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October 18, 2010

Barnstable Sells on the East End

*It's been a while since we've seen a true seven-figure radio deal, but there's one to tell you about this week out of NEW YORK.

There'd been rumors flying for a while about Barnstable selling its properties in eastern Long Island, and late last week they came true with the $3 million sale of WRCN-FM (103.9 Riverhead) and WKJI (96.1 Center Moriches).

The buyer is JVC Broadcasting, the aggressive John Caracciolo-Vic "Latino" Canales partnership that's already a significant player in Suffolk County with rhythmic top-40 WPTY (105.3 Calverton-Roanoke) and Spanish tropical WBON (98.5 Westhampton).

This deal adds two more class A signals to JVC's existing pair, and guarantees at least one format change: while WRCN's rock format is expected to remain more or less intact, the sale will break the fairly recent simulcast between WKJI and AC "K-JOY" WKJY (98.3 Hempstead) in Nassau County. Will JVC keep 96.1 as an adult contemporary station, or will that signal also move toward a younger audience?

*In the Hudson Valley, little WWLE (1170 Cornwall) may once again be attempting full-time operation. Back in 2004, WWLE applied to move to 1150, adding two towers to its existing two-tower array and boosting power from its present 800 daytime-only watts to 2500 watts days, 500 watts at night. That construction permit expired unbuilt, but now WWLE has been granted another CP for the same facility on 1150. Can "1170 Broadcast Radio, Inc." get the job done between now and October 2013?

Not too far away, the construction permit for WJZZ (90.1 South Salem) is changing hands, as Dennis Jackson's Foothills Public Radio applies to transfer the unbuilt CP to Quaboag Hills Public Radio, controlled by Marshall Sanft (of WARE in - where? - Ware) and his wife Frances. The transfer will allow for an extra 18 months to build out the CP, which is due to expire in January.

*It was a wet morning last Monday for WSYR (570 Syracuse) and its Clear Channel sister stations, after a pipe burst in the ceiling above their Plum Street studios. The rush of water tripped circuit breakers that knocked all six of the stations in the cluster off the air, and it took about 45 minutes to get everyone back on the air. The worst damage was reportedly to the WSYR newsroom, forcing a temporary newsroom to be set up in a production studio.

Meanwhile, former WSYR morning newsman Nikolai Busko checks in with news of his new gigs: he's now the news director at Albany's WROW (590), where Pamal is rebuilding a news presence after flipping the station from talk to standards. And what brings Busko to the Capital District in the first place? He's now the play-by-play announcer for Army hockey down in West Point.

*Family Life Ministries has a callsign for its new signal south of Buffalo: mark down WCGM as the call for 89.3 in Silver Creek, whenever it gets on the air.

The FCC has granted the Special Temporary Authority (STA) requested by St. Bonaventure University's WSBU (88.3) to return to the air while it sorts out its apparent failure to file for a license renewal back in 2006.

"Because our station is student-run, we have a lot of staff turnover," said the STA request from station manager Zachary Witzel. "No one currently working at the station would have received notice in 2006. What's more, the station never received any follow-up information in any year since 2006 stating our license had expired. We'd honestly just prefer to get back on the air and continue the education of students on campus regarding broadcasting over the air and how a noncommercial radio station works."

*Where are they now? Josh Lewin, the Rochester native who started out calling Red Wings games and ended up in the big leagues, is out of a job as the Texas Rangers' TV announcer; he's still the radio voice of the San Diego Chargers and one of Fox's network baseball announcers. (Disclaimer: your editor went to high school with Josh, thereby probably forever forfeiting any hope of becoming the most prominent broadcaster to graduate from said school...)

*On TV, CW affiliate WCWN (Channel 45) in the Albany market is expanding its 10 PM newscast. As of tonight, the newscast (produced by sister station WRGB) grows from a 10-minute headline service to a full half-hour; Dori Marlin and Jerry Gretzinger will be in the anchor chairs.

*Our New York obituaries begin with Jerry Marshall, who began his broadcast career in the early forties at WAAT (970 Newark, now WNYM). He went on to work at WNEW, WMGM, WINS, WNBC and WCBS, as well as hosting the syndicated "Jerry Marshall Show." Marshall had been in hospice in Florida when he died last Wednesday (Oct. 14); he was 91.

And we remember Mary Margaret Myers, who parlayed a successful run in local radio news at WCAU in Philadelphia and at New York's WCBS (880) and WKTU (92.3, where she was news director in the seventies) into more than two decades of network radio news work, mostly at ABC. Myers died Tuesday (Oct. 13) after a battle with cancer.

TOWER SITE CALENDAR 2011 - IT'S HERE!

The production process was a little more complex than usual for Tower Site Calendar 2011, but at long last we're shipping the tenth installment in what's become an annual radio tradition.

The new calendar is now back from the printer, complete with more than a dozen exciting new images including that nifty cover shot of Mount Beacon, N.Y.

And if you order now, you'll have the 2010 calendar in your hands long before the holiday rush!

But wait - there's more! We now have a small supply of the new FM Atlas, 21st edition, as well as a limited supply of Tower Site Calendar 2010 as well - plus the signed, limited-edition version of the 2011 calendar and much more in the fybush.com store!

We've got special discounts for bulk orders, too - they make great gifts for your business colleagues or friends...

We are offering "calendar bouquets" of our old editions. It's a great way to buy a bunch of beautiful tower pinups at once! For just $16, you can get the 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009 calendars! (Special packaging available on request.)

And for three days only (now through Wednesday, October 20 at 11:59 p.m. PDT) we have a Cookies and Calendars special! Buy a box of cookies with your calendar and get $1 off your next Fybush.com purchase! For more details, please e-mail Mrs. NERW at [email protected]

Order now at the fybush.com Store!

*All those rumors floating around CANADA's capital city for a while now have turned out to be true: as of today, Rogers is flipping Ottawa's CIWW (Oldies 1310) to "1310 News," giving CTV's talk giant CFRA (580) its first serious competition (aside from CBC Radio 1) in a long time.

Unlike CFRA, the new "1310 News" is promising listeners a 24/7 wheel of nonstop news - and to make it happen, Rogers says it's planning to hire a new staff of about 30 newspeople.

It's not clear yet where (if anywhere) the Blue Jays broadcasts that had been on Oldies 1310 will land next spring; as for oldies fans, Rogers is suggesting they tune in to another of its stations, adult hits "Jack FM" CJET-FM (92.3), which rimshots Ottawa from Smiths Falls to the south.

*While Ottawa listeners are preparing for a format change, there's a big physical change to the radio landscape in Montreal. More than a decade after CBF (690) and CBM (940) last broadcast from the two-tower array in Brossard, Quebec, the big towers are now down.

The Brossard site, which had entered service in 1978 when CBC/Radio-Canada combined what had been separate CBF and CBM sites, never again saw AM use after CBF and CBM moved to FM in 1999, but the 675' sectionalized tower (the taller of the two) did see some FM use over the summer, when it played host to backup antennas for CBC and Radio-Canada services temporarily displaced by tower reconstruction at the Mont-Royal master antenna site.

With that work now complete, the CBC sold the Brossard site to a new owner this fall, and it didn't take long at all for the demolition crews to arrive. (Oddly, the end of this South Shore landmark passed almost without notice; no mention that we've been able to find in any Montreal media outlets, and even the YouTube videos showing the demolition have now been marked "private.")

*The fast-growing My Broadcasting Corporation is adding another signal in southern Ontario: last week, the CRTC granted My's application for a new station in St. Thomas, near London. The new signal on 94.1 will run 4.37 kW maximum/1.37 kW average DA at 46.5 meters, running what's described as a "Gold-based" AC format. To alleviate concerns that the new station will become a London-market rimshot, the CRTC is imposing conditions requiring My to provide news and traffic aimed at St. Thomas and Elgin County, and to avoid any station IDs that "include exclusive reference to London."

In Cornwall, the CRTC has officially deleted the license of CJUL (1220), the AM signal Corus took silent back in August - but CJUL's former morning man is back on the air, at least; John Bolton takes over the morning shift today at sister station CJSS-FM (Rock 101.9). Milkman UnLimited reports Bolton's return shifts Jamie Carr to middays and Matt Weaver to afternoons on 101.9, while over on sister station CFLG (Variety 104.5) it's Amanda Logan in afternoons and Darryl Adams in middays.

*Malcolm "Mal" Faris has died. Faris did mornings at CKFH (1430) in Toronto in the 70s and worked at Montreal's CKGM, as well as at many stations in the Canadian midwest. Faris died in Regina, Saskatchewan on Oct. 5, at age 67.

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*It didn't take long to fill a prominent opening in western PENNSYLVANIA: Jonny Hartwell will be the new morning man on Clear Channel's "3WS" (WWSW 94.5 Pittsburgh), filling the big hole left by Jim Merkel's ouster.

Hartwell has plenty of Pittsburgh experience himself, having spent almost a decade in afternoons on WZPT (Star 100.7) until his own ouster back in January; since then, he's been filling in on middays at Steel City's WLTJ (Q92.9).

One of the key players in the Keymarket radio group is moving: Frank Bell, who'd been the company's vice president of programming, is a ten-year veteran of the company, having overseen the creation (and then partial dismantling) of a chain of "Froggy" country outlets stretching from eastern Ohio deep into western Pennsylvania. He leaves amidst a restructuring that's moving Keymarket's corporate offices to Heidelberg, just west of Pittsburgh.

In Evans City, north of Pittsburgh, there's a callsign now for the new signal on 89.7. The construction permit belonging to Fourteen Hundred, Inc. is now "WBKC."

Across the state, Tommy Griffiths has "left the building" after just a few months in mornings at Shamrock's WEZX (106.9 Scranton); night guy Dave DiRienzo and former morning co-host Prospector have teamed up for mornings at "Rock 107," while Mike Duffy moves from morning drive to replace Prospector in afternoons.

And there's an obituary from the engineering community: David Flenner was an engineer for many years at Susquehanna's WSBA in York, where he's still fondly remembered. He'd been living more recently in Georgia, and that's where he died last Sunday (Oct. 10), at age 65.

*Just two bits of news from NEW JERSEY this week: Clear Channel's WHCY (106.3 Blairstown) has once again picked up the Elvis Duran morning show from sister station WHTZ (100.3 Newark), an hour and change to the east (depending on traffic!)

And down on the shore, "Soulmates" has a set of call letters to go with its construction permit for 91.9 in North Wildwood, now WPPS.

*In MASSACHUSETTS, the WFCR Foundation has closed on its $600,000 purchase of WNNZ (640 Westfield) from Clear Channel, though listeners won't notice any change, since the sale simply makes permanent the long-term LMA under which WFCR had been operating the AM signal.

And we're grateful to station broker Harold Bausemer for alerting us to the death, back on August 21, of Manny Biderman, a longtime executive at WCRB (102.5) and later a trustee at WHRB (95.3 Cambridge). Biderman was 90.

*Where are they now? Mike Butts left RHODE ISLAND more than a decade ago, and now the former WPRO-FM (92.3 Providence) morning man is looking for work after being displaced from his most recent gig in mornings at WNCL (101.3) in Milford, Delaware.

*MAINE's first local TV newscast in HD comes not from the state's biggest market, Portland, but from smaller Bangor - and it comes from WABI-TV (Channel 5), which launched its HD newscast last week. WABI is also in the midst of moving its RF channel; it's replacing its temporary signal on UHF channel 19 with a new permanent signal on VHF channel 13. That UHF-to-VHF move goes against the national trend, but Bangor's an unusual market - WABI was the only UHF signal in what's otherwise been entirely a VHF digital city.

*In NEW HAMPSHIRE, Dru Johnson is out as morning host at WXXK (Kixx 100.5) in Lebanon; that sets a series of moves in motion that shift Justin Tyler from afternoons to mornings alongside Amy Kenney, while Jon Bailey holds down afternoons for now.

*We wrap up our annual look at Hockey on the Radio with a spin around the minors, starting with the American Hockey League's many teams throughout NERW-land:

In New England, Maine's Portland Pirates play on WLOB (95.5/1310), and down the road in New Hampshire the Manchester Monarchs play on WGAM (1250 Manchester) and WGHM (900 Nashua). In Massachusetts, the Worcester Sharks continue on WTAG (580, plus its FM translator at 94.9) and the Springfield Falcons remain on WHYN (560), while the Lowell Devils have relocated to Albany to replace the former River Rats, who are now the Charlotte (N.C.) Checkers.

The Providence Bruins don't have a Providence affiliate, but their games will be heard elsewhere in Rhode Island on WNRI (1380 Woonsocket) and WBLQ (1230 Westerly); in Connecticut, the Hartford Wolf Pack (soon to be known as the Connecticut Whale) are heard on WTIC-FM (96.5)'s HD2 channel, as well as via webcast. And if the Bridgeport Sound Tigers are on broadcast radio, they're doing a good job of hiding it.

Here in New York, the newly-relocated Albany Devils play on Albany's ESPN station, WTMM (104.5 Mechanicville), with Josh Heller as their new radio voice. Up the Northway, the Adirondack Phantoms are heard on WNYQ (101.7 Hudson Falls). Jason Lockhart is the new voice of the Syracuse Crunch, who move to WSKO (1260) this year from former radio home WHEN (620). The Binghamton Senators remain with Clear Channel's WINR (680). And this column's AHL team of choice, the Rochester Amerks, remain on WHTK (1280/107.3) as they struggle to rebuild after a rough season last year.

In Pennsylvania, the Hershey Bears have expanded their radio network this year: in addition to flagship WQIC (100.1 Lebanon), they're now heard in Harrisburg on WTKT (1460) and WRVV (97.3)'s HD2, as well as on WLPA (1490 Lancaster) and new partial-season affiliates WOYK (1350 York) and WPDC (1600 Elizabethtown). Bears radio voice John Walton will hit the 1,000-game mark with the team later this season. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins play on WDMT (102.3 Pittston).

Across the border, CHAM (820) has the Hamilton Bulldogs, who just signed a new three-year deal with the country station, while the Toronto Marlies live in the shadow of the big blue parent team down the street, with a select lineup of games on CFMJ (640), which will carry 34 games that don't conflict with the Leafs.

*The "East Coast Hockey League" is something of a misnomer for a minor league with teams in California, British Columbia and Alaska, but it does have a few teams at least plausibly close to the Atlantic: the Trenton Devils play on WBZC (88.9 Pemberton), the Reading Royals on WRAW (1340) and the Elmira Jackals on WOKN (99.5).

*In the Ontario Hockey League, the Kitchener Rangers just signed a five-year deal with CKGL (570 News), the Guelph Storm remain on CJOY (1460), the Kingston Devils on CKYM (88.7 Napanee), the London Knights on CJBK (1290), while the Belleville Bulls are either on CJBQ (800) or at least have a CJBQ-produced webcast. The Niagara IceDogs are in their second year on CFLZ (105.1). The Owen Sound Attack remain on CFOS (560), the Ottawa Wolves are on CFGO (Team 1200), the Peterborough Petes are on CKRU (100.5), and the Sudbury Wolves are on CJTK (95.5), one of the few religious stations we know of with hockey play-by-play. And on the U.S. side of the border, the Erie Otters play on WFNN (1330).

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.

October 19, 2009 -

  • *Univision Radio relaunched its NEW YORK FM presence Thursday morning, adopting new call letters and a new slogan to go with its $33.5 million move from its former FM home, "La Kalle" WCAA (105.9 Newark), to the more powerful signal on 96.3 that was long home to WQXR. As we told you last week, the WCAA calls made a temporary move down the dial to 96.3 on the night of October 8, when WQXR moved up to 105.9 under the ownership of public broadcaster WNYC. But the "La Kalle" slogan vanished in the move, and Univision's frequent on-air exhortations to "mark your calendar with an X on October 15 at 6 AM" made it clear that something different was coming to the 96.3 frequency.
  • And as NERW first reported last week, that "something different" includes the calls WXNY - and a new slogan, "X96.3, La Mezcla de New York." That translates roughly as "The Mix of New York," and it comes with a format that's not far different from the old "La Kalle" on 105.9. We're not experts on the nuances of Spanish-language radio, but it seems to be described best as some mixture of "Spanish Tropical" and "rhythmic AC," with some English-language dance tracks in there as part of the playlist, and with DJ banter that's largely, but not entirely, in Spanish. So far, the new "X96.3" appears to be running jockless, except for the station's star personality, the Luis Jimenez morning show.
  • Up north, St. Lawrence University's North Country Public Radio has been granted a construction permit for a full-power signal in Lake Placid, winning out over competing applications from Albany's WAMC and the Northeast Gospel Network. (As we reported back in December 2007, WAMC had agreed to drop its Lake Placid application in favor of NCPR.) The new 91.7 signal will replace NCPR's present translator in Lake Placid, W219AK, which will apply to move to a new frequency and relay WAMC. And NCPR has signed on another new signal: WXLS (88.3 Tupper Lake) replaces a translator on 91.7 in that mountain community.
  • Here in Rochester, we're mourning the loss of one of the original program hosts from the earliest days of WXXI-FM (91.5). Richard Gladwell was a part of the station almost from its start in late 1974, and his weekend choral music show, "With Heart and Voice," continues to be offered to public radio stations nationwide. Gladwell had been diagnosed with brain cancer in June, and he died peacefully with family at his side at his Rochester home on Thursday, just short of his 89th birthday.
  • In MASSACHUSETTS, the deal to transfer classical WCRB-FM (99.5 Lowell) from Nassau to the WGBH Educational Foundation is moving forward. The contract for the $14 million sale is now at the FCC awaiting approval, and we noted a couple of unusual items as we read through it: it obligates WGBH to buy $100,000 of advertising on WCRB or other Nassau stations during the period before closing - and it includes a clause we'd never seen in a sale contract before, obligating Nassau to transfer WCRB's Facebook and Twitter accounts to WGBH. (That clause, presumably, will soon become a standard feature of sale contracts.)
  • It's been a bad year for broadcast history in CONNECTICUT, where two venerable TV studio buildings have fallen to the wrecking ball in the space of just a few months. The latest demolition is in West Hartford, at the 1953-vintage studios of NBC's WVIT (Channel 30). The station is now settled in at its modern new home just behind the old studios off I-84 and New Britain Avenue, and last week its old digs were reduced to rubble.
  • One of the most enduring faces of TV news in VERMONT retired from the anchor desk last week. Marselis Parsons handed off his news director duties at WCAX-TV (Channel 3) to Anson Tebbetts in May, and on Thursday he signed off WCAX's 6 PM newscast for the last time, inviting viewers to watch his successor, Darren Perron. Parsons started at Channel 3 as a reporter in 1967, and had been news director and evening anchor since 1984 - and we suspect both of those are, and will probably forever be, all-time longevity records in the region. In his retirement, Parsons will continue to file occasional stories from around Vermont for WCAX - and in the meantime, the station has put up a web page featuring all the video tributes it's been offering for the longtime face of its news department.

October 17, 2005 -

  • One of RHODE ISLAND's most experienced and talented TV reporters died unexpectedly early Wednesday morning (Oct. 12) at his Cape Cod home. Jack White's journalism career began at the Newport Daily News in 1969 and soon took him to the Providence Journal, where he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1974 for his reporting that discovered President Nixon had cheated on his taxes. (It was that story, published in October 1973, that led Nixon to make his "I am not a crook" speech.)
  • White moved to television in 1979, working on the "I-Team" at Boston's WBZ-TV (Channel 4). He returned to newspapers at the Cape Cod Times two years later, then joined WPRI (Channel 12) in 1985 as the station's chief investigative reporter, a position he would hold for two decades. White's tenure at WPRI included two Emmys, one for a 1992 report on fugitive banker Joseph Mollicone and one just this year for his reporting on Providence city officials who violated the city's residency requirement. White is survived by his wife, Beth, three sons, a daughter and five grandchildren. He was 63. WPRI will broadcast a special tribute, "Remembering Jack White," Monday night at 7.
  • Meanwhile in the Ocean State, the heavy rains late last week silenced at least one radio station. WDDZ (550 Pawtucket) had enough water at its site in the floodplain of the Blackstone River to knock the Radio Disney station off the air Friday. As we go to press Sunday night, chief engineer Craig Healy reports that the water level is still above the base insulators of the towers, which means the station will remain off at least into Monday morning.
  • WRIB (1220 Providence) is getting a new owner, as Carter Broadcasting sells the religious/Spanish outlet to Faith Christian Center, Inc. for $1.9 million. The deal will leave Carter with WROL (730 Chicopee) and WCRN (830 Worcester) in Massachusetts.
  • It's farewell time for one of NEW HAMPSHIRE's best-known broadcasters. After a decade and a half transforming New Hampshire Public Radio from a sleepy, small-town station into a nationally respected statewide network, Mark Handley has departed his post at the helm of the network. Sometime in the next few days, Mark and his wife Judy will head out of Boston Harbor in their 42-foot sailboat, "Windbird," to spend the next two years circumnavigating the globe.
  • There's change afoot on the religious radio dial in central MAINE, as WMDR (1340 Augusta) prepares to move its "Kids Radio" programming to the new WMDR-FM (88.9 Oakland), which will take on a more teen-focused, music-heavy approach when it signs on as "Zap 88.9" soon. The AM signal will flip to a combination of southern gospel and country as "God's Country AM 1340."
  • In New York City, the story was all about Clear Channel's latest payola problems, which apparently led to the abrupt ouster of two of the company's PDs last week - one of them Michael Saunders of WWPR (105.1). Clear Channel's VP/Urban Programming Doc Wynter is handling PD chores at Power 105 for now, and of course the company's keeping as quiet as it can about it all.
  • "They took the crosstown bus." Confused by that? So were radio listeners across the state, who heard that cryptic message one afternoon last week during an Amber Alert EAS activation from the state's emergency management office. The message was apparently part of a test that was transmitted by mistake, and it aired on numerous stations across the state.
  • Heading up to the Hudson Valley, Sunrise Broadcasting is one step closer - perhaps - to its goal of getting back on the air at 1200 on the AM dial. You might recall that Sunrise's WGNY in Newburgh spent a few years operating at 1200 a decade or so ago, but the station lost its bid to make the move permanent and was forced back to its original, lower-powered facility at 1220, where it remains today. In the meantime, Sunrise obtained a construction permit for 1200 in Kingston, which would have shared the site of WGHQ (920) there, using the calls WJGK. That CP was never built, and Sunrise then applied instead for 1200 in Highland, near Poughkeepsie and closer to the population center of the mid-Hudson region. That CP was granted last week, and one of the conditions was the surrender of the never-built Kingston CP. So WJGK Kingston gets added to the "never-were" pile of unbuilt New York AMs, and now Sunrise gets to try to build five towers along Route 9W in Highland. If it gets built, the new 1200 would run 4700 watts day, 1000 watts night, with most of its power getting directed northeast towards Poughkeepsie. (2010 update: It never got built.)
  • There's a format change on the way this week in central NEW JERSEY, where the oldies simulcast of WMTR (1250 Morristown) will disappear from Greater Media's WWTR (1170 Bridgewater) in favor of EBC Radio's Indian/South Asian programming. EBC had been leasing Multicultural Broadcasting's WTTM (1680 Princeton) for its broadcasts, but the WWTR signal will put it a little closer to the base of South Asian listeners in the Edison area. WTTM, meanwhile, will flip back to ESPN Radio sports programming, or so we hear.
  • The big story out of PENNSYLVANIA this week is Nassau's sale of its Lehigh Valley/Poconos cluster to the growing Access.1 group. The stations in the group include some of Nassau's earliest acquisitions - in the Poconos, oldies duo WVPO (840 Stroudsburg)/WPLY (960 Mount Pocono) and classic hits WSBG (93.5 Stroudsburg), and in the Lehigh Valley, sports duo WEEX (1230 Easton)/WTKZ (1320 Allentown), classic hits "Hawk" WODE (99.9 Easton) and soft AC "Lite 107" WWYY (107.1 Belvidere NJ). No purchase price has been announced for the deal, which will put the stations under common ownership with WWRL (1600 New York) and Access.1's cluster of stations in the Atlantic City area.

October 16, 2000 -

  • Radio in the Upper Valley area of NEW HAMPSHIRE has seen plenty of new clusters in the last few years. But the big national groups haven't made the trek up I-93...until now. Clear Channel is paying Bob and Cheryl Frisch $11 million for their four-station group, based in Lebanon. Heritage news-talker WTSL (1400 Hanover) is the oldest station in the group, accompanied by hot AC WGXL (92.3 Hanover), classic rock WVRR (101.7 Newport), and ratings-leading country "Kix," WXXK (100.5 Lebanon). The usual "no staff or format changes are planned" line accompanies the sale, but rumors are already flying about the possibility of Clear Channel's news-talk WGIR Manchester and rocker WGIR-FM Manchester providing programming to WTSL and WVRR an hour away. Stay tuned...
  • Just across the river in VERMONT, Family Broadcasting is selling WGLV (104.3 Hartford), as first rumored here months ago (NERW, 5/19/2000). The buyer? "Great Northern Radio," aka the Vox group, which already operates in the market with sports combo WNHV (910 White River Junction) and WTSV (1230 Claremont), soft AC WWSH (95.3 White River Junction), and rocker WHDQ (106.1 Claremont). We hear WGLV will simulcast WNHV/WTSV for six weeks or so, followed by a "new format" under the WWOD calls. (Hmm..."O-D" -- whatever could THAT be?)
  • Vox launched another "new" station in the Green Mountain State this week, moving WWFY (100.9) from a little class A in Middlebury to a big signal licensed to Berlin. Now known as "Froggy 100.9, Jumpin' Country," WWFY is targeting the Barre-Montpelier area. Jim Severance is the PD (and afternoon guy), with Steve Boswell from Waterbury's WDEV doing mornings as "J.D. Green," Michelle Drury middays as "Mickey Hopper," the syndicated Lia show in evenings, and Tim Martin overnight as "Tad Pole." Cute...real cute.
  • The big news from MASSACHUSETTS was the $47.5 million sale of Worcester's Univision affiliate, WUNI (Channel 27). The station becomes the 18th Univision affiliate owned by Entravision, and the company's first in New England. NERW wonders if Entravision might try to expand its growing Spanish-language radio group our way as well...
  • The "Score" sports simulcast in central MAINE has lost two of its many stations, as Cumulus flips WCME (96.7 Boothbay Harbor) to a simulcast of oldies WABK (104.3 Gardiner)..and our ears up there are hearing WHQO (107.9 Skowhegan) running a 15-minute loop of, of all things, hip-hop music.
  • Just last week, we told you that Aurora Broadcasting wouldn't be selling its cluster in Connecticut and NEW YORK to Nassau after all. This week, Aurora showed just how much it's changing gears, agreeing to pay $55 million for Rob Dyson's Crystal group in the Hudson Valley.
  • Aurora's already strong in the southern part of the valley, with nine stations stretching from Bridgeport into Westchester County. The Crystal purchase adds nine more signals in the northern part of the valley, from Middletown and Poughkeepsie up to Kingston. They are:
  • * Oldies WCZX (97.7 Hyde Park) and WZAD (97.3 Wurtsboro)
    * Sports WEOK (1390 Poughkeepsie) and WALL (1340 Middletown)
    * Modern AC WRRV (92.7 Middletown) and WRRB (96.9 Arlington)
    * Rocker WPDH (101.5 Poughkeepsie) and WPDA (106.1 Jeffersonville)
    * Full-service WKNY (1490 Kingston)
  • This sale, combined with Clear Channel's purchases in the valley earlier in the year (NERW 5/6/2000), mean that just about every major signal between Westchester and Albany will end the year under new ownership.
  • One bit of news from CANADA, and it comes to us through North Country correspondent Mike Roach: CJET (630) in Smiths Falls, Ontario has turned on its new FM signal at 92.3. Mike reports that "Country 92" began running a test loop of country music Saturday morning (10/14), which means the AM should be dark within a few months. (NERW's suddenly very glad that we made it up to Smiths Falls over the summer, and not just for the Hershey Canada factory tour!)

New England Radio Watch, October 14 & 19, 1995

  • Boston is getting its first FM triopoly, as soon as Congress approves the rule change to allow it (apparently at this point it's "when" and not "if," alas). Fresh from its purchase
    of Pyramid Broadcasting (locally, CHurban WJMN-94.5, CHR WXKS-107.9, and satellite-standards WXKS-1430), Evergreen has signed a deal to buy country WKLB-105.7 from Fairbanks Broadcasting. WKLB was the last stand-alone class B FM left available for purchase in the Boston area. CBS's WODS-103.3 is a stand-alone for now, but will be paired with Westinghouse's WBZ-1030 when that deal closes. And Charles River Broadcasting's classical WCRB-102.5 is a stand-alone class B, but is not legally available for purchase.
  • So what does it all mean? WKLB has been locked in a brutal format war with Greater Media's WBCS 96.9 since April, 1993. Perhaps Evergreen will withdraw WKLB from the country wars and go after someone else, though just about every known
    format is covered in the market already.
  • Not included in the (reportedly $30 million) deal is Fairbanks' talker, WKOX 1200 Framingham. The hot rumor around town has WKOX joining the American Radio Systems lineup (talker WRKO-680, sports WEEI-850, 70s WEGQ-93.7, and hot AC WBMX-98.5) as soon as triopoly is approved. In terms of major players, here's how Boston now breaks down, in order by Summer '95 12+ market share:
  • ARS - 680 WRKO, 850 WEEI, 93.7 WEGQ, 98.5 WBMX
    Evergreen (including WKLB) - 1430 WXKS, 94.5 WJMN, 105.7 WKLB, 107.9
    WXKS
    Infinity - classic rock 100.7 WZLX, modern rock 104.1 WBCN
    Westinghouse/CBS - news/talk 1030 WBZ, oldies 103.3 WODS
    Greater Media - ethnic 1150 WMEX, country 96.9 WBCS, AC 106.7 WMJX
    Granum - AAA 92.9 WBOS, soft AC 99.5 WSSH
  • And right there you have EVERY commercial class B FM in town, except for the special case of WCRB, and a few minor rimshotters from 30 or more miles out of town. I wouldn't bet much money on Greater Media or Granum staying independent for long, either.
  • The DJ Shuffle Goes On: Ken Shelton, late of WZLX, and before that a veteran of years as midday guy on WBCN, has landed on his feet after being fired from WZLX. Shelton will start as WBOS's morning man November 1, the day his non-compete clause from WZLX expires. And JR, the former morning jock on WJMN, is returning
    to Boston from a brief exile to Texas. He's starting soon on 70s WEGQ "Eagle 93.7."
  • A follow-up on Albany's 1540: WPTR is silent tonight. The word from the National Radio Club and "DX News" is that the station will return as religious WDCD on Sunday October 15.
  • From the Radio With Pictures world: WMFP-TV 62 Lawrence-Boston (which transmits from downtown Boston and puts almost no signal at all over its city of license) has a new owner. Parent company Shop-At-Home has been sold to home-shopping magnate Lowell Paxson. No programming changes are expected, alas. And WSBK-TV 38, seen on cable throughout New England and parts of
    Canada, has launched its new 10pm newscast, produced by New England Cable News.
  • The demolition crews go to work Thursday morning, October 19, on what remains of the old rhombic antenna system of the late WBOS shortwave. WBOS was the shortwave outlet of WBZ, and operated from WBZ's transmitter site at Hull, Massachusetts from about 1940 until shortly after World War Two. The actual antenna wires are long gone, but the telephone poles that supported the antenna
    have been sitting undisturbed in the swamp next to the WBZ towers for half a century. But...all things must pass, and it seems the town of Hull got nervous about these towers falling and hurting someone. So after much political pressure, the poles are being
    removed.

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