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April 26, 2010

NJN Braces for Loss of State Support

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*After four decades of state support, the NEW JERSEY Network is on the verge of being cut loose.

While the public radio and TV system has survived plenty of previous budget crises in the Garden State, New Jersey's new governor made it clear when he took office that he intended to end a state subsidy that currently provides a significant portion of the network's $28 million budget. (The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that New Jersey currently provides a $4 million cash subsidy to NJN, along with $2.4 million in employee benefits and $4.5 million in other resources including the use of state facilities and parking.)

While NJN is hardly the first public broadcaster to lose its government subsidies, the time frame specified by Governor Chris Christie doesn't give the network much time to find new sources of support. Christie wants NJN to operate without state help as early as January 1, 2011, and he wants to begin the transformation by cutting NJN's $4 million appropriation in half for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.

NJN's interim executive director, Howard Blumenthal, appeared before the state senate's budget committee last week to report that planning is underway for the transition, but that some questions remain unanswered - and NERW wonders whether NJN's radio network, a very low-profile cousin to its much better-established TV network, will survive the transition. Might the network of nine stations, with somewhat less than full-state coverage and relatively little local programming, end up being sold to fund the TV network's survival?

*A well-known voice in western PENNSYLVANIA is returning to the airwaves. Terry Lee, best known for his stints at WMCK/WIXZ (1360 McKeesport, now WMNY) in the sixties and seventies, started a new Sunday night show on WMNY's sister station WJAS (1320 Pittsburgh) last night. Lee's show airs from 8 PM until midnight on WJAS.

GEOS Communications is wasting no time changing the calls at its latest purchase in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton market: the former WNAK (730 Nanticoke) is shedding those calls after more than half a century to become WZMF, matching future simulcast partner WGMF (1460 Tunkhannock).

The Williamsport Guardian, a bimonthly alternative newspaper, is launching its own community radio station - and now it has calls. The 135-watt signal, licensed to Jersey Shore, PA on 88.5, will be WXPI.

*It was a quiet week in NEW YORK, where Fordham University's WFUV (90.7) continues to tweak its signals. Now that the new 2500-watt WFUV booster is on the air from West 31st Street, aimed southeast at lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, WFUV has turned off (at least for now) its other booster, WFUV-2, which had been serving Manhattan's west side from atop Riverside Church in Morningside Heights.

Meanwhile, WFUV quickly made good on its promise to add a translator signal in the Hudson Valley: it's now on the air from W233BM (94.5) high atop Mount Beacon, serving the Newburgh-Beacon area and reaching north as far as Poughkeepsie.

Speaking of Poughkeepsie, it has a new weekender on the air: Erich Bachman comes to WSPK (104.7 Poughkeepsie) from WQGN (105.5) in Groton, CONNECTICUT; he's also doing some weekend work for WTIC-FM (96.5) in Hartford.

If WCBS-FM (101.1 New York) morning man Dan Taylor sounds a little jet-lagged today, he has a good excuse: it's his first day back on Eastern Time after an unplanned week of shows from London. Taylor was in England for pilot training when that volcano erupted in Iceland, and his scheduled April 18 flight home ended up being delayed for a full week. The show went on from a studio at CBS News in London; meanwhile, BBC Radio 1's Chris Moyles was doing his morning show from Sirius XM in New York after being stuck Stateside when air travel was shut down. Taylor probably got the better end of the deal, starting his show at 11 AM London time while Moyles had to be on the air at 1:30 AM in New York.

*The unbuilt AM station that wanted to move from Vermont to Albany won't get to make that move after all. Alfredo Alonso and Charles Hecht applied back in 2008 to move WVVT (670) from Essex Junction, Vermont to East Greenbush, where they proposed a four-tower array cranking out 15 kW by day and 260 watts at night. But that move drew a protest from adjacent-channel WFAN (660) in New York, which complained that Hecht and Alonso had deliberately taken their ground-conductivity measurements on WFAN at the worst possible time of the year. WFAN submitted its own set of measurements, taken in January, that showed overlap between WFAN and the proposed WVVT. Last week, the FCC sided with WFAN and dismissed WVVT's application for East Greenbush. Hecht and Alonso still have until April 26, 2011 to build out WVVT's original Vermont construction permit, or to come up with a new modification application.

Whether or not WVVT gets built up on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, there's a move being plotted to improve an FM construction permit on the west side of the big lake. Jeff Loper's Westport Radio Partners is applying to move unbuilt WXMR (100.7) from Minerva, high in the Adirondacks west of Schroon Lake, to "Plattsburgh West," upgrading in the process from class A (1 kW/-115') to C3, with 2.3 kW/725' DA from the same Rand Hill tower farm that's home to WBTZ (99.9 Plattsburgh) and WCEL (91.9 Plattsburgh).

In Binghamton, Equinox Broadcasting's WRRQ (106.7) is getting an upgrade. The FCC has granted the station's application to change city of license from Windsor to Port Dickinson, which will move the Q107 transmitter from its present site east of Binghamton to the WICZ-TV tower on Ingraham Hill. From there, WRRQ will be a 1.2 kW/725' class A signal. To make the move possible, Calvary Chapel's WIFF (90.1 Binghamton) will change its city of license to Windsor; its transmitter stays put at the Windsor tower site it's been sharing with WRRQ.

In Syracuse, "Bud and the Manchild" will return to the airwaves beginning May 3. The former WHEN (620) afternoon sports-talk duo of Post-Standard columnist Bud Poliquin and Jim "Manchild" Lerch are moving to Citadel's "Score 1260," WSKO, where they'll produce their own show in the 10 AM-noon slot. It will be the second local show on WSKO, joining afternoon talker Brent Axe as "Score" battles against WHEN and Galaxy's new ESPN Radio quadcast (WTLA/WSGO and translators).

Harry Wappler was best known in the business for his more than three decades at the weather board at Seattle's KIRO-TV (Channel 7) - but the veteran weatherman, who died Wednesday, had New York TV on his resume, too. Wappler left KIRO in 1972 to spend three years doing weekend weather at WNBC-TV (Channel 4), before tiring of the big-city lifestyle and returning to KIRO in 1975. He spent the rest of his career there, retiring in 2002. Wappler was 73.

*One more Nutmeg State note: New Haven's WTNH (Channel 8) spent the weekend broadcasting from a makeshift studio in its newsroom while it tore down and rebuilt its studio set.

It's all part of WTNH's rebranding from "News Channel 8" to "News 8," a shift that's been in the works since March.

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*From MASSACHUSETTS comes an update to a story we mentioned last week: WCRB (99.5 Lowell) does indeed have its HD Radio signal on the air. The engineers at WCRB's parent organization, WGBH, tell NERW that they're experimenting with moving WCRB's digital signal from the 5-bay antenna at the top of the tower in Andover to an 8-bay side-mounted antenna, which will allow WCRB to increase its digital power from -20 dBc to -14 dBc. For now, the slightly different coverage pattern from the side-mounted antenna means some areas are getting a better digital signal than they received from the top-mounted antenna, but others are hearing a little less digital power. (If you have an HD radio, keep an ear on WCRB; we'd love to hear your signal reports as the station works on powering up, and we suspect WGBH would like to know, too...)

WGBH made another change to its signal lineup a few weeks back: on April 8, it flipped Beacon Hill/east Cambridge translator W242AA (96.3) from carrying the main WGBH (89.7) signal to the all-classical format from WCRB. It's actually reaching W242AA via 89.7-HD2, thus explaining the 30-second-or-so delay between 99.5 and 96.3.

To the west, there's finally a conclusion in sight to a story we started covering more than a decade ago. Maynard High School's WAVM (91.7) will soon be transmitting from a new 115-foot tower, allowing the station to increase its power from 16 watts (class D) to 500 watts/77' DA as a class A signal. The construction of the new facility wraps up a long fight for WAVM's survival that began back in 1999 when Boston's WUMB (91.9) applied for its own new signal on 91.7, along with several out-of-state religious operators who also sought to displace WAVM.

After years of negotiations, all sides walked away with victories: WAVM and WUMB agreed to share time on a higher-powered 91.7 facility. They'll share the same transmitter and antenna, which will operate as WAVM Maynard during after-school hours and as a new WUMB relay licensed to Stow the rest of the day. Meanwhile, California-based Living Proof ended up with its own directional 91.7 facility out in Lunenburg. Like the Maynard/Stow share-time, Living Proof's Lunenburg construction permit expires in July; it's not clear whether the station will actually get built by then.

The latest battleground in the never-ending fight between the FCC and pirate radio operators appears to be Worcester, where there's a high-profile battle going on involving "Flava 105.5," which had been on the air for two years or so when the Commission issued its latest Notice of Unlicensed Operation to operator Leroy Simon Jr. earlier this month. That NOUO came as part of a flood of notices to unlicensed operators all over the region, but the Worcester Telegram and Gazette reports the station has remained on the air while Simon denies any knowledge of anything beyond its webcast.

And one of the sadder obituaries we've had to run here in a while: Brett Rushon was known as Brett Richards during a career that took him from Connecticut's WKCI and WLYQ to Poughkeepsie's WSPK to Cape Cod's WCOD and WCIB to New Hampshire's WERZ (where he also worked as promotions director for Clear Channel's Seacoast cluster). Most recently, Rushon had been a part-time announcer at Boston's WODS and WZLX, hoping for a bigger break that never quite came. Rushon died April 17, two days after his 52nd birthday; in his memory, there's a community of radio folks from New England and beyond that's gathered over at Facebook.

*A call change in VERMONT: WTSJ (1320 Randolph) is taking the WCVR calls from its soon-to-be-former sister station at 102.1; the FM station will get new calls when Vermont Public Radio takes over, while the AM station is going increasingly local with a country format under new owner Bob Vinikoor.

Up I-89 in Montpelier, WNCS (104.7) morning host Jake departed "The Point" on Friday; no replacement has been named yet.

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*There's a new signal being tested on the air in CANADA's capital city. Astral's CJOT (99.7 Ottawa) signed on last week with the same adult contemporary music it's expected to be playing when it launches officially soon. There's even a temporary website at ottawa997.com, which may or may not be the permanent home when CJOT signs on for real.

CJOT's debut has pushed tourist information station CIIO off the air at 99.7; its English-language service has now moved to 101.9, which had been the French-language signal - but even that's temporary, since 101.9 will soon be occupied as well, by new blues-rock station CIDG (DAWG-FM).

Up in Cottage Country, Milkman UnLimited reports CFBK (105.5 Huntsville) has a new name and a new high-powered signal. Haliburton Broadcasting's former "Moose FM" is now "The New FM 105.5, Muskoka's Lite Favourites."

Competitor Bayshore Broadcasting has made some personnel moves, naming Mike Brough operations manager for CFPS in Port Elgin and CHWC in Goderich, while Rick Ringer adds the new CISO (89.1 Orillia) to his operations manager duties at CHGB in Wasaga Beach.

*And how about more Baseball on the Radio? This week, we look at the independent minor leagues, a small but colorful part of the baseball landscape around the region.

In the Atlantic League, which kicked off the 2010 season last Thursday, Pennsylvania's Lancaster Barnstormers play on WLPA (1490), while the nearby York Revolution are heard on WOYK (1350). New Jersey's Somerset Patriots are on WCTC (1450 New Brunswick), this year with new broadcaster Adam Amin. That appears to be the extent of broadcast radio coverage for the Atlantic League this year; the Long Island Ducks are apparently web-only this season now that former flagship WNYG (1440 Babylon) has ceased local programming.

The Can-Am League doesn't start play until the end of May, but here's what we know so far about radio: in Massachusetts, the Brockton Rox play on WXBR (1460) while the Worcester Tornadoes return to WTAG (580), and up north, Les Capitales de Quebec will be heard on CHRC (800). There's no broadcast radio that we can find for New Jersey's Sussex Skyhawks or the New Jersey Jackals, and no broadcast partner yet for the new Pittsfield Colonials, formerly the American Defenders of Nashua, N.H.

And the lone Frontier League team in the region, the Washington Wild Things of western Pennsylvania, will be back on WJPA-FM (95.3) when their season kicks off in just under two weeks.

There's still one last installment to go; we'll have New York-Penn League radio lineups when that short-season single-A league starts play in June.

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!)

April 27, 2009 -

  • By itself, the story of Scranton, PENNSYLVANIA's WARM (590) is a fairly common one: a once-dominant AM station falls on hard times, fades from public attention, gets neglected in a cluster full of bigger FM sister stations, and ends up as not much more than a satellite dish connected to a transmitter. But the last couple of weeks in WARM-land have been unusual ones, and worthy of special note for anyone who's still even mildly hopeful that there's still some life remaining in the bigger corners of the AM dial.
  • As we told you last week, the overall lack of maintenance at WARM's five-tower transmitter site finally took its toll earlier this month, taking the station off the air. That wasn't WARM's first silent period, but for whatever reason, this one got the attention of the local media, which made WARM's absence - and rumors of its outright demise - a lead story on TV newscasts and in the local papers. Whatever Citadel's original plans for WARM might have been, all that attention seemed to light a fire under the company, and by Thursday there was once again a signal on the air at 590 over Scranton, still carrying the True Oldies Channel satellite format that WARM has been running for the last few years.
  • End of story? Maybe, maybe not - because even if Citadel is prepared to let WARM continue to linger in a near-death fugue state, there's still ample evidence that at least in this one case, the listeners who once loved this AM station aren't ready to let go of their memories yet. Consider, for instance, the front page of Sunday's Wilkes-Barre Times Leader. What's that lead story taking up most of the page? It's WARM's longtime morning man, Harry West, sharing his memories of life as one of the "Sensational Seven" DJs, with avid listeners everywhere from north Jersey to Binghamton.
  • Times change, to be sure, and we'd never dream of suggesting that a station like WARM - even if restored to its full-throated 5,000-watt glory - could ever attract more than a small fraction of the 70 shares it once pulled in Scranton. But in a market that's full of older listeners, most of them native to the area, it's hard to believe there's not some way that all those "warm" feelings still out there about this legendary radio station couldn't be harnessed, with a bit of an investment, into a new WARM that could keep alive at least some of the magic of the old "Mighty 590." If Citadel's not up to the challenge, will it at long last find a buyer who is?
  • One obituary of note this week: Merv Ainsworth was one of the founding fathers of television in central New York, moving from WKAL radio in Rome to WKTV in Utica back in 1950, just a year after the station had signed on. In 42 years with WKTV, Ainsworth built a remote-control system for the station's transmitter site - and by 1980 rose to the post of chief engineer, which he held until his retirement in 1992. Ainsworth also helped build WUFM (107.3) in Utica in 1962. He died last Sunday (April 19) at 83.
  • In NEW JERSEY, there's more news from the new "Wibbage-FM," WILW (94.3 Avalon) - in addition to a pending call change to WIBG-FM, the oldies station has signed Philadelphia radio legend Jim Nettleton to do mornings, and it's picking up Sam Lit's "HyLitRadio" service for overnights, complete with vintage Philly airchecks.
  • In NEW HAMPSHIRE, the strange saga of Aaron Aldridge came to a resolution Tuesday night - and it happened just an hour or so down the road from the NAB convention in Las Vegas. Police in California spotted Aldridge's car on I-15 near the Nevada border, ending a nationwide manhunt for the former WNTK (99.7 New London)/WUVR (1490 Lebanon) morning man, who's now behind bars and facing a series of charges as a fugitive from justice and for the possession and production of child pornography, some of it reportedly featuring his teenage daughter.
  • In MASSACHUSETTS, a familiar TV face is coming to the radio airwaves. Mike Macklin, a veteran of the reporting staffs at WHDH-TV (Channel 7) and WBZ-TV (Channel 4), has signed on with WBZ (1030) as a reporter/anchor, adding some heft to a news staff that's been hit hard by cutbacks and retirements in recent months.
  • Up the AM dial a bit, Clear Channel has finally finished the last bits of work needed to get WKOX (1200 Newton) to a full 50,000 watts day and night from the transmitter site in Oak Hill it now shares with WRCA (1330 Watertown) and WUNR (1600 Brookline). As the first directional array to be licensed under the new rules allowing for computer modeling in place of the laborious proofing process, WKOX's upgrade was the subject of an engineering paper presented out at the NAB Show; someday, perhaps, they'll write a book about all the hurdles that the three stations had to overcome to get this new site on the air. (And long before that happens, we'll feature it on Tower Site of the Week soon...)

April 25, 2005 -

  • The RHODE ISLAND television reporter who spent four months under house arrest after refusing to give up the source of a controversial videotape was hailed as a journalistic hero last week in Las Vegas. WJAR (Channel 10)'s Jim Taricani was a last-minute addition to the roster of speakers at the Radio-Television News Directors Association and National Association of Broadcasters' conventions, and he used the opportunity to call for the adoption of a federal "shield law" to protect journalists' sources. Had such a law been in place, it would have kept Taricani from being convicted of contempt of court after he defied a Rhode Island judge's order to reveal the source of the tape that exposed a corruption ring in Providence's city government. Taricani was fined $85,000 and sentenced to six months in prison, which was reduced to four months of home confinement because of Taricani's health issues (he underwent a heart transplant a few years back.)
  • RTNDA invited Taricani and WJAR news director Betty-Jo Cugini to Las Vegas as soon as he was released, and Taricani said he was delighted to accept. "It's great to be here - it's great to be anywhere outside home," he told the news managers as he spoke at their opening breakfast Monday. Taricani and Cugini said NBC management could not have been more supportive during the trial and the confinement that followed, including paying Taricani's fine and legal expenses. Taricani is expected to be back at work at WJAR this week.
  • Oldies have returned to Manchester, NEW HAMPSHIRE with a format flip at WKBR (1250 Manchester); it had been carrying talk and ESPN sports, but now it's "Oldies 1250," taking up the format abandoned a few months ago when WQLL (96.5 Bedford) went to classic rock as "the Mall," WMLL. Woody Woodland's morning show remains in place on WKBR.
  • In MASSACHUSETTS, Greater Media has a new PD for WBOS (92.9 Brookline), as Dave Douglas takes over Michele Williams' old job. Douglas was the PD at WAAF (107.3 Worcester) a few years back, and he's worked in Seattle and San Diego as well. (And NERW notes that all three stations lean towards the hard edge of the rock spectrum, which makes Douglas an interesting choice for a station that once proclaimed itself to be the home of "rock without the hard edge."
  • In western NEW YORK, the rumor mill is buzzing again this week about potential changes to the struggling oldies format at Entercom's WWKB (1520 Buffalo), with word of the resignation of PD/afternoon jock Hank Nevins, who's apparently heading off to the world of PR.
  • Just south of Rochester, there's good news for Bob Savage's WYSL (1040 Avon); he got word from the FCC last week that he's been approved to take WYSL from 2500 watts to 20,000 watts by day. WYSL will drop to 13,200 watts during critical hours and remain at 500 watts after dark from its current four-tower array; the new signal's expected to be on the air within a few months.
  • Down in New York City, "Miss Info" is back on the air at WQHT (97.1), four months after the morning show blow-up there (over the "Tsunami Song") that led her to boycott former co-worker Miss Jones and the rest of the morning show crew. "Info," aka Minya Oh, now has her own show on Saturday mornings from 8-noon on Hot 97.
  • Mark down June 11-12 in your calendar for an historic broadcast in NEW JERSEY. That's when the Armstrong Tower in Alpine will play host to a commemorative celebration of the life of its builder (and the inventor of FM radio), Major Edwin Howard Armstrong. Philadelphia engineer Steve Hemphill has built a Phasitron FM transmitter that operates in the "old" FM band (42-50 MHz), and he's secured a temporary experimental authorization from the FCC to run 250 watts from the Armstrong tower under the very appropriate calls WA2XMN. The station's been on the air from time to time at 44.1 MHz, but in June it will operate all weekend at 42.8 MHz with reconstructions of vintage Armstrong broadcasts. Stay tuned as we bring you more details on this very neat event as they're announced...
  • A landmark tower in western PENNSYLVANIA is no more. Engineers at WPIC (790 Sharon) nicknamed the station's 550-foot Truscon tower "Old Shakey" as it entered its old age, and in recent years the station was unable even to get climbers to set foot on it to take care of painting and other maintenance. The end of the line for the 1947-vintage tower came last Wednesday (April 20) after one of its base insulators failed, forcing the Cumulus station to topple the tower. The 100,000 pounds of steel came down with one big "thud," bringing down various STL antennas and the old WYFM (102.9) top-mounted antenna with it. (WYFM moved a few years ago, and is now transmitting from the tower of sister station WHOT-FM in Youngstown, Ohio.) As for WPIC, it's running 400 watts from a temporary longwire antenna designed by retired engineer Jerry Starr, and it's looking for a site for a new tower to return to its usual 1000 watt daytime (50 watts at night) operation. (More pictures of the WPIC site, past and present, on this week's Tower Site of the Week here at fybush.com.)

April 28, 2000 -

  • The last major independently-owned FM station in the Buffalo market is being sold to cable giant Adelphia Communications. WNUC (107.7 Wethersfield) will add programming from Adelphia's Empire Sports Network to its country format when the deal closes this summer. WNUC is one of the oldest FM licenses in Western New York, tracing its lineage back to 1948, when, as WFNF, it was part of the early Rural Radio Network that relayed WQXR-FM New York across the state. In later years, as WRRL and then as WBIV, it was part of the Christian Broadcasting Network's "Ivy Network" that supplanted Rural Radio in the 1960s. In 1982, WBIV was sold and became WUWU, a quirky rock station that gained a following across Buffalo and into Rochester, where its signal penetrated well (and still does). WUWU later went jazz, then easy listening as WEZQ. Current seller John Casciani purchased the station in 1988 as smooth-jazz WBMW, flipping it to country as WNUC "New Country" a short time later. Even as talks leading to the sale were taking place, WNUC modified its format last month, becoming harder-edged country as "The Bullet" (leading one local wag, on hearing of the sale, to quip, "So the Bullet missed its target?")
  • This is the latest sign of Adelphia's committment to the Buffalo market; the company is also negotiating with the city of Buffalo to build a major office building on the city's waterfront to accomodate the space needs the company can no longer meet in its tiny hometown of Coudersport, Pennsylvania.
  • Elsewhere in NEW YORK, the morning show linuep is changing yet again at WABC (770 New York). As had been widely expected, the Rocky Allen Showgram, brought over from sister station WPLJ, was pulled from WABC in favor of veteran station hosts Curtis Sliwa and Ron Kuby, who move to mornings from the 6-8 PM slot. Another veteran WABC host, former mayor Ed Koch, is returning to radio with a one-hour afternoon gig on WEVD (1050).
  • Upstate, Mike Doyle moves down the Thruway from Pilot's Syracuse group (WNSS, WNTQ, WAQX, WLTI), where he was market manager, to become GM of Entercom's Rochester group (WEZO, WBEE-FM, WQRV, WBBF). Still to be filled at Entercom: openings for a CE and a night slammer for "99BBF".
  • Our condolences to family and fans of Russ "The Moose" Syracuse, who died April 18 at age 70. While Syracuse was better known for his West Coast work at KYA and other San Francisco stations, his career began in Upstate New York, with his nickname coming from a particularly noisy entrance into the WKBW studios circa 1962.
  • Moving along to CONNECTICUT, there's a new job for veteran WNEW-FM jock Carol Miller, who joins WHCN (105.9 Hartford) as afternoon jock and "Rock Radio Consultant."
  • "Univision 18"? Sure looks that way, according to an item in this week's Broadcasting & Cable. It seems that WHCT, along with WNDS (Channel 50) in Derry NH, WFMZ-TV (Channel 69) in Allentown PA, and WACI (Channel 62) in Atlantic City NJ, was identified as one of several stations to be acquired by Entravision, whose stations are all Univision affiliates. While Entravision is now embroiled in a lawsuit by the station broker who arranged the deals, it appears that the sale of WHCT may still take place...stay tuned.
  • Two AM frequencies in CANADA are silent now, with the end of the simulcasting on Montreal's CIQC (600) and CKVL (850) as of last Sunday (4/23) at midnight. The stations have been replaced by CINW (940) and CINF (690), with no sign -- yet -- of applications to take over their old frequencies. This should mean an easier time for outlying listeners to Boston's WEEI (850) this winter; the station's signal is often plagued by interference from CKVL to the north.

New England Radio Watch, May 2, 1995

  • WKRH 105.9 in Bath ME is off the air. It's supposed to reappear later this month as religious WBCI-FM under new ownership. This is the second time this decade that this station has gone through a silent period. Circa 1990 they were off for a while as they transitioned from CHR WIGY to classic-rock WKRH. The station has a good class B signal over the Portland market, they've just never gotten it to work for them.
  • New calls for "Mix 96.7," the alternative rock station in Rochester NH (part of a quadropoly with standards WMYF-AM, newly-standards WZNN-AM (ex-CNN Headline News), and AOR WERZ-FM). The former WWEM is now WSRI.
  • Speaking of calls with SR in them (and how's THAT for a meaningless segue?), the WYSR calls abandoned by 104.1 in Waterbury (Hartford) CT have resurfaced to the northwest on 98.3 Rotterdam (Albany-Schenectady-Troy) NY. The former WTRY-FM has been calling itself "Star" for a few months, since it broke from its simulcast with oldies WTRY-AM 980. WYSR 98.3 and WWCP 96.7 Clifton Park (using the "UN" alternative format) are both owned by Jarad Broadcasting, but local ad time is sold by Liberty Broadcasting, which also owns WTRY(AM), country WGNA AM-FM, and AOR WPYX-FM.
  • Another Albany mega-opoly is about to shed one station. Albany Broadcasting is selling 50kw WPTR-1540 to an as-yet-unnamed religious broadcaster. Albany Broadcasting's other stations are AP all-news WROW 590, ac WJYB-95.5, and chr WFLY-92.3.
  • The folks up in Greenville, Maine are getting nervous about the town's biggest landowner, the shortwave station formerly known as WCSN. The Christian Scientists sold the station this year to a group called Prophecy Countdown, an offshoot of the Seventh-Day Adventists. The station is now known as WVHA. The AP reports that while WCSN never tried to take a religious exemption from paying property
    taxes, WVHA plans to seek such an exemption -- a big deal considering the radio station makes up more than 10% of the town's tax base! Also, neighbors are worried about increased security at WVHA. Apparently the new owners asked a lot of questions about how long the station can get by without outside supplies and power...and that has neighbors wondering what they're planning.
  • WBZ is mourning the passing of its general manager of 10 years, A.B. "Bill" Hartman. Hartman was at BZ radio from 1978-1988, and at KDKA for a few years before that. He died in Florida last week after a long battle with cancer.
  • WREF, an 850 khz daytimer in Ridgefield CT, has reportedly ended all local programming, and is now being run by the network based at WIFI-1460 Florence (Trenton-Philadelphia) NJ. All programming (big bands, some leased time) comes from WIFI via satellite. WIFI's owner, Mike Venditti, reportedly wants to add night power and a directional antenna system at WREF. I don't know how all this affects WQQQ-103.3 Sharon CT, which had been simulcasting WREF.
  • And outside New England, a note that the "Jukebox Radio" network has reconfigured. Jukebox started as an attempt to program translator W276AQ Fort Lee NJ, just across the George Washington Bridge from Manhattan. The original idea was to buy a dark high school station on 88.7 in Franklin Lakes NJ and use that station (redesignated "WJUX") as the primary. Then, last fall, Jukebox bought and built the CP for WXTM-99.7 Monticello NY, a commercial station. WXTM became the primary, WJUX 88.7 went dark, and 103.1 W276AQ was able to air commercials at long last. 99.7 has now picked up the WJUX calls, the *88.7 station now has calls
    WNJW, and will be sold and pick up a new format.

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