternity break.

Some TV people on the move in Rochester, too: WHAM-TV (Channel 13) weekend anchor Kristen Miranda is moving south to Charlotte, NC, where she'll join CBS affiliate WBTV (Channel 3). Also on the way out of town are WROC-TV (Channel 8) meteorologists John Stehlin and Jonathan Myers. And Jack Allen's RNYN reports that NBC affiliate WHEC-TV (Channel 10) will be launching a 7 PM newscast, the market's first, in March.

*In MASSACHUSETTS, the talk-host chairs keep spinning at Entercom's WRKO (680 Boston), where Reese Hopkins takes over the 10 AM-noon slot that used to belong to Todd Feinburg. Hopkins had done some fill-in for WRKO while Feinburg was covering Howie Carr's afternoon shift; his last full-time radio job was a six-year stint as news director/news anchor on the "Star and Buc Wild" morning show in New York. He left the show in late 2005, before the show was cancelled over Star's controversial statements. (Hopkins also worked for Howard Stern's Sirius satellite channels for a time.)

So what becomes of Feinburg? WRKO made noises about him assuming another role at the station, and the rumor mill was abuzz with talk that he might become a co-host in morning drive alongside Tom Finneran. The Herald even reported Feinburg's move to mornings as fact - but WRKO insists he's left the station completely.

There's a new senior VP/market manager for CBS Radio's five-station Boston cluster that includes WBZ (1030), WBMX (98.5), WZLX (100.7), WODS (103.3) and WBCN (104.1). Mark Hannon, who's been serving as senior VP/GM at WBCN, takes over the market manager duties, as well as replacing Barbara Jean Scannell as SVP/GM at WBMX. She becomes director of sales for the cluster, and takes over from Hannon as SVP/GM of WZLX. (Ted Jordan stays in place in the GM chair at WBZ and WODS.)

In tower news, the old two-tower array of WUNR (1600 Brookline) is now history.

The 355-foot towers in the Oak Hill neighborhood of Newton dated back to 1951, but they'd been marked for demolition ever since construction began last year at the WUNR site, replacing the old single-station, two-tower antenna system with a new array of five shorter (199-foot) towers that will be shared by WUNR, WKOX (1200 Newton) and WRCA (1330 Watertown).

Sometime last week, the old WUNR towers came down, and the station is now broadcasting from the new five-tower array, though apparently not yet at its new 20 kW power level.

On the TV side of things, Mike Felger is the new anchor for Comcast SportsNet New England's Sports Tonight evening shows. He's still doing the afternoon show on ESPN Boston (WAMG 890 Dedham/WLLH 1400 Lowell) for now, as well as writing for the Herald, but we're hearing the radio shift will become open in the new year.

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*In northwest CONNECTICUT, Tri-State Educational Communications becomes the first applicant in the region (and possibly in the country) to get an actual construction permit out of October's noncommercial application filing window. The new station on 91.9 in Sharon will take the calls WHDD-FM, as a sister station to "Robin Hood Radio" WHDD (1020 Sharon).

The year's wrapping up with two more changes in Hartford radio. Clear Channel's "Radio 104" drops its previous WPHH ("Power") calls and becomes WURH. And over at Buckley's WDRC-FM (102.9), Jerry Kristafer is returning as morning man on January 15, ten years after he was fired from his last go-round there. Kristafer has been doing mornings at Clear Channel's WELI (960 New Haven), and it's not at all clear who'll replace him there. At WDRC, Kristafer replaces John "Cadillac" Saville. The station says Kristafer's new show will include more talk, and less music, than Saville's version did.

*In southern RHODE ISLAND, Chris DiPaola is moving ahead on his purchase of WXNI (1230 Westerly) from Boston University. The $350,000 purchase by DiPaola's "Diponti Communications" was filed with the FCC a couple of weeks ago; when it closes, DiPaola will move the programming of WBLQ-LP (96.7 Ashaway) over to the more powerful AM signal. (The public radio programming now being heard on the AM is also reaching the area on WRNI-FM 102.7 Narragansett Pier these days, making the AM signal redundant.)

On TV, WLNE (Channel 6) continues the expansion of its news efforts next month, adding a newscast from 4-5 PM beginning Jan. 14. Incoming anchor Allison Alexander will be one of the anchors for the new early-evening broadcast.

*Nassau has begun its station shuffle in NEW HAMPSHIRE: on Wednesday, oldies disappeared from WNNH (99.1 Henniker) and WLKZ (104.9 Wolfeboro), replaced by classic rock "Frank," in tandem with WFNQ (106.3 Nashua).

The next step in Nassau's rearrangement of its Granite State cluster won't happen until next month, when "Hawk" classic rockers WWHK (102.3 Concord) and WWHQ (101.5 Meredith) will join Nassau's new WEEI sports network. (Also on board with the new network will be WHXR (106.7 North Windham) and WHXQ (104.7 Kennebunkport) along with WLAM (1470 Lewiston) in Maine, as well as WPXC (102.9 Hyannis) on Cape Cod, and likely several Vermont signals, too.)

*A MAINE radio legend is being honored with a studio named after him. George Hale has been with WABI (910 Bangor) for more than half a century, and now the Clear Channel station's studio is officially the "George Hale Studio." The Bangor Daily News reports that WABI is moving back to standards from its news-talk format; Hale will be heard during morning drive on both WABI and sister station WVOM (103.9 Howland) through voicetracking.

*In PENNSYLVANIA, things are slowly getting back to normal after the storm that downed one TV tower and damaged several others in Scranton a week ago. WNEP (Channel 16), whose analog tower came down, crushing its analog transmitters, is working to get a replacement analog signal on the air from the nearby American Tower site that's home to its WNEP-DT (Channel 49) signal. (WNEP is feeding area cable systems with a standard-definition feed via the 16.3 channel of WNEP-DT.) Wilkes University's WCLH (90.7 Wilkes-Barre), which lost its antenna that had been mounted on the WNEP tower, is back on the air at low power from the college campus, with plans to get back to full power soon from a different tower on Penobscot Mountain.

Also badly affected by the storm was Nassau's WFKB (107.5 Boyertown), which lost power to its transmitter site for several days, taking the station off the air for much of last week.

One more Scranton note: Holy Family Communications is selling its WQOR (750 Olyphant) to Edward Niewinski's J.M.J. Radio for $100,000. If the new licensee's name is any indication, we'd expect no change to the station's Catholic format.

In Lancaster, Keith Rice becomes the new morning co-host at WLAN-FM (96.9 Lancaster). He'll start there Jan. 14, after relocating from his current gig in afternoon drive at WILI-FM (98.3 Willimantic CT).

In Pittsburgh, Bubba has disappeared from the morning show at CBS Radio's WZPT (Star 100.7), making his return to morning drive at the revived "B94" (WBZW 93.7) all-but-official.

Jeff Sottolano has added a title at WYSP (94.1 Philadelphia), where he's now marketing director as well as music director. He came to Philly just last year from another 94.1, CBS sister station WZNE in Rochester, where he held the PD chair.

Over at Greater Media, the "Free Beer and Hot Wings" syndicated morning show has disappeared from its tape-delayed evening slot on WMGK (102.9 Philadelphia).

There's still no full-time oldies station in the Lehigh Valley, but Clear Channel must see something in the format - after doing a few oldies holidays on talker WAEB (790 Allentown), it's now bringing an oldies show to the 9-noon slot on its sports talker, WSAN (1470 Allentown). Diane Lee is hosting the "Oldies Show on Fox," which she's calling a "halftime break" in the station's Fox Sports Radio programming. (In a previous incarnation, WSAN was oldies WKAP.)

And much as we'd like to, we can't really get out of the Keystone State without mentioning KYW-TV (Channel 3) anchor Alycia Lane and her arrest on charges of assaulting a New York City police officer a week ago. There's not much that we can add to the rather extensive coverage the New York tabloids have already offered about the incident and its aftermath, other than to note that Lane is "on vacation" from the CBS-owned station until further notice - and that her portions of the station's New Year special were apparently rather hastily edited out of the already-produced program.

*The year in CANADA ends with a big management shift: Paul Ski departed CHUM Radio on Thursday after four decades with the company, and he's taking a new job as CEO of Rogers' radio stations, where he'll replace the retiring Gary Miles. Duff Roman replaces Ski, at least for now, as head of the CHUM radio stations, now part of CTVglobemedia.

We can now attach a price to Moses Znaimer's purchase of CHWO (740 Toronto) from the Caine family: he's paying C$7,320,613 for the big-signalled standards station, according to the application filed last week with the CRTC.

In Quebec, Corus is selling CHRC (800) to the Remparts de Quebec hockey team for C$282,177.40.

The AM station (the last remaining full-power AM signal in Quebec City) has been doing French-language all-news as "Info 800," much of it simulcast with Corus' CINF (690 Montreal).

A few more applications that will be on the CRTC's agenda for a Feb. 26 public hearing in Vancouver: in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Eternacom (which owns CJTK Sudbury) applies for an 865-watt religious signal on 102.5, with at least 42 hours a week of local programming and the rest a simulcast of CJTK.

Out in the Maritimes, International Harvesters for Christ Evangelical Association hopes to expand its reach from its current base in Halifax, where it operates CJLU (93.9). The group is applying for 50 watts on 91.3 in Charlottetown, PEI, with a relay transmitter on 91.1 (also with 50 watts) in Summerside.

Meanwhile in western New Brunswick, Astral wants to move CIKX-FM-1 (91.7 Plaster Rock) to 88.3, taking it out of the way of a recently-approved Radio-Canada "Espace Musique" transmitter, CBAF-FM-21 (91.7 Bon Accord), which would have caused interference.

In Saguenay (La Baie), Quebec, Carl Gilbert has found a frequency for the new FM signal he was granted back in March. Gilbert is asking the CRTC to let him use 105.5, with 50 kW DA/321', for the new station. Gilbert had applied for much lower power on 99.9.

In Goderich, Ontario, the operators of nearby CIYN (95.5 Kincardine) are trying again to get a relay transmitter on the air. "The Coast" was approved for a 750-watt signal on 97.9 in Goderich, but a tower-lease dispute got in the way. Now CIYN is again applying for that 97.9 signal to extend its reach southward along the Lake Huron shoreline.

Over at CJLX (91.3 Belleville), they're mourning Dave Sovereign, the Loyalist College faculty member who played a key role in obtaining the license for CJLX (then at 92.3) in the early nineties. Sovereign began his career at CHIC in Brampton, then spent a quarter-century (1960-1985) with Quinte Broadcasting, serving as news director for CJBQ (800 Belleville) and then as station manager of CJTN (1270 Trenton, now 107.1). Sovereign also helped found CKHA (100.9 Canoe FM) in Halliburton in 2003. He remained involved with CJLX as well, hosting
"The Art of the Musical Theater" on Sunday nights from 8-10 PM. (The station put on a special edition of the show last night in his memory.) Sovereign died Dec. 15 in Toronto; he was 69.

*And thus endeth another year of NERW... Believe it or not, 2007 was our fourteenth year chronicling the goings-on in Northeast radio and television, and we're grateful to all of you who've helped out with your subscription payments, news tips, historic recollections, station visits and even the occasional criticism. (Yeah, we goof from time to time.)

This is our last regular issue of 2007, and our home office in Rochester will be closed until Dec. 31. There won't be a new Tower Site of the Week episode this coming Friday, Dec. 28 (we'll be back to normal with that feature on Jan. 4), and Tower Site Calendar orders received after today will ship on or after Dec. 31. The next regular issue of NERW will appear right here on Jan. 7, 2008.

But don't despair - we wouldn't let you go a week without fresh content of some sort here at! Join us right here in this space on Dec. 31 for the ever-popular NERW Year in Review, including the year's top ten news stories (suppose Don Imus made the list?), the year in sales, programming and format changes, and our ever-popular Year-End Rant.

We'll see you then - and in the meantime, all of us here at the ever-expanding NERW family wish you a merry Christmas, a happy New Year, and of course a slightly-belated happy Edwin Howard Armstrong Day. See you next year...

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!)

December 25, 2006 -

  • CONNECTICUT's loss will be New York's gain, at least where the FM dial just north of New York City is concerned, as Cox Radio applies to move WCTZ (96.7 Stamford) down I-95 to a new city of license of Port Chester, N.Y., an allocations shift granted by the FCC just before it departed for its Christmas vacation. In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released Friday, the FCC announced that it's considering what turns out to be Cox's second try at making that move. In 2005, the FCC returned an earlier petition to move the allocation (then WKHL) to Port Chester after determining that the existing 96.7 signal doesn't cover Port Chester with a 70 dBu signal level. Cox then returned to the FCC with terrain data that shows that the 96.7 signal does, in fact, cover Port Chester, allowing the city of license to be changed without requiring an application for a new transmitter location as well. (Under the FCC's current rules, you don't apply for both a new city of license and a new transmitter site at the same time; ironically, those rules will change in January, creating a "one-step" process that would have significantly streamlined a move like this.)
  • What happens now? Assuming the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proceeds without objections and the city of license change is approved, as seems likely, 96.7 is a "pre-1964" grandfathered allocation, with no limitations at all on how close it can move to New York City's powerful class B stations on 96.3 (WQXR) and 97.1 (WQHT). Nor, unlike most of the class A suburban stations ringing New York, does it have nearby co-channel stations in New Jersey or on Long Island - just a class A co-channel signal (WTSX) to the northwest in Port Jervis, New York. More significantly, any move for WCTZ will be limited by spacing rules that will keep it at least 15 km from WBLS (107.5) on the Empire State Building - and it will have to continue to put 70 dBu over Port Chester, wherever it may move to.
  • On the TV side of things, WVIT (Channel 30) anchor Janet Peckinpaugh departed the NBC station Friday, ending an 11-year run there and a 29-year career that began in Virginia and included anchor stints at WTNH (1984-87) and WFSB (1987-95). Peckinpaugh's departure came just a couple of weeks after the departure of her 5:30 PM co-anchor, Logan Byrnes, and just a week after the departure of WVIT's 6 and 11 PM anchor, Joanne Nesti.
  • In MASSACHUSETTS, the big farewell to WBZ (1030) morning institution Gary LaPierre winds up this week with Gary's final broadcast on Friday, an event that the station will mark with not only streaming audio but also streaming video, along with the ongoing "LaPierre Through the Years" vignettes that have been running on the air and on the website, and no doubt a full slate of celebrity visits to the studio as well.
  • Another farewell took place - and rather abruptly, at that - last Monday at 75 Morrissey Boulevard, as the staff of Tribune's WLVI (Channel 56) said goodbye to viewers on a final edition of "The Ten O'Clock News," then found themselves not only out of work but out of the building as moving crews hired by new owner Sunbeam arrived to lock up and move equipment over to the station's new home at the WHDH-TV (Channel 7) studio at Government Center. (The Herald reports there were little skirmishes all day, as a Sunbeam-hired crew arrived to replace the "Ten O'Clock News" billboard facing the Southeast Expressway atop the WLVI studios, only to be turned away by Tribune employees who told them to wait until the transition was complete.) The actual signoff of the Tribune-produced newscast was a classier affair, featuring a long credit roll over video of the staff waving goodbye, as well as a final commentary from original "Ten O'Clock News" anchor (and 50-year Boston news veteran) Jack Hynes. Mincing no words, Hynes said "someone (else) should have bought the station" and kept it independent, calling Sunbeam's shutdown of the news operation "a tragic chapter in Boston's television history."
  • Tuesday night, WHDH debuted its version of "7 News at 10" on WLVI, featuring WHDH anchors Frances Rivera and Matt Lorch in an even faster-paced version of WHDH's already high-intensity newscasts. (The Herald reports ratings were flat for the debut of the new newscast.)
  • Lots of Radio People on the Move in Pittsburgh, PENNSYLVANIA this week: Scott Paulsen has departed Clear Channel's WDVE (102.5), where he was the station's longtime morning man and was more recently heard mixing talk and music in the evenings. Paulsen wanted to do more talk, and he'll get that opportunity once his non-compete is over and he starts over at CBS Radio's WRKZ (93.7). That will happen in April, in a timeslot to be announced later on. Over on the AM side of the CBS cluster, KDKA (1020) has pulled John McIntire's "Flip Side" show off the air after three years, replacing him in the 7-10 PM slot with the syndicated Neal Boortz after his show this Friday (Dec. 29). While initial reports said McIntire was losing his job with KDKA, the station now says it hopes to find a new timeslot for him. KDKA is also cancelling its "I.C. Lite Sports Tonight" show from 6-7 PM, replacing it with a second hour of evening news.

December 23, 2002 -

  • NEW HAMPSHIRE leading the news for a second week in a row? You bet (or, as they might say up there, "Ayuh!") -- and with the same station owner involved this week, too!
  • Last week, we told you how Bob Vinikoor had won his New Hampshire Supreme Court battle to build four 266-foot towers in Lebanon for his new WQTH (720 Hanover). This week, we can tell you that Vinikoor has some big plans for his other New Hampshire AM station as well. WNTK (1020 Newport) is currently a 10 kW daytimer, playing Americana music along with some talk programming -- but Vinikoor applied last week to move the station down the dial to 1010 kHz, retaining the 10 kilowatt power by day and during critical hours (when WNTK currently reduces its power on 1020) and adding 37 watts of night service. Vinikoor's application notes that the move will reduce interference between WNTK and Boston's WBZ (1030). Those with long memories may recall that WNTK is the descendant of WCNL in Newport -- which began its life as a daytimer on 1010. Back then, 1010 was limited to 250 watts by day; Vinikoor can thank the disappearance of the old WHWB (1000) in Rutland, Vermont for at least part of the change on the dial that allows for higher power on 1010 these days.
  • A MASSACHUSETTS radio station owner took a stand for the freedom of the press and won. Ed Perry is best known as the founder and longtime operator of WATD (95.9 Marshfield), but it turns out he's also a news reporter for the station when events warrant. Back in September, he headed over to the nearby Hanover Mall one evening to check out a report he heard on the police scanner about an incident in the mall parking lot. When he got there, he did what any good reporter would, taking out his tape recorder and notebook and asking questions.
  • The Patriot-Ledger reports a mall security guard asked Perry to hand over the tape from his recorder, Perry refused, and Hanover police arrested him and charged him with creating a disturbance. (His tape recorder was later returned to his car, with the interviews erased.) It took a few months, but all the charges (resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, trespassing and interfering with a police officer) have finally been dismissed, and now Perry is considering a civil suit against the mall. (NERW comments: Anyone who ever wondered why WATD is such a consistent winner of RTNDA and AP awards shouldn't have any question, now....)
  • On the TV side, WLVI (Channel 56) has a new news director, as Tribune moves Pamela Johnston up from assistant ND to replace Greg Caputo as the head of the WB affiliate's news operation.
  • LATE UPDATE: The purchase of WSRO (1470 Marlborough) by Multicultural Broadcasting has brought a call change with it; 1470 is now "WAZN," with the WSRO calls moving down the dial to Alex Langer's 650 in Ashland, ex-WJLT. And who'll be the first Boston broadcaster to notice that the "WCOZ" calls that once graced 94.5 are once again available, having been dropped from AM 1300 in St. Albans, West Virginia?
  • In Albany, Clear Channel made it official by announcing that Scott Allen Miller is the permanent afternoon host at WGY (810 Schenectady), leaving J.R. Gach without a job. Gach left WGY's airwaves last August under mysterious circumstances, revealing later that he was suffering from severe mental illness. Gach tells the Albany Times Union's Mark McGuire that he was fired by e-mail last weekend, "with cause," meaning he won't get any severance pay. Gach says he wants to get back on the air, preferably in the Albany area, but he acknowledges that there are few options open to him right now.

December 25, 1997-

  • In NEW YORK, the big news is a new FM allocation in the state's second-largest market. The FCC has allocated 92.1 as a Class A channel to Amherst, a suburb of Buffalo -- and now NERW is sitting back to watch the fun begin as applicants pile on for the last significant commercial allocation likely to appear on the Empire State's FM dial, at least in the big cities. (There's actually a second open channel in the Buffalo market, 104.9, but it's tied up as a Canadian allocation.) Canada has an operating station on 91.9, travelers-information CFLZ from the Skylon Tower in Niagara Falls, which is likely to have to move once 92.1 comes on from the US side. (2007 update: a decade later, 92.1 remains unfilled, having been reserved for noncommercial use and then left to linger in FCC limbo. CFLZ, meanwhile, has long since moved to 105.1.)
  • More from the Queen City: two longtime Buffalo competitors are taking the first step towards merging their newsrooms. WGR (550) and WBEN (930) have been co-owned under Sinclair for several years, but have maintained competing newsrooms in separate locations -- until now. The stations have started simulcasting Tom Puckett's overnight newscasts from 11 PM until 5 AM each night. Sinclair tells Buffalo News columnist Anthony Violanti that there's been "no cutback" in the news committment at either station...but Violanti notes that WBEN reporter Brian Meyer has not been replaced since leaving for the Buffalo News recently. That said, Buffalo radio news is still far more competitive (and thus more comprehensive) than in Rochester or Syracuse, where WHAM (1180) and WSYR (570) each hold near-monopolies on radio news. One thing that will be missing from WBEN next season is the Bills; their contract with the station is up, and NERW hears that Sinclair is reluctant to pay the increased fees the Bills want for '98 radio rights. Could the Bills be moving to FM next season, like the Sabres did this year? That's what NERW is hearing. A few more notes from Buffalo and vicinity: WYRK (106.5) program director Ken Johnson is leaving the station after 15 years to go to country WXTU (92.5) in Philadelphia. And WJJL (1440) in Niagara Falls is getting ready to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary. Alumni are asked to contact station manager John Phillips. NERW wonders if WJJL might consider refurbishing the abandoned "WJJL" sign that's rusting away on the ground near the transmitter building on Route 384... (2007 update: the sign was still there rusting in October.)
  • Arthur Liu's Multicultural Broadcasting is adding two more New York City-area stations to his roster. You'll recall he's selling WNWK (105.9 Newark NJ), buying WPAT (930 Paterson NJ), and keeping WKDM (1380 New York). Now he's adding WNJR (1430 Newark NJ) and WZRC (1480 New York) from Douglas Broadcasting. Douglas keeps several of its other stations, including WBPS (890 Dedham-Boston).
  • On to MASSACHUSETTS, where talker WRKO (680 Boston) has added a co-host to Jeff Katz's new morning show. Darlene McCarthy is best known in Boston for her TV work at WHDH-TV (Channel 7) and WLVI-TV (Channel 56), but she began in Bay State radio at Lowell's WCAP (980).
  • Framingham's WKOX now has permission to go 50 kilowatts day and night froom its present transmitter site on Mount Wayte Avenue. The construction permit would involve removing at least one of WKOX's two tall towers, and replacing it with three shorter towers. All three would be used at night, with two being used during the day. How would all of this affect WRPT (650 Ashland) and WJLT (1060 Natick), the daytimers that currently diplex off the WKOX tower? We're not sure yet. We're also not sure what became of the other WKOX CP, for 50 kw non-directional from the WNTN (1550 Newton) site, that was announced in an FCC release a few weeks back.
  • The new public radio station on Cape Cod has new calls. When 90.1 Woods Hole takes to the airwaves sometime next year, it will be as WCAI ("Cape And Islands") rather than WHMV ("Woods Hole Martha's Vineyard"). No change has been announced to its sister station, WNAN (91.1 Nantucket).
  • This from NEW HAMPSHIRE: Bob Vinikoor's new 720 in Hanover now has calls; mark down WQTH as the new identity for this 50 kW outlet, due to hit the airwaves in 1998. Speaking of calls, Lowell Paxson applied for a whole slew of new "PX" calls for his soon-to-be PaxNet stations this week. It looks like this: WGOT (60 Merrimack NH) becomes WIPX. WHAI-TV (43 Bridgeport CT) becomes WPXB. WOST (69 Block Island RI) becomes WPXQ. WOCD (55 Amsterdam NY) becomes WYPX. And WHRC (46 Norwell MA) will become WBPX.
  • And in MAINE, classical WPKM (106.3 Scarborough) is getting new owners. Mariner Broadcasting already owns classical WBQQ (99.3 Kennebunk) down the coast, as well as its sister AC station, WQEZ (104.7 Kennebunkport). No word on a purchase price or on format changes, but NERW suspects WPKM may end up as a northern simulcast of classical "W-Bach" once the dust settles.
  • Clearing up the confusion over 91.9 in Harpswell: The former WMSJ facility has the new calls WYFP. It's running religious programming from new owner Bible Broadcasting Network, while WMSJ's contemporary Christian format has migrated down the dial to 89.3 Freeport.

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