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October 6, 2008

WCOJ's Gone...Is Nassau Next?

*It was one tough week for the nation's economy, and the effects of the sagging markets are being felt all over the radio dial - but nowhere more so, this week, than in eastern PENNSYLVANIA.

In Chester County, just west of Philadelphia, almost six decades of local radio at WCOJ (1420 Coatesville) came to a sudden end Tuesday night when the station went silent, a victim of the collapse of the Route 81 Radio cluster that once counted WCOJ as its flagship.

As we understand it, former WCOJ owner Lloyd Roach used the station as his investment when he formed the Route 81 group with two venture capital firms, only to end up losing that investment several years later during a complex legal dispute with his former partners. Then came a money crunch in July that found one of the venture capital firms, Waller Sutton, taking over operations of the Route 81 cluster after a foreclosure sale. (In the meantime, the company had downsized, selling off its stations in Utica, N.Y. and parts of its Scranton/Wilkes-Barre cluster.)

On Tuesday, Route 81 manager Ira Rosenblatt called a 3 PM staff meeting at WCOJ, telling staffers the station had been sold, the locks were being changed, and WCOJ would be off the air at the end of the day, leaving local talk host Robert Henson and about a dozen other employees out of work.

WCOJ's new owner? Catholic broadcaster Holy Spirit Radio Foundation, which will return the station to the air Tuesday as a simulcast of its Bucks County signal, WISP (1570 Doylestown), with no local content.

*While the loss of WCOJ's local programming is indeed unfortunate, it was far from a total surprise; Waller Sutton has made no secret of its intent to liquidate its Route 81 investment since foreclosing on the stations, and almost from the beginning, the Route 81 stations had been plagued with financial problems.

So it was somewhat more worrisome as news spread late last week about financial tremors at one of the region's larger radio groups.

Nassau Broadcasting Partners, which used the easy capital of the boom years to build up a cluster of 38 small- and medium-market stations spread from Maine to Maryland, told the FCC it can't close its $22 million purchase of Reading-market WFKB (107.5 Boyertown) on schedule.

"Due to certain dislocations in the credit markets," WFKB's seller, Lancaster-based WDAC Radio Company told the Commission, Nassau has been unable to come up with financing to close the deal, and the purchase agreement between the two companies "has been terminated."

For now, Nassau continues to LMA WFKB, which flipped from religious WBYN to classic hits "Frank" back in October 2005, when the LMA began. (The WBYN calls and format now reside on another Nassau signal, the former WYNS Lehighton on AM 1160.)

But the LMA ends November 30, and while WDAC Radio and Nassau have asked the FCC to extend its approval of the sale through December in case a new sale agreement can be struck, WDAC notes that it retains the right to assign the 107.5 license to "a third party" if it can strike a separate deal before the sale approval expires December 22.

And the potential loss of WFKB may not be the biggest worry at Nassau, we're hearing. Will the credit crunch bring even bigger shakeups at the Princeton, N.J.-based group? Stay tuned...

*In Pittsburgh, veteran Pirates play-by-play man Lanny Frattare is leaving the team after 33 years in the broadcast booth. Frattare, a native of Rochester and a graduate of Ithaca College, began his broadcast career here in western New York (most notably at the old WROC 1280), then joined the Pirates farm system in 1974 as the announcer for the now-defunct Charleston (West Virginia) Charlies.

Frattare moved up to the majors in 1976, replacing Milo Hamilton as lead radio broadcaster in 1980. In the last few seasons, the Pirates have been grooming Greg Brown to replace Frattare, and he'll take over as lead play-by-play announcer on flagship WPGB (104.7) and the Bucs' extensive network next season.

*Three new religious stations have taken the air in Pennsylvania in the last week or so. From east to west, Family Life Network has signed on WCIM (91.5) in Shenandoah; Radio Maria has turned on WHHN (88.1) in Hollidaysburg/Altoona; and EMF Broadcasting signed on WKEL (98.5) in Confluence, southeast of Pittsburgh.

And we note the passing of a Keystone State broadcaster whose controversial actions provoked a lawsuit that will be studied by constitutional law scholars for many decades to come. The Rev. John Harden Norris owned a small empire of religious stations in Red Lion, near York - WGCB (1440), WGCB-FM (96.1), WGCB-TV (Channel 49) and shortwave station WINB.

Let's see how well we recall our own undergraduate Con Law class, two decades after the fact: Norris came under fire when he broadcast a program attacking journalist Fred Cook, who asserted his rights under the Fairness Doctrine to use WGCB's airwaves for a response. The case made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which sided with Cook against Norris' claims that the Fairness Doctrine violated his free speech rights.

At the time - the legal battle began in 1964 and the case wasn't fully resolved until the early eighties - the FCC cited the scarcity of broadcast frequencies as the rationale for the Fairness Doctrine. As it turned out, Cook's victory was something of a Pyrrhic one; the Fairness Doctrine was abolished in 1987.

Norris had founded WGCB(AM) with his father, the Rev. John M. Norris, in 1950, adding the FM signal in 1958, followed by WINB in 1962 and WGCB-TV in 1979. The radio stations were sold in the late nineties (they're now in secular hands under Cumulus, as WGLD and WSOX-FM), but Norris remained president of WINB and WGCB-TV until his death last Sunday (Sept. 28). Norris was 88.


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*The retransmission-consent fight between LIN Broadcasting and Time Warner Cable is taking place all over the country, but in our region the effects are being felt particularly strongly in western NEW YORK, where LIN's CBS affiliate, WIVB (Channel 4) and its CW sister station, WNLO (Channel 23), disappeared from Time Warner's systems last week, effectively taking the stations off the air for more than two-thirds of their potential viewers in the Buffalo TV market.

As is traditional by now in these disputes, each side staked out its position in newspaper and radio ads and websites, with Time Warner arguing that it shouldn't have to pay extra (and pass those costs along to customers) for programming WIVB and WNLO send out at no charge to over-the-air viewers, while LIN argued that its programming helped Time Warner attract viewers and should be worth a few dollars per customer per year. (With 330,000 Time Warner customers in the market, that could represent some decent additional revenue to LIN if a deal could be reached.)

Did we mention CBS carried Sunday's Bills game? While Time Warner was unable to bring the TV broadcast to its customers, it put the audio of the WGRF radio broadcast up on the channels where WIVB normally would appear - and had lines out the door at its West Seneca office for handouts of free antennas to pick up the WIVB signal over the air. (That stopgap solution would have worked just fine for the bulk of the market's population, in Erie and Niagara counties, where WIVB's analog and digital signals are strong - but the market extends far to the south, through the rugged terrain along the Pennsylvania border, where the over-the-air signals from Buffalo are nonexistent; another group of customers, in the counties east of Buffalo, still receive Rochester's CBS affiliate, WROC, on their Time Warner systems.)

And there's a new twist in what was otherwise becoming a familiar story - with the rapid rise of video streaming of network shows, Time Warner can now suggest to customers that they bypass the local affiliate entirely, watching CBS and CW programs at the networks' websites. (Not to be outdone, WIVB and WNLO offered viewers special deals on Dish Network and DirecTV service, and noted that Verizon's FiOS service is now available in parts of the Buffalo market as well.)

LIN's other holdings in NERW-land were far less affected: there are no Time Warner systems in the coverage area of Providence's WPRI/WNAC or New Haven's WTNH/WCTX, while out in western Massachusetts, WWLP (Channel 22) from Springfield disappeared from the lineup of Time Warner systems at the fringe of its coverage area, in the Berkshires. Those customers still see NBC via Albany's WNYT, and because Berkshire County belongs to the Albany market, WWLP wouldn't be available via satellite, either.

*We spent some time last week down in Ithaca, where we arrived just in time for a CHR format war, 2008-style.

NERW readers already know about WFIZ (95.5 Odessa), the class A station that Finger Lakes Radio Group moved into the market from Dundee, where it was WFLR-FM (95.9). And even though its studios in the South Hill Business Center across from Ithaca College were still being drywalled when we poked our head in, "Z 95.5" was on the air with what it's billing as 10,000 commercial-free songs. (Jock-free, too, while GM Frank Lischak and new PD Tommy Frank work on hiring an airstaff.)

We told you last week, too, that WFIZ's arrival represents the first real competition in many years for Saga's dominant Ithaca cluster - and the fierce competitors over on Hanshaw Road wasted no time welcoming "Z" to the market. Last week, they followed the precedent set by Cumulus' innovative use of an FM translator to relay an HD2 subchannel in Harrisburg, flipping translator W276AO (103.3 Ithaca, recently moved from 103.1) from a simulcast of WNYY (1470) to a simulcast of the new HD2 subchannel of Saga's WIII (99.9 Cortland).

And what's WIII running on that new HD2 subchannel and its new analog translator? Why, CHR, of course - aimed straight down the barrels of WFIZ. Saga's new entry is called "Hits 103.3," and it's launching jockless with a promised 103 days of commercial-free music.

How does this battle shape up? Pretty evenly, we think - while WFIZ wins on signal, the compact Ithaca market doesn't really require a big signal to make an impact. Will "Hits 103" remain a jukebox, or will Saga add an airstaff? That - and the imposing cluster (two AM news-talkers, AC "Lite" WYXL, classic rock "I-100" WIII and country "Q" WQNY) that Saga can sell alongside "Hits" - could make all the difference.

*In Syracuse, Don Dolloff retires tomorrow from WCNY-FM (91.3), the public radio station where he's worked since 1974. As program director, Dolloff oversaw the station's 1979 shift from eclectic programming to all-classical, as well as the station's expansion into Utica and Watertown. Dolloff was promoted to station manager in 2004 and to vice president of station operations in 2007. Dolloff has continued to host afternoon drive on WCNY-FM for all those years; now he's heading to Pittsburgh, where his fiancee lives.

While Dolloff is hosting his farewell show on Tuesday, we'll be just east of Syracuse, where the SBE 22 Broadcast & Technology Expo holds its 36th annual event at the Turning Stone Casino & Resort. We'll be presenting our slide show, "Tower Sites I've Known and Photographed," on Tuesday afternoon (subject to schedule change), and we'll have the 2009 Tower Site Calendar available for sale, too. It's rapidly become a "must" event for TV and radio engineers from across New York state, and we hope to see you there!

Down the Hudson Valley, WGNY (1220 Newburgh) wants a power increase. Now that it's completed its new 5 kW daytime array, WGNY hopes to increase power to 10 kW during the day from that site; night power would remain at 180 watts.

On Long Island, WLIE (540 Islip) also wants a power increase. It now runs 2500 watts by day, with a CP to go to 4100 watts - but with the disappearance of an unbuilt construction permit on 540 in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, WLIE is now applying for 10 kW by day, dropping to 250 watts at night.

In New York City, Rob Williams is leaving Clear Channel Radio, where he served as senior VP and New York market manager. No permanent replacement has been named.

There's also news - quite literally - from the FM HD Radio dial, where CBS Radio is now simulcasting all-news WCBS (880) on WCBS-FM (101.1)'s HD3 and WINS (1010) on the HD3 of WWFS (102.7), which had previously had the WINS signal on its HD2 before that subchannel became the home of the relaunched "WNEW."

The point of the HD3 simulcasts? To fill in signal deficiencies in the AM stations' own HD signals...which leads us to wonder what the point is in keeping the troublesome AM HD signals on the air at all. (We're sure we're not the only ones wondering, either...)

*A NEW JERSEY format change that we tipped you to first here in NERW back on Sept. has come to pass - WTAA (1490 Pleasantville) has dropped Air America talk in favor of the syndicated "Gran D" regional Mexican format from Bustos Media.

Up the shore, Chris Van Zandt and Jen Ursillo are the new morning team at WJRZ (100.1 Manahawkin), replacing Anita Bonita. Van Zandt moves to mornings from afternoons, with Spyder McGuire taking the 2-7 PM shift. Ursillo had been at WHTG-FM (106.3 Eatontown) until her morning show there was cancelled last year.

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*In Randolph, VERMONT, the local AM/FM combo of WTSJ (1320) and WCVR (102.1) is changing hands. Ken Barlow and Bruce Danziger just recently closed on the purchase of those stations as part of the larger deal that transferred Clear Channel's Burlington cluster to their Vox group, and now we hear they're shuffling the pair of stations over to their former Vox partner, Jeff Shapiro, whose Great Eastern group picked up Clear Channel's Upper Valley cluster last year.

WTSJ has already switched simulcasts, shifting from Vox's talker WEAV (960 Plattsburgh NY) to Great Eastern's country WXXK (100.5 Lebanon NH), and we hear changes are coming to WCVR as well. No word yet on a purchase price.

Up north, Vermont Public Radio signed on its newest VPR Classical signal last week. WVTI (106.9 Brighton) fills in some gaps in the classical network's reach in the Island Pond area.

*A veteran New York talker is coming to the MASSACHUSETTS airwaves. Greater Media's WTKK (96.9 Boston) has signed Curtis Sliwa to do a 10 PM-1 AM shift weeknights, starting last Wednesday. Sliwa was bumped from his longtime morning slot at New York's WABC (770) when that station picked up Don Imus last year; he's still heard on WABC from 5-6 AM and 10-11:45 AM, and he's doing the Boston show via ISDN from a New York studio. At WTKK, Sliwa displaces Laura Ingraham, who's now heard only in a weekend "best-of" slot.

TV People on the Move: WBZ-TV (Channel 4) icon Liz Walker is leaving the station completely at year's end, closing a 28-year career there, most recently as host of the weekly "Sunday with Liz Walker." Across town at WHDH-TV (Channel 7), Chris Wayland is the new vice president/general manager, filling the office left vacant by Randi Goldklank's departure after an outburst at Logan Airport ended with her arrest earlier this year.

*The calls keep shuffling in MAINE: Atlantic Coast Broadcasting has finally completed its Portland-area rearrangement by flipping WRED-FM (95.9 Saco) to WPEI, matching its simulcast of Boston's WEEI (and sister Portland-market station WUEI 95.5 Topsham), while Nassau is swapping calls between WBQW (106.3 Scarborough) and WHXQ (104.7 Kennebunkport) in preparation for the upcoming format shuffle that will put rocker "Bone" on 106.3 and classical "W-Bach" on 104.7.

*A new set of calls in CONNECTICUT: when the WMNR (88.1 Monroe) public radio network signs on its new 91.5 signal in Warren, it'll do so as WXRN.

*Regulators in CANADA have approved yet another AM-to-FM move - this time in Kitchener, Ontario. That's where CTVglobemedia's CKKW will give up its 10 kW fulltime signal on 1090 (and the huge piece of land that houses the nine-tower directional array) for a 5 kW directional signal on 99.5.

As we noted when the application was filed back in April, another broadcaster in the Kitchener-Waterloo market, CIKZ, already tried 99.5 a few years back, only to abandon the channel because of cross-border interference from co-channel WDCX in Buffalo. Will CKKW have any better luck? (And will its oldies format really survive the move to FM, as CTV claims in its application?)

This will be CKKW's second frequency change in its half-century on the air, by the way - it moved from its original 1320 to 1090 in 1975.

In Quebec, Corus has been granted a move of its CFEL-FM (102.1 Montmagny) from its present site in L'Ange-Gardien to Quebec City, with a new studio location in Levis. The new 26.5 kW/157 m DA signal will be stronger over the provincial capital than CFEL's current signal, which has already been through one upgrade to better target Quebec listeners.

It's rare indeed to see a move-in like this north of the border, where the CRTC has traditionally barred broadcasters with what would be considered "rimshot" signals in the U.S. from moving closer to big markets.

Meanwhile, the CRTC is opening a call for other applicants interested in serving the Quebec City market, with applications due Dec. 2.

And in New Brunswick, there's a new signal on the air in Moncton: French-language CFBO (90.7) signed on as adult contemporary "BO-FM," the first station based in the Dieppe area.

It's a sister to Radio Beausejour's other community station, CJSE (89.5) in nearby Shediac, which now plays a French-language country format.

From the NERW Archives

(Yup, we've been doing this a long time now, and so we're digging back into the vaults for a look at what NERW was covering one, five and ten years ago this week, or thereabouts - the column appeared on an erratic schedule in its earliest years as "New England Radio Watch," and didn't go to a regular weekly schedule until 1997. Thanks to for the idea - and thanks to you, our readers, for the support that's made all these years of NERW possible!)

October 8, 2007 -

  • Remember the TV show "Quantum Leap," wherein a scientist named Sam Beckett was sent traveling through time and space, "striving to put right what once went wrong"? It's increasingly looking as though CBS Radio chief Dan Mason is trying to be the industry's Sam Beckett, returning WCBS-FM and K-Rock to New York, KFRC to San Francisco, WYSP to Philadelphia, and now the legendary B94 to western PENNSYLVANIA. Just as the buzz (no pun intended) on the message boards was speculating, the Christmas-music stunting at the former "Man Talk" WTZN (93.7 Pittsburgh) came to an abrupt end at 5 o'clock Friday afternoon, when the station launched into a retrospective of its 23 years as WBZZ, returning to its former top-40 format with Justin Timberlake's "Sexyback" as its first song.
  • (Former B94 PD Clarke Ingram noted - within minutes, no less - that there were a couple of inaccuracies in the B94 retrospective: the station had signed on April 2, 1981, not April 1, and its first song in the new format was actually Billy Joel's "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me," not "You May Be Right.")
  • Those technicalities aside, CBS is embarking on a format war with Clear Channel, whose "Kiss" WKST-FM (96.1 Pittsburgh) has owned the top-40 category in the Steel City for the last few years. The move also raises questions about the future of CBS' hot AC entry, "Star 100.7" (WZPT New Kensington) - is a format change for that station in the offing, too?
  • There are some big programming changes today at NEW YORK's WOR (710) - but no, not the rumored return of Don Imus to the city's airwaves. (That sounds like it's going to happen up the dial on WABC, not that we have any inside information beyond what's already been all over the gossip columns.) Down at 111 Broadway, WOR has pulled the plug on Ellis Henican and Lynne White's 4-6 PM "Hennican and White" talk show, moving former WABC host Steve Malzberg into that time slot from his previous 9-11 PM spot. Bill O'Reilly's newly-renewed syndicated show moves from 2 PM tape delay to a noon live clearance, with Dennis Miller filling the 2-4 PM slot. Michael Savage stays in place from 6-9 PM, with Dr. Joy Browne getting displaced from noon to Malzberg's former 9-11 PM clearance.
  • There's finally a fulltime CW affiliate in VERMONT: Fox affiliate WFFF (Channel 44) in Burlington has turned on a subchannel on WFFF-DT (Channel 43), providing an over-the-air signal for "CW Burlington," which is also seen on most area cable systems on channel 20, replacing New York's WPIX there. The September 27 launch of the CW subchannel clears the CW programming out of WFFF's 10 PM-midnight timeslot, which makes way for the upcoming launch of a 10 PM newscast on WFFF soon.

October 6, 2003 -

  • Call it the "Lonsberry virus," if you will - at least, that's what one local radio wag of our acquaintance has dubbed the unfortunate propensity of late by talk-show hosts to make remarks with racial overtones in front of a live mike.
  • The putative virus' namesake, former WHAM (1180 Rochester) talk host Bob Lonsberry, is still awaiting word at press time about his future at his other job, morning host on KNRS (570) in Salt Lake City. (The latest update to KNRS' Web site suggests that Lonsberry will be back on the air there soon; meanwhile, Lonsberry himself is telling visitors to his site that he expects to be back on the air in Rochester "after the first of the year.")
  • But even as the Lonsberry story continued to spark follow-up after follow-up in the Rochester media, WEEI (850 Boston) morning co-host John Dennis was trying to explain away a comment last Monday in which he joked that the gorilla who escaped from Boston's Franklin Park Zoo was "a METCO gorilla waiting for the bus to take him to Lexington." And since METCO is the urban-suburban school desegregation program, and the zoo is in a predominantly African-American neighborhood, the outcry was predictable. Dennis, a veteran Boston sportscaster who worked for 21 years at channel 7 before joining WEEI, apologized on the air Wednesday and was suspended for Friday's and Monday's show. WEEI says it will provide public service announcements for METCO and personally apologize to those who called and complained; several Boston city councilors and other political leaders are still calling on the station to fire Dennis.
  • Univision Radio (the former Hispanic Broadcasting) is adding a third station to its NEW YORK lineup, paying The Morey Organization (aka Jarad Communications) $60 million for WLIR (92.7 Garden City). WLIR has long been the Morey group's flagship, not to mention the only one of its four stations that can actually be heard at the group's Nassau County studio location. With a transmitter site right on the Queens/Nassau line, WLIR has a following in the city as well as in Nassau, though its modern AC format no longer achieves anything like the ratings success or critical acclaim of WLIR's long-gone New Wave days.
  • The Morey folks say the WLIR calls and format will live on at another spot on the dial - but it's not clear whether that means one of the group's existing stations in the Hamptons (WDRE 98.5 Westhampton does active rock as "The Bone," WXXP 105.3 Calverton-Roanoke is dance "Party 105.3" and WBON 107.1 Hampton Bays simulcasts WLIR) or a new acquisition. On the Univision side, it looks as though 92.7 may end up simulcasting Spanish hits "Latino Mix" WCAA (105.9 Newark NJ), whose signal into Nassau County and southern Connecticut is impaired by Long Island's WBLI at 106.1. What becomes of WLIR's proposed Manhattan booster on the Upper West Side? We don't know yet...but we'll keep you posted.
  • In PENNSYLVANIA, Citadel is spinning off two more peripheral pieces of its Scranton/Wilkes-Barre cluster, selling WCWY (107.7 Tunkhannock) and WEMR (1460 Tunkhannock) to Ben Smith's GEOS Communications for $515,000. The class A FM has been simulcasting soft AC WMGS (92.9 Scranton), while the 5000/1000 watt AM has been simulcasting country from WCWI (94.3 Carbondale), which Citadel is selling to the new Route 81 group. Smith and partner Kevin Fitzgerald have a growing cluster of stations in the Twin Tiers, including Binghamton's oldies WCDW (100.5 Susquehanna PA), AC "Cozy" WQZI (103.9 Laporte PA), Elmira's classic rock WMTT (94.7 Tioga PA) and new sign-on WPHD (96.1 South Waverly PA).
  • Up in CANADA, the CRTC granted CHCD (106.7 Simcoe) a move to 98.9 and a power increase from 3.42 kW to 14.37 kW. The CRTC also granted CKWR (98.5 Waterloo) a power boost from 2.4 kW to 15.2 kW. Both moves are meant to alleviate interference from older FM allocations in Buffalo; CHCD has been plagued by adjacent-channel interference from WYRK (106.5 Buffalo) ever since it moved to FM from its old CHNR 1600 facility, while CKWR takes a beating from co-channel WKSE (98.5 Niagara Falls) as close in as Cambridge. (And does the CRTC learn? If it did, there wouldn't be new stations in Kitchener-Waterloo primed to come on the air at 99.5, co-channel to 110 kW WDCX in Buffalo, and on 93.7, co-channel to WBLK in Depew.)

October 9, 1998 -

  • After months of rumors about a sale to CBS or Chancellor, Jacor was finally sold this week -- to Clear Channel. The $4.4 billion dollar deal creates a broadcast giant with more than 450 radio stations around the country, plus television, billboards, and international operations. But for listeners and viewers in the NERW region, it's likely to have little effect.
  • Neither group has been a major player in most of NERW-land; Jacor's only outlets in the area are its Rochester-area radio stations (news-talk WHAM 1180, talk-sports WHTK 1280, modern rock WNVE 95.1 S. Bristol/W238AB Rochester, hot AC WVOR 100.5, soft rock WISY 102.3 Canandaigua/WYSY 106.7 Irondequoit, and dance-CHR WMAX-FM 107.3 Honeoye Falls), while Clear Channel has TV in Albany (Fox WXXA 23) and radio in Springfield (news-talk WHYN 560, AC WHYN-FM 93.1, and newly-acquired talker WNNZ 640), New Haven (news-talk WELI 960, standards WAVZ 1300, and CHR WKCI 101.3 Hamden), and Providence (oldies WWBB 101.5 and classic rock WWRX 103.7 Westerly).
  • Clear Channel says Jacor will continue to operate as a separate company under Randy Michaels, so little change is expected at the Rochester stations. (2008 note: What a change a decade can make!)
  • On with the rest of this week's news, beginning in MASSACHUSETTS, where one of the legends of Boston talk radio is going off the air. Jerry Williams helped create the genre in the sixties and seventies, rode it to unprecedented success at WRKO (680) in the eighties, and ended up relegated to weekend duty in the last few years. Entercom's takeover of WRKO doesn't come with Jerry -- his contract is with prior owner ARS and didn't get transferred with the station. Entercom's now trying to find a way to get Williams back for a farewell show; it's likely he'll find another permanent home at a different station sometime soon.
  • Two NEW HAMPSHIRE stations have new calls this week. 930 in Rochester and 1540 in Exeter have been simulcasting WGIR (610 Manchester) for a few weeks anyway, and now the former WZNN and WMYF have the new calls WGIN and WGIP, respectively, to match.
  • There's a format change underway in the Saratoga Springs, NEW YORK market. As we drove through on Monday, we heard the jocks on "The Jockey" (WJKE 101.3 Stillwater) saying their farewells. The station then went jockless, and is reappearing as "Star 101," WQAR. PD Ken McGrail has found a new gig; he takes Don Matsen's old job in the Portland market at oldies WYNZ (100.9 Westbrook ME). WQAR's new owner is New York TV anchor Ernie Anastos.
  • On the TV front, UPN added two low-power affiliates in upstate New York. WBGT-LP (Channel 40) brings the weblet to Rochester's west side, while WVBG-LP (Channel 25) serves Albany, though we suspect most folks there will watch UPN on Boston's WSBK via cable, if they watch it at all. Just across the border, Cornerstone's Channel 36 is now serving Hamilton and Toronto with family-oriented programming; still no word on the actual call letters for the new UHF.
  • And down in Pennsylvania, pioneering FM talker WWDB (96.5 Philadelphia) is finally adding AM; WWDB (860) is the former Spanish-language WTEL and will now be doing local talk to complement the national talkers (Dr. Laura, Rush, et al) on the FM side.

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