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November 9, 2009

Christmas Time is Here...

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*For the last few years, it seems as though the arrival of Christmas music on the northeast radio dial has been getting earlier and earlier - but not this year. Instead of the pre-Halloween flips we'd been tracking (and which hit at a couple of HD2 signals in Philadelphia and at WEZW on the Jersey shore, which is evidently in the proces of flipping formats), the first stations in the region to go all-Christmas this year waited until November 2.

Those flips happened in Syracuse and Utica, NEW YORK, where Ed Levine's Galaxy clusters flipped at WZUN (102.1 Phoenix) and WUMX (102.5 Rome), which were also early adopters in 2008.

As we go to press Sunday, "Sunny 102" and "Mix 102" still stand alone in the Empire State - and while we'd expect more holiday tunes to start rolling later in November at usual suspects like WRMM in Rochester, WYYY in Syracuse and WKLI in Albany, we're hearing that New York's WCBS-FM, which flipped last year, may stick with its usual classic hits format this holiday season.

(We're tracking Santa's nationwide progress across the radio dial over at another of your editor's outlets,

*Fans of the adult album alternative sounds on New York City's WFUV (90.7) don't have to worry about that public radio station going all-Christmas - but unless they live on the west side of Manhattan, they may not be hearing WFUV at all during the day for the next couple of weeks. WFUV is in the midst of a big antenna-replacement project at its relatively new transmitter site in the Bronx, and the construction means the station's main transmitter is off the air weekdays from 8 AM until about 4 PM, leaving only the WFUV-1 booster atop Riverside Church (and the webstreams) on the air during the day.

At night and on weekends, WFUV switches on its auxiliary antenna at the Bronx site, restoring most of its coverage. The project is scheduled to wrap up around the middle of next week, weather permitting.

Out on Long Island, the end is near for WNYG (1440 Babylon). The station's days have been numbered ever since owner Arthur Liu received a CP to upgrade adjacent-channel WNSW (1430 Newark NJ) and to move that station closer to New York City, sharing the towers of sister station WPAT (930 Paterson). To make WNSW's move possible, WNYG had to move or go dark, and Liu's initial plan called for WNYG to relocate east from Babylon to Medford, where it would share the towers of WLIM (1580 Patchogue). But in the current economic situation, a relocated WNYG would probably be financially unviable - and so within the next few months, the 1440 signal in Babylon will simply fall silent, ending a five-decade history (much of it as WBAB) that launched an incredible number of New York broadcast careers, not to mention some truly unique formats like the short-lived "Student Radio 1440" in the early part of this decade. (You can read more about WBAB/WNYG's colorful history here.)

The next step in WNYG's demise came late last week, when Liu's LMA of the station to Free Indeed Broadcasting ended, bringing to a close eight years of contemporary Christian programming as "The Spirit of New York" - and shutting down the old studio building on Route 109 for what's likely to be the last time.

For now, WNYG is simulcasting the Spanish-language religious programming from Radio Cantico Nuevo that's heard on WNSW, but it's just a matter of months before 1440 is silenced for good (following in the footsteps of Babylon's other AM, the long-gone WGLI 1290) and WNSW's present STA operation from the WPAT site gets powered up to the full 10 kW days/7 kW nights that Liu seeks.

The "WDRE" calls that disappeared from Long Island last week have been reserved for future use by Digital Radio Broadcasting, the Hudson Valley-based station group owned by Bud Williamson - who's associated with the "DRE" initials through his primary business, Digital Radio Engineering. We'd guessed that the calls were headed to Bud's new signal on 1400 in Middletown, but that one's keeping the WYNY calls. Digital Radio also has unbuilt construction permits in Milford, PA and Ontario, NY, as well as WRUN (1150 Utica).

And we've been reminded by at least one loyal NERW reader that with all the coverage we've given to other NERW-land baseball teams winning the World Series, it's only fair that we note last week's big win by the New York Yankees. There wasn't a lot of drama, at least on the broadcasting front, with this one - the Yanks are in the middle of a very happy relationship with CBS Radio's flagship station, WCBS (880), and the broadcast team of John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman is securely ensconced in the new stadium's radio booth. (On TV, the rights are even more secure, since the Yankee-owned YES Network is one of the most profitable ventures in all of pro sports.)

So what was notable about this year's Yankee win, beyond (yes, we'll admit it) the top-notch play from what ended up being the best team in baseball this year? There's this: Waldman became the first woman to call a World Series on the radio - and that's pretty notable right there. And yeah - 880 was tuned in on our radio here at NERW Central for the game's final innings Wednesday night.

In Ellenville, WELG (1370) has become WRWD, once again relaying the country music from WRWD-FM (107.3 Highland) in the Poughkeepsie market, now that sister Clear Channel FM station WRWC (99.3 Ellenville) has become WKIP-FM, carrying the same talk programming that had been heard on WELG.

Say goodbye to WJGK (1200 Highland): the never-built construction permit has been deleted from the FCC database at the request of permittee Hawkeye Communications. This ends (at least for now) a very long attempt by the Klebe family to build a station on 1200 in the Hudson Valley. Over the last two decades, that's included an attempt to move WGNY (1220 Newburgh) down the dial (the station actually operated on 1200, but was never licensed there), then a CP, cancelled in 2005, for WJGK on 1200 in Kingston, and then the current CP for 4700 watts day/1000 watts night from Highland, granted in 2005. That CP nearly ran out unbuilt last year, but was extended when Joergen Klebe's Sunrise Communications sold it (for $10!) to Hawkeye, controlled by Klebe's wife. But the economic challenge of building five new towers was apparently insurmountable, so now WJGK, version 2, is also history.

The long, complex process of sorting out thousands of applications from the FCC's 2007 window for noncommercial FM stations took another halting step forward last week, when the Commission released the results of its analysis of a mammoth group of mutually-exclusive applications that stretched hundreds of miles from western Pennsylvania to the Adirondacks.

Thanks to settlements reached during a window earlier this year, the FCC was able to break that cluster of 37 applicants into three groups, including one mutually-exclusive cluster of six applications spread out from Boonville to Utica to Norwich. Applying its usual standards for choosing among competing applicants (a complex formula that looks at total population covered and at the number of potential listeners receiving a first or second noncommercial service), the Commission issued a decision last week granting a tentative preference to St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Parish for its application for 88.1 in Greene, north of Binghamton and denying applications from Albany's WAMC, Oswego's WRVO and Syracuse's Mars Hill Network.

Two more 88.1 applications - one from the Dominican Monastery of Mary the Queen in Elmira, the other from Scranton's WVIA for a new signal in Sylvania, Pennsylvania, near Mansfield - were pulled out of the mutually-exclusive group after reaching a settlement agreement that should allow both applications to be granted, probably fairly quickly.

Up here in Rochester, there's another "all in the family" station sale to report: Don Crawford, Sr.'s Kimtron Inc. is selling oldies WLGZ (102.7 Webster) to Don Crawford, Jr.'s DJRA Broadcasting LLC. The younger Crawford has apparently been managing "Legends 102.7" since the spring, and no immediate changes are planned at the station, which will continue to share the Browncroft Boulevard studios of Kimtron's WDCX (990 Rochester), which stays with the senior Crawford. Of note here is the sale price: DJRA is paying just $350,000 for the FM license, a class A signal that covers most of the Rochester metro from the Colfax Street tower on Rochester's west side.

There's a second TV news director vacancy in Rochester in as many weeks: after three years as news director at WHAM-TV (Channel 13), Steve Dawe is moving to the noncommercial side of the business as the first "director of multi-media engagement" at WXXI. Dawe's experience includes several years as news director of Fox outlet WUHF (Channel 31) and some time as WHAM-TV's promotions director. In his new role, he'll work from the WXXI newsroom, improving the station's new media content. (Usual disclosure: your editor works in that newsroom, too, as a part-time program host/reporter and as co-host of the weekly "Mixed Media" segment, which is available as a podcast, should you require still more media talk in your week.)

Tuesday's elections swept several radio people into political office, including the new Westchester County executive. Rob Astorino ran unsuccessfully against Democratic incumbent Andy Spano in 2005; this time around, the Republican won the seat. When he's not doing politics, Astorino is doing sports radio and TV; he's served as executive producer at New York's WEPN (1050 ESPN) and as a host on the MSG Network and on Sirius Satellite Radio's Catholic Channel.

The former producer of the Jim Reith talk show on WSYR (570 Syracuse) wasn't so lucky at the polls: Democrat Dan McIntyre was unable to beat incumbent Republican Damian Ulatowski in the race for supervisor of the town of Clay. And in the city of Syracuse, former WSYR-TV (Channel 9) GM Steve Kimatian lost his bid for mayor, reports

And we're sorry to report the passing of a longtime Finger Lakes radio voice. Robert C. Appell, Jr. was known as "Bob Appell" on Seneca Falls' WSFW/WSFW-FM from 1976 until 1999. The Seneca Falls native created the "Rock Shop" show that ran on weekends for 18 years. He also managed bands and ran a delivery business. Appell moved to Rochester a few years back; he died Tuesday morning at 52.


The brand-new Tower Site Calendar 2010 is now shipping, complete with more than a dozen full-color images of sites from Deer Point in Boise to KYPA in Los Angeles to Mount Mansfield in Vermont.

Our individually-numbered, hand-signed limited first edition is now sold out - but your purchase of any version of the calendar helps support the continued production of NERW and Tower Site of the Week.

And we still have a very small quantity of earlier calendars available, too, if you missed some...

Order now at the Store!

*We now know who's buying WLLH (1400 Lowell and Lawrence) in MASSACHUSETTS' Merrimack Valley: the pair of 1000-watt synchronized AM signals is going to Gois Broadcasting, the Spanish-language operator that also owns WORC (1310 Worcester) and Connecticut's WLAT, WNEZ and WKND.

For the moment, Gois is operating WLLH under an LMA from licensee J Sports, so we don't yet have a purchase price to announce on the deal - but we expect much more news on this front in the weeks to come as the sale closes and as Gois builds a new studio and staffs WLLH locally for the first time in many years.

We do know more this week about the impending sale of WLLH's long-ago FM sister station: December is now the target date for Boston public broadcaster WGBH to acquire classical WCRB (99.5 Lowell) from Nassau Broadcasting, moving the station from commercial to noncommercial and relocating the WCRB studios from Waltham to Brighton.

With the relaunch of WCRB as "All Classical 99.5" will come big changes at WGBH (89.7) - it will drop not only its own daytime classical programming but also several long-running weekend specialty blocks. "Blues on WGBH," a Saturday night fixture that continued the legacy of the old "Blues After Hours," and the Saturday-afternoon "Folk on WGBH" will both give way to more news and information programming on 89.7.

"We are proud of the folk and blues programs we have offered and of the many contributions that WGBH and our hosts have made to these genres, so it was a difficult decision to discontinue Blues on WGBH and Folk on WGBH," said the station in a statement announcing the changes. "As we refocus the 89.7 schedule on news and information, it became apparent that it would not be possible to retain all of the nonnews elements of our schedule. We have chosen to keep a select group of programs, like A Celtic Sojourn and A Prairie Home Companion, that serve our audiences well and attract support for WGBH’s work."

WGBH is directing folk fans to WUMB's network of noncommercial stations, as well as Worcester's WICN (90.5) - and it says blues fans can still find blocks of their music on WUMB, Harvard's WHRB (95.3), Lowell's WUML (91.5) and even on commercial WZLX (100.7).

So what will replace the blues, folk and classical blocks on the big 89.7 signal? WGBH still hasn't released its new schedules, but we'd expect to see more news from the corner of Market and Guest streets in the next few weeks.

*Speaking of WICN, it's been granted a construction permit to relocate from its current transmitter site, the WUNI-TV tower on Stiles Hill in Boylston, to the top of Mount Asnebumskit in Paxton. While the move will come with a big power reduction, from 8100 to 1100 watts, it will bring a big increase in antenna height, from 371 to 810 feet above average terrain.

WICN will join another Worcester noncommercial station up on Asnebumskit when it moves: WBPR (91.9), the Worcester relay of WUMB, recently completed its relocation from its old site in Spencer to the Armstrong tower on Asnebumskit, where it's running 370 watts/699' DA.

Back in Boston, Bradley Jay is the new executive producer of "Nightside with Dan Rea" at WBZ (1030). While he's best known as a rock DJ - he was the last voice on WBCN (104.1) back in August - he's done plenty of fill-in talk work at WBZ as well.

On TV, Fox's WFXT (Channel 25) is cutting back on its sports department. Butch Stearns, who's been anchoring sports at the station for a decade, isn't getting a contract renewal and won't be replaced. The station says it will continue to cover sports with its existing staff.

And here's the latest installment of "As The Translator Turns," our ongoing saga of one small FM relay transmitter's valiant struggle to use the intricate FCC rules to find a new location 80 miles from its hometown:

When last we checked in on W236BX (95.1), the Gloucester-licensed translator had completed the thirteenth step of a site-by-site hopscotch from Cape Ann to the Fitchburg area, where it will eventually settle down as an FM relay of WPKZ (1280 Fitchburg, ex-WEIM). That chapter in our story found W236BX moving one notch down the dial to 94.9, where it becomes W235BJ. But don't get too attached to those calls: the move to 94.9 turns out to have been just a quick interim step that allows for another frequency change: this time an application to move to 105.5, running 10 watts from a site near the New Hampshire state line, northwest of Townsend. That's permissible as a "minor change," since that category includes shifts of up to three channels up and down (that's how the translator moved from 96.5 to 95.9 to 95.3 to 95.1) - and shifts of 10.6 or 10.8 MHz up and down. And while the translator still hasn't officially changed hands from Radio Assist Ministry (the Idaho firm that's made a big chunk of money selling hundreds of translators around the country) to WPKZ, it did take advantage of the FCC's new AM-on-FM translator rules to change its official primary station from Worcester's WICN to WPKZ itself. How many more episodes are left until W235BJ - er, W288-whatever - finds true love in the big town at last? Tune in tomorrow...

More radio people at the polls: Charlie Shapiro, whose broadcast career included station ownership in Florida (WBPC-FM in Panama City Beach) and anchoring "Newton News" on the city's cable TV channel, was elected to a two-year term as a Newton alderman Tuesday night. Shapiro will continue to operate his advertising agency, Massmedia, Inc., and will host a monthly cable show, "Newton Newsmakers."

*There's a new AM signal coming to northern NEW HAMPSHIRE: Mount Washington Radio and Gramophone, which already owns WBNC (1050) and WVMJ (104.5) in Conway, has been granted a construction permit for a new signal on 1340. The new AM will run 620 watts day and night, non-directional, from the WBNC tower on Route 103 east of Conway.

*Some interesting late-breaking news from VERMONT: Chip and Kathy Morgan, who run eclectic community outlet WMUD-LP (89.3 Moriah NY) from their farm in Bridport, are adding a second outlet with a bigger Champlain Valley signal: they're now programming WCLX (102.9 Westport NY) for owner Dennis Jackson, returning the station to the air two months after the end of its last managerial arrangement, with Diane Desmond and Russ Kinsley, took the frequency silent.

"The soon-to-debut new format will be derived from their "Farm Fresh Radio" syndicated format offering," Jackson tells NERW. "It will be a hybrid that expands on our former "musicheads" format, including AAA cuts, deep album cuts, blues, and rockin' Americana cuts." Jackson notes that like WMUD-LP, the new signal's studio will be powered in part by wind from an on-site wind farm.

*In MAINE, veteran station owner Dick Gleason has a new title: mayor of Auburn. Tuesday's election found Gleason winning 69% of the vote in his race against Ron Potvin. Gleason has been a station owner since 1975, when he bought what's now WOXO (92.7 Norway), which became the cornerstone of a five-station group that also includes WTBM (100.7 Mexico), WKTQ (1450 South Paris), WEZR (1240 Lewiston) and WTME (780 Rumford).

*The road that leads to the Rattlesnake Mountain tower site in Farmington, CONNECTICUT is decorated with some of the largest and sternest "no trespassing" signs we've ever seen at a broadcast facility - but that didn't stop someone from breaking into the site early Wednesday morning, climbing the 1340-foot WTIC-TV tower and parachuting back to earth, apparently safely. Nobody has been charged in the incident, though police questioned a man whose car was found near the site.

Where are they now? Jeannine Jersey, who was PD and afternoon jock on WTIC-FM (96.5 Hartford), is heading south to Birmingham, Alabama but staying put on the dial - she's the new morning co-host at WMJJ (Magic 96.5) down there.


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*In PENNSYLVANIA, "Charlamagne tha God" is gone from morning drive at Radio One's WPHI (100.3 Media); the Philadelphia-market urban station has not named a permanent replacement in the slot yet.

Across the state in Pittsburgh, Eddie Edwards' deal to buy WPYT (660 Wilkinsburg) to launch a new urban-focused station is off, with the veteran station owner citing health concerns as the cause.

WTAE (Channel 4) has added a second digital transmitter in the Pittsburgh market to try to resolve some of the reception issues it's been having with its DTV signal on RF channel 51 from the old analog channel 4 tower far to the south of Pittsburgh. The new signal, on RF channel 22, comes from the WQED tower near the University of Pittsburgh in Oakland; it replicates WTAE-DT's two streams (seen as 4.1 and 4.2 on the main signal) as "4.3" and "4.4." (WQED, meanwhile, is itself in the process of moving from RF channel 38 to RF channel 13, and is currently on the air on both channels.)

Speaking of WQED, it named its Studio A in honor of that facility's most famous occupant, Fred Rogers. To mark the occasion, the sets from "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" were reassembled in the newly-named Fred Rogers Studio for the first time since Rogers' death - and possibly for the last time, as well. An open house over the weekend brought thousands of Mister Rogers fans into the building to see the "Neighborhood" - including WDUQ's Chuck Leavens, to whom we send our thanks for the photo (and our apologies for mis-crediting it at first!)

And speaking of WDUQ, it won the "tentative selection" out of a group of 15 mutually-exclusive applications for low-on-the-dial noncommercial FMs in northwestern Pennsylvania and the Southern Tier of New York. (This was the other half of the 37-application group that also yielded the new 88.1s up in the Binghamton and Elmira areas.)

The applicants included everyone from the Seneca Indian Nation in Salamanca, N.Y. to public broadcasters WVIA and WDUQ to several religious broadcasters, as well as the application from Thiel College in Greenville to replace the old WTGP (88.1) facility that the college apparently quickly regretted having returned to the FCC for deletion. But it was WDUQ's application for 88.5 in Marion Center, between Indiana and Punxsutawney, that made the cut - and will soon have a construction permit.

Up in the State College market, there are new calls for the reborn "Qwik Rock" - mark down WQCK for the former WJOW (105.9 Philipsburg) and WQKK in place of WZYY (106.9 Renovo).

In Carlisle, former WARM-FM (103.3 York) PD Dave Russell has taken over mornings at WCAT-FM (Red 102.3).

*Just one bit of NEW JERSEY news this week, and it's another Christmas flip: WJRZ (100.1 Manahawkin) has made the move to holiday tunes.

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

*In an otherwise quiet week in CANADA, there's a reunion coming later this week in Toronto, as Jesse Dylan and Gene Valaitis, late of Toronto's Q107, CFTR and AM640, reunite on-air for the first time in more than a decade as they fill in on afternoons at CFRB (Newstalk 1010) this Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Over in St. Catharines, Sarah Cummings is moving up in the Astral Media family - Milkman UnLimited reports she's heading to Ottawa to become PD of Astral's new FM signal there. Gina Lorentz moves from CKNX-FM (101.7 Wingham) to replace Cummings as PD of CKTB (610) and CHRE (EZ Rock 105.7), while Mike Tyler takes over from Bruce Gilbert as PD of sister station CHTZ (97.7).

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 for the idea - and thanks to you, our readers, for the support that's made all these years of NERW possible!)

November 10, 2008 -

  • On Friday afternoon, your editor happily strolled down the street in shirtsleeves to grab some lunch, enjoying the sunny, sixty-something weather and wondering if it had been premature to put away the shorts for the season. But you wouldn't know that it still feels almost like summer out there if you turn on the radio anywhere from upstate NEW YORK to - well, almost anywhere in NERW-land, actually, as stations all over the place seem to equate "first week of November" with "Christmas," at least where their playlists are concerned.
  • Utica's WUMX (102.5 Rome) was the first in the Empire State to make the flip last week, transforming "Mix 102.5" into "Christ-mix" for the duration. Also along for the sleigh ride is Galaxy sister station WZUN (102.1 Phoenix), playing holiday tunes for the Syracuse market.
  • Could Albany be getting a new AM signal? Charles Hecht and Alfredo Alonso are applying to move unbuilt WVVT (670) from Essex Junction, in the Burlington, VERMONT market, south to East Greenbush, New York. The relocated WVVT would run 15 kW by day, 11 kW critical hours and 260 watts at night from four of the six towers of WGDJ (1300 Rensselaer), shooting north into Albany with what would be a fairly substantial daytime signal. If the new WVVT is to take air from Albany, it will have to do so fairly quickly: the station's construction permit expires in August 2009, though the construction deadline could be extended if it's sold to a small-business owner before that.
  • In TV news, Buffalo's WKBW (Channel 7) is using its 50th anniversary this year to bring back a name and a music package that were synonymous with the station's glory years. "7 News" recently gave way to "Eyewitness News" on the station's newscasts, and the nondescript theme music of recent years is gone, replaced by the throbbing pulse of the "Move Closer to Your World" theme that was a Channel 7 staple all through the seventies, eighties and nineties. Will the combination of "new" music and a shakeup in viewing habits from market leader WIVB (Channel 4)'s recently-resolved carriage dispute with Time Warner Cable bring viewers back to Channel 7, which slipped precipitously from first place to third earlier in the decade? Stay tuned....
  • A venerable CONNECTICUT AM signal was the subject of a controversial FCC ruling last week. Since 1941, CBS Radio's WTIC (1080 Hartford) has operated with an unusual privilege: rather than switching from its daytime non-directional operation to its nighttime two-tower array at Hartford sunset, it makes the flip an hour or so later, when the sun sets at the other big station on 1080, co-owned KRLD (1080 Dallas). But in Michigan, a proposed upgrade to Detroit-market WCAR (1090) required a move to adjacent-channel WOAP (1080 Owosso) - and in the process of relocating that station from the Flint market to the Lansing market (with a new city of license - "neighborhood of license," really - of Waverly, Michigan), WOAP asked the FCC to clarify WTIC's protection status during the time between sunset in Hartford and Dallas.
  • In a decision released last week, the FCC's Media Bureau sided with the Michigan station, noting - incorrectly, as it happens - that two other stations on 1080 already impinge on the extra coverage WTIC enjoys during its extended hours of daytime-mode operation. (It's true that WKJK in Louisville, Kentucky is a full-time signal, but the Commission's decision inaccurately identifies Pittsburgh daytimer WWNL as a full-time station; indeed, WWNL reduces power from 50 kW to 25 kW during critical hours to protect WTIC.) The FCC also rejected WTIC's claims that its status as a "Primary Entry Point" to the EAS system merited continued protection of the extra hours of operation. And it said CBS had failed to prove its case that Waverly doesn't qualify as a community of license for the relocated, 50 kW WOAP.
  • So what does it all mean? Assuming the ruling stands - and we suspect CBS has plenty of grounds to appeal - WTIC's skywave signal will receive a little extra interference from the new WOAP in the brief time (as little as half an hour at some points during the year) between sunset in Hartford and sunset in Michigan, when WOAP will drop to a directional 4500-watt signal.
  • The head of the NEW HAMPSHIRE Association of Broadcasters has died. Al Sprague was a force to be reckoned with on the Granite State media scene, as an advertising executive (for 19 years, he owned his own firm, bGG Advertising), a public relations specialist and, dearest to his heart, as an actor. Sprague died last Monday (Nov. 3) at Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Mass.; he was 62.
  • There's Christmas music in the air in Keene, but not on a full-power station. For the last few months, Saga's W276CB (103.1) had been simulcasting WZBK (1220 Keene), which itself recently flipped from standards to a simulcast of progressive talk WKVT (1490 Brattleboro VT). But Saga's been taking advantage of the recent FCC policy change that allows translators to simulcast the subchannels of FM HD signals - and so last week, 103.1 flipped to a simulcast of the HD3 channel of WKNE (103.7 Keene), which is carrying holiday tunes.
  • There's a new FM-on-AM translator coming to the New Hampshire-MASSACHUSETTS state line: Costa-Eagle is paying Airport Investors a whopping $65,000 for the construction permit to W275BH (102.9 Newton NH). We'd expect the translator to move south at some point, to relay one of Costa-Eagle's three AM signals in the area - Spanish-language WNNW (800 Lawrence) and WCEC (1490 Haverhill), or English-language WCCM (1110 Salem).
  • There's Christmas music in Boston, too: CBS Radio's WODS (103.3 Boston) and Greater Media's WROR (105.7 Framingham) both kicked off their all-sleighbells formats on Thursday (Nov. 6), almost a week earlier than last year's Nov. 12 flips at both stations.

November 8, 2004 -

  • There's probably never been any other broadcaster so closely identified with a state as Salty Brine was with RHODE ISLAND. Host of the morning show on WPRO (630 Providence) from 1942 until 1993, and of "Salty Brine's Shack" on WPRO-TV/WPRI (Channel 12) from 1958 until 1968, the legendary host was a part of the morning ritual in Ocean State homes for several generations - and they're all in mourning this week, with the news of Brine's death last Tuesday (Nov. 2) at age 86. Born Walter L. Brine, "Salty" started his broadcast career at WESX (1230) in Salem, Mass., then moved on to WHDH in Boston before arriving at WPRO, where his gentle humor and his trademark wintertime line "No school in Foster-Glocester" quickly became an institution. After Brine's retirement, WPRO named its studio complex in East Providence in his honor - and Rhode Island even named a state beach for him. Brine's legacy lives on in the airwaves of New England - his son Wally is a Boston morning institution himself, as half of the "Loren and Wally" morning show on WROR (105.7 Framingham).
  • In MASSACHUSETTS, the "Fox" is history at WWFX (100.1 Southbridge). The Worcester-market rocker stunted as "100.1 the Sox" during the Red Sox' run at baseball immortality a few weeks back - and last week, it flipped to classic hits as "The Pike," grabbing the nickname of the toll road that runs just south of Worcester. WWFX will be running jockless through early February, we're told.
  • More Worcester news: WORC (1310 Worcester) jettisons its talk format in favor of Spanish tropical music, with local jocks playing salsa, merengue, bachata, baladas and other genres that would have been unknown on the central Massachusetts radio dial a couple of decades ago. The station's still being run by Chowder Broadcast Group, with the sale to Gois Broadcasting not yet completed. And Mike Roberts is still OM of WORC - even as he, Frank Foley and Mike Roberts pack up their morning show and move it across town to WCRN (830 Worcester).
  • Ken Squier is selling one of his VERMONT AM outlets, transferring classic country WVAA (1390 Burlington) to White Park Broadcasting for $400,000. Who's White Park? None other than Steven Silberberg, whose other interests in the Burlington area include progressive talk WTWK (1070 Plattsburgh NY) and "Alice" WXAL (93.7 Addison)/WLKC (103.3 Waterbury), not to mention AAA "Point" WNCS (104.7 Montpelier) nearby. Will the progressive talk move across the lake from 1070 to 1390? (NERW notes that the two frequencies have had a lot of crossover over the years, with the WKDR calls moving to 1390 from 1070 some years back; we also note that the deal between Squier and Silberberg includes a cut in Squier's rent payments for the transmitter of his WCVT 101.7 Stowe.)
  • Clear Channel launched a new progressive talker in CONNECTICUT just as we were going to press last Monday, installing more or less the same lineup on WAVZ (1300 New Haven) that's been running on Boston's WKOX/WXKS for the last few weeks - Air America's "Morning Sedition," Al Franken and (on delay) Randi Rhodes, plus syndicated offerings from Lionel, Stephanie Miller and Ed Schultz.
  • A format change in NEW JERSEY: the smooth jazz of WOJZ (104.9 Egg Harbor City) gave way last week to hot AC "SoJo 104.9" under new calls WSJO. Millennium Broadcasting's running this one out of its Trenton facility, with WKXW-FM (New Jersey 101.5) PD Eric Johnson handling PD duties for SoJo as well. And the arrival of SoJo sets up a domino effect on a few other stations in Millennium's group - hot AC "Mix" WIXM (97.3 Millville) becomes a thing of the past this week, after a few days of cross-promoting SoJo. 97.3 will return to its prior simulcast of WKXW-FM's talk format. So what becomes, then, of WKOE (106.3 Ocean City), which is the current South Jersey home of the WKXW-FM simulcast? NERW hears that Millennium will begin LMA'ing WKOE to Press Communications later this week, with Press (the former owner of WKXW-FM and WIXM, incidentally) eventually acquiring WKOE outright. Right now, Press' only property in the Atlantic City market is "Breeze" WBHX (99.7 Beach Haven), which serves only the northern part of the market; could WKOE become "Breeze" for Cape May County, extending the format's reach all the way down the Jersey Shore? As always, stay tuned...

November 5, 1999 -

  • Voters in MAINE overwhelmingly approved the referendum to issue bonds for Maine Public Broadcasting's DTV conversion, although the 65% "yes" vote was still the narrowest margin of any of Maine's ballot issues this year. MPBN says it needed the money to convert its statewide transmitter network to digital -- or else face the prospect of going off the air in a few years. Whether or not you believe MPBN's scare tactics -- and NERW doesn't -- it's at least heartening to see that Mainers support their public broadcasting system.
  • Meantime on the commercial side of things, Saga is suing Citadel over a non-compete agreement in Portland. Saga, which owns WMGX (93.1), says former WMGX morning co-host Lori Voornas is sending letters to advertisers on Citadel stationery in violation of her non-compete. Citadel, which bought the Fuller-Jeffrey group in Portland earlier this year, says the non-compete covers only on-air appearances, and Voornas hasn't been on any of its stations -- yet.
  • A familiar face in Portland TV is coming home. John Dougherty made a name for himself at WCSH-TV (Channel 6) in the 1980s before moving down to Boston and WBZ-TV. He leaves WBZ November 19 to return to Portland, this time as lead anchor at WMTW-TV (Channel 8).
  • The dead air continues in MASSACHUSETTS, as Brockton's 97.7 continues to await its new urban format. The former WCAV does have new calls -- WBOT.
  • More talk shuffles at WRKO (680) this week, as Tai loses his 7-10pm slot to a reincarnation (sort of) of "Two Chicks Dishing," with ex-Chick Lori Kramer and ex-morning host Darlene McCarthy.
  • A public radio station in NEW YORK is trying to go global. Albany's WAMC (90.3) has launched, designed to be an outlet for programming that might not be able to find homes in many markets across the country. NERW wonders how other public stations around the country will feel about WAMC invading "their" markets...
  • Down on Long Island, longtime WBAB (102.3 Babylon) PD Bob Buchmann is moving to the city, filling Bill Weston's vacancy as PD at WAXQ (104.3 New York). No replacement has been named so far.
  • Just outside the Rochester market, the rock format wars have claimed a victim. Bob Pfuntner's WNNR (103.5 Sodus) has struggled against Rochester-based WCMF and WNVE since signing on a few years ago. With Clear Channel's WVOR staking its spot in the rock wars as well last year, WNNR decided to choose a different Monday morning (11/1) found "The Winner" becoming "Big Dog Country." Woof!

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