July 20, 2009
Remembering Walter Cronkite, WBCN and WQXR
NERW's now on
Twitter - follow us @NERadioWatch for breaking news updates during
*It was a week of big changes on the Northeast
broadcast scene - the demise of a long-ailing Boston rocker,
the death of the iconic Walter Cronkite, and an impending transition
for New York City's venerable classical FM station.
We'll get to WBCN and Uncle Walter later in this week's column;
first, the news from the New York Times, where the company's
lone radio property, WQXR (96.3 New York) was but a blip on the
bottom line compared to the company's mounting debt issues stemming
from its acquisition of the Boston Globe and its decision
to build a new headquarters tower at the height of the real estate
market a few years back.
as a relatively minor piece of the Times Company empire, though,
the signs were growing that WQXR had become expendable - first
a rumor earlier this year that the signal was being sold to become
an FM sports outlet, and then last Tuesday afternoon, the big
news that WQXR was indeed being sold after 65 years under Times
Here's how it will play out: the Times will sell WQXR's 96.3
signal, a full class B from the Empire State Building, to Univision
Radio for $33.5 million and the license of Univision's WCAA (105.9
Newark NJ). While Univision moves WCAA's "La Kalle"
Spanish urban format down the dial to the bigger 96.3 signal,
the Times will sell the 105.9 signal - along with WQXR's intellectual
property - to public broadcaster WNYC, which will pay $11.5 million
to operate 105.9 as a noncommercial classical station with the
Note that price: for a full New York City class B FM, this
deal puts the price tag at $45 million. Even allowing for some
unusual circumstances here - the desire to protect the classical
legacy of WQXR, in particular - this represents a huge drop-off
in station values over just the last few years, as Univision
ought to know, since its predecessor Heftel bought the 105.9
signal (then WNWK) for roughly ten times the $11.5 million that
WNYC is paying for it. Even more dramatically, Univision gets
that big 96.3 signal for less than the $60 million it paid a
few years back for what's now WQBU (92.7 Garden City), a class
A signal on the Long Island/Queens line.
As for the future of WQXR, reactions were mixed last week.
To some, the sale by the Times will mark the end of WQXR
as they've long known it - the station's familiar air personalities
will lose their jobs with the sale, and while they'll have the
chance to apply for work at the new WNYC-owned WQXR on 105.9,
it seems likely that only a few will be hired. There's concern
in the city's charitable circles that WNYC, with its own fundraising
obligations to meet (it's launching a $15 million campaign to
cover the purchase of WQXR and initial operating costs), won't
be as supportive of New York's other arts organizations as the
Times-owned WQXR was. (And of course as a commercial station,
WQXR provided a venue to promote Broadway shows and other cultural
events that won't be able to advertise as openly on the new 105.9.)
Then there's the signal issue: while 105.9 broadcasts from
the same master antenna on the Empire State Building as 96.3,
it runs just 610 watts ERP, compared to 6000 watts for the full
class B signals. That's still a formidable signal - it reaches
about 13 million listeners, compared to just over 16 million
for the class B stations - but for listeners in much of Long
Island and parts of Westchester and southern Connecticut, WQXR
will still effectively vanish when it makes the move.
But for WQXR listeners elsewhere in the metropolitan area,
the deal might be the best chance they'll have to retain a full-time
classical voice on the FM dial. For WNYC, the move presents an
opportunity - at a relative bargain price - to relieve the pressure
on its main signal, WNYC-FM (93.9), to serve both the classical
audience and the growing demand for more news and talk programming.
With this deal, WNYC-FM will become a full-time news/talk voice,
shifting its remaining classical programming up the dial to 105.9.
And without the market pressures that have threatened even the
few remaining classical signals that have moved to lesser commercial
signals around the country (think of the slow demise of stations
like WGMS in Washington, KXTR in Kansas City and perhaps even
WCRB in Boston), there's little doubt that WNYC will continue
to run the new WQXR 105.9 as a classical signal for many years
other news from New York, ESPN Radio's WEPN (1050) has flipped
the switch on its new transmitter site on the Secaucus/North
Bergen line, easily visible to drivers exiting the Lincoln Tunnel
and train passengers heading into the city from New Jersey. WEPN
is promoting the new 50,000-watt signal as the closest AM to
midtown Manhattan, with a signal free of the pattern distortions
caused by the new Xanadu development right next to the station's
old transmitter site adjacent to Giants Stadium.
There's a new morning show coming to Emmis' WRKS (Kiss 98.7):
comedian and TV host D.L. Hughley takes on the 6-10 AM shift
starting today, backed up by BET's Jacque Reid, comedian Steve
Wilson and WRKS' Raqiyah Mays and Bob Slade. Hughley has at least
a bit of radio experience - he's worked at LA's KJLH.
New York's versatile Ted David is branching out. The recently-retired
CNBC anchor has been doing some fill-in work at WINS (1010),
and last week he shot a cameo on the set of the soap opera "One
Life to Live." Mark your calendars for September 8 at 2
PM, when the episode airs on ABC.
Speaking of WINS, one of the charter members of its all-news
staff died last week. Brad Sherman started at the station a few
months before its April 1965 flip from top-40 to news, and he
stayed on as an anchor until his retirement in 1992. Sherman
was suffering from both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases
and had broken a hip last month. He died last Sunday (July 12)
Mount St. Francis Hermitage now has calls to go with its Owego-licensed
construction permit on 91.9. The new station will be WLJM - and
with a 990-watt directional signal from a tower site in Athens,
PA, it looks to have a better signal south of the state line
than in Owego itself.
A correction from last week: the 95.7 translator in Middletown
relays WSUL (98.3 Monticello); it's the 95.7 translator in Poughkeepsie,
W239BL, that's relaying New York's WPLJ-HD2.
And while we're in the Hudson Valley, we note a power increase
at WGNY (1220 Newburgh), which has boosted its day power from
5 kW to 10 kW, remaining at 180 watts after dark.
*On the TV side
of things, Watertown's WPBS-TV (Channel 16) is the latest U.S.
signal to face the potential loss of its Canadian audience. The
small public TV station, which has long depended on support from
Canadian viewers in the much larger Ottawa market, recently learned
that Rogers Cable has notified customers that it plans to replace
WPBS with Detroit's WTVS, delivered via satellite.
"If this change is made, a friendship we have forged
for over 40 years could be lost," WPBS warns, noting that
much of its local programming is designed for viewers in and
around Ottawa, who make up 23% of its membership base and about
$300,000 of the station's annual revenue. WPBS is asking its
Canadian viewers to contact Rogers to protest the change, which
is due to take effect August 18.
DO IT RIGHT PRODUCTIONS --
Visit our Web site, doitrightproductions.net,
to hear our three syndicated shows, Classic Clips, Country Roots
and Gospel Doings, produced by longtime country and bluegrass
lovers. We also provide demo and duplicating services. Contact
Roland (Bruce) Cutler, PO Box 351, Lyons, NY 14489; or [email protected]
You can have
your ad here, for just a few dollars a week! Click
for information on the most economical way to reach tens of thousands
of Northeast radio and TV people each week.
*On any other week, the demise of one of
the best-known and longest-running rock stations in the country
would have easily been our lead story, and then some.
But while the impending end of Boston's WBCN (104.1) and its
replacement by a new all-sports FM signal is still front-page
news in eastern MASSACHUSETTS (as well as the subject
of a NERW extra when the news broke last Tuesday), the WQXR announcement
out of New York just a few hours later quickly dominated the
The details of the
WBCN transition have been rehashed at length over the last week
- CBS Radio will move hot AC "Mix" WBMX from 98.5 to
104.1 in August, relaunching 98.5 as "The Sports Hub"
under new calls WBZ-FM, with WBCN's Toucher and Rich in morning
drive and a lineup anchored by Patriots football and Bruins hockey.
The remainder of the current WBCN staff, including midday jock
Adam-12 and afternoon jock Hardy, will be out, while the remains
of the WBCN modern rock format will shift to 98.5's HD2. The
simulcast of WBZ (1030)'s news-talk format moves from the HD3
of WODS (103.3) to the HD3 of the new WBZ-FM.
So what does it all mean?
In a Globe
story the day after the announcement, our colleage Sean
Ross of Edison Media and radio-info.com summed up the end of
WBCN about as well as anyone has: "The BCN that most
people are going to be sad about losing this afternoon, went
away a while ago."
While the exact date of that demise is arguable - we'd peg
it at April 1, 1996, the day Howard Stern replaced Charles Laquidara
in morning drive, but there was that 1994 shift to modern rock,
too, and the later move away from music towards talk - there's
no question that the WBCN that will breathe its last next month
is not the legendary station where Peter Wolf and Duane Ingalls
Glasscock and Oedipus rocked out, where new acts were broken
and where "News Dissector" Danny Schechter upended
conventional notions of radio news coverage.
Instead, the WBCN of recent years has found itself ever more
tightly wedged between musical competitors, including the harder
rock of Entercom's WAAF (107.3 Westborough)/WKAF (97.7 Brockton),
the more indie-focused rock of Steve Mindich's WFNX (101.7 Lynn)
and the relatively unheralded success of Greater Media's jockless
modern rock WBOS (92.9 Brookline), which has quietly edged past
both WFNX and WBCN in the ratings. And while many erstwhile freeform
rockers have found success in recent years by ignoring newer
music and returning to their roots as classic rockers, WBCN's
sister station WZLX (100.7) already occupies that niche on the
And with few cities as sports-crazy as Boston, it was almost
inevitable that CBS would eventually challenge the dominance
of Entercom's WEEI (850), which enjoys both a rabidly loyal audience
and plenty of grumbling from sports fans who either can't stand
its opinionated hosts and callers, or who can't hear its signal
in areas west of Boston after dark. While WEEI has faced other
sports competitors in the past, including ESPN affiliate WAMG
(890 Dedham) and Sporting News Radio's WWZN (1510 Boston), those
stations have lacked full-market signals and the sort of local
presence that's essential to competing in Boston.
That won't be an issue for "The Sports Hub," which
will launch with the immediate audience draws of Patriots football
and Bruins hockey, as well as a massive cross-promotional machine
that includes WBZ(AM), WBZ-TV, WSBK (Channel 38) and even the
"CBS Scene" restaurant at Foxboro. Most of the new
station's programming day is expected to be local, with names
such as Gary Tanguay and Mike Felger widely rumored as midday
and afternoon hosts - and by moving to the 98.5 signal, which
transmits from the "FM 128" tower in Newton, the new
WBZ-FM will neatly blanket the MetroWest area that's now a weak
spot for WEEI.
(By moving to the Prudential Tower-based 104.1 signal, meanwhile,
WBMX will pick up the in-city signal strength that will help
it to even better reach the office-based listeners who make up
the "Mix" target audience.)
So what happens over at WEEI? "Weve dealt with
competitive situations in the past and were fully prepared
to do it again," says Entercom's Julie Kahn - and having
the Red Sox, the Celtics, a lineup of familiar voices such as
Dennis & Callahan and Glenn Ordway, plus a 15-year head start,
certainly doesn't hurt. As for all the rumors about WEEI seeking
an FM presence in Boston, for now, they're just rumors. With
only three FM properties in the Boston market - the WAAF/WKAF
simulcast, which stands to benefit from competitor WBCN's demise,
and the highly profitable and inexpensively-run WMKK (93.7 Mike
FM) - there's no obvious spot for a WEEI-FM...unless Entercom
revives the never-consummated deal to acquire WCRB (99.5 Lowell)
Interesting times are ahead, for sure...stay tuned.
*Out west, Saga's launching another HD2-via-translator signal.
Just as it's done in Keene, N.H. and Ithaca, N.Y., Saga is using
a translator - in this case W232BW (94.3 Northampton) to carry
programming that originates on the HD subchannel of another signal
in the market, WLZX (99.3 Northampton). The format on the new
signal is hot AC - and if you're wondering where W232BW came
from, it's the former W287AK (105.3 South Hadley), which has
been moved around the dial several times since its days as a
relay of the old WPVQ (93.9 Turners Falls).
One more bit of western Massachusetts news: last week, we
told you that Mercysong had picked WDMY as the calls of its new
signal on 91.9 in Stockbridge - and now they've changed those
calls to WHNM.
week's CONNECTICUT news starts with TV: on Thursday, NBC's
WVIT (Channel 30) moved its newscasts out of the West Hartford
studio they've occupied since the station's earliest days in
1953 and into a state-of-the-art facility right next door. With
the move, "NBC Connecticut" becomes the Hartford-New
Haven market's first station to produce local news in HD.
In New Haven, Connecticut Public TV is applying for a channel
change at its WEDY. The station had a tiny analog signal on channel
65, meant largely to fill in some pockets around Yale University
where CPTV's other signals are weak. With the move to digital,
WEDY ended up on channel 6 with only 200 watts - but now it hopes
to relocate to UHF with a full-power signal on channel 41.
On the radio side, Lance Tidwell starts today as the PD at
Clear Channel's WWYZ (92.5 Waterbury). He comes to town from
Southern Star Broadcasting, where he was chief operating officer;
he's also been a PD in Seattle, Memphis and Boise. Tidwell fills
the vacancy left by Pete Salant's departure earlier this year.
*There's TV news from MAINE, too -
and a reminder that for all the absolute opinions you'll read
declaring that UHF is always superior to VHF for digital TV,
the experience in the real world varies greatly from market to
market. In the sprawling Bangor market, where many viewers in
outlying areas already have good rooftop VHF antennas and where
there was never any significant UHF analog broadcasting, WABI-TV
(Channel 5) is hoping to move its digital signal from UHF back
to VHF. WABI is asking the FCC to reallocate it to channel 13,
where its says it can be more competitive with the market's other
VHF digital signals - and where its power bills will be significantly
lower than on its present channel 19 facility.
SALE! DON'T WAIT!
We thought we'd sell out of Tower Site Calendar
2009 without resorting to a clearance sale...but
Our business manager (aka Mrs. Fybush)
reports that a limited quantity of 2009 calendars are still available
- and as we get ready to send Tower Site Calendar 2010
to the printer, we're clearing out the remaining 2009
The supply is dwindling fast at our clearance
price of just $9 each, postpaid - that's half-off the
usual price of $18. So place that order now - and get ready for
pre-orders of the 2010 edition, starting next week!
now at the fybush.com Store!
*As Clear Channel slowly sells off some of
its non-core stations, there's a station sale in central PENNSYLVANIA
to report. One Heart Ministries, Inc. has been leasing WKBO
(1230 Harrisburg) from Clear Channel for several years, and now
it's converting that LMA into a purchase. One Heart is paying
$385,000, and Clear Channel will forgive up to $150,000 of the
money it's owed under its current contract with One Heart.
Radio People on the Move: Veteran PD Al Brock is out at Citadel's
WIOV-FM (105.1 Ephrata) after two years in the chair there. Brock's
resume includes recent stops in Nashville and Myrtle Beach, as
well as a long run in Binghamton. Meanwhile in York, Bobby D
replaces Dave Russell as PD of Cumulus' WARM-FM (103.3); Bobby's
also the PD of sister station WSOX-FM (96.1 Red Lion).
though the FCC has now approved the routine use of FM translators
by AM stations, it's denied an attempt by one NEW JERSEY AM
station to add an FM signal. The application from WGHT (1500
Pompton Lakes) was certainly an unusual one: it asked the Commission
to deny New Jersey Public Broadcasting Authority's request to
cancel a construction permit for a translator on 102.3 in Pompton
Lakes, and to assign the CP from NJPBA to WGHT. While WGHT presented
plenty of evidence testifying to the station's excellent community
service and the lack of other local radio in the area, the application
was a long shot, since there's no FCC precedent for restoring
a CP to a licensee who doesn't want it anymore - and so the FCC
denied WGHT's application, reminding the station that there will
be a window, eventually, for new translator applications.
(NERW notes that the FCC's AM translator ruling limits the
use of FM translators to those already licensed or holding CPs,
so only a handful of AM stations that already owned translator
licenses or have figured out how to buy and move existing translators
will benefit, for now.)
Down the shore, Rick Brancadora has closed on his purchase
of WILW (94.3 Avalon) from Coastal Communications. The station's
calls will soon change to WIBG-FM, and Rick says he's hoping
to build out its newly-granted CP to move north and boost power
before the end of the summer, giving "Wibbage-FM" new
reach into Atlantic City.
One call change this week: WGXM (88.7 Port Republic) is returning
to its former calls, WXXY.
Edited by NERW's own Scott Fybush - on sale now as
an e-book or printed volume!
*Halifax will soon be the first major Canadian
city to go FM-only. Listeners there started noticing tests last
week on 92.9, the future FM home of the last remaining AM in
metro Halifax, CFDR (780 Dartmouth). When Rogers signs on the
new CFLT-FM on 92.9, it won't carry over the country "Kixx"
format from the AM; instead, the new station will be doing AC
as "Lite 92.9."
former owner, Newcap, traded that Halifax station last year for
a second signal (CIGM 790, soon to move to FM) in Sudbury, Ontario
- and now Newcap is narrowing the rest of its northwestern Ontario
footprint with a C$4.5 million sale of two signals in Thunder
Bay, CKTG (The Giant 105.3) and CJUK (Magic 99.9). Those stations
go to Acadia Broadcasting, which already owns stations in Kenora,
Dryden and Fort Frances through its Northwoods Broadcasting subsidiary.
And in Windsor, Ontario, we've been remiss in not noting some
serious cutbacks in Radio-Canada programming for Francophone
listeners. Despite legal efforts from a listener group calling
itself "SOS-CBEF," Radio-Canada eliminated the local
morning shows at CBEF (540 Windsor), as well as some local programming
at CBON in Sudbury and CJBC in Toronto in late June. In Windsor,
the three hours of local morning news was replaced with just
20 minutes a day of local headlines for the 35,000 Francophones
in the region, while the staff of CBEF was cut from eight people
*Finally this week, we remember one
of the legends of TV news. Here's what we posted on a NERW Update
just after the news broke at week's end:
With the death of Walter Cronkite at 92 Friday evening, you'll
be reading plenty of tributes in the hours and days to come.
They'll recognize, properly, the instrumental role Cronkite played
in establishing TV news as a legitimate medium of record. They'll
note his passing just days before the 40th anniversary of one
of his seminal on-air moments, as he became the face and voice
of man's landing on the moon. They'll assess the many ways in
which Cronkite's successors, at CBS and elsewhere, have and have
not lived up to the legacy he left.
But what you probably won't hear is the story of how Walter
Cronkite, at a time when he was at the height of his influence,
did something to help inspire a six-year-old boy with big media
The year was 1978, the boy was your editor, and as kindergarten
drew to a close that spring, I was informing (or at least entertaining)
my classmates by doing "newscasts" in front of the
blackboard in the classroom. With six-year-old innocence, and
at least a passing familiarity with the media thanks to an aunt
who worked at the local CBS affiliate, it seemed entirely appropriate
to send one of the scripts from our little kindergarten newscast
to the man whose newscasts we watched over the dinner table every
So off went the letter, explaining - in kindergarten printing,
I'm sure - how much I admired Mr. Cronkite and how I hoped someday
perhaps to take his place behind the anchor desk at CBS.
A week or two went by, and right around the last day of school
I came home to find a fat gray envelope waiting for me, with
the CBS logo in big black print on the left side.
It would have been easy, and entirely reasonable, for the
most famous TV anchorman in the world to have a staffer send
off a form letter, or perhaps even an autographed photo. But
that's not what Walter Cronkite did.
Instead, the fat gray envelope contained this letter, on CBS
stationery, evidently typed by the man himself:
That was a fascinating newscast you and Jess and Jeffrey
did on June 10th, and I'm very pleased that you sent me a copy
of your script.
I have a feeling that if you keep up at this pace and get
a good education in school, then one day all three of you will
be at the CBS network.
June 26, 1978
that wasn't all. In his own handwriting below the typed letter
was this: "P.S. I thought you might like to see one of
our scripts. W.C." And stuffed into that fat gray envelope
was a complete teleprompter roll from those days before electronic
prompters, dozens of pages long, right up to "And that's
the way it is" - the very script that had rolled in front
of Uncle Walter on the night of Tuesday, June 27, 1978.
So know this about Walter Cronkite: the man who told the nation
about JFK and Vietnam and the moon landings and Watergate was
not too big or too self-impressed to take a few minutes to write
back to a starry-eyed kindergartner.
took nearly twenty years for that six-year-old would-be newscaster
to finally thank Walter Cronkite in person, and by then there
was an interesting irony: having continued on a path into the
news business, inspired in no small part by that letter back
in 1978, your editor ended up at WBZ in Boston.
By the time Cronkite showed up one night in the fall of 1996
to promote his new book, WBZ's owner, Westinghouse, had acquired
CBS - and so that letter, long ago, that predicted that those
kindergarten newscasters might someday "be at CBS"
had come true, in a way.
Know this, too, about Walter Cronkite: even at the age of
80, he had already lost most of his hearing. So I'm not entirely
sure that he understood - even as I showed him that letter he'd
written me long ago - how much his small gesture back in 1978
meant to me.
So long, Uncle Walter...and thank you.
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, ten and - where available - fifteen years
ago this week, or thereabouts. Note that the column appeared
on an erratic schedule in its earliest years as "New England
Radio Watch," and didn't go to a regular weekly schedule
until 1997. Thanks to LARadio.com
for the idea - and thanks to you, our readers, for the support
that's made all these years of NERW possible!)
July 21, 2008 -
- The lead financier behind Route 81, the radio group that
made a big impact in central PENNSYLVANIA and upstate New York
in recent years, has taken over operations of the company's stations
after a foreclosure sale last week.
- WallerSutton owned 50% of Route 81's clusters in Elmira (WENY
AM-FM, WENI AM-FM, WCBA, WGMM), Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (WNAK,
WCDL, WAZL, WLNP), Carlisle (WHYL) and Coatesville (WCOJ); now
its subsidiary WS2K Acquisition has taken control of those stations
in the wake of last Monday's foreclosure. The stations remain
on the air under their current management, though we hear there
were some problems with last week's paychecks clearing, leaving
employees unpaid for several days; we're also hearing there are
new owners on the way to WHYL and WAZL. More next week...
- (There's a Massachusetts connection to WallerSutton as well;
in addition to Route 81, its other radio investment is in J Sports
LLC, owner of "ESPN Boston" WAMG 890/WLLH 1400.)
- WCBS-FM (101.1 NEW YORK) news director morning newsman Al
Meredith retired last week, ending a 44-year career that started
in Long Island at WGBB, WGSM, WGLI and WBLI. Meredith had been
with WCBS-FM for 28 years, remaining as public service director
during the "Jack FM" interregnum that ended a year
ago last week and returning to the morning airwaves when "CBS-FM"
- In Syracuse, the turbulent morning slot at WAQX (95.7 Manlius)
is once again vacant. Citadel imported the syndicated "Opie
and Anthony" show at many of its rock stations around the
country two summers ago, but it left the Alabama-based "Beaner
and Ken" in place on 95X until January 2007, when it installed
O&A in the morning drive slot that Howard Stern had called
home until 2004. (Back then, O&A had appeared on 95X for
a short period immediately after Citadel pulled Stern off the
air, in a day-delayed edited version of their satellite radio
show.) Turns out Syracuse was no friendlier to O&A than it
had been to Beaner and Ken; as of last Monday, the boys from
New York are off the air in the Salt City. CNYRadio.com reports
that PD Alexis shifted from middays to mornings for a few days
to cover, and now Paulie Scibilia is handling mornings "for
the foreseeable future."
- In the Utica market, WOKR (93.5 Remsen) is applying for an
upgrade; it hopes to move from its current 1150 watts/748' from
Starr Hill, west of Remsen, to 3 kW/472' from a new tower in
East Floyd, east of Rome and north of Utica. The new WOKR signal
would be city-grade over Utica, which is now served by a translator,
July 19, 2004 -
- While the FCC and Congress pursue a strategy of regulating
broadcast content through driving station owners into bankruptcy,
broadcast regulators in CANADA pulled out the big gun last week,
declining to renew the license of Genex's CHOI-FM (98.1 Quebec
City) when it expires at the end of August.
- As you may recall, the modern rock station had been operating
on a short-term (two years instead of seven) renewal after initially
running afoul with the CRTC over the usual Canadian issues of
missing logger tapes and too much English-language musical content.
More recently, as we've been reporting here in NERW, the CRTC
put the station under tough scrutiny over the comments of its
top-rated morning host, Jeff Fillion. Fillion is a sort of Quebecois
Howard Stern (though the Quebecois might prefer to think of Stern
as an Anglo Fillion), taking on pretty much any target that pleases
him in a take-no-prisoners fashion. Most notably, at least where
the CRTC is concerned, he'd been feuding on the air with Robert
Gillet, former morning host of rival CJMF (93.3 Quebec City),
attacking Gillet for his role in a widely-publicized teen prostitution
scandal that's been the talk of tout Quebec for a while now.
- The Gillet incident prompted several dozen complaints to
the CRTC - and while Fillion's fans (egged on by Fillion himself)
responded with more than 9,000 interventions in support of the
station, the CRTC doesn't go by public opinion on such matters.
Indeed, its chairman said the agency felt it had "no other
option" but to pull CHOI's license, forcing the station
to go silent on August 31. Genex owner Patrice Demers - who also
owns CKNU (100.9) in the small town of Donnacona, west of Quebec
City, says the move will leave 35 people jobless and cost him
C$25 million (the estimated value of the station he bought in
1996 for C$2 million, when it was at the bottom of the ratings),
and he's getting ready to go to court - and to Parliament - to
fight the CRTC's move.
- Meanwhile, the CRTC has already posted a call for applications
for what it now considers a vacant 98.1 facility in Quebec City.
- Meanwhile in MASSACHUSETTS, we have a fascinating example
of just how different broadcasting regulators really are across
the US/Canadian border. While Canadian regulators barely blush
at sexual content, they come down hard on anything that they
find demeaning to an individual or an ethnic group. But even
as the FCC works itself up over the slightest hint of sexual
content that might be offensive to some community, somewhere,
it's letting WTKK (96.9 Boston) off the hook for the comments
made by Jay Severin back in April. According to the complaints
the FCC received, Severin told listeners, "I believe that
Muslims in this country are a fifth column...You believe that
we should befriend them. I think we should kill them."
- The FCC declined to act on the complaints, saying that no
court had ruled that Severin's comments posed a "clear and
present danger" to public safety - and that they're thus
covered under the First Amendment.
- A couple of RHODE ISLAND call changes escaped our attention
in last week's issue: WADK-FM (99.3 Block Island) is now WJZS,
in keeping with its jazzy "Swing FM" image - and WJJF
(1180 Hope Valley) is now WCNX, since station namesake John J.
Fuller no longer owns the place. (And yes, we're aware that WCNX
is the old call for 1150 Middletown CT, now WMRD...)
- VERMONT Public Radio officially launches its new service
on Tuesday morning. "VPR Classical" is on WNCH (88.1
Norwich), with plans to expand across the rest of the state in
the years to come; most programming will come by satellite at
first, though VPR music host Walter Parker will be heard mid-morning
and VPR head honcho Mark Vogelzang will be heard on Sundays with
- In the Southern Tier, WXXI is shuffling the programming on
satellite outlet WJSL (90.3 Houghton) at the beginning of August.
Instead of being a full-time simulcast of classical WXXI-FM (91.5
Rochester), WJSL will begin breaking away from 6-8 AM and 4-6
PM on weekdays to carry NPR news programming from WXXI (1370
Rochester). It'll also carry Weekend Edition from 8-10 AM Saturdays.
(Why break the simulcast now? Because WJSL can now be fed over
a subcarrier of WXXI-DT 16 instead of over-the-air from 91.5...)
July 23, 1999 -
can sponsor this weekly feature! Click here for information!
- (NERW was on the road in northern Ontario a decade ago this
NorthEast Radio Watch is made possible by the generous
contributions of our regular readers. If you enjoy NERW, please
click here to
learn how you can help make continued publication possible. NERW
2009 by Scott Fybush.