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July 27, 2009

Whither Pulse?

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*NEW YORK's dance music station was back in the headlines last week, but it's still not clear what exactly was going on behind the scenes at "Pulse 87" (WNYZ-LP), the channel 6 LPTV license that's operated by Mega Media as an FM station at 87.7 on the dial.

On Monday, Pulse's announcers began telling listeners that the station was in severe financial trouble and would be gone by week's end...unless those listeners came forward with donations to save the format. Listeners apparently responded - but the fund drive didn't last long. By Tuesday morning, the fundraising announcements (complete with premiums such as messenger bags and wristbands) had been pulled, the "donate" webpage on the Pulse website was gone, and the station was suddenly announcing that it had won a reprieve from its creditors thanks to an "overwhelming" response from listeners.

But all that money pledged by the Pulse audience isn't staying with Mega Media - it's being returned to donors, the station says, leaving it rather unclear as to what the point of the one-day fundraiser really was.

So while the good news for New York's dance fans is that Pulse remains on the air, there are still plenty of unanswered questions - what prompted the drive in the first place, and why was it called off so abruptly? Even more curious is the low profile Mega's leadership has been taking; the announcements of the pledge drive and of its cancellation came from Pulse staffers, not from CEO Alex Shvarts, and the normally outspoken Shvarts hasn't been heard from at all during the latest series of events. Apart from a one-line posting to his Facebook page on Monday, he's had no public comment, and even the station's passionate fans, who've been outspoken about the latest developments on all the usual message boards, say they've heard nothing at all from Mega management to clear up what's going on.

Mega's stock dipped below a penny per share last week, closing at $0.008 per share, and the company has now pulled back from its ambitious expansion plans for "Pulse." Mega had earlier announced that it wasn't going ahead with plans to launch "Pulse" on channel 6 LPTVs in Chicago and Los Angeles, and last week it dropped its plans to put the format on a channel 6 LPTV in the Washington, DC market.

*Meanwhile, Clear Channel has rearranged its New York City HD Radio lineup to offer Pulse some competition. WKTU (103.5)'s HD2 channel, which had been "New York Country," is now carrying Clear Channel's national "Pride Radio" format, a dance-heavy music mix aimed at the gay audience. The country music has moved up the dial to WLTW (106.7)'s HD2, where a national Clear Channel format replaces the "Classic Lite" soft AC that had been heard there.

As soon as Wendy Williams' syndicated TV show was picked up for a national run, the writing was probably on the wall for her daily radio show - and last week she made it official, announcing that she's leaving the afternoon slot on WBLS (107.5) that she's occupied since 2001. WBLS hasn't yet announced a replacement for Williams, and we'd suspect that New York hasn't heard the very last of Wendy on the radio.

Radio People on the Move: Steve Mears and Chris King are out as radio announcers for the struggling New York Islanders. Instead, the team will join the Buffalo Sabres in using its TV team (Howie Rose and Billy Jaffe of the MSG Network) to do double duty on radio. The Isles still haven't announced a radio outlet for the 2009-10 season; they were heard last year on WMJC (94.3 Smithtown) and WHLI (1100 Hempstead), as well as WLNG (92.1) on the East End.

Radio Stations on the Move: We're hearing the next-to-last of the New York City CBS Radio stations to relocate to the new 345 Hudson Street cluster studios will be in place downtown in about a week's time. WINS (1010) will leave behind the 888 Seventh Avenue studios it's called home for more than two decades when it joins WXRK (92.3), WCBS-FM (101.1) and WWFS (102.7) on Hudson Street. WFAN (660) will make its move from Astoria, Queens later this summer - and that will leave only WCBS (880) at a separate location, with plans to move from the CBS Broadcast Center on W. 57th Street in 2010 still uncertain.

On the engineering side, Conrad Trautmann is switching networks. The veteran New York engineer, whose resume also includes a stop in Syracuse at WSYR/WYYY, has been senior VP for engineering and IT at Westwood One, but now he's moving to Dial Global/Triton Radio Networks as executive VP of technology.

Upstate, "Lugnut" is the new PD at Pamal's WAJZ (96.3 Voorheesville), Albany's "Jamz 96.3." He comes to town from Florida's panhandle, where he was OM/PD at WWFY/WMXZ/WWAV - and that completes the Albany/Florida trade that found his predecessor Russ Allen heading for Gainesville and Pamal's WTMG.

Brent Axe, who does afternoon sports on Citadel's WNSS (1260 Syracuse), is adding hosting duties on the Buffalo Bills radio network this fall. He'll be hosting the pre-game show on WGRF (96.9 Buffalo) and the halftime and post-game shows on the entire Bills network, including WHAM/WFXF in Rochester and WNSS back home in the Salt City. And Axe is getting some face time on TV, too: his daily "On the Block" show on WNSS is now being simulcast on Time Warner's local sports channel in Syracuse.

In Owego, there are already new calls for the as-yet-unbuilt station on 91.9: instead of being WLJM, it will be WHVM.

Just down the road in Binghamton, the organizers of the biennial Binghamton Broadcasters Reunion have announced another honoree at this year's event. Veteran broadcaster Bill Parker will receive the "Dean of Broadcasting" award at the get-together September 26, which we're very much looking forward to attending. (There's a website for the event now, too: binghamtonbroadcastersreunion.com will get you all the information about the big event.)

*On the TV side, Albany's WTEN (Channel 10) and its Adams, Mass. relay WCDC (Channel 19) are getting new management. The creditors who now control the stations' bankrupt owner, Young Broadcasting, are contracting with Gray Television to operate seven of Young's 10 stations, including WTEN/WCDC. They'll be Gray's first outlets in the Northeast; the Georgia-based small-market broadcaster's closest owned-and-operated stations are WSAZ in Huntington, WV and WHSV in Harrisonburg, VA.

And we're sorry to report the passing of Margaret Jones, who'd worked at New York's WHN (1050) and WYNY (97.1) in the seventies. Jones died Tuesday (July 21) of cancer; she was 62.

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*After a tumultuous week in MASSACHUSETTS radio, things got back down to business as Boston's WBCN (104.1) prepared for its final farewell. The station's swan song will take place over four days, starting Saturday, August 8 and wrapping up Tuesday, August 11 with the three-way flip that sends WBCN to HD2 retirement on 98.5-2, moves "Mix" WBMX from 98.5 to 104.1, and launches the new all-sports "Sports Hub" WBZ-FM on 98.5's main channel.

There's a physical move coming as well: by early August, Mix will have finished its move from 1200 Soldiers Field Road, next door to WBZ-TV/WSBK-TV/WBZ(AM), down the road to the CBS Radio cluster studio at 83 Leo Birmingham Parkway in the former WSBK studio building - and that will end some two decades of radio at 1200 Soldiers Field Road, starting with WBOS (92.9), which was joined there by WSSH (99.5, later WOAZ) before those stations moved out and WBMX moved in as part of the big cluster shuffles of the late '90s.

Incumbent sports behemoth WEEI (850) isn't taking the impending competition from "The Sports Hub" without a fight - it's just announced a two-year renewal of its deal with Westwood One to carry NFL action on Thursday, Sunday and Monday nights and the post-season. WEEI also has another year remaining on its deal for "Patriots Friday" and "Patriots Monday," though the actual Pats play-by-play will stay with CBS Radio on the new WBZ-FM.

We don't put a lot of stock in the NAB's Marconi Awards - the program is open only to NAB members, which excludes big groups like CBS and a lot of smaller owners as well, and at least in our experience the awards often seem to be a political popularity contest. But we'll still gladly congratulate Boston's WMJX (106.7) for being nominated as "Legendary Station of the Year" this year, alongside WGY (810 Schenectady), which is certainly legendary even if it's now a pale shadow of what it once was. The other nominees this year are KKOB, Albuquerque; WSBT, South Bend and KQRS, Minneapolis. Other NERW-land nominees include WEEI and Philadelphia's WBEB and WMMR, for major-market station of the year; WXKS-FM's Matty Siegel, WMMR's Preston & Steve and WQHT's Funkmaster Flex, for major-market personality of the year; WBEB and Buffalo's WJYE, for AC station of the year; Pittsburgh's WKST-FM, for CHR station of the year; Utica's WODZ and Pittsburgh's WWSW, for oldies station of the year; Pittsburgh's WDVE and New Haven's WPLR, for rock station of the year; and Buffalo's WGR, for sports station of the year. Awards will be handed out at the NAB Radio Show this fall in Philadelphia, which may explain all those Philly nominations...

Out on Cape Cod, community station WOMR (92.1) will be looking for a new leader now that executive director David Myers has submitted his resignation, effective at month's end. Myers says he has some health issues to take care of, but that he'll remain involved with WOMR as a program host. WOMR's board says it may end up reorganizing the station's management to spread Myers' duties over more than one position.

In western Massachusetts, there's a bit of a battle brewing between Saga's WRSI (93.9 Turners Falls) and public radio WFCR (88.5 Amherst) - or at least that's what we can glean from this ad that appeared last week in the Berkshire Eagle, asking readers to let WRSI know if they're suddenly unable to get a clean signal from "93.9 the River."

And what would be interfering with WRSI in the Pittsfield area? That would be one of WFCR's recently-added translators, W230AU (93.9 Pittsfield), running all of 10 watts from Osceda Mountain, the same site as Pittsfield's WBEC-FM (95.9) - and while Pittsfield is far outside the protected contours of class A WRSI, the rules still say that translators have to protect reception of licensed full-power stations even outside their protected contours. Will WFCR and WRSI find a compromise here?

On TV, Kathy Tobin is stepping down as evening anchor at WGGB (Channel 40) in Springfield. Tobin, a former news director at WGGB, is taking over as development director for Friends of the Homeless; no replacement has been named yet at ABC 40/Fox 6.

The dean of Boston news videographers has retired. Nat Whittemore started at WBZ-TV (Channel 4) as a freelancer in 1956, and has been there full-time since 1963.

Another veteran Boston photojournalist, Warren Doolin, has died. Doolin started his career in the sixties as well, at the old WNAC-TV (Channel 7), but spent most of his years with channel 5 in its various incarnations as WHDH-TV and WCVB-TV before retiring three years ago. Doolin died last Monday (July 20) after collapsing while playing tennis; he was 71.

And we note the passing of Bill Cusack, who worked at WXKS and then for many years at WPLM in Plymouth before his retirement. Cusack died Tuesday (July 21) at 76 in Hingham.

*A silent NEW HAMPSHIRE FM station is back on the air, at least long enough to keep its license alive. WWHK (102.3 Concord) fell silent around Labor Day last year, when Nassau was ordered to immediately end its JSA with licensee Capital Broadcasting (a remnant of the previous Vox ownership), and while a sale to Andrew Sumereau's Birch Broadcasting remains pending, WWHK is once again operating with a loop of classic rock music.

*TV People on the Move in MAINE: David Abel moves from Gannett's WCSH (Channel 6), where he's been general sales manager since 2005, over to Hearst Television's WMTW-TV (Channel 8), where he replaces Ken Bauder as president and general manager, effective today.

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*The public broadcaster serving northwest PENNSYLVANIA is warning that its impending removal from the cable lineup in London, Ontario could be the last straw forcing it to close down.

WQLN-TV (Channel 54)/WQLN-FM (91.3) has already been hit hard by budget cutbacks, including an $800,000 hit in state funding that forced the station to lay off staffers and cut pay for remaining employees.

Losing its 1700 members across Lake Erie in London would reduce the station's donations by about 20%, says president Dwight Miller, removing another $150,000-$200,000 from the station's already tight budget.

"It would seriously jeopardize our ability to stay open," Miller told the Erie Times-News last week, forcing WQLN to put itself up for sale or to investigate consolidating with other public broadcasters.

WQLN says it's investigating the possibility of a fiber connection to Rogers Cable in London to replace the off-air pickup that Rogers says has been unreliable, leading to its decision to replace WQLN with Detroit's WTVS, effective August 18.

(NERW notes that Rogers is using the "poor signal" rationale in Ottawa, as well, where it plans to replace Watertown's WPBS-TV with WTVS. But the unfortunate reality for small stations like WPBS and WQLN that depend heavily on Canadian cable viewership is that Rogers and other cable companies north of the border tend to see the U.S.-based network affiliates as largely interchangeable now that the CRTC has relaxed the rules that once required carriage of specific local U.S. stations. It's certainly more convenient and less expensive for Rogers to feed Detroit signals to London and Ottawa via fiber or satellite than to maintain over-the-air reception capability for WQLN or WPBS, and it will take a loud public outcry to persuade Rogers to continue to go to the extra trouble of carrying the Erie and Watertown signals. Will that outcry materialize in time?)

*Radio People on the Move: John Cook is back in Philadelphia as the new PD of Greater Media's WNUW (97.5 Burlington NJ). The former WYSP PD has been working in Kansas City at Entercom's cluster there.

Over at Beasley, marketing director Mark Vizza gets a promotion: he's now director of marketing and operations manager for WXTU (92.5) and WRDW (96.5); former WRDW marketing and promotions director Joe Ceccola exits as his job is eliminated in a budget cutback there.

In Scranton, WGMF-FM (107.7 Dallas) changes calls to WCIG as it changes hands from GEOS Communications to Family Life Ministries as part of a $1 million station swap. The former WCIG (91.3 Carbondale) becomes WFUZ as Family Life transfers it to Telikoja Educational Broadcasting, the nonprofit company controlled by Kevin Fitzgerald and Ben Smith, who also have an interest in GEOS, which picks up two former Family Life translators, W236BB (95.1 Tunkhannock) and W290BS (105.9 Turbotville) as part of the deal.

(Speaking of Family Life, we send our best wishes to PD Cecil Van Houten, who's recovering from a heart attack he suffered Thursday night.)

And we remember Art Cervi, who put WVCC (101.7 Linesville) on the air near the Pennsylvania/Ohio border back in 1970. Cervi had worked as a DJ in Pittsburgh while holding down a day job at Westinghouse; he went on to run WVCC for 33 years before selling the station (now WMVL) to current owner Joe Vilkie in 2003. Cervi had also owned an AM station across the border in Ohio, the now-dark WAQI 1600 Ashtabula. Cervi died June 14 in Erie, reports Joel Natalie's Press and Tower blog; he was 89.

*Budget cuts in NEW JERSEY have claimed the job of WMGM (103.7 Atlantic City) PD/afternoon jock Rich DeSisto. Former night jock Sean Patrick is now doing afternoons on "The Shark," with John Lockwood being heard at night.

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

*Today is the last day for AM radio in the largest city in CANADA's Maritimes, as CFDR (Kixx 780) in Halifax, Nova Scotia signs off, ending a 46-year run that's found the station on 790 and 680 as well as its current dial position. It appears that the CFDR staff, including morning host Frank Lowe, won't be making the move from current owner Newcap over to Rogers, which bought the AM license so it could be moved to FM as "Lite" CKLT (92.9), which officially launches today. (It's not yet clear whether CKLT will simulcast on the old AM frequency for a transition period, though we'd suspect they won't.)

Radio People on the Move: Milkman UnLimited reports Darren Osborne is the new afternoon jock on Toronto's CHFI (98.1), taking a full-time gig there after five years as a weekender/part-timer. Down the hall at CKIS (Kiss 92.5), Mocha moves from afternoons to mornings to partner with Roz on the "Roz and Mocha Show," which means Cash Conners comes to Toronto from CJCH-FM (101.3 the Bounce) in Halifax to take over afternoons. At that other "Kiss" - CISS (105.3 Ottawa) - morning co-host Andrew Boyle is out, almost exactly five years after moving from competitor CIHT (Hot 89.9). And in Halifax, Jamie Patterson is out as afternoon jock at CKUL (Kool 96.5) after six years there.

In Ottawa, they're mourning veteran broadcaster Les Lye, who started his career at CFRA (then on 560) in 1948 and joined the staff of CJOH-TV (Channel 13) when it signed on in 1961. His long career at CJOH included appearances on "You Can't Do That on Television," making him familiar to cable audiences in the U.S. as well. Lye died last Tuesday (July 21) at 84.

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, 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 28, 2008 -

  • It may be licensed to Hackensack, NEW JERSEY, but Salem Communications has big New York City plans for the former WWDJ (970).
  • After spending the last 24 years under various iterations of a religious format, WWDJ changed calls to WTTT late last week, swapping callsigns with Salem's AM 1150 in Boston. (More on that in a bit.)
  • But the WTTT calls, installed in Boston in 2003 when Salem flipped that station to a talk format, aren't going to be permanent fixtures on the New York dial. Instead, the station - which is in the process of completing its daytime power upgrade from 5,000 to 50,000 watts - will change calls again, possibly as soon as today, to WNYM, becoming "970 the Apple" and flipping to Salem's in-house lineup of syndicated talk programming.
  • The new schedule, as laid out at the website that went live over the weekend, includes Bill Bennett's "Morning in America," followed by Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and Hugh Hewitt. Similar formats have failed to draw significant ratings in other big cities for Salem, at stations such as WNTP (990 Philadelphia), WIND (560 Chicago) and KRLA (870 Glendale/Los Angeles). But even if it doesn't draw much in the way of numbers in New York, clearing the talk lineup in the nation's number-one market is likely to allow Salem to charge more for national advertising during the shows - and indeed, many have wondered why Salem didn't pursue such a format flip sooner.
  • Why the WNYM calls? There's a history there - when Salem entered the New York market back in 1981 by purchasing the former WEVD(AM) on 1330, WNYM was the new callsign the company picked. That callsign lasted until 1989, when Salem sold WNYM (which had by then absorbed WPOW, the other half of the old 1330 share-time) and purchased WMCA (570). The former WNYM on 1330 is now WWRV, and continues to transmit from the site in Hackensack shared with 970.
  • Even as the Hackensack station changes its call letters, the total number of religious AM stations in the Garden State will remain constant: Millennium Radio is selling WBUD (1260 Trenton) to the Domestic Church Media Foundation for $2.3 million. Domestic Church, based just across the Delaware River in Fairless Hills, PA, will flip WBUD from its current Fox Sports format, which has been in place only since April, to a religious format once the deal closes. The station is also likely to go non-commercial, we hear.
  • Cumulus now has an AM-on-FM translator in Harrisburg, where WTCY (1400) has been getting a solid audience for years with its "Touch" urban AC format.
  • Now WTCY is being heard on FM, via translator W237DE (95.3 Harrisburg). The translator runs 60 watts, directional, from the WNNK (104.1) tower, and as of last week the station is now identifying itself solely by the FM dial position, with AM 1400 due to change to a new format.
  • How can that be? Turns out the translator is really translating WNNK's HD2 signal, which will be the new home of "Touch" - though it has a waiver to translate the AM 1400 signal itself, if it chooses to. (And yes, Cumulus apparently has the FCC's blessing for this, raising the prospect of other HD2-on-translator situations in the future.)
  • And in suburban State College, the usually placid studios of religious station WTLR (89.9) were the scene of a shootout Friday morning, when listener Brian Neiman first showed up at a car dealership carrying a gun and saying he needed money, then told the dealership staff he "needed to go on the radio" and left for WTLR's Ferguson Township studios. They called police to warn them of Neiman's threat, and by the time he got to the station, officers were waiting. As station staffers huddled in an inside room of their building, a standoff followed, ending when Neiman drove his truck into a police cruiser and began firing shots from the window. Officers shot back, killing Neiman as his truck drove into a building.
  • In a statement on its website, WTLR assured listeners "we want to let all our friends know, we are all OK. We have deep gratitude to the Lord for His gracious, sovereign protection and for the incredible bravery of the local police officers who put their lives on the line to save ours."
  • Broadcasters in CANADA are abandoning the AM dial in droves - and now competitors Newcap and Rogers have found a way to swap properties that will allow each of them to get rid of an AM signal, replacing it with an FM.
  • For Newcap in Halifax, Nova Scotia and for Rogers in Sudbury, Ontario, the CRTC rule limiting a single owner to no more than two FM signals in a market has been a problem. In Sudbury, Rogers has CJRQ (92.7), CJMX (105.3) and CIGM (790), the last remaining AM in the market. In Halifax, Newcap owns CFRQ (104.3), CKUL (96.5) and that market's last AM, CFDR (780) - and when it purchased CKUL earlier this year, it was unable to carry out its application to move CFDR to FM, which the CRTC had granted in 2007 on the condition that Newcap sell its then-50% interest in CKUL.
  • So Rogers and Newcap are trading their AMs, giving Newcap a second station in Sudbury, where it owns CHNO (103.9), and giving Rogers a second station to add to its existing news station, CHNI (95.7), in Halifax. Rogers will pay Newcap C$5 million to even out the deal.
  • And since Rogers and Newcap each own only one FM in Halifax and Sudbury, respectively, there will be no ownership-limit issues with moving both CFDR and CIGM to FM. (CFDR's application called for 21 kW on 88.9; there's no word yet on what frequency or power CIGM will seek in Sudbury).

July 26, 2004 -

  • Another upstate NEW YORK TV market is about to become a one-newscast operation. It's already happened to Utica, where Clear Channel cancelled the local news on WUTR (Channel 20) before selling the station completely. And now the beleaguered, ratings-challenged newscast on Clear Channel's WWTI (Channel 50) in Watertown is about to be cancelled for the second time in the station's short history.
  • Rumors have been flying for a while about the imminent end of WWTI's 6 and 11 PM newscasts, which have never even really challenged longtime market leader WWNY-TV (Channel 7) in the ratings; the station finally made it official this past week in a set of releases that tried to paint the move in the most positive terms possible.
  • To hear WWTI explain it, news won't be disappearing from channel 50's airwaves - it'll just be rearranged into 19 brief hourly and half-hourly news snippets (ending at 7:30 nightly) and local cut-ins on Good Morning America. The station will keep at least some of its news staff on duty, it says, even though after Friday, viewers will now see Entertainment Tonight at 6 and Frasier reruns at 11.
  • The move will, says WWTI, make the station "more competitive in a changing market place and changing industry."
  • In Albany, veteran morning man Bob Mason said farewell to the airwaves Friday, when he retired from his most recent gig on Galaxy's WRCZ (94.5 Ravena). Mason and partner Bill Sheehan made a name for themselves on WPYX (106.5) and later WQBK-FM (103.9) in the eighties; later on, the two were heard on the old WXCR (102.3) before leaving the airwaves for a while.
  • Here at NERW Central, our radio has spent much of the weekend tuned to CANADA's newest FM signal.
  • Right across Lake Ontario from us, in the city once known as Trenton but now amalgamated into "Quinte West," CJTN (1270) signed on the new CJTN-FM (107.1) last Thursday, and it's been running a nonstop loop ever since of nothing but songs about radio. From the classic "Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)" all the way up to Nelly Furtado's (Cancon-friendly) "S**t on the Radio," CJTN-FM has been a fun listen - but we suspect the loop will give way to the real CJTN programming in a week or so, followed shortly by the sign-off of the AM signal. (Oh, and extra radio-geek bonus points to whoever at CJTN threw in a soundbite about the early days of FM radio from the Empire of the Air documentary - very cool!)
  • The selloff of the Vox group continued this week in VERMONT, where Rutland-market classic rock simulcast WEXP (101.5 Brandon)/WVAY (100.7 Wilmington) is going to ever-growing New England operator Nassau Broadcasting for $2.5 million. The sale will put WEXP/WVAY back under the same roof as the 10 other Vermont and New Hampshire stations Vox sold to Nassau earlier this year (NERW, March 22), and it brings Nassau's station count in New England to 32 signals.

July 30, 1999 -

  • It's been a busy July for broadcasters across the region, with sales, format changes, new stations, call changes, and, sadly, more than a few obits.
  • We'll start with the biggest sale: Entercom's $821.5 million deal to buy Sinclair's radio division (with the exception of the St. Louis stations going to Emmis in a previously-announced purchase). Entercom ends up with 43 stations, including the Sinclair cluster in Buffalo -- talk WGR (550), news-talk WBEN (930), R&B oldies WWWS (1400), sports WWKB (1520), CHR WKSE (98.5 Niagara Falls), and AC WMJQ (102.5). The Buffalo stations make a nice complement to the Rochester stations Sinclair bought from Heritage back in 1997 and immediately spun to Entercom -- standards WEZO (950), country WBEE-FM (92.5), classic rock WQRV (93.3 Avon), and oldies WBBF (98.9). They will also be among the stations buying a total of $5 million a year in advertising on Sinclair's TV stations, including WUTV (Channel 29) and eventually WNEQ (Channel 23) in Buffalo, which now lose their radio sister stations but gain a more solid financial footing.
  • NERW will be watching most closely to see what happens to the news departments at WGR and WBEN, which have maintained two separate newsrooms despite being under common ownership (and by a company with a reputation for cost-cutting, at that). We're hoping Buffalo will continue to enjoy that rare luxury, but we suspect the worst, somehow. There are, of course, no other commercial radio newsrooms to speak of in the Queen City, with WBFO (88.7) holding the fort on the noncomm side more than adequately.
  • Sticking with Sinclair on the other side of NEW YORK state, the company has applied for new calls for Schenectady's Channel 45. WMHQ will become WEWB when it reverts to commercial operation as a WB affiliate sometime later this year.
  • While Albany viewers wait for the call change on TV, they can tune in something new on the radio. WRIP (97.9 Windham) began testing from its transmitter atop Ski Windham this week, and Dennis Jackson is inviting NERW readers to the official sign-on celebration on Thursday, August 5 at the station's studios, 134 South Street in Windham. WRIP's morning man will be Guy Garraghan, who handled wake-up duties for years at WCKL (560) in Catskill. You can find more about the station at its new Web page.
  • Onward we go, to VERMONT, where public radio listeners in the Northeast Kingdom now have a signal to call their own. Engineer Ira Wilner pushed the button to turn on the WVPA (88.5 St. Johnsbury) transmitter atop Burke Mountain at 3 o'clock on the afternoon of July 21. WVPA will provide reliable service to an area that previously had only the spotty signals of WVPS (107.9 Burlington) and WVPR (89.5 Windsor) for company.
  • Alex McEwing's Family Broadcasting is selling WGLY (103.3 Waterbury) to Jane Cole's Radio Broadcast Services for a reported $700,000. While we've yet to hear anything about changes in programming or staff, we do note that WGLY has filed to change its calls to WDOT, with the existing WDOT (McEwing's AM 1070 in Plattsburgh NY) becoming WGLY. More on this in the weeks to follow.

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