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December 8, 2008

O&A Out Again in Boston

*The last time the Opie and Anthony Show was pulled from the airwaves of eastern MASSACHUSETTS, back in 1998, it was big headline news: the then-WAAF (107.3) morning team had staged an April Fool's Day prank in which they claimed Boston mayor Tom Menino had been killed in a car crash.

The duo kept making headlines after that - they moved on to a high-profile morning slot at New York's WNEW (102.7), then lost that job (including a syndication deal that landed them back in Boston on WBCN) in 2002 after the infamous "Sex for Sam" incident.

Two years later, though, O&A were back on the air in both New York (at WXRK 92.3) and Boston (at WBCN) with a partial simulcast of their XM Radio morning show - and there the matter rested, at least until last week.

The new lineup at WBCN moves Toucher & Rich from afternoons into morning drive and Hardy from evenings to afternoons. Music director Dan O'Brien gets an airshift out of the deal, too, taking over the 7-midnight slot, presumably with the assistance of voicetracking.

*Where's "Baptist Village, Massachusetts"? That's what we were wondering when we noted that the FCC has granted a construction permit to Morgan Brook Christian Radio for a 40-watt/384' class A signal on 89.5 there, which now has the calls WJCI. (The answer, as it turns out, is just east of East Longmeadow, southeast of Springfield, though the new WJCI will fight with Westfield's co-channel WSKB to be heard in Springfield proper.)

On the TV front, ShopNBC affiliate WWDP has temporarily silenced its digital signal as it prepares for transition day in February. It took a helicopter last Tuesday to remove WWDP-DT's channel 52 antenna from its tower in West Bridgewater, replacing it with a new antenna for the Norwell-licensed station's new channel 10 digital signal. But there's a catch: because channel 10 remains in use by WJAR's analog signal in Providence, WWDP-DT won't be able to start using its new channel until February 18. So it's off the air digitally, though it remains on the air in analog (on channel 46) from a nearby tower site until transition day.

(And thanks to Jeff Lehmann for sharing his photos of the antenna replacement - you can see more pics here and video here and here!)

Where are they now? Former WRKO (680) talker Jeff Katz has parted ways with his most recent employer, WBT in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Greater Media-owned station abruptly cancelled Katz' show last week, replacing him with evening talk host Tara Servatius. (And in an unrelated coincidence, WBT's transmitter site is our feature on this week's Tower Site of the Week...)

Robert DeLaney won't be remembered by Red Sox fans with the same reverence as, say, Curt Gowdy (who'll be inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame later this month) - but the central New York native, who died Nov. 25 in Queens, N.Y. at 84, did work alongside Gowdy for three seasons (1951-53) at Fenway. DeLaney, a native of Elmira and graduate of Syracuse University, came to the Sox and then-flagship WHDH from WFBL in Syracuse. DeLaney also worked some Boston Braves games before heading down to New York and the Giants broadcast booth, where he replaced the soon-to-be-legendary-in-Detroit Ernie Harwell. Delaney stayed east when the Giants moved west, and ended up working for the Yankees, the John F. Kennedy campaign, and later for WFAS in White Plains before retiring in the seventies.

And Mike Kavanagh, who worked at WHYN (560 Springfield) back in the seventies, has died far too young. Kavanagh went from Springfield to WLEE in Richmond, Virginia, then to WASH in Washington, DC, to RKO Radio in New York - and eventually ended up in Atlanta, first at CNN Radio News and then at WSB (750). Kavanagh scaled back his duties at WSB a few years ago to focus on his new career as a financial advisor, but continued to host the station's Sunday "Money Matters" show. The UMass graduate (and alumnus of campus station WMUA) suffered a fatal heart attack Saturday (Dec. 6) as he was decorating the Christmas tree in his suburban Alpharetta home; it was his 57th birthday.

*CBS Radio's financial woes led to more cutbacks early last week in NEW YORK, as the cluster's management went through yet another streamlining - and the future of Opie and Anthony's Big Apple broadcast home base was left hanging.

This time, the CBS axe claimed the jobs of most of the management team at WXRK (92.3), as PD/music director Mike Tierney and general sales manager Steve Townsend were cut completely, while GM Maire Mason stayed employed, albeit in Townsend's old job. Don Bouloukos, CBS Radio's senior VP/market manager, will serve as K-Rock's GM, while Mark Chernoff, the cluster's VP/programming, will handle PD duties. (And yes, the usual "no format changes are planned" denial was quickly forthcoming.)

There's more: over at WINS (1010), Greg Janoff lost his GM post, becoming that station's general sales manager as Steve Swenson adds WINS GM duties to his existing GM role at WCBS (880).

And there's still more: there's word that the oft-delayed project to move most of the cluster to new studios in lower Manhattan will now include not only WINS and WWFS (moving from 888 Seventh Ave.), WFAN (moving from Astoria, Queens) and WCBS-FM (moving from temporary digs with WXRK at 40 W. 57th Street) - now WCBS(AM) is ticketed to move downtown as well. Since the all-news station's current digs on the eighth floor of the CBS Broadcast Center at 524 W. 57th Street are in CBS-owned property, could there be some consolidation of the once-competitive WINS and WCBS operations in the works? Will WXRK, still not included in the Hudson Street plans, eventually be targeted for the downtown train as well - assuming it doesn't follow the lead of CBS' San Francisco cluster and wind up as, say, WINS-FM or WFAN-FM? (Monday update - We're told WXRK was in fact quietly added to the move back in September.) And what ever became of former CBS Radio honcho Mel Karmazin's theory that the best way to run a cluster in a big market is with completely separate studios and sales staffs, anyway?

With the demise of Bill O'Reilly's syndicated talk show, New York's WOR (710) will rework its entire daytime schedule after New Year's Day: local host Joan Hamburg will move to 11 AM, making way for a live clearance for Glenn Beck in market #1 from 9-11. WOR's long-running "Food Talk," which had been heard from 11-noon, gets bumped to a weekend-only slot. Hamburg's new 11-1 slot takes one of the hours from O'Reilly's former noon-2 clearance; Dr. Joy Browne will fill the 1-2 PM hour (as well as her existing 9-11 PM clearance), and Dennis Miller is out of the 2-4 PM slot, replaced by Lou Dobbs' new syndicated talk show.

(What will become of some of O'Reilly's other prominent clearances, on big NERW-land talkers such as Boston's WTKK and Philly's WPHT? Stay tuned as the show's actual last day, sometime "in the first quarter of 2009," draws nearer...)

On the HD Radio front, we've long maintained that public radio is about the only remaining source of programming innovation, and Fordham's WFUV (90.7 New York) is helping to make that case. "The Alternate Side" is WFUV's latest additional programming stream, running on WFUV's HD3 channel and on the web at The new channel is devoted to emerging local artists in the New York market, and much of its funding is coming from the settlement money former governor Eliot Spitzer extracted from the recording and radio industries during his payola investigations. (For non-HD-equipped listeners, The Alternate Side also airs on WFUV's main signal for a few hours at 10 PM on Fridays...)

There's some HD Radio technical innovation to report, too, and it also comes from public radio: WEOS (89.7 Geneva) has turned on what GM Aaron Read claims to be the first HD-enabled translator in the country. W212BA (90.3 Geneva) is using a new Larcan translator that frequency-shifts the entire incoming signal from the main WEOS transmitter, including the HD sidebands, and even at reduced power (48 watts instead of 88, while WEOS awaits a more powerful new model from Larcan), Read says the new translator is providing reliable digital service over the Hobart and William Smith campus and the city of Geneva for the first time.

There's an ownership change in eastern Long Island, where Ron Morey is cashing out his interest in two of Jarad Broadcasting's three stations. WBON (98.5 Westhampton) and WDRE (105.3 Calverton-Roanoke) go to the new "JVC Broadcasting," a partnership between Jarad co-owner John Caracciolo and programmer Vic "Latino" Canales, in a deal that Inside Radio is reporting to be valued at about $1.75 million. That's a far cry from the $60 million Morey realized when he sold his original Jarad station, WLIR (92.7 Garden City) to Univision Radio back in 2004. (The current WLIR, 107.1 Hampton Bays, remains in Morey's hands for now; it's LMA'd to ESPN, which relays New York's WEPN 1050 on the East End signal with an option to buy it outright.)

Up north, there's a format change at WIRD (920 Lake Placid) - on November 26 at noon, it flipped from ESPN Radio to a simulcast of news-talk sister station WNBZ (1240 Saranac Lake). WIRD's morning show remains unchanged, since it was already doing a simulcast with WNBZ, WLPW (105.5 Lake Placid) and WRGR (102.3 Tupper Lake) in morning drive.

There's a new PD at Buffalo's WJYE (96.1), as the Regent station brings Chuck Stevens home from Pittsburgh and WLTJ (92.9). Stevens starts next week at the station, freeing morning man (and cluster operations manager) Joe Chille from programming duties.

Where are they now? Dave Symonds, who launched his radio management career in Rochester as operations manager at Entercom, has moved from Entercom's Denver cluster (where he was PD of KOSI and KALC) to Clear Channel in Richmond, Virginia, where he's programming WTVR (98.1) and serving as operations manager for the cluster.

Galaxy is shifting simulcasts on an Oswego translator. W291BU (106.1 Fulton) was relaying classic rock WTKV (105.5 Oswego) for the last few months, with a signal that sometimes carried the 60 miles or so over to NERW Central here in Rochester; now it's relaying Galaxy's WZUN (102.1 Phoenix) instead, extending the reach of "Sunny 102" north into Oswego County.

Over in Utica, WPNR (90.7) is making peace with the FCC after a series of problems with its public file. When the Utica College station applied (belatedly) for its last license renewal in 2006, it admitted that most of its quarterly issues lists were missing, not to mention the required coverage map and ownership reports. The problems have been fixed - but a consent decree between the college and the FCC will lead to a $10,000 "voluntary contribution" and a compliance plan to make sure things go more smoothly during the next license term. (Number of people who asked to see WPNR's public file during the last license term? Zero.)

In TV news, Liberman Broadcasting is moving east. The Spanish-language broadcaster, best known for its independent stations in Los Angeles and Houston, is buying WASA-LP from Venture Technologies. What's WASA-LP? Right now, it's a low-power signal on channel 64 in Port Jervis - but it holds a construction permit to move to channel 25 and broadcast digitally from the 4 Times Square tower in Manhattan.

Meanwhile, Time Warner Cable is moving west with its web of all-news cable channels upstate. Albany's Capital News 9, Syracuse's News 10 Now and Rochester's R News will be getting a Buffalo-based sibling next year, to be seen on the western New York systems Time Warner picked up in the collapse of Adelphia. There's no word yet on the new channel's name or dial position - or on how much of its content will come from the hubs that already allow the existing upstate channels to share weather forecasts, news reports and even anchors.


And while we don't have a government coupon program to bail you out, we have an excellent, and equally inexpensive, solution:

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*The management shuffle hit eastern PENNSYLVANIA pretty hard last week. At Greater Media, Bob DeBlois' position as station manager at WPEN (950 Philadelphia) was eliminated, leaving him without a job. Over at CBS Radio, there are now just two managers in charge of all five stations in the cluster: Marc Rayfield adds GM duties at KYW (1060) to his existing GM role at WPHT (1210) and WIP (610) - and his market manager responsibilities over the whole cluster; Jim Loftus is now overseeing WOGL (98.1) and WYSP (94.1).

A format change in Scranton: WNAK (730 Nanticoke)/WCDL (1440 Carbondale) have dropped their Spanish-language programming and are back to standards, with an all-Christmas bent at the moment.

Callsign alert! WLRI-LP (92.9 Gap) has changed calls yet again. It's now WRLY-LP, or at least it will be if it returns to the air. After 18 call changes in just over five years (and the WRLY change makes it 19), the station filed for special temporary authority to remain silent back in October. Incidentally, while the station's website claims it's the "first and only" LPFM in the country to experiment with HD Radio, that's not quite so - we had the privilege last month of visiting an LPFM station in Indiana that's already experimented with HD and is planning to fire it up permanently next year. (That would be WIOE-LP 98.3 in Warsaw, which has found community support and success despite having only ever had a single set of call letters...)

In Coudersport, Cary Simpson's Allegany Mountain Network has completed its station selloff: after parting with WFRM-FM (96.7), which is moving over to Backyard's cluster in the Olean, NY market, it's now WFRM (600)'s turn to be sold. The AM stays local, going to David and Cathy Lent's L-Com, which also owns WHKS (94.9) in nearby Port Allegany. Sale price on this one: $200,000 - and mark down Pittsburgh's Ray Rosenblum as the rare broker who's still getting some deals done in this challenging market.

Also being sold up that way is Frank Iorio's WNAE-FM (102.7 Clarendon). The Warren-area FM goes to Larry Schrecongost's Vernal Enterprises for $355,000, joining Vernal's small cluster of stations to the south in the Altoona/Johnstown area.

Where are they now? Former WCAT-FM (102.3 Carlisle) PD/afternooner Will Robinson has moved south to WFRE in Frederick, Maryland for middays, reports AllAccess. Robinson will also be music director at the Clear Channel country outlet.

*More staffing changes at Millennium's NEW JERSEY stations: four staffers are out at WCHR-FM (105.7 Manahawkin), including "Dr. Phil" Locascio, who was the station's operations manager and Millennium's director of rock programming. Race, who'd been APD and middayer at "The Hawk," takes over Locascio's afternoon shift and his programming duties, and the station is looking for a new midday jock.

Over at Press Communications on the shore, WKMK (98.5 Ocean Acres) PD/morning man Brian Moore is out of work after his position was eliminated. Part-timer Kris McNeil takes over the morning show; station manager Mike Fitzgerald is handling PD responsibilities at "K-98.5."

Sad news from Clear Channel's cluster in northwest New Jersey: operations manager and WSUS (102.3 Franklin) afternoon jock Vince Thomas lost his long battle with a rare form of cancer early last Tuesday morning (December 3). Thomas, whose real name was Vincent Toscano, was still in his teens when he started at WNNJ (1360 Newton) in 1990. He'd been a fixture at WSUS for more than a decade, though he'd been off the air for nearly two years as his illness worsened. He was just 37.

*In CONNECTICUT, it's apparently back to the satellite in afternoon drive at Clear Channel's WELI (960 New Haven), where we hear that a third hour of Sean Hannity and an hour of John Gibson are now being heard from 5-7 PM in place of Ryan Gorman, who'd been doing both the morning show up at sister station WKSS (95.7 Hartford) and the afternoon talk shift in New Haven.

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

*One of CANADA's broadcasting legends has died.

Edward Samuel "Ted" Rogers, Jr. came from a magnificent broadcasting heritage - his father invented the AC-powered radio and founded Toronto's CFRB (the "RB" stands for "Rogers Batteryless," the trade name for the radios; another of Ted Rogers, Senior's corporate entities was Standard Radio, the parent company to CFRB until its recent sale to Astral Media.)

Ted Rogers, Sr. died of a heart attack in 1939, and the station and the manufacturing company were soon sold off. But as Ted, Jr. grew up, he followed in the family tradition, seeking to rebuild his father's legacy. In 1960, Rogers bought a struggling standalone FM station, CHFI-FM (98.1 Toronto) on the air in Toronto, which he soon augmented with CHFI (1540) on the AM dial. The AM station evolved, a decade later, into top-40 giant CFTR (680), whose initials stood for "Ted Rogers," and the radio group kept on growing.

That was just the beginning of what became a massive Canadian media empire that now includes 51 radio stations, CITY-TV and Omni Television in Canada's largest cities, the country's largest wireless carrier, its largest cable company, video rentals, magazine publishing, the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team and the Rogers Center stadium where the team plays.

Rogers had stepped back from his corporate responsibilities in recent months as his health failed; he succumbed to congestive heart failure in Toronto last Monday. He was 75 - and when you put his death alongside the relatively recent passings of CHUM founder Allan Waters and Canwest Global impresario Izzy Asper, it's no stretch to call this the end of an era in Canadian broadcasting.

*Astral Media is expanding its "Virgin Radio" brand. Following its successful August launch of "Virgin" on CKFM (99.9 Toronto, formerly "Mix 99.9"), Astral announced last week that it will reimage three more of its stations as "Virgin" next month. In Montreal, CJFM (Mix 95.9) will become a Toronto-style "Virgin," adding more energy to its existing hot AC sound - but in Ottawa, "Virgin" will be a rocker, replacing the "Bear" branding at CKQB (106.9). The third Virgin will be out west, at what's now hot AC "95 Crave" CKZZ in Vancouver.

Back in Ontario, CTVglobemedia's CKRU (980 Peterborough) had applied for a move to FM on 96.7 - and while the CRTC granted that application back in May, it denied the use of 96.7, which went to another applicant. So CKRU returned with a proposal for a different frequency, 100.5, which the CRTC granted last week. Once the new FM facility is built, probably sometime next year, "980 KRUZ" will have 90 days to simulcast before silencing the AM for good - and Peterborough will lose its last AM signal.

The CRTC denied Blackburn Radio's application to move relay transmitter CKNX-FM-2 (104.9 Centreville/Meaford) to 102.7, increasing its power from 5 watts to 250 watts. CKNX had argued that it was unable to fully cover Meaford from the present facility, and that the Centreville transmitter's signal conflicted with nearby CHWC, also on 104.9 in Goderich. The CRTC expressed concern that the upgraded CKNX-FM-2 signal would also reach Thornbury, a community the station isn't authorized to be serving.

And in Ottawa, Evanov's CJWL (98.5) is asking the CRTC for a boost in power: "The Jewel" would go from its present 485 watts/385' to 2500 watts DA/330'.

*And finally this week, how about some light reading?

Yes, it's time for another installment of the NERW Bookshelf, as we peruse recently-published volumes and pick out some of the ones we've enjoyed reading, and a few we're hoping to add to our "read" pile soon:

Milwaukee Television History: The Analog Years, by Dick Golembiewski (Marquette University Press, $47.00)

For several years now, Dick Golembiewski (aka "Dick Nitelinger") has been plunging deep into the fascinating history of television in Milwaukee, and the research he's been sharing in bits and pieces on his Milwaukee Horror Hosts website has now been compiled in book form.

We got to see drafts of several of Dick's chapters during our last Milwaukee visit almost a year ago, and we've been looking forward to the publication of this volume ever since.

Why should anyone in the northeast care about TV in the Brew City? Because it's an amazing story, for one thing - Milwaukee's WTMJ was among the nation's first TV stations, and the city was an early testbed for UHF television. And because Dick is a phenomenal researcher, uncovering stories of Milwaukee TV that haven't seen the light of day for decades.

A Face for Radio: A Guide to Facility Planning and Design, by Peter Bloomfield, Mark Motl and Vilma Barr (Focal Press, $49.95)

Philadelphia's Bloomfield and Associates has rapidly become one of the nation's most prominent design firms in the very specialized field of broadcast studios and offices, and in this 2007 volume, its principals share much of what they've learned as they've designed broadcast facilities everywhere from Philadelphia to Tulsa.

The authors include copious illustrations and diagrams, and the text leans heavily towards the "how-to," with useful tips on site choices, facility layout, interior design, lighting and especially acoustics.

Izzy: The Passionate Life and Turbulent Times of Izzy Asper, by Peter C. Newman (HarperCollins, C$34.95)

Here's one for our Canadian readers: an impressionistic overview of the life of one of the nation's most prominent media moguls. Newman, who's chronicled the stories of other Canadian media legends including Conrad Black and Sam Bronfman, enjoyed access to Asper's archives, as well as to his widow and two of his three children, as he was preparing the book, and the result is a rollicking romp through a most fascinating life.

The book is oddly light on what should have been some critical details - we'd have liked, for instance, to have learned more about the unusual deal in which Asper purchased and took dark a North Dakota TV station that was targeting Winnipeg, in order to relaunch the station's programming from his own new Winnipeg independent station. At the same time, it's heavy on what would seem to be trivia - the lack of pedestrian access across Winnipeg's main downtown intersection, for instance.

Those are mere quibbles, however: Izzy is a worthy tribute to the man who put Winnipeg on the world media map, and well worth seeking out even from the US side of the border, where it hasn't yet been published.

HD Radio Implementation: The Field Guide for Facility Conversion, by Thomas R. Ray (Focal Press, $89.95)

OK, let's acknowledge the elephant in the room: the rollout of HD Radio, especially on the AM dial, has been one of the most controversial issues in radio engineering in a very long time - and Tom Ray, the outspoken director of engineering for Buckley Broadcasting and New York's WOR, has been a lightning rod for a lot of that criticism.

Ray doesn't shy from that criticism in this book, the first hands-on guide to installing HD Radio and making it work. (Boston's David Maxson covered much of the theory behind the system last year in his The IBOC Handbook: Understanding HD Radio Technology, also published by Focal.)

This is not a volume that's likely to find a mass audience, especially as the troubled economy leads to a slowing down of new HD installations, but any engineer who's even contemplating adding a digital transmitter will want to have this book close at hand as a friendly guide through the sometimes complicated tasks of making all the new equipment work properly.

Even if you disagree - as we do - with some of Ray's conclusions, especially on the touchy issue of nighttime AM HD interference, this is still a useful volume to keep on the shelf.

Icons of Talk: The Media Mouths That Changed America, by Donna L. Halper (Greenwood Press, $75.00)

Here's another one we haven't read yet, for the simple reason that it's just been published - but for many NERW readers, that "by Donna Halper" after the title should be enough to draw their attention to this volume (which, by the way, should be available shortly as a much less expensive paperback.)

In addition to her work as an author (this is her fourth book), educator (currently at Lesley College) and consultant, Donna is one of the driving forces behind our sister site, The Archives @ - and of course she's one of the pre-eminent broadcasting historians in America, period. (And did you know she discovered the band Rush?)

Her latest work takes on talk radio, examining the history of the medium all the way back to pioneers such as Joe Pyne, Herb Jepko, and Boston's own Jerry Williams, putting them in the social and political contexts of their eras and looking at how they changed the worlds around them.

(Ask your local library to order a copy while you wait for the paperback edition to come out...)

Burning Up the Air: Jerry Williams, Talk Radio, and the Life in Between, by Steve Elman and Alan Tolz (Commonwealth Editions, $27.95)

Speaking of Jerry Williams, this book, which we reviewed at greater length back in our last "Bookshelf" installment in March, is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of talk radio or Boston radio or both.

Elman and Tolz, both former Williams producers, had access to reams of his papers and hours upon hours of airchecks to craft their story of a man who never believed he received the appreciation he was due for his role in inventing modern talk radio, and they've come up with a compulsively readable tale that paints a vivid picture of talk radio then and now.

If you missed it earlier this year, catch it now (especially in light of Williams' induction to the Radio Hall of Fame this fall!)

For the Love of Murphy's: The Behind-The-Counter Story of a Great American Retailer, by Jason Togyer (Pennsylvania State University Press, $34.95)

Here's another one we haven't read yet, but we can certainly vouch for the author: Togyer is one of our Pittsburgh correspondents - and an occasional cartoonist - here at NERW, and he's been chronicling his love of his hometown of McKeesport, Pennsylvania for years at his Tube City Almanac website.

In this volume, Togyer (whose day job is as an editor at the University of Pittsburgh) turns his attention to G. C. Murphy's, the five-and-ten-cent store that was based in McKeesport, where it once rivaled giants like Woolworth's in a territory that stretched across the mid-Atlantic states.

"Tube City" fans know that Togyer's both a great writer and the most passionate fan of McKeesport that there is, which should make this an interesting read even for those who never shopped in a Murphy's store.

(Although if you're reading this in East Smethport, PA or Rockville, MD, you might want to read Jason's warning before placing your order...)

Broadcast Towers: A Step-by-Step Guide to Making Money on Vertical Real Estate, by Erwin G. Krasnow and Henry A. Solomon, edited by Scott Fybush (NAB, $39.95 e-book, $43.95 softcover + e-book)

No pretense to impartiality here: this volume was edited by yours truly, and it features a fine selection of tower photos from our extensive collection.

That said, it would have earned a recommendation here anyway, since it answers in great detail a question we often get here at NERW - "I own a tower. How can I make money by leasing out space on it?"

Krasnow, a former general counsel to the NAB, has become a leading expert on that topic, and here he shares the knowledge he's gathered alongside his fellow partner at the DC law firm of Garvey, Schubert & Barer, Henry Solomon.

There's useful advice on everything from co-locating with an AM station to dealing with pesky neighbors and local zoning boards, not to mention several appendices filled with handy checklists and helpful advice - and the book includes plenty of opinions from other experts in the field, too.


Tower Site Calendar 2009, photos and text by Scott Fybush (Fybush Media, $18, free with professional NERW subscription)

OK, this isn't technically a "book" - but it's printed and bound and has lots of lovely pictures of transmitter facilities near (WRCE Watkins Glen NY, WQEW New York) and far (KSL Salt Lake City, KNBR San Francisco), not to mention plenty of dates from broadcasting history in the northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada.

It makes a great holiday gift for anyone interested in radio, an even better corporate gift (contact us for bulk discounts!), and best of all, your purchase helps to support the continued production of NERW and Tower Site of the Week in these economically parlous if you're stocking up on some of these books for your favorite radio person (or yourself), why not head over to the Store and add a calendar or two?

The Radio Book, 2008-2009 Edition (Inside Radio, $89.95, order at

NRC AM Log, 27th Edition (National Radio Club, $25.95, order at

It's certainly true that most of the information you'd ever want or need can be found on the web these days, but sometimes it's handy to have the entire radio spectrum neatly bound between two covers, too.

The Radio Book is the successor to the M Street Directory, drawing from the comprehensive M Street database that's obsessively tended by a team of researchers based up in Littleton, N.H. (That's also the source of the data for, where your editor toils as news editor.)

This year's edition is the 17th in the not-quite-annual series (it skipped a few years in the mid-nineties), and its 900-plus pages contain copious details on technical facilities, ownership, personnel and even ratings for more than 14,000 AM and FM stations in the U.S. and parts of Canada.

If AM DX is your bag, the annual AM Log from the National Radio Club is an essential addition to the bookshelf each fall. With comprehensive listings of everything on the AM dial in the U.S. and Canada - even those remote low-power CBC relays up in the Yukon - the Log contains some bits of information, including operating hours, slogans and network affiliations, that are hard to find compiled in any other single source.

(As for you FM fans, we're still waiting to see whether Bruce Elving's FM Atlas, last published back in 2005, will be returning in an updated version next year.)

The Airwaves of New York: Illustrated Histories of 156 AM Stations in the Metropolitan Area, 1921-1996, by Bill Jaker, Peter Kanze and Frank Sulek (McFarland & Co, paperback, $35.00)

This isn't a new book, technically speaking, since it came out in hardcover back in 1998 - but since "Airwaves" was released in paperback for the first time just a few months ago, and since the original hardcover has been hard to obtain for many years, it's worth a mention here.

Truly a labor of love, this wonderful volume details the individual histories of pretty much every station that burst forth on the New York AM dial in the medium's first 75 years, from big guns like WEAF and WABC to forgotten flashes in the pan like WPCH and WVFW. It's filled with rare photos and station schedules, and the quality of the writing is a couple of cuts above what's usually found in books of that ilk. (The credit for that is largely due to Jaker, a producer at Binghamton's WSKG, who synthesized all the research that came out of Kanze's and Sulek's voluminous files.)

This one needs a disclaimer, too - while your editor wasn't involved in (and derives no benefit from) this volume, there will someday be a companion FM volume to "Airwaves," authorized by the creators of this book and assembled by yours truly.

If all goes well, the FM book could even be our lead item in next year's "Bookshelf" holiday edition...

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 10, 2007 -

  • When Cumulus' WFAS-FM (103.9 White Plains) filed to change city of license to Bronxville back in January, it wasn't hard to figure out what was coming next - a transmitter move that would make the class A signal into a NEW YORK broadcaster.
  • Here's what we said in NERW back on Feb. 5: As a pre-1964 grandfathered station, WFAS-FM doesn't have to protect its second-adjacent neighbors on the Empire State Building, WKTU (103.5 Lake Success) and WAXQ (104.3 New York), but it does have to stay at least 15 km from WPAT-FM (93.1 Paterson NJ), which is also on Empire. That means it's likely to end up somewhere in the Bronx, where it will probably end up joining another move-in, Cox's WCTZ (96.7 Stamford CT, moving to Port Chester NY).
  • "Somewhere in the Bronx" turned out to be the tower atop a Montefiore Medical Center building that's already home to WFUV (90.7). Last week, WFAS-FM, which was granted the city-of-license change to Bronxville over the summer, applied to move its transmitter from its longtime site in Greenburgh to the WFUV tower (shown below in 2005), where it would operate with 980 watts at 532 feet above average terrain. From that site, WFAS-FM would still have decent Westchester/Rockland/north Jersey coverage, but more to the point, it would blanket the Bronx and cover most of Manhattan, Queens and even part of Brooklyn with a 60 dBu (city-grade) signal.
  • What happens next? We speculated back in February that Cumulus, which does most of its business in suburban and medium-sized urban markets, was unlikely to keep WFAS-FM operating as a standalone AC station in the cluster-dominated cauldron of Market Number One, and last month's layoffs of a significant portion of WFAS-FM's airstaff would seem to bear out that theory. Will WFAS-FM soon be up for sale as a New York City signal? And if so, who would be in line as buyers, at a price tag that's likely to be in the $50 million range? It's not hard to imagine the new 103.9 nicely complementing the Queens/Nassau rimshot of Univision's WQBU (92.7 Garden City), a signal for which Univision famously paid $60 million a few years ago. Then there's Citadel, whose two-station cluster (WABC/WPLJ) is far smaller than those of its New York competitors, CBS, Clear Channel and Emmis. Would Salem, which is spinning off some of its smaller markets to focus on bigger ones, want to add a "Fish" contemporary Christian FM to its two AMs (WMCA and WWDJ)? Would Arthur Liu's Multicultural group want an FM to go with its many AMs?
  • In CONNECTICUT, Wayne Mulligan is stepping down at year's end as general manager of Buckley Radio's WDRC (1360/102.9 Hartford), where he's held that post since 1991. Mulligan came to WDRC in 1964 as an engineer, departing two years later to become an engineer at WTIC (1080). He returned to WDRC in 1972 as chief engineer, overseeing numerous expansions to the stations' facilities over the years. He'll be succeeded as GM by Eric Fahnoe, who's currently sales manager at the WDRC stations (as well as the nephew of CEO Rick Buckley.)
  • In MASSACHUSETTS, Principle Broadcasting is trying again to move WESX (1230 Salem) from its longtime (and very valuable) site in Marblehead to a location much closer to Boston. Back in March, Principle applied to change WESX's city of license to Saugus, relocating the transmitter to the tower of WLYN (1360 Lynn) and requesting a waiver because the new site wouldn't provide full coverage of the new community. In early November, the FCC let Principle know that it wouldn't grant the waiver, giving WESX an opportunity to amend its application to fix the problem. Now the station has done so, changing its proposal to specify Nahant as the new city of license. This time, no waiver is required, as WESX would cover Nahant fully by day, and would cover 89.1% of the town with a nighttime interference-free signal.
  • And we're very sorry to report the death on Thursday (Dec. 6) of Fred B. Cole, one of the last living links to Boston radio in the pre-World War II era. Cole worked for WBZ and WNAC before joining WHDH in 1946, where he spent 21 years playing big-band tunes. Cole was inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame earlier this year. Cole, who lived his entire life in Hingham, was 92; he's survived by wife Betsey and a large family.

December 8/11, 2003 -

  • The 528-foot tower of WMGX (93.1 Portland ME) and WYNZ (100.9 Westbrook ME), a landmark for drivers entering Portland on I-295, collapsed Thursday afternoon about 1:30, apparently because a guy wire snapped. WYNZ was able to return to the air from an auxiliary site, but WMGX is off the air at press time. Nobody was hurt in the collapse, but WCSH (Channel 6) reports several cars were damaged in the parking lot next to the tower.
  • One of the oldest callsigns in NEW YORK has returned home to the facility it called home for decades. Buckley Broadcasting took over operations of Syracuse's AM 1390 last Monday (Dec. 1), changing its call letters from WDCW back to WFBL. Those sequentially-assigned calls first saw use in Syracuse in 1922 on the station that would become 1390, and remained in place there until September 1993, when Crawford Broadcasting bought the station and changed the calls to reflect owner Donald Crawford's initials (and to match Crawford's other religious outlets across upstate New York, too.) When the WFBL calls went away in 1993, Buckley grabbed them - and the standards format that had been in use on 1390 - and placed them on what had been WSEN (1050), and there they remained, even as AM 1050 dropped standards for talk in May 2002. As of last week, though, the talk programming has moved to the higher-power (5000 watts day and night, versus 2500 watts day/19 watts night on 1050) operation on 1390 - and 1050, too, is back to its heritage calls of WSEN. It'll be simulcasting oldies WSEN-FM (92.1 Baldwinsville) eventually, we're told, though it was still simulcasting talk with 1390 this past weekend.
  • Downstate, the news is all about Radio People on the Move: Pat St. John, the veteran jock who's called stations such as CKLW, WRIF, WNEW-FM and WPLJ home, now has a new address on the New York dial. After doing weekends and fill-ins on Infinity's WCBS-FM (101.1) for the last few years, Pat kicked off his new gig as Saturday morning host on Clear Channel classic rocker WAXQ (104.3) this past weekend. Meanwhile, Q104's sister station WLTW (106.7) signed midday host Valerie Smaldone to another long-term contract last week. She's been part of Lite 106.7 since the station flipped from country to AC more than twenty years ago - quite a record of longevity in the turbulent New York radio world! On the engineering side, Glynn Walden has joined Infinity as VP/Engineering. Walden worked for two of Infinity's predecessors, CBS and Westinghouse, in the same position before joining Ibiquity Digital Radio, where his job was eliminated a few months ago. And out on Long Island, veteran DJ Scott Miller lands at WALK-FM (97.5 Patchogue) to do middays, replacing the departed Rick Martini. Miller was last heard on WKJY (98.3 Hempstead).
  • Just short of the decade mark at WJYY (105.5 Concord) in NEW HAMPSHIRE's capital city, Harry Kozlowski has resigned his job as PD there (and at Vox sister station WNHI as well.) He's staying in the market and focusing his efforts on running new LPFM WCNH-LP (94.7 Concord), which hopes to be on the air with a 24/7 classical music format sometime in January. No replacement has been named yet at WJYY/WNHI - and NERW wishes Harry all the best in his efforts to show what LPFM was really meant to do.
  • The upcoming New Hampshire presidential primary was enough to keep northern New England from seeing NBC's Saturday Night Live this past weekend. WHDH-TV (Channel 7) in Boston, WCSH (Channel 6) in Portland, WLBZ (Channel 2) in Bangor, WNNE (Channel 31) in Hartford, VERMONT and WPTZ (Channel 5) in Plattsburgh, N.Y. all pre-empted the show with Rev. Al Sharpton hosting, out of concerns that it might trigger equal-time claims from his Democratic opponents. The show did air on WWLP (Channel 22) in Springfield, WJAR (Channel 10) in Providence and WVIT (Channel 30) New Britain-Hartford; the others carried a "best of" Steve Martin rerun, which we hear was quite a bit funnier than the Sharpton show anyway.

December 11, 1998 -

  • Despite protests from angry listeners, including a street rally Wednesday (Dec. 9) that found several hundred of them dancing on West 43rd Street, New York's WQEW (1560) is going forward with plans to switch to Radio Disney at midnight December 27. WQEW's owner, the New York Times Co., will reportedly receive $40 million from Disney to lease the station for the next five years. So far, no other station has come forward to pick up the format used by WNEW until 1992 and WQEW ever since. Wanna know what WQEW mainstays like Jonathan Schwartz think of the deal? We would too -- but the Times has put a gag order on its employees while the format change goes through.
  • Meantime in the Big Apple, Chancellor Media dropped "Big 105" from WBIX (105.1) Friday night, Dec. 4. The new format is "Jammin' Oldies," similar to what the company has been doing with great success in Chicago, LA, and other markets. New calls are sure to follow. And Chancellor has hired former WNEW (102.7) jock and New York radio legend Scott Muni. Early next year, he'll start doing a one-hour show weekdays at noon, playing music and offering commentary and interviews. The show will give midday jock Maria Milito a one-hour lunch break during her shift. Yes, that was Muni who surfaced on WFAN (660) for a guest slot talking sports last week...
  • Elsewhere in NEW YORK, it's been a busy couple of weeks for Jacor's "second tier" of stations in the Rochester market. On Thanksgiving eve, they looked like this: WYSY (106.7 Irondequoit) and WISY (102.3 Canandaigua) simulcast very soft AC as "Sunny 106." WMAX-FM (107.3, still licensed Honeoye Falls but already ID'ing with its new South Bristol city of license) was rhythmic CHR as "Jam'n 107." Then things began shifting. First WYSY dropped the "Sunny" format and began simulcasting "Jam'n" on the evening of Nov. 25 -- while WISY kept going as though nothing had changed. For a week, in fact, WISY continued to ID as "Sunny 106" and act as though it still had a sister station in Rochester. The only thing missing was a legal ID. Finally, the voicetracks caught up with reality, and WISY now IDs properly as "Sunny 102" -- but the soft AC and Delilah can't reach most Rochester listeners anymore.
  • Next up, "Jam'n." Monday afternoon (Dec. 7), it began announcing "The End of Jam'n." And with all the excitement of a roll of toilet paper being changed, the ID that hit a few minutes after 5 PM was the first to call the station "Kiss 107." And aside from adding a few more non-rhythmic hits (Shawn Mullins, anyone?), nothing else has changed at WYSY/WMAX-FM. The station still has no jocks, for starters. Why the new name? Gee, we noticed Jacor's new Cincinnati CHR is called "Kiss 107" while we were there last week...
  • One more Rochester-area note: WASB-FM (105.5 Brockport) was heard testing for a few hours on Friday, November 27, with a loop of country music -- but has not been heard since. When it comes on for real, it will have a hard time in eastern Monroe County, where Oswego's co-channel WTKV puts in a very respectable signal on 105.5.
  • Lots of news in New England, and we'll start with CONNECTICUT, where WTNH (Channel 8) in New Haven became the Nutmeg State's first DTV outlet with the debut of WTNH-DT (Channel 10) last Friday (Dec. 4) at 9 AM. WTNH-DT will simulcast Channel 8's local news while awaiting the availability of more HDTV programming and equipment.
  • Home shopping "en espanol" is on its way to southern Connecticut, with the sale of Paxson's WBPT (Channel 43) in Bridgeport to a company called "Cuchifritos Communications." They're paying $22 million for the signal so they can use it as the first outlet for "Compar de su Casa," which means (drumroll, please) "Shop at Home." Paxson says it will sell all its non-PaxTV outlets, which presumably means WHCT (Channel 18) in Hartford is available as well.
  • Next up, RHODE ISLAND, where the South County is losing a local radio voice, but gaining NPR service, with Boston University's purchase of WERI (1230 Westerly) from Bear Broadcasting. When the $300,000 deal is complete early next year, WERI will become WXNI, a 24-hour relay of WRNI (1290 Providence), which is itself a relay of WBUR-FM (90.9 Boston) with some Rhode Island news inserts in drive time. WBUR is promising more RI programming, including a local talk show, in 2000. Meantime, WERI's Mark Urso says the local programming from AM 1230, including a popular weekend sports-talk show, will migrate to WERI-FM (99.3 Block Island).
  • A not-very-historic MASSACHUSETTS callsign is back on the airwaves. The WBNW calls, which graced AM 590 from 1994 until 1997, resurfaced Dec. 1 on the former WADN (1120 Concord), where they go with the business-talk format that replaced the late, lamented "Walden Radio."
  • Jerry Villacres is the new general manager of Mega's Boston-area Spanish stations. WBPS (890 Dedham) and WNFT (1150 Boston) took their new names and formats Dec. 1, becoming contemporary "Estrella 890" and CHurban "Mega 1150," respectively. Villacres was president and GM of the now-defunct CBS Americas network.
  • Down the Cape, WKPE (1170 Orleans) returned to the air this month under new calls, becoming WFPB and relaying WUMB (91.9 Boston). WFPB(FM) in Falmouth, also 91.9, becomes WFPB-FM. (And yes, that makes sense to the FCC, anyway...)

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