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December 7, 2009

NBC/Comcast Moves Forward

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*The big news out of NEW YORK on Thursday came as no surprise to anyone who'd been even vaguely aware of media-business developments - but the official word that Comcast was indeed acquiring a majority stake in NBC Universal didn't bring much clarity to the questions that continue to surround the deal as it heads to regulators for what's likely to be a lengthy approval process.

Much of the transaction, including Comcast's acquisition of the cable networks and Universal production business, will be outside the purview of the FCC, and of this column as well. The FCC will, however, have the chance to weigh in on the transfer of NBC's broadcast licenses from GE to the Comcast-controlled joint venture, including three owned-and-operated NBC TV stations and two Telemundo TV stations in NERW-land.

While there was some speculation that Comcast might seek to take NBC out of the broadcast business, perhaps turning NBC into a high-profile cable channel, the announcement of the merger played up the importance of the local stations.

"We intend to preserve and enrich the output of local news, local public affairs, and other public interest programming on NBC O&O stations," it read.

That puts the ball in the FCC's court, where there's sure to be close scrutiny of the deal - especially in Philadelphia, where NBC-owned WCAU (Channel 10) operates in a market that's not only home to Comcast headquarters but is dominated by Comcast-owned cable systems. The situation is somewhat different in New York, where WNBC (Channel 4) and Telemundo's WNJU (Channel 47) have relatively little Comcast presence in the market, which is dominated by Time Warner and Cablevision. In Boston, Telemundo's New Hampshire-based WNEU is a very minor player in a Comcast-dominated cable market, and in Connecticut, where Comcast is a major cable player, NBC had been attempting to sell WVIT (Channel 30).

There's no longer an absolute prohibition on cross-ownership of cable systems and broadcast stations within a market, but there are still plenty of reasons for regulators to be concerned. (How, for instance, might a Comcast cable system handle a retransmission dispute with a CBS- or ABC-owned station that's competing with its own NBC station in the market?)

*Curtis Sliwa has a new home on the dial: after 18 years at WABC (770 New York), he's signed on with Salem's WNYM (970 Hackensack NJ) to become the new morning man at "970 the Apple," beginning January 11.

Sliwa's will be the first local show at the station, which has been carrying a slate of Salem's syndicated talkers since its launch last year. That includes Bill Bennett's "Morning in America," which will lose its New York clearance when Sliwa signs on.

Will Sliwa's debut bring some attention to "The Apple," which upgraded its signal to 50 kW daytime but hasn't made much of a mark on the New York radio scene since the format flip? Stay tuned...

Radio People on the Move: New York hip-hop jock DJ Envy is changing teams. After eight years at Emmis' WQHT (Hot 97), including a stint as morning co-host with Miss Jones and more recent work in afternoon drive, Envy has moved to Clear Channel's WWPR (Power 105), where he's now doing afternoons. That 2-6 PM shift was formerly held by Malikha Mallette, who moves to mornings with Ed Lover.

On the TV front, Time Warner Cable is rearranging its local news offerings in the Hudson Valley and Catskills, replacing the Middletown-based "Cable 6 News" with a regionalized version of Albany's "Capital News 9."

The daily "Cable 6 News" broadcast was cancelled last week when 10 of its 14 staffers were laid off, but Time Warner says those employees will be able to apply for jobs at newsrooms it plans to open in Poughkeepsie, Kingston, Liberty and Middletown, where they'll feed stories to the Albany newsroom. While the move ends a long history of local cable news out of Middletown, it will give Time Warner near-statewide coverage for its regional 24-hour news channels, stretching from NY1 in the city through Capital News 9 in the Albany area and News 10 Now in central and northern New York, all the way to the YNN networks in Rochester and Buffalo.

(NERW note: anyone still have a recent Cable 6 newscast on tape or on their DVR? We hadn't had a chance to see what that hard-working local news team was doing lately, and we'd like to...)

In Albany, Rob Hubler is leaving WTEN (Channel 10) after just over a year as news director. He's headed to Florida to be assistant news director at Orlando's WOFL. Speaking of WTEN, the station is launching a new 4 PM newscast, the market's first in that timeslot.

*Utica's WRUN (1150) has changed programming. Last Monday marked not only the end of November, but also the end of the station's ownership by Albany's WAMC. The Utica AM station marked the western edge of WAMC's expansion when it went on the air with public radio in 2005, but it became surplus property after WAMC's decade-old application for a Utica-area FM facility was granted in 2008. WAMC-FM (90.3 Remsen) signed on a year ago, and back in July, WAMC traded the AM signal (plus $20,000) to Bud Williamson's Digital Radio Broadcasting in exchange for a Cooperstown translator. The deal closed last week, and now Williamson is operating the AM station, running automated current hit music for the moment (or so our ears on the ground in the Utica market tell us...)

As Craig Fox and Sam Furco challenge Clear Channel's Syracuse-market country behemoth WBBS (104.7 Fulton) with their new WOLF-FM (105.1 DeRuyter), they're adding several more signals to the "Wolf" mix. The country music is being heard on W252AC (98.3 Camillus), which has moved to the WOLF (1490) tower next to the station's studios near downtown Syracuse and has boosted power to 250 watts. And as of last Monday, "Wolf" replaced "Movin'" on WMVN (96.7 Oswego), which has changed calls to WWLF-FM. The "Movin" rhythmic AC format remains in place on WMVU (100.3 Sylvan Beach), which changes calls to WMVN, and on Syracuse translator W243AB (96.5 Westvale).

We like to think that our own Tower Site Calendar is the best radio-related calendar out there - but even we have to acknowledge that there are some other contenders out there, too. Our friends at WEOS (89.7 Geneva) solicited scenic photos of the Finger Lakes for a new fundraising calendar, and it's quite a pretty one. Check out the winning entries here - and if you need a second calendar, after you've already bought ours, you might want to pick up one of theirs, too.

From Binghamton comes word that the nifty site, sidelined for a while by software problems, is back up and running, complete with historic airchecks and photos.

Anyone who's worked in college radio knows that there's always some tension between student station leaders and community members who have long-running shows. The students tend to argue that it's their money paying for the station, and that they should be able to have first crack at airtime. The community members tend to argue that they'll be around long after this year's crop of students are gone, and that they're around during vacations and summers when the students are away.

That fight is playing out right now at the Rochester Institute of Technology's station, WITR (89.7 Henrietta), where student leaders say there's a larger-than-usual group of new students eager for slots on the station. One long-running community jock, Colin "Mr. Bill" Thomas, quit his Saturday reggae show (a 30-year WITR tradition) last month after being preempted for a sports pre-game show, and several other long-running shows (including Mrs. NERW's favorites, "Bad Dog Blues" and "Whole Lotta Shakin'") are said to be threatened as well.

The dispute has made it into the pages of the local newspaper, which otherwise tends to ignore radio (except when it needs to fill a few column inches of the Living section with out-of-date station listings), and it will probably land there again this week as the station's student board and campus administrators try to find a workable solution.

*An update on WBGO (88.3 Newark)'s proposed transmitter-site move from NEW JERSEY to Manhattan's Four Times Square: the FCC has now reinstated the application, which had been dismissed for overlap reasons and then amended to fix the issues.


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*A silent MASSACHUSETTS station is back on the air: WAMG (890 Dedham) is once again broadcasting, though it's only running an automated loop of Spanish tropical music for now, using the same "La Nueva Mega" IDs that preceded the relaunch of sister station WLLH (1400 Lowell/Lawrence) last month.

With a new public radio news challenger in town (WGBH, of course), "Boston's NPR News Station" has rearranged its weekend schedule to take on the competition, in some cases head-on with the same show. On Saturday mornings at 10, WBUR-FM (90.9) has replaced the rollover of the first hour of "Weekend Edition" with "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!," at exactly the same time the show is now being heard on WGBH. Listeners who miss Carl Kasell, Peter Sagal and company in that timeslot have plenty of other chances to hear the show - it's now airing four times each weekend on WBUR, on Saturday at 2 PM and Sundays at 1 and 7 PM. WBUR is also moving some of its Sunday shows - "Speaking of Faith" and "Living on Earth" - to earlier slots (6 and 7 AM, respectively), plugging a "Car Talk" rebroadcast into the noon slot after the Marsh Chapel service. Judging by reaction on WBUR's comment pages, the moves aren't being greeted warmly by loyal listeners...but that's always the case with schedule changes, isn't it?

Radio People on the Move: Boston Radio Watch reports that Brian Quinn is out as PD of WUMB-FM (91.9 Boston) due to budget cutbacks; he's looking for a new job after 22 years with the public station.

*The impending demise of Citadel's satellite-delivered "Timeless" standards format will bring a format change for at least one of its NEW HAMPSHIRE affiliates. WASR (1420 Wolfeboro) is still carrying "Timeless" for now, but come December 26 and the end of the network's all-Christmas programming, WASR will flip to talk. The station's new lineup will include daytime talkers Laura Ingraham, Clark Howard, Fred Thompson and Lou Dobbs; at night, WASR will carry Fox Sports Radio.

*In southern RHODE ISLAND, WXNI (1230 Westerly) is now under new management. It took more than three years for Chris DiPaola to wend his way through the legal maelstrom that surrounded the station, which was tied up in the fight between Rhode Island state officials and Boston University. But now that Rhode Island Public Broadcasting has been fully separated from its erstwhile parent organization, BU's WBUR - and now that WRNI-FM (102.7 Narragansett Pier) is fully covering the southern part of the state, rendering the need for the 1 kW AM signal moot - DiPaola, doing business as Diponti Communications, has closed on his $350,000 purchase of the AM station.

As of November 16, DiPaola's local programming has replaced the Providence-based WRNI feed on the AM 1230 signal, with new calls WBLQ. The new AM 1230 programming was at least temporarily parallel to LPFM station WBLQ-LP (96.7 Ashaway), which DiPaola operates for the nonprofit "Washington County Chamber of Commerce," though the FM station has applied for new calls WYCM-LP.

*It's been a busy decade for TV station studio moves in CONNECTICUT's capital city, and by the time the decade comes to an end in a few weeks, each of Hartford's major TV stations will be in a different location from wherever it called home in 2000. Connecticut Public TV started the trend with its move to a new building on Asylum Avenue in 2005, followed by WFSB's move to Rocky Hill and WVIT's shift to a new building next door to its old one in West Hartford.

Now it's WTIC-TV (Channel 61)'s turn: as of Saturday night, the Tribune-owned Fox affiliate has moved its newsroom from 20 Church Street to the renovated facility of the co-owned Hartford Courant at 285 Broad Street. The $6 million relocation project will also move the offices and technical plant of WTIC-TV (and sister station WTXX, channel 20) into the Courant building, in an effort to save costs by combining functions between the newspaper and the TV stations.

In New Haven, Don Imus will soon be off the air at Clear Channel's WELI (960), which is bringing back Vinnie Penn (former morning co-host at sister station WKCI 101.3) to do morning drive next month, followed by his erstwhile KC101 co-host Glenn Beck. Imus fans in New Haven can still tune in his show on flagship WABC (770), of course.

*In southern Connecticut, a translator is changing hands: W276AV (103.1 Stamford) is being sold to Univision, with seller Scotnmex Broadcasting collecting $65,000 for the signal. W276AV was a relay of New York's WQXR for many years; it's not clear which of Univision's New York City signals it will relay, or whether Univision will attempt to move it closer to the city.


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*Another local news operation in northeast PENNSYLVANIA is shutting down. The region already lost what was left of local news at CBS affiliate WYOU-TV (Channel 22) in Scranton earlier this year, and now plucky low-power WYLN in Hazleton is shutting down its daily newscast.

The network of LPTV stations based at WYLN-LP (Channel 35) serves a swath of rural Pennsylvania stretching south and west from Wilkes-Barre to Shamokin and into the Susquehanna Valley, with extensive cable coverage - but after December 31, its local news at 5 and 10 PM will be history, with much of the eight-person news department being furloughed. WYLN officials tell the Hazleton Standard-Speaker that the station will continue to produce other local programming, including a new local 5 PM show to debut sometime in early 2010.

In Springettsbury Township, near York, police are trying to figure out who climbed the 387-foot tower of WQXA (105.7) early last week and tied a bedsheet to the top. The stunt was a dangerous one, since it involved climbing past the 25 kW antenna of the FM station, not to mention the RF from WYYC (1250), which shares the tower. (The AM station drops to just 33 watts at night, so if the prank was conducted after dark, the prankster at least avoided getting zapped by a kilowatt of RF.)

Bold Gold's WPSN (1590 Honesdale) is pulling out of the "Game" sports simulcast with WICK (1400 Scranton)/WYCK (1340 Plains Twp)/WFBS (1280 Berwick) - as of today, the AM station northeast of Scranton is flipping to a Headline News simulcast, which will also be heard on translator W282BF (104.3 Honesdale, moved from 93.5 in Narrowsburg, NY).

There are new calls for GEOS Communications' new acquisition just south of the New York state line: the former WREQ (96.9 Ridgebury) is now WZKN, reflecting its simulcast of WNKZ (103.9 Laporte).

The owner of two eastern Pennsylvania radio stations has died. Harold Fulmer III, better known as "Hal," entered the radio business in the seventies by buying WSAN (1470 Allentown), which became part of a business empire that included ten other radio stations and a chain of McDonalds restaurants around the region, as well as hotels and a small airplane-leasing business. Fulmer sold all the stations except WLSH (1410 Lansford) and WMGH (105.5 Tamaqua), which were still in his hands when he died Thursday at age 69.

And we remember the jock known as "Sir Walter Raleigh" in the glory days of Pittsburgh's WAMO. Raleigh's real name was John Christian, and he died Nov. 29 at the age of 92. Christian came to WAMO in 1957 from WILY in East Liberty, PA, and spent just over a decade as part of an all-star lineup of R&B jocks that also included Porky Chedwick and Brother Matt. In 1970, Christian moved to WIIC-TV (Channel 11, now WPXI), where he spent 22 years as a newscaster and talk-show host. Christian was also well known in Pittsburgh for his annual charity golf tournament.

(Speaking of Chedwick, reports that his son, Paul, died last week, as did Dolores DeNardo, the wife of veteran WTAE-TV meteorologist Joe DeNardo.)

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*While high-powered pirate broadcasters in some U.S. cities manage to stay on the air for years at a time, as a scan of the Boston or Bronx FM dial will demonstrate, the authorities in CANADA are still pretty quick to crack down on unlicensed signals that draw any kind of attention. A 14-year-old boy in Ottawa found that out the hard way last week after moving his "Mix FM" up and down the capital's dial for a few days. Operating from atop a commercial building in town, the signal was being widely heard around the area (and a flashy website didn't help matters, either.)

"Mix FM" is hardly the only pirate north of the border - we've heard recent reports of several small signals emanating from ethnic communities around Toronto, too - but it quickly became one of the most prominent, as operator Jayhaed Saade showed local TV reporters around his facility, located in a building owned by his father Georges, a prominent local businessman and former Ottawa mayoral candidate.

A visit from Industry Canada brought a warning, but it didn't take Saade off the air; as we write this on Sunday, his "Mix FM" is still being heard around the capital region at 91.9 on the dial.

*And speaking of Ottawa's local TV reporters, the market is losing one of its veteran personalities. Max Keeping has been in the business for 51 years, and in Ottawa since 1965, working as a parliamentary reporter for CFRA and then CTV. In 1972, he joined CJOH-TV (Channel 13) as news director and evening anchor, and he's been there ever since.

Now CJOH's VP of news and public affairs, Keeping announced last week that he's retiring on March 26, 2010, though he'll continue to serve as a community ambassador for the station. Graham Richardson will replace Keeping as 6:00 anchor; ironically, he too comes to the station after serving as parliamentary reporter for CTV.

Meanwhile at CHRO (A Channel), Sandra Blaikie has left the station, not quite a year after the A News evening editions she anchored were cancelled due to budget cuts. Blaikie had been anchoring the station's morning show.

Radio People on the Move: After a long run as PD of Rogers' CJCL (FAN 590), Nelson Millman is moving over to TV, becoming executive director of studio production at Rogers Sportsnet. No replacement has been announced for Millman at FAN 590. Meanwhile in Montreal, Milkman UnLimited reports Mark Bergman has added interim PD responsibilities at CJFM (Virgin Radio 96) to his afternoon/MD duties there. Down the hall at CJAD (800), Chris Bury becomes PD/interim ND, moving over from CINW (940 News).

Back to Rogers for a moment: the first anniversary of Ted Rogers' death was marked last week by the official ribbon-cutting of a new Rogers building in downtown Toronto. The new facility at 33 Dundas Street East is home to CITY-TV, which moved there from 299 Queen West in September, and to OMNI.TV (CFMT/CJMT), which moved there from 545 Lakeshore Boulevard West, still home to most of Rogers' specialty cable channels.

In Truro, Nova Scotia, the Truro Live Performing Arts Association has found a new frequency for the low-power FM signal it was granted back in September. The 5-watt developmental station is now applying to operate on 97.9.

The new community station in Coaticook, Quebec, near the Vermont border south of Sherbrooke, now has calls: the 2.4 kW signal on 96.7 will be CKVC.

And in Petit-de-Grat, Nova Scotia, off the Acadian coast, community station CIZO (104.1) has changed calls to CITU.

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!)

December 8, 2008 -

  • The last time the Opie and Anthony Show was pulled from the airwaves of eastern MASSACHUSETTS, back in 1998, it was big headline news: the then-WAAF (107.3) morning team had staged an April Fool's Day prank in which they claimed Boston mayor Tom Menino had been killed in a car crash. The duo kept making headlines after that - they moved on to a high-profile morning slot at New York's WNEW (102.7), then lost that job (including a syndication deal that landed them back in Boston on WBCN) in 2002 after the infamous "Sex for Sam" incident. Two years later, though, O&A were back on the air in both New York (at WXRK 92.3) and Boston (at WBCN) with a partial simulcast of their XM Radio morning show - and there the matter rested, at least until last week.
  • The new lineup at WBCN moves Toucher & Rich from afternoons into morning drive and Hardy from evenings to afternoons. Music director Dan O'Brien gets an airshift out of the deal, too, taking over the 7-midnight slot, presumably with the assistance of voicetracking.\
  • On the TV front, ShopNBC affiliate WWDP has temporarily silenced its digital signal as it prepares for transition day in February. It took a helicopter last Tuesday to remove WWDP-DT's channel 52 antenna from its tower in West Bridgewater, replacing it with a new antenna for the Norwell-licensed station's new channel 10 digital signal. But there's a catch: because channel 10 remains in use by WJAR's analog signal in Providence, WWDP-DT won't be able to start using its new channel until February 18. So it's off the air digitally, though it remains on the air in analog (on channel 46) from a nearby tower site until transition day.
  • On the HD Radio front, we've long maintained that public radio is about the only remaining source of programming innovation, and Fordham's WFUV (90.7 New York) is helping to make that case. "The Alternate Side" is WFUV's latest additional programming stream, running on WFUV's HD3 channel and on the web at The new channel is devoted to emerging local artists in the New York market, and much of its funding is coming from the settlement money former governor Eliot Spitzer extracted from the recording and radio industries during his payola investigations. (For non-HD-equipped listeners, The Alternate Side also airs on WFUV's main signal for a few hours at 10 PM on Fridays...)
  • Sad news from Clear Channel's cluster in northwest New Jersey: operations manager and WSUS (102.3 Franklin) afternoon jock Vince Thomas lost his long battle with a rare form of cancer early last Tuesday morning (December 3). Thomas, whose real name was Vincent Toscano, was still in his teens when he started at WNNJ (1360 Newton) in 1990. He'd been a fixture at WSUS for more than a decade, though he'd been off the air for nearly two years as his illness worsened. He was just 37.
  • Astral Media is expanding its "Virgin Radio" brand. Following its successful August launch of "Virgin" on CKFM (99.9 Toronto, formerly "Mix 99.9"), Astral announced last week that it will reimage three more of its stations as "Virgin" next month. In Montreal, CJFM (Mix 95.9) will become a Toronto-style "Virgin," adding more energy to its existing hot AC sound - but in Ottawa, "Virgin" will be a rocker, replacing the "Bear" branding at CKQB (106.9). The third Virgin will be out west, at what's now hot AC "95 Crave" CKZZ in Vancouver.
  • Back in Ontario, CTVglobemedia's CKRU (980 Peterborough) had applied for a move to FM on 96.7 - and while the CRTC granted that application back in May, it denied the use of 96.7, which went to another applicant. So CKRU returned with a proposal for a different frequency, 100.5, which the CRTC granted last week. Once the new FM facility is built, probably sometime next year, "980 KRUZ" will have 90 days to simulcast before silencing the AM for good - and Peterborough will lose its last AM signal.

December 6, 2004 -

  • THURSDAY UPDATE: WBZ's David Brudnoy died this evening at Massachusetts General Hospital, less than 24 hours after saying a final farewell to his listeners in a recorded interview with Gary LaPierre. David was a friend, a colleague, a teacher, and one of the most interesting people ever to sit behind a microphone anywhere in the business. We'll have a full remembrance of him in Monday's NERW.
  • TUESDAY UPDATE: We're saddened to report the death yesterday of Bill Coffey, veteran morning man at Rochester's WBEE-FM (92.5). Coffey suffered a heart attack shortly after ending Monday's show, which he did by ISDN from his suburban Philadelphia home. Bill was just 56. Much more next week in NERW...
  • Howard Stern has, as his website reminds us daily, just over a year left on his contract with Viacom - but his prolonged departure for his new gig at Sirius Satellite Radio just seems to get more and more tortured, especially for listeners in central NEW YORK. Syracuse Stern affiliate WAQX (95.7 Manlius) was the flashpoint last week of a dispute that had been brewing ever since Judy Ellis, COO of WAQX's parent company, Citadel, complained during the NAB Radio Show in early October about Stern's show turning into a non-stop ad for Sirius. So it was that 95X - along with Citadel-owned Stern affiliates in York PA (WQXA-FM 105.7), Providence (WWKX 106.3 Woonsocket/WAKX 102.7 Narragansett Pier) and New Bedford (WKKB 100.3 Middletown RI) - last week began cutting off the Stern show at 10 each morning and getting on with their usual weekday programming.
  • "It became too much," wrote 95X music director/midday jock Ryno on the station's website, saying Stern's show had, in effect, become a lengthy infomercial for satellite radio. And Stern, inevitably, turned the whole incident into his latest cause celebre, making Citadel's decision the focus of several shows later in the week - and announcing that he'd begin a $20,000 giveaway contest that would depend on clues that he'd only announce after 10 each morning.
  • In the Albany market, the impending move-in of WNYQ (105.7 Queensbury) from the Glens Falls area to suburban Malta will get a boost from another allocation change across the state line, about which more in a moment. In any event, when Vox moves WNYQ south to Malta, it will be not as a class A signal (6 kW) but as a class B1 (25 kW), providing considerably increased coverage of the Albany market.
  • The other half of the WNYQ upgrade we alluded to earlier is in western MASSACHUSETTS, where Vox won the FCC's permission last week to move WBEC-FM (105.5 Pittsfield) some 30 miles east to Easthampton, which will land it squarely in the Springfield market on the other side of the Berkshires. The buzz in the Pittsfield market suggests that the "Live 105.5" top 40 format and the WBEC-FM calls won't disappear when the move takes place, likely landing at one of Vox's other FMs in the market, either WUPE (95.9 Pittsfield) or WMNB (100.1 North Adams).
  • Call it NEW JERSEY, or call it PENNSYLVANIA - in either case, the new 107.9 signal that's licensed to Pennsauken NJ and serves Philadelphia signed on for real last week. Radio One has already flipped the callsign again, from the interim WPPZ (which replaced the old WSNJ-FM calls from its days down in Bridgeton on 107.7) to WRNB. Those calls come from Radio One's Dayton, Ohio station on 92.1 (which reverts to its old calls of WROU-FM), and they signify the station's new adult R&B format. The rumor mill suggests, rather strongly, that the new WRNB will step up its challenge to Clear Channel's market-dominating WDAS-FM (105.3 Philadelphia) by making a play for the syndicated Tom Joyner morning show, which airs on WDAS but is now owned by Radio One.
  • It looks as though the saga of WCBG (1590 Chambersburg PA) has come to a close. The Verstandig Broadcasting station has been threatened for several years by the city's construction of a water tower a few hundred feet from its four-tower array near I-81. Construction of the water tower had to be halted because workers kept getting shocks from the high RF field created by the nearby transmitter (something Verstandig says consultants to the city should have anticipated), and that prompted city officials to try to condemn the land on which WCBG's towers sat, a move Verstandig fought fiercely. Both sides have apparently come to a settlement after nearly two years of legal tussles, and WCBG signed off Saturday night for what was apparently the last time. More on this, no doubt, next week. (WCBG had been running CNN Headline News.)
  • Here's something not to do if you work as a reporter for a radio station: don't call the operators of a political website and leave voicemail saying, "I wanted to tell you that you're evil, horrible people. You're awful people. You represent horrible ideas. God hates you and he wants to kill your children. You should all burn in hell. Bye." Or if you must, it would at least be a good idea not to leave your name and your office phone number, as Rachel Buchman of public radio station WHYY (90.9 Philadelphia) did when calling the folks at over Thanksgiving weekend. Buchman, who had also worked for WILM (1450) in Wilmington, Delaware, resigned from WHYY last week after the website made her message public; she had been a part-timer there, helping to produce the daily Radio Times talk show.
  • And out in western Pennsylvania, Nick Galli is getting back into broadcasting. Galli was one of the principals of the old Burbach Broadcasting group, and now he's paying Al Dame $8 million for his stations in the Johnstown and State College markets. In Johnstown, Galli gets rock WQKK (92.1), CHR WGLU (99.1 Ebensburg), oldies WCCL (101.7 Central City) and southern gospel WYSN (1330 Somerset); in State College, the cluster includes news-talk WBLF (970 Bellefonte) and WRSC (1390 State College), classic rock WBUS (93.7 Boalsburg), rock WQWK (97.1 University Park) and rhythmic CHR WJHT (107.9 Port Matilda).

December 3, 1999 -

  • It's not often that we begin our weekly report in CANADA -- but then, it's not often that the CRTC sets up a hearing as exciting as the one planned for January 31 in Toronto. That's when it will hear from all the applicants for the three available frequencies in Toronto: the 740 vacated by CBL, the 93.5 opened up by the move of CBCP Peterborough, and the 106.3 low-power channel.
  • So who's applying? For 740, the options are CHKT, Fairchild's multilingual station now on 1430; new stations from the current operators of CHIN-AM/FM (also multilingual) and CHWO Oakville (aimed at senior citizens); YTV Canada (kids' programming); the urban format proposed by Share newspaper; another multilingual format proposed by "914258 Ontario Ltd."; Aboriginal Voices Ltd.; and Andy McNabb's proposal for a Christian format. (No CHUM? So it seems...)
  • On 93.5, applicants include CHKT, McNabb, Share, as well as a proposed relay of the country format from CJKX-FM Ajax; gay-and-lesbian "Rainbow Radio" from the owners of CIAO 530; Good News Christian radio; and would-be urban operator Denham Jolly.
  • CJKX has also applied for 106.3, as has St. Sava's Radio for a multi-ethnic format and religious CHIM Timmins for a Toronto relay. Aboriginal Voices has also suggested using 106.5 if its 740 application is rejected.
  • Toronto isn't the only thing on the CRTC's plate next month. The commission will also consider CJET Smiths Falls' proposal to move to 92.3 FM from 630 AM; proposals from Roger de Brabant (who owns CHIM in Timmins) for low-power tourist-info stations on 103.1 in North York and 101.5 in Timmins; Eternacom's proposal to add tourism information on 102.9 to its religious CJTK in Sudbury; and a proposal to boost the power of CIRV (88.9 Toronto) from 1000 watts to 1800 watts.
  • And then there's Quebec, where Radio-Canada wants to add local programming to its transmitters in Sherbrooke (CBF-FM-10 on 101.1) and Trois-Rivières (CBF-FM-8 on 88.1). Sherbrooke (along with relays in Asbestos, Lac Mégantic, and Victoriaville) would get 6 hours and 15 minutes of local programming a week, while Trois-Rivieres would get 5 hours. This seems to follow the pattern the English side of the CBC has set in Ontario, with partial breakaways from regional programming for local inserts on CBC Radio 1 in London.
  • Promotional loops continue to run on 690 and 940 in Montreal, with December 14 now the target date for "Info 690" and "940 News." We're hearing conflicting reports about whether the transmissions are coming from the Brossard site used by CBF and CBM, or whether they're coming from the sites of soon-to-be-defunct CKVL 850 and CIQC 600.
  • In MASSACHUSETTS, the dead air format that's thrilled listeners to Brockton's WBOT (97.7) finally came to a close at 7 Wednesday night (12/1), as a non-stop loop of Tone Loc's "Wild Thing" kicked in. Expect new calls when the real urban format finally hits at month's end.
  • From NEW YORK this week, a change of afternoon personalities at WAXQ (104.3 New York), as Boston veteran Mark Parenteau exits citing philosophical differences with management. Parenteau will be heard on Saturday back in Boston doing talk at WTKK (96.9), but he's not promising anything permanent to the FM talker, as he hints at a return to the WBCN alumni club at WZLX (100.7). Weekender Ken Dashow takes over Parenteau's slot on Q104.
  • Just south of the brand-new Interstate 86 (dedicated this week!) in Hornell, the newest outlet of the WSKG public broadcasting empire is on the air. WSQA (88.7) joins WSKG's relays in Elmira/Corning, Ithaca, and Oneonta, as well as the main station in Binghamton.

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