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August 11, 2008

Non-Competes Outlawed in New York

*Non-compete contracts became a thing of the past for broadcast employees in NEW YORK State as of Thursday, when Gov. David Paterson signed the Broadcast Employees Freedom to Work Act. The legislation was strongly supported by AFTRA, but faced intense opposition from the New York State Broadcasters Association, which attempted to rally its members to lobby against the bill.

The governor, however, was sympathetic to the case presented by AFTRA and its members. "The contract provisions we’re banning placed an unfair burden on these professionals by limiting their ability to move to other employers within the same market or within a certain time period," Paterson said in a statement after signing the bill. "With the approval of this bill, we hope to empower broadcasters with greater independence as they pursue employment options."

At least here in western New York, the immediate question raised by the bill's passage was, "what happens to Brother Wease?" The former WCMF (96.5 Rochester) morning man has been off the air since his contract dispute with WCMF's new owners, Entercom, flared up late last year; while he's now working for Clear Channel, we're told other provisions of Wease's Entercom contract will still keep him off the air until around Thanksgiving, when he'll reappear at Clear Channel's WFXF (95.1 Honeoye Falls).

*There's one other Clear Channel Rochester note to offer this week: WHTK (1280 Rochester) quietly changed its branding from "Hot Talk 1280" to "Sportstalk 1280" last week. We're sure that has nothing, nothing at all, to do with the impending format change at Entercom's WROC (950 Rochester), which has apparently registered "" as a new domain name.

The biggest news out of New York City was also from Clear Channel, as yet another PD is departing its cluster there. This time it's Bob Buchmann, PD of WAXQ (104.3 New York), whose exit next week will put Tom Poleman, the cluster's senior VP/programming, in control of Q104.3, assisted by APD Eric Wellman. Buchmann's 2-4 PM airshift will be divided between middayer Maria Milito and afternoon jock Ken Dashow.

(Another former New York PD also exited Clear Channel last week; Kevin Metheny had spent a decade with CC's Cleveland cluster, but is probably best known, forever, as the WNBC programmer dubbed "Pig Virus" in Howard Stern's "Private Parts" book and immortalized by Paul Giamatti as "Pig Vomit" in the movie version; there's no word yet on where Metheny is headed next.)

*Over on the New York AM dial, Wednesday (Aug. 6) marked the debut of Salem's new talker. WNYM (970 Hackensack NJ) wrapped up several days of stunting (including an all-Sinatra day) with an hour of a countdown clock, followed by a brief welcome to its talk format, then right into the Mike Gallagher show. While there are no strictly local shows on WNYM, Salem is trying to create as many links as it can between its syndicated lineup and the city, most notably in the case of Gallagher, the former WABC morning man whose program originates from the Empire State Building. The rest of the lineup includes the Wall Street Journal Report (5-6 AM), Bill Bennett (6-9 AM), Dennis Prager (noon-3 PM), Michael Medved (3-6 PM), Hugh Hewitt (6-9 PM), Laura Schlessinger (9-midnight), John Gibson (midnight-3 AM) and Jim Bohannon (3-5 AM). WNYM brings Fox News Radio an hourly clearance in New York as well, with Metro Networks providing local news headlines.

While we're across the Hudson, we note that Arthur Liu's Multicultural Broadcasting has been granted a construction permit to power WNSW (1430 Newark) up to 10 kW days/7 kW nights from the site in Clifton, NEW JERSEY that it now shares (under Special Temporary Authority, at reduced power) with WPAT (930 Paterson). WNSW's former 5 kW site in Union, N.J. was demolished last year. In order for WNSW to power up, another Multicultural station has to be moved. The FCC also granted WNYG (1440 Babylon) a CP to move east to Medford, where it will diplex on the existing site of WLIM (1580 Patchogue), running 1 kW days, 190 watts nights, DA-N. Liu will have six months to sell WNYG, which was grandfathered over the limit of five AM signals allowed in a single market.

(And we'd note that WNYG's move will end a very long history of broadcasting from the little brick building alongside Route 109 in Babylon; it seems as though almost everyone in Long Island radio history passed through those studios at one time or another during their many years as home to WNYG and its erstwhile sister station, WBAB-FM.)

Another Long Island note: With the closing of Clear Channel's privatization deal, WALK-FM (97.5 Patchogue) and WALK (1370 Patchogue) have entered the Aloha Station Trust; the stations have been for sale, in one form or another, for over a year now, and no immediate changes are expected there.

*Moving back upstate, Citadel's split with Opie and Anthony extended to Buffalo last week, as the New York-based morning duo vanished from the airwaves of WEDG (103.3), abruptly replaced by PD "Evil" Jim Kurdziel, who says he's there only temporarily. Don't expect a morning return for Shredd and Ragan, now well-established in afternoons at WEDG; instead, Kurdziel is looking for a new local morning show for the station.

Canandaigua's WCGR (1550) quietly changed formats last week. The little daytimer had been part of the Finger Lakes Radio Group's "Finger Lakes News Network," based at sister station WGVA (1240 Geneva), but once WGCR's AM signal began simulcasting on translator W283BF (104.5), we hear there were some territorial squabbles with Rochester's big-signal WHAM (1180) over rights to Michael Savage, who's heard live at 6 PM on FLNN and delayed later at night on WHAM. In any event, WCGR is now running satellite oldies, leaving FLNN on its remaining affiliates - WGVA, WAUB (1590 Auburn) and WFLR (1570 Dundee).

(A few more Finger Lakes translator notes - in Ithaca, Saga's two AM stations are now being heard on the FM dial - WHCU 870 on W238AA 95.5, formerly a relay of WYXL 97.3, and WNYY 1470 on W276AO 103.3, formerly on 103.1 as a relay of WQNY 103.7.)

In Watertown, Intrepid Broadcasting's WBLH (92.5 Black River) debuted for real August 1, ending a month and a half of stunting (we never did get to hear its 45-minute loop, alas) with the sign-on of an adult hits format as "Your Tunes 92.5." WBLH's studios are in the J.B. Wise Plaza, just north of Public Square in downtown Watertown.

Up in Plattsburgh, WIRY (1340) is making plans to move out of the studios on Cornelia Street that it's called home for almost half a century.

The former veterinary office will be demolished to make way for a new Walgreen's drug store (sigh...), but WIRY will pack up its vintage microphones and cassette singles and AM stereo processing and relocate its studio and transmitter across town to 4704 Route 9, south of downtown Plattsburgh. WIRY hopes to be settled into its new digs by Thanksgiving. (Fortunately, we had the opportunity to visit and photograph the old facility recently, so you'll see it on Tower Site of the Week before it's all gone...)

In Olean, Chris Hicks is exiting WMXO (101.5)/WOEN (1360), where he's served as PD/MD; he's moving to Charleston, West Virginia to serve as "multimedia engineer" for WCHS-TV/WVAH-TV.

Moving back downstate, WTSX (96.7 Port Jervis) has dropped its "Fox Country" format, returning to a simulcast of sister station WGNY-FM (103.1 Newburgh), playing classic hits as "The Fox."

And we close our Empire State report this week with several obituaries:

Joe Famm was born Joe Famiglietti 92 years ago, starting his media career with the old New York Mirror. When the paper folded, "Joe Famm" moved to WABC, serving as City Hall bureau chief for many years, as well as president of the New York Press Club. Famiglietti's wife, Pamela, had died in June.

Floyd Misek was known as "Floyd the Food Guy" to viewers of Rochester's R News and its Time Warner cable sister stations around the state. After leaving R News in 2004, Misek had been hosting programs for Rochester's Marketplace Liquors on WHEC (Channel 10); earlier in his career, he'd written for the Watertown Daily Times as "Dr. Lazaro." An accomplished chef and caterer, and a good friend and former colleague to your editor, Misek died Aug. 1 in New York of a brain tumor. He was just 58.

We vividly recall the national headlines back in 1979 when Ragan Henry became the first African-American owner of a commercial TV network affiliate as his BENI Broadcasting purchased WHEC-TV from Gannett. In several decades of TV and radio ownership, his holdings also included Philadelphia's WWDB-FM and Atlanta's WAOK/WVEE. Henry died July 26 at age 74 after a long illness; he didn't want his passing announced immediately, and news of his death emerged only late last week.

And as the world mourns Isaac Hayes, who died Sunday (Aug. 10) at his Memphis home, we recall that in addition to his tremendous musical career, Hayes was also a New York City morning host, doing mornings on WRKS (Kiss 98.7) from 1996-1999, then continuing as local host after the station picked up the Tom Joyner syndicated show from 1999-2002. Hayes would have turned 66 next week.

Edited by NERW's own Scott Fybush - on sale now as an e-book or printed volume!

*In PENNSYLVANIA, Miss Jones is history at Radio One's WPHI (100.3 Media/Philadelphia), just a month after moving her morning show there from its original home at New York's WQHT (97.1). For now, WPHI is running a music-intensive morning show as it looks for a new host.

Across town at CBS Radio's WYSP (94.1 Philadelphia), Jeff Sottolano has been promoted from music and marketing director to PD, filling the gap left in May by the dismissal of John Cook. Sottolano has had a meteoric rise within the company, starting just seven years ago as an intern at Rochester's WZNE (also 94.1) and rising to PD at that station before moving to WYSP in 2006.

CBS Radio's talker WPHT (1210 Philadelphia) is reworking its evening lineup. With the departure of Dr. Anthony Mazzarelli from the 6-10 PM Monday-Thursday/9 PM-midnight Friday slot (he'll now be heard Sunday nights at 10), Dom Giordano moves up from late nights to fill Mazzarelli's "1210 Tonight" slot.

In Pittsburgh, there's a new local sports lineup at ESPN Radio's WEAE (1250) to fill the hole left by the firing of Mark Madden a few months back. Stan Savran, who worked at WEAE's predecessor WTAE, then later went to Clear Channel's WBGG (970), returns to 1250 to anchor the 10 AM-1 PM show alongside Guy Junker and Chris Mack. From 3-6 PM, Scott Paulsen, late of WDVE, WTZN and (briefly) KDKA, is now working with former WEAE middayer Eddy Crow and former Steelers defensive back Mike Logan.

Speaking of KDKA, the venerable station is for sale for the first time in its 88 years. CBS Radio announced last week that it's looking to downsize its station holdings, spinning off about 50 stations in smaller markets. That could include the Hartford, CONNECTICUT cluster, complete with the big 50 kW signal of WTIC (1080) - and employees in Pittsburgh were told last week that their stations are being shopped around as well. NERW notes that while the name on the license has changed over the years, from Westinghouse to CBS to Infinity and back to CBS, KDKA has never been offered for sale. In the face of a slumping market and tough competition from FM talker WPGB (104.7), would this heritage signal bring as much value now as it would have a few years ago - and would a new owner tolerate the interference from WBZ (1030 Boston)'s digital signal, a tradeoff CBS is now willing to make internally?

There's a station sale in the works in Hazleton, where Route 81 is now LMA'ing WAZL (1490) to its current airstaff, including Mike Haydock, Mike Moran, Tony Pacelli and Leo Valovich.

There's a new station coming to Chambersburg: WROG (102.9 Cumberland MD) signed off for good from its Maryland location last week, and will soon sign on from Chambersburg as a class A signal on 93.3. The move will allow another of Bob Stevens' stations, WANB-FM (103.1), to complete its move from Waynesburg to Mount Pleasant, bringing it closer to Pittsburgh.

In Lansford, northwest of Philadelphia, WLSH (1410) has segued from standards to oldies.

In State College, Family Stations (the Oakland, California group, no relation to the upstate New York/northern Pennsylvania Family Life Network) has put WXFR (88.3) on the air, carrying its religious format piped in by satellite from the West Coast.

In the Erie market, WYNE (1530 North East) was off the air last week after a fire destroyed its transmitter facility. The fire was apparently set by teenage arsonists seeking to cover up a burglary at a dentist's office - which happened to occupy the building that was once the studios for WHYP (1530/100.9) and their successor stations WEYZ/WRKT, and which was still home to the transmitter for 1530. WYNE returned to the air Friday after putting up a smaller transmitter structure to replace the damaged building; its studios in downtown North East were not damaged.

Down the road in Erie proper, budget cuts at Citadel claimed the job of WXKC (99.9) morning newsman Dave Benson, who was sent packing after the August 4 morning show. Benson had been with "Classy 100" for over two decades.

And we have three obituaries from the Keystone State to close out this section of our report:

Ed Harvey, who died August 6 in Malvern, began his Philadelphia broadcast career in 1951 when he joined WCAU radio and TV as an announcer. In 1960, he became the first talk host in the city to take phone calls on-air, and he continued to host "The Talk of Philadelphia" as WCAU transitioned from full-service to full-time talk. (He also continued to do other announcing, incuding calling the Eagles' last championship season in 1960.) Harvey left WCAU in the early seventies, working in PR, but he kept a hand in radio, spending a brief time as owner of WYIS (690 Phoenixville, now WPHE). Harvey was 92.

James McKenna, who died July 23 in Hightstown, N.J., was best known for his long career as a Washington attorney, representing clients including ABC. But he was also a station owner in the seventies and eighties, with holdings that included WCMB/WSFM (now WTKT/WHKF) in Harrisburg, as well as WWQM in Madison, Wisconsin and KQRS in Minneapolis. McKenna was 90.

And Edie Huggins, who died July 29 in Philadelphia, blazed a pioneering trail as the first black woman to work on-air as a TV reporter in the city. Huggins spent 42 years at WCAU-TV (Channel 10), starting as a features reporter on John Facenda's "Big News Team," anchoring the midday "What's Happening" show and more recently working as a street reporter and host of the "Huggins' Hero" segments. Huggins, who had been battling cancer, was 72.

*In RHODE ISLAND, they're awaiting the reissue of the Providence Arbitron ratings after the book was abruptly withdrawn last week. Arbitron says six diaries were returned from a "media-affiliated" household in East Greenwich, R.I., and that those diaries substantially affected ratings for WPRO (630 Providence)/WEAN (99.7 Wakefield-Peace Dale).

The Boston Herald and other media outlets immediately focused on WPRO's morning host, John DePetro, who happens to live in East Greenwich, and local TV newscasts led with video of DePetro in his car leaving the station, saying little of substance about the issue. The Herald reported that the six questionable diaries claimed to be from three women and three men, all aged 27-34, who reported 109 hours of listening to DePetro's show - and that the spring book jumped WPRO from 11th place (with a 2.0) to fourth place (with a 6.8) among listeners 25-54.

What will the revised numbers say - and will DePetro's job be affected? Stay tuned...

*The public TV station serving western MASSACHUSETTS will leave the analog airwaves earlier than planned. WGBY (Channel 57) announced last week that it will turn off its analog signal November 5, retiring an aging analog transmitter that has been operating at half-power and easing the transition that will replace the current WGBY-DT (Channel 58) with a new signal on channel 22, currently home to the analog signal of NBC affiliate WWLP-TV. (WWLP-DT will remain on its present channel, 11.)

In Boston, the second local newscasts in HD hit the airwaves at noon on July 29, when WHDH (Channel 7) quietly inaugurated its HD broadcasts. "7 News in HD" is being seen not only on WHDH-DT, but also at 10 PM on sister station WLVI-HD. There's no word on when the remaining two standard-def local newscasts, CBS' WBZ-TV/WSBK and Fox's WFXT, will go HD.

In Fall River, Keri Rodrigues has departed WSAR (1480), where she was PD/news director and morning co-host, to join the Bristol County District Attorney's office. In her new job as assistant director of community affairs, she'll be focusing on child and senior abuse; Hector ("Happy Hec") Gauthier continues in morning drive on WSAR.

And we join in mourning one of the giants of Boston TV news. At various times in his long career, Jim Thistle served as news director for WKBG-TV (Channel 56, now WLVI); WBZ-TV (Channel 4), where he expanded the evening newscasts to 90 minutes; WCVB (Channel 5), where he served as news director from 1974-1982 at the peak of the station's local prominence; and WNEV (Channel 7, now WHDH-TV), where he worked from 1988-1990. In his later years, Thistle turned to academia, joining the Boston University faculty in 1982 and training a new generation of TV reporters, anchors and producers. Thistle had been battling cancer; he was 66 when he died July 29 at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

*In MAINE, the closing of the $11 million Blueberry Broadcasting purchase of the former Clear Channel stations in Augusta and Bangor brought some personnel changes. Jack O'Brien, who'd been working as operations manager for Citadel's stations in Des Moines, Iowa, returns to Maine to be director of programming and operations for the stations. That sent Steve "Reverend" Smith, who'd had the PD/OM roles at WTOS (105.1 Skowhegan), packing; also out at WTOS are APD/afternoon jock Chris Rush and midday jock Jessie.

*In VERMONT, WCFR (1480 Springfield) is now being heard on the FM dial as well. The translator formerly known as W294AP (106.7 Claremont NH) has been relocated to Springfield and 106.5, where it's now W293BH - and we hear its 10 watts is doing a nice job of covering Springfield with WCFR's oldies format.

*A former Vermont jock has relocated to NEW HAMPSHIRE. Ashley Hoover was with WZRT (97.1 Rutland), but is now doing nights at WJYY (105.5 Concord), where she replaces Ryan.

*In CANADA, Newcap is expanding its footprint in Ontario with the C$18.95 million purchase of 12 FM stations from the Haliburton Broadcasting Group. The stations are the "Moose FM" outlets in the Muskoka, North Bay and Timmins areas; it appears that Haliburton keeps its French-language stations in Sudbury, Timmins, Hearst and Kapuskasing, as well as its "Moose" station in Haldimand/Norfolk (CKJN 92.9) and CIYN (The Coast) in Kincardine, but we won't know for certain until the assignment application is filed with the CRTC.

In Toronto, changes are underway now that Moses Znaimer has taken control of CFZM (740); the station's standards format will give way to at least one talk show beginning today, when Dale Goldhawk launches the 10 AM-1 PM "Goldhawk Fights Back" show. A preview of the show on Goldhawk's website identifies Znaimer's target audience as "Zoomers - boomers with a zest for life," which may give a clue as to the station's new calls. (They're also Znaimer's initials, reversed, to complement sister station CFMZ 96.3.)

On the FM dial, "Humble Howard" Glassman takes over today as morning host at CJEZ (EZ Rock 97.3), replacing Stu Jeffries, reports Milkman UnLimited.

Milky also reports some personnel changes in southern Ontario: at Astral Media's St. Catharines stations, CHRE (EZ Rock 105.7) and CKTB (610), Sarah Cummings has been promoted to PD, while in Kitchener, Mike "Mike Daddy" Wyman has departed CKBT (91.5 the Beat) after four years.

North of London, My Broadcasting has been granted a new link in its "My FM" chain. Its new signal in Exeter, Ontario will operate on 90.5 with 1330 watts, DA.

In Sudbury, a new signal is now testing. Larche Communications' CICS (KICX 91.7) began testing July 28, and is due to launch with its country format on August 18, boasting of being the first FM country station in the market in 18 years.

In Quebec, Corus' CHLT-FM (102.1 Sherbrooke) has been granted CRTC permission to move up the dial to 107.7, increasing power and allowing CHLT (630) to leave the air. The move comes over the objections of Vermont Public Radio, which rallied listeners to its WVPS (107.9 Burlington) in the Eastern Townships area to complain to the CRTC about potential interference. VPR's complaints met a deaf ear at the CRTC, however; the commission notes that as a US-based signal, WVPS has no protection from interference across the border.

And we note the passing of Richard Dolph "Dick" Buchanan, whose family put CKPC in Brantford, Ontario on the air in 1923. Buchanan had owned CKPC (1380) and CKPC-FM (92.1) since 1972, when he purchased the stations from his mother. Buchanan recently boosted power on both signals - to 25 kW on the AM and 80 kW on the FM - and took pride in keeping both stations live and local around the clock. Buchanan died July 29 after a battle with cancer. He was 76.

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!)

August 7, 2007 -

  • So there we were on Friday night, wearing our "editor of" hat, plugging in call letter updates, when we noticed a new callsign - WKEL, for EMF's new signal in Confluence, PENNSYLVANIA. That was all well and good - except for one question: what new signal in Confluence, PA? Actually, there was a second question, too: where the heck is Confluence, PA? And a third: how did a new signal in an obscure western Pennsylvania town slip right past us?
  • After a bit of frenzied digging, it turns out that the class A signal on 98.5 isn't a completely new facility after all - it's the infamous "Meyersdale FM" that went unclaimed in one round of FCC spectrum auctions, then went to EMF for $376,000 in another round of auctions back in January. It also turns out that, under the FCC's new rules for moving an FM allocation, it's going to be much easier for moves like this one to happen in the same stealthy way this one did, through a minor amendment to a pending application.
  • In this particular case, it turns out that EMF filed the application way back in February, it was accepted in March, and was granted in late June. So where is Confluence, and why would EMF want to move an unbuilt station there from Meyersdale? It's a community of some 800 people, on the Youghiogheny River about 10 miles west of Meyersdale and 15 miles southeast of Uniontown - but the application calls for a transmitter site well to the northwest of Confluence, near Mill Run in Fayette County.
  • By itself, the new WKEL won't even approach Pittsburgh rimshot status - it'll be nearly a 50-mile shot, on a channel that's first-adjacent to in-town WOGI (98.3 Duquesne). But it will put a decent signal over much of Fayette County, including Uniontown and Connellville, and it will eliminate the need for EMF to feed its chain of (as yet unbuilt) "K-Love" translators serving Pittsburgh from a primary station way down in Grafton, West Virginia.
  • Up in Montrose, between Scranton and Binghamton, WPEL may soon be abandoning the 1250 frequency that's been its home for 60 years. The southern gospel station (sister to the big-signal religious WPEL-FM on 96.5) has been granted a CP to move down the dial to 800, where it will still run 1000 watts by day, and will add night service with 135 watts, all non-directional.
  • Multicultural Broadcasting's WNSW (1430 Newark) has signed off from its two-tower site next to the Garden State Parkway in Union, NEW JERSEY, and the station is now operating at reduced power from the WPAT (930 Paterson) site nine miles north in Clifton. WNSW (which changed format not long ago, from Korean to Spanish religion) holds a construction permit to go to 10 kW days, 7 kW nights, diplexing on all four of WPAT's towers, but Multicultural has to resolve the interference issue with co-owned WNYG (1440 Babylon NY) first; it's hoping the FCC will move quickly on its application to move WNYG out east to Medford, NY.
  • Sinclair Broadcast Group is bowing out of TV ownership in MASSACHUSETTS, selling WGGB-TV (Channel 40) to John Gormally's Gormally Broadcasting for $21.2 million and restoring local ownership to the TV market for the first time since the 1983 sale of WWLP-TV (Channel 22). Gormally publishes the "Business West" business newspaper, and the ABC affiliate is his first television property.

August 11, 2003 -

  • One of CANADA's largest broadcasters is taking an interest in the radio scene across the border. Standard Radio, which owns Toronto's CFRB, Montreal's CJAD, CJFM and CHOM and Ottawa's CKQB, among others, bought a 25% interest (the maximum allowable to a foreign owner) in Martz Communications last week, giving it a piece of a broadcaster that's been giving it headaches in Montreal.
  • Tim Martz has long specialized in border broadcasting, buying and selling stations everywhere from Calais, Maine to northern Minnesota with an eye towards sending his signals across the border into Canada. At the moment, his station group includes nine stations in northern New York: top 40 WYUL (94.7 Chateaugay), oldies WICY (1490 Malone), country WVNV (96.5 Malone), top 40 "Yes FM" WYSX (98.7 Ogdensburg)/WYSI (96.7 Canton), AC WVLF (96.1 Norwood), oldies WMSA (1340 Massena), rock WRCD (101.5 Canton) and country WNCQ-FM (102.9 Morristown) - and of those, the one that's the biggest concern to Standard is WYUL, which puts a signal into much of Montreal, yet is unbound by the Canadian regulations on hit music content, language (unlike the Montreal stations, it can give traffic reports in French and English) and Canadian music content.
  • With Standard's money in the picture, will WYUL ease up on its attacks on Standard's CJFM ("Mix 96"), including the taunting Web site URL of Or will Standard put its hit-music energy into the cross-border signal and refocus CJFM in another direction? It should be interesting to watch...especially for Standard's Montreal competitors.
  • While we're in the Seaway Valley, a surprise format change at Corus: it dumped the country at CJSS (101.9 Cornwall) on Friday afternoon, replacing "Blaze" with "Rock 101.9," which looks like a carbon copy of Corus' very successful CFMI (Rock 101) in Vancouver. Could this, too, be a reaction to the Standard/Martz moves, especially so close on the dial to "Fox" 101.5 over in Canton?
  • Just across the border in upstate NEW YORK, WJJL (1440 Niagara Falls) is in chapter 9 bankruptcy proceedings - but with a steady hand to guide it through its recovery. Pittsburgh-based broker/consultant Ray Rosenblum, a good friend of this column, has been named as "special consultant" to WJJL's owner M.J. Phillips Communications by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Carl Bucki. We enjoy WJJL's unusual and obscure oldies format, and we're hopeful that Ray can help the station get back on its feet.
  • Up in north central MASSACHUSETTS, WINQ (97.7 Winchendon) broke from its simulcast of news-talk WKBK (1290 Keene NH) last week; it's now doing country as "Wink Country," we're told.
  • On the LPFM front, the Talking Information Center gets 104.3 in Pittsfield, where it'll bring its talking-book service to the Berkshires from the WBRK-FM (101.7) tower; over in North Adams, Gospel Train Ministry gets 98.9 for an LPFM.
  • Citadel has handed off the keys to WAHL (99.9 Athol) and WCAT (700 Orange); the FCC has signed off on the sale of the stations to Steven Silberberg, doing business as "County Broadcasting."
  • And a very belated obituary: V. Birney Imes, Jr. died March 12 in Alabama, just three days short of his 89th birthday. Imes was an important player in Granite State broadcasting, buying WMUR (Channel 9) in Manchester in 1981 and building it from a tiny station in an old house on Elm Street into a respected broadcast operation before selling it to Hearst-Argyle in 2000 for $185 million, a $180 million profit over his purchase price.

August 6, 1998 -

  • Boston's WB affiliate was knocked off the air Tuesday morning when a 42-ton crane crashed through the roof of its studio building. The crane was attempting to put the STL tower in place at the building next door to WLVI (Channel 56) on Morrissey Boulevard, which will be the home to Greater Media's Boston group (WBOS, WSJZ, WKLB-FM, WROR, and WMJX) this fall. The crane flipped on its side, sending the 140-foot tower into the hallway at WLVI.
  • The Channel 56 building was immediately evacuated, but engineers were able to get a signal back on the air from the transmitter site within about an hour. Later in the day, WLVI borrowed a satellite truck from New England Cable News to downlink the Kids' WB programming from sister station WPIX (Channel 11) in New York. Meanwhile, WLVI's news staff became the guests at WCVB (Channel 5), where they were able to produce a 10 PM newscast using WCVB's equipment. At this writing, the exact cause of the accident still hasn't been determined.
  • In other MASSACHUSETTS news, Newburyport's WNBP (1450) is being sold -- and one of the new owners was there when the station first went on the air in 1957. Long before Bob Fuller was a station owner, he was a 16 year old kid from Newburyport whose first radio job was at the brand-new daytimer on 1470. Fuller went on to bigger and better things as a station owner, and WNBP eventually became WCEA, then WNCG, and then went back to its original calls while moving from 1470 down to 1450 and full-time status. Now Fuller is teaming with Al Mozier (an employee of Fuller's Fuller-Jeffrey Broadcasting) to buy the station from Win Damon. Damon will stay on as morning host and sales manager; Mozier will become station manager.
  • In NEW YORK, the big news this week is in the Albany market. Just a few weeks after getting FCC permission to change city of license from Johnstown to Altamont, WSRD (104.9) has applied to move its transmitter some 40 miles southeast to the WPTR (96.3 Voorheesville) site in the hills south of Schenectady. With 570 watts from the new site, WSRD will have decent coverage of most of the Albany market. Down the road a bit, someone called "Pee Wee Communications" tried applying to share time with SUNY Albany's WCDB (90.9) -- only to have their application tossed right back at them for failing to submit any engineering data.
  • The Sound of Life network has WHVP (91.1 Hudson) on the air, filling the gap between WFGB (89.7 Kingston) and its Albany translators. Next up this fall: WSSK (89.7 Saratoga Springs) and WLJH (90.9 Glens Falls).

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