May 12, 2008
NBC Enters NYC's News Channel Race
TOWER SITE CALENDAR 2008 - ALMOST SOLD OUT!!!
*When NBC Universal changed the name of its
"Television Stations Division" to the "NBC Local
Media Division" last fall, the company had more in mind
than just a flashy new name. With last week's announcement that
its NEW YORK flagship, WNBC (Channel 4), will be spawning
a 24-hour local news channel this fall, NBC made it clear that
it intends to expand its local presence beyond the old "owned
and operated" TV stations that were once each network's
first sign of the reinvention of WNBC came earlier this spring,
when the station rebranded its newscasts from "4HD"
to "News 4 New York." In the next steps toward making
WNBC a "local content center," NBC plans to rebrand
its local website simply as "NBC New York," with the
local news on the website and on Channel 4 soon to be joined
by a 24-hour service known as "New York's Newschannel."
(The "local content center" plans for WNBC's seventh-floor
newsroom parallel the "content center" NBC built last
year on the third floor of 30 Rock to consolidate NBC News and
The new channel will be seen on a subchannel of WNBC-DT, presumably
replacing what's now "4.4," a mixture of local news
rebroadcasts and inexpensive syndicated fare. Eventually, it
will also be visible on other platforms, including seatback TV
screens in taxis and on the "NBC New York" website.
It will compete with two other 24-hour newschannels with longer
histories in the market: Time Warner's city-oriented New York
1 and Cablevision's collection of regional News 12 services in
the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Westchester, the Hudson Valley,
New Jersey and Connecticut - and it will compete with those channels
without adding any additional staff to the existing WNBC news
Instead, NBC management says they'll be extensively retraining
current WNBC employees to contribute to the new 24-hour service,
which will also likely use the first "one-man band"
videographer/reporters in the company. (New York 1 pioneered
the concept in the city when it launched back in 1992.)
If "New York's Newschannel" proves successful, NBC
hopes to roll the concept out in its other local markets, including
As NBC expands its local news presence, it's moving other
divisions out of its iconic 30 Rockefeller Center headquarters.
The company also announced last week that it's seeking office
space elsewhere in Manhattan to move its non-news cable services
(including USA Network and Bravo) and other back-office and business
functions, leaving 30 Rock as the home to WNBC, NBC Sports, NBC
News, MSNBC, "Late Night," and "Saturday Night
quite three years after it arrived in New York City, "Jack"
has finally hit the road for good. CBS Radio kept the trademarked
"Jack" nickname on the HD2 channel of WCBS-FM (101.1
New York) even after it pulled "Jack" from the main
channel last summer. But the elements that made up a typical
Jack slowly vanished from the multicast channel, with "Jack"
voice Howard Cogan giving way to CBS-FM's Pat St. John a few
months ago. And now the "Jack" name has disappeared
as well, with the adult hits format now ID'ing simply as "101.1
HD2" for the moment. (We're hearing that CBS would have
been happy to have kept the "Jack" name on the air,
but that the format's syndicator, SparkNet, didn't want it relegated
to an HD subchannel.)
On Long Island, Tim Clarke is the new music director at WBLI
(106.1 Patchogue), replacing former MD/middayer Gabriel.
Out on the East End, WRIV (1390 Riverhead) is fully licensed
once again after a glitch delayed its last license renewal. It
seems the $150 filing fee wasn't submitted with WRIV's 2006 renewal
application, and as a result, the FCC deleted WRIV's license
last fall. The station stayed on the air under Special Temporary
Authority, and now it's been granted a full renewal - as soon
as it pays the $150, plus a 25% late-payment penalty.
And congratulations to Clear Channel New York director of
engineering Josh Hadden, who's one of three regional winners
of the company's Engineer of the Year awards. Hadden won for
his work on the huge studio-consolidation project that's moved
all five of the cluster's stations into a common studio facility
in lower Manhattan. The last of the five, WLTW (106.7), made
its move downtown over the weekend.
Two upstate notes, both from Geneva: public broadcaster WRVO
(89.9 Oswego) has moved its new Geneva translator, W239BJ, from
95.7 to 106.3 after interference issues developed between the
translator and Syracuse-market WAQX (95.7 Manlius). Just down
the dial from the translator's new home, LPFM'er WSAC-LP (105.7
Geneva) is changing its calls on Friday to WHWS-LP. That reflects
the translator's association with Hobart and William Smith Colleges,
which operate the LPFM from the studios of their own station,
WEOS (89.7 Geneva), on the college campus.
And in Buffalo, public station WBFO (88.7 Buffalo) has completed
construction on its new 443-foot tower, adjacent to its old tower,
some 100' lower. The old tower will start coming down soon, and
we'll try to get over there for some pictures (and maybe some
chicken wings, too...)
GETCHER 2008 TOWER SITE CALENDAR
- BEFORE THEY'RE ALL GONE!
Still haven't ordered your 2008 Tower Site Calendar?
You do realize that it's now...er...2008, don't you? We're already
down to the last 35 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 this 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 later this year 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
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.
*In the NEW JERSEY Meadowlands, the
much-ballyhooed EnCap project has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy,
and all work has ceased on the massive rebuilding that was supposed
to have transformed hundreds of acres of swampy landfill in Rutherford
and Lyndhurst into a massive golf course/housing development.
What's the radio connection? It was at EnCap's behest that the
Meadowlands Commission took the old tower site of WOR (710 New
York), and it was EnCap's money that paid for WOR to build a
brand-new site half a mile away.
What will become of the $1 billion project that now sits,
half-finished, surrounding the new WOR site? Nobody's quite sure
yet - and we hear EnCap still owes WOR a bit of money, too...
*It's a big anniversary for one of PENNSYLVANIA's
pioneering FM rockers. Metromedia flipped the former WIP-FM (93.3)
to WMMR in 1968, and the station - now part of Greater Media's
Philadelphia cluster - is marking the anniversary with a series
of events that included an on-air alumni reunion this past weekend
and an "MMRchives" weekend next weekend. There's also
a 40th anniversary concert next Sunday starring the Stone Temple
Pilots, and a commemorative CD featuring performances from the
station's long history.\
Another Philly radio alumna, Mimi Brown, is returning to the
airwaves. A decade after leaving WDAS-FM (105.3), she's back,
now holding down a Sunday 3-7 PM shift.
The last piece of the Johnstown format shuffle is complete:
WPRR (1490) has taken back the WNTJ calls that spent several
years on 850; we'd note that this marks the demise (at least
for now) of the venerable WPRR calls, which had a long history
on FM in nearby Altoona. (We'd note, too, that the WNTJ
website still shows the station as "850,"
with no reference to the frequency change, more than a week after
the fact. Anyone home?)
*In MASSACHUSETTS, a talent exodus from
the Boston Globe is bringing a big name to public radio.
After more than a dozen years at the paper, including a Pulitzer
Prize for her work on the Globe investigation into the
Catholic Church priest-abuse scandal, Sacha Pfeiffer is joining
WBUR-FM (90.9), where she'll report on health and science issues.
(The Globe lost another Pulitzer winner last week,
as Charlie Savage left the paper's Washington bureau to join
the parent New York Times. And yes, we can call him "Charlie"
- he grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana with Mrs. NERW.)
It's "Orgy" time at WHRB (95.3 Cambridge), as the
Harvard-affiliated station marks final exam time by replacing
its regular schedule (except for a few weekend staples such as
"Jazz Spectrum" and "Hillbilly at Harvard")
with extended explorations of specific composers, performers
or genres. This year's Orgy season started May 1 and runs through
commencement day on June 5; this week's lineup includes three
days devoted to the works of Olivier Messiaen and four to the
performances of Mstislav Rostropovich, as well as extended sets
by Fats Waller and "Sounds of the Contemporary Los Angeles
Underground." All the details, and streaming audio, are
And if the FCC was expecting Charles Clemons, operator of
well-publicized pirate "Touch 106.1," to answer its
$17,000 Notice of Apparent Liability for his unlicensed operation
and for refusing a Commission inspection, well, they're still
waiting. With no response from Clemons, that $17,000 has now
been converted into a forfeiture order; at last report, "Touch"
was still on the air. (The Commission also hit a Brooklyn pirate
operator, Trevor Whitely, with a $10,000 forfeiture order for
his illegal operation on 102.3.)
*There's a new signal on
the air in northern VERMONT: Barry Lunderville has put
WOTX (93.7 Lunenburg), running classic rock as "The Outlaw."
WOTX's class A signal not only reaches the Northeast Kingdom,
including St. Johnsbury; it also serves a chunk of northern NEW
HAMPSHIRE (where its transmitter is located), including the
*Two MAINE talk hosts are off
the air after a testy handoff between their weekend shows. Lou
Castaldi's "Getting Fit with Lou" follows Kevin Crocker's
"Talking Maine" on Saturdays at WLOB-FM (96.3 Gray)/WLOB
(1310 Portland), and there's normally a handoff between the hosts
for a few minutes. But something went wrong a week ago, as Crocker
used an anti-Italian epithet against Castaldi. Crocker says Castaldi
"barged into" the studio; Castaldi says he was encouraged
by station management to talk politics with Crocker at the end
of his show. Now both men are suspended indefinitely, and WLOB
is running syndicated programming for the moment during those
Saturday time slots.
Blueberry Broadcasting group that's picking up the Clear Channel
clusters in Augusta and Bangor is adding one more station: Blueberry
is acquiring the CP for a new signal on 101.1 in Machias, way
Down East, from Louis Vitali, one of the new company's principals.
*Yet another market in CANADA is
about to lose its last AM. The CRTC has granted CKRU (980 Peterborough
ON) permission to move to FM - but it denied the Corus oldies
station (known on air as "980 KRUZ") the frequency
it desired. CKRU hoped to move to 96.7, but nine other applicants
also proposed using that frequency for new stations in Peterborough
or nearby Kawartha Lakes (Lindsay) when the CRTC put out a call
The CRTC ended up
granting one of those applications, determining that Pineridge
Broadcasting, which owns CHUC-FM and CKSG-FM in Cobourg, is the
best qualified to operate a new Peterborough station - and that
because of the potential overlap in coverage into the Cobourg
area, it should be granted the use of 96.7, with 13 kW average
DA. That leaves Corus to find another frequency on the crowded
southern Ontario FM dial for CKRU's FM move - and 90 days to
Meanwhile, Peterborough's other remaining AM, CTVglobemedia's
CKPT (1420), is no more: engineers pulled the plug on the AM
transmitter there last Monday (May 5), seven months after CKPT-FM
(99.3, soon to move to 99.7) signed on, and just shy of half
a century after it originally signed on.
In its continued quest to move as much of its programming
to FM as possible, CBC/Radio-Canada has won permission from the
CRTC to put new FM transmitters on the air for CBC Radio One
and Radio-Canada's premiere chaine service in Windsor, Ontario.
With no frequencies available to fully replicate the coverage
of CBE (1550) and CBEF (540), the plan is to keep the AM signals
on the air, adding "nested" relay transmitters to repeat
those signals on 102.3 (average ERP 690 watts) and 105.5 (average
ERP 560 watts), respectively.
But those aren't the only new signals approved for Windsor.
The CRTC also granted both applications it received for new commercial
outlets in the border city. Both Blackburn Radio (which owns
CKUE Chatham-Kent, which has a relay in Windsor on 100.7, as
well as nearby CHYR 96.7 Leamington) and Neeti P. Roy (who holds
a permit for a new ethnic signal in Mississauga) applied for
new stations on 95.9. The CRTC ruled that Blackburn's proposed
country station (with 3,550 watts average ERP) was more deserving
of the 95.9 frequency, where it will be permitted to operate.
Roy can put his ethnic station on the air if he can find another
channel on which to operate.
The CRTC also granted a new signal in Owen Sound, Ontario,
sifting through four applications for 92.3 (including proposals
from Blackburn and from Evanov Broadcasting) and granting use
of the frequency to Larche Communications, which operates stations
to the east in Orillia and Midland, and holds a permit for a
new signal in Sudbury. Larche will operate the 20 kW signal on
92.3 with a rock format.
In Alma, Quebec, CFGT (1270) is resubmitting its application
to move to FM. CFGT withdrew its initial request to move to 97.7
with 50 kW earlier this year; it was to have been heard at a
public hearing this month.
Moncton, New Brunswick will be home to a most unusual "special-event"
radio station later this week. "Wed FM" will sign on
at 100.9 Wednesday afternoon, and will leave the air for good
Sunday afternoon, after the event for which it's being built:
the wedding of Serge Cormier and Yanbing Zou. Cormier is a radio
enthusiast who now works as a consultant in Toronto, and he's
trying the 50-watt special-event station for his own wedding
as a trial run to see if there's a business in setting up similar
stations for other such events. Programming will include a top-40
countdown hosted by the bride and groom, lessons in French and
Chinese, and of course a live broadcast of the wedding ceremony
and reception next Saturday. There may even be a webcast, too,
at the wedding website, wedfm.ca.
In Nova Scotia, the CRTC will consider two applications for
new community stations. Tantramar Community Radio Society wants
107.9 (6.5 kW/123 m) in Amherst, while the Parrsboro Radio Society
wants 50 watts on 99.1 in Parrsboro. The applications will be
heard at a public hearing July 7 at CRTC headquarters in Gatineau,
The Toronto Raptors need a new play-by-play voice; they're
losing Chuck Swirsky to the Chicago Bulls, where he'll handle
TV announcing duties next season for WGN-TV, WCIU-TV and Comcast
SportsNet. Swirsky is also the 1-4 PM talk host on Toronto's
CJCL (Fan 590), a job he's keeping for the moment.
And there's a new local TV newscast in Toronto: CITY-TV (Channel
57) has introduced a 5 PM news hour, making it the only Toronto
station with local news straight through from 5 until 7.
*How about a bit more baseball? We're a
little more than a week into the Atlantic League season, and
here's a look at where that independent league can be heard on
In New Jersey, the Newark Bears play on WSOU (89.5
South Orange) every Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. Down at
the other end of the state, the Camden Riversharks are
heard on WGLS (89.7 Glassboro), and in between, the Somerset
Patriots are heard on WCTC (1450 New Brunswick).
In Pennsylvania, the Lancaster Barnstormers play their
full season on WLPA (1490 Lancaster); while the York Revolution
are heard on WSBA (910 York).
Weekend games of the Long Island Ducks are heard on
WNYG (1440 Babylon), and across Long Island Sound, the Bridgeport
Bluefish play on WVOF (88.5 Fairfield).
We'll check out the Can-Am League (including the new team
in Ottawa) next week...
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!)
May 14, 2007 -
- The suspension is over for JV and Elvis at NEW YORK's WFNY-FM
(92.3 Free FM). As of Friday afternoon, the mid-morning team
who came to CBS Radio's Free FM from San Francisco last year
are out of work - and the talk station now has another daypart
to fill in addition to its late-night slot. Jeff Vandergrift
and Dan Lay had been off the air for over two weeks, ever since
a local Asian-American group began protesting a rebroadcast of
an old segment (originally aired in San Francisco, then later
aired at least once without incident on WFNY-FM) in which the
show called a Chinese restaurant and mocked an employee's accent.
- What was acceptable even a few months ago, however, is now
problematic in the wake of the Don Imus debacle - and so after
a week of "best-of" shows and a week of fill-ins Cabbie
and Larry Wachs, JV and Elvis are gone and questions are swirling
about whether there's a future for a deliberately edgy talk station
in a world full of protests over any perceived slight. The next
Free FM hosts in the crosshairs are morning men Opie and Anthony,
who now have Al Sharpton calling for their dismissal from CBS
Radio over a segment that never even aired on the terrestrial
simulcast of their XM Satellite Radio show. The duo began their
XM show Friday by apologizing for the bit, which involved a homeless
man ranting about Queen Elizabeth II, and signed off with the
same line they've used in the past before previous dismissals
in Boston and New York.
- So far, CBS appears to be standing by Opie and Anthony, but
we've seen how quickly that support can fade as protests build
- and if the O&A show were to disappear from the Free FM
schedule, the station would be on even shakier revenue ground,
raising serious questions about how long the format can survive.
- Over at sister station WFAN (660 New York), the revenue hole
created by Don Imus' firing hasn't been filled, either, and as
Imus launches what's reported to be a $120 million wrongful-dismissal
suit against CBS Radio, the station's still trying to fill the
programming hole in morning drive, at the very least. NBC News
correspondent David Gregory is the latest fill-in, and when he
takes the morning drive reins today, he'll be the first post-Imus
host to be heard on WFAN and seen on MSNBC, which will be producing
the show in a reversal of the old Imus arrangement, in which
WFAN owned the show and sold the content to MSNBC. Will Gregory
be able to pull off the balance Imus struck for so many years
before his downfall, mixing low-brow morning humor with top-name
political interviews? As a regular Today fill-in host, Gregory
has the morning-show experience, and as NBC's White House correspondent,
he's as well-connected as it gets. We'll be watching (and listening)
to see how the experiment works.
- In VERMONT, it's all but official that the Clear Channel
stations in Burlington and Randolph are being sold to Dean Goodman's
GoodRadio.TV, LLC group. The Vermont Guardian reports that Goodradio
is spending a total of $452 million to buy 36 markets from Clear
Channel, including the Burlington cluster of AC WEZF (92.9),
oldies WVTK (92.1 Port Henry NY), classic rock WCPV (101.3 Essex
NY)/WCVR (102.1 Randolph) and talk WXZO (96.7 Willsboro NY)/WEAV
(960 Plattsburgh NY)/WTSJ (1320 Randolph). Meanwhile, the Binghamton
Press & Sun-Bulletin reports that the Clear Channel radio
cluster there has been sold as well, but that no buyer has been
announced. Will that be GoodRadio, too?
May 12, 2003 -
- How important is NEW YORK's "Blink" (WNEW 102.7)
to Infinity right now? Enough to take the full attention of operations
manager Steve Kingston, at the very least; he's giving up the
programming reins at sister rock outlet WXRK (92.3) to concentrate
completely on the launch of the top 40-80s-90s-pop-entertainment-talk-Jennifer
Lopez hybrid (did we miss anything?) format up the dial. Robert
Cross heads to New York from Infinity's KROQ (106.7 Pasadena)
in Los Angeles to handle programming at K-Rock.
- Over at Clear Channel, Frankie Blue is out as PD of dance-CHR
WKTU (103.5 Lake Success), seven years after launching the format.
Assistant music director Jeff Z. is handling interim PD duties,
with help from cluster manager Tom Poleman.
- The big news out of MASSACHUSETTS was the sale of WAMG (1150
Boston); Mega Communications, which paid $5 million for then-WNFT
in 1998, will get $8.6 million from Salem for the station when
the deal closes later this year. The sale of WAMG will trigger
a few other changes around the dial: for Salem, it will likely
mean a reshuffling of programming from WROL (950) and WEZE (590)
as 1150 adopts a conservative secular talk format under new calls;
for Mega, it means moving the Spanish tropical "Mega"
format and WAMG calls down the dial to Dedham-licensed WBPS (890),
which Mega has been leasing out to a talk programmer.
- We can't figure out what Citadel is up to in northeast PENNSYLVANIA:
we passed through Scranton on the way home from New York, and
had a chance to listen to WCWI (94.3 Carbondale) and WEMR (1460
Tunkhannock) for a bit. Alert NERW readers will recall that WCWI
and WEMR had been simulcasting "Cat Country 96," WCTO
(96.1 Easton) from over in the Allentown market - but on this
trip, we heard WCTO doing a triple legal ID with WCWI/WEMR...but
the programming wasn't being simulcast on the Scranton-area signals.
Instead, WCWI and WEMR were doing their own country format, but
still using "Cat Country 96" liners. Huh?
May 14, 1998-
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- Boston's AM 1150, WNFT, has broken away from its simulcast
with WAAF (107.3 Worcester). The ARS (soon to be CBS) station
began running the satellite "Touch" R&B oldies
format earlier this week, perhaps as a challenge to longtime
urban daytimer WILD, just down the dial at 1090. The ARS/CBS
sale is expected to close any day now, and NERW wonders whether
WNFT will end up staying with the CBS stations (WBZ, WZLX, WODS,
WBCN, WBZ-TV, plus ARS acquisition WBMX) or being sold off along
with the stations the Justice Department ordered CBS to sell
(WRKO, WEEI, WEGQ, WAAF).
- More from MASSACHUSETTS: Cape Cod probably needs another
FM allocation the way it needs more summertime traffic on US
6, but that hasn't stopped someone from asking the FCC to allocate
94.3A to Brewster, near the "elbow" of the Cape. If
you're keeping track, that means that the Cape would have 13
commercial FMs (plus two AMs) for a total year-round population
of just over 200,000. This allocation would have been impossible,
of course, before Ernie Boch's WXTK in West Yarmouth moved from
94.9 to 95.1 last year. (And NERW notes also that the 102.3 CP
in Truro, WCDJ, is *still* unbuilt...)
- Two station sales to report: Joe Gallagher's Auritaur Communications
(which owns WBEC AM/FM in Pittsfield, is buying WNGN in Hoosick
Falls NY, and has an interest in WBET/WCAV in Brockton through
KJI Broadcasting) is paying $1 million for WMVY (92.7 Tisbury),
the Cape and Islands' really cool AAA station. Meantime, troubled
business-talker WADN (1120 Concord) changes hands from Ned Crecilus'
Assabet Communications to Susan Armstrong's Money Matters Radio,
for a reported $450,000. Money Matters programs the morning business
show on WADN.
- Radio people on the move: Rochester's WHAM (1180) welcomes
Randy Gorbman back as news director. It's Randy's second time
on the job; he left a couple of years ago to become operations
manager at WIBX (950) down the Thruway in Utica. WHAM has also
replaced its evening rerun of "Dr." Laura Schlessinger
with a new local talk show, hosted by former WPXY (97.9) morning
co-host Joan Brandenburg. Her show airs weeknights from 8-10
PM. Speaking of PXY, part-timer/promotions assistant Cory Kincaid
is moving down to the Elmira market, where he'll do nights on
WNKI (106.1 Corning). Aaron Brillbeck is leaving the morning
news slot on the North Country's "FSR" (WGIX 95.3 Gouverneur/WSLB
1400 Ogdensburg) to work at WSYR (570) in Syracuse.
- In MAINE, there's a new station to report. Religious WWWA
(95.3 Winslow) signed on April 10. It's running from the same
Augusta studios as sister station WMDR (1340). Up in Presque
Isle, WOZI (101.7) has applied to change frequency to 101.9 and
move to the Mars Hill site south of town.
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learn how you can help make continued publication possible. NERW
2008 by Scott Fybush.