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December 20, 2010

More Troubles for Atlantic Broadcasting


*NEW JERSEY's Atlantic Broadcasting is expected to file for bankruptcy early this week, turning the page on a troubled chapter in the history of the Atlantic City station cluster that began in the summer of 2008 when several local radio people got together to buy the three FMs (WTKU 98.3, WJSE 102.7 - now WWAC, WMGM 103.7) and two AMs (WOND 1400 and WTAA 1490, now WBSS) that had belonged to Access.1 Communications, and to Howard Green before that.

Despite some savvy programming and technical moves, shifting the 102.7 signal into the heart of the Atlantic City market and flipping it from modern rock to top 40, the cluster sailed into stormy weather. The stalled economy that made the $9.5 million purchase price look untenably high, and it was soon exacerbated by a series of legal problems, including the arrest of former PD and Atlantic partner Brett Denafo on charges that he stole nearly $175,000 from the stations through fraudulent use of a station credit card and the sale of airtime for which Atlantic never received payment.

With some $6 million still owed to Sun Bank, the local bank that financed the purchase back in 2008, we're hearing things have gotten ugly at Atlantic's headquarters in suburban Linwood: the stations were reportedly running largely automated last week, and we're told Atlantic failed to make payroll on Wednesday and that few employees were seen at the building for the rest of the week.

Former sister station WMGM-TV (Channel 40), which rents office space from Atlantic at the building they share in Linwood, reportedly had to pick up Atlantic's portion of the salary of two shared employees, including the stations' receptionist.

It's an unfortunate situation all around; here's hoping the bankruptcy - if and when it occurs - will at least allow the stations to get back on an even keel under new ownership in the new year.

MIDWEEK UPDATE: Atlantic's bankruptcy filing indeed went through on Monday, with the company listing debts of between $1 million and $10 million and asking to be allowed to continue operating while it seeks to sell its stations; a hearing is set for January 20.

*Meanwhile, there's a new station at the bottom of the dial in Ocean County. WZBL (88.1 Barnegat Light) signed on last week, just beating Thursday's expiration date on its construction permit. The 100-watt/43' class A signal is licensed to Hope Christian Church of Marlton and relays "Hope FM" WVBV (90.5 Medford Lakes).

*Clear Channel's end-of-the-year cutbacks included one veteran NEW YORK air personality: "Goumba Johnny" Sialiano is gone from WKTU (103.5 Lake Success), telling FishbowlNY's Jerry Barmash that he was offered a new contract at a "tremendous cut" in pay.

"I know what I'm worth," Sialiano said. "The station made a business decision, and so did I."

Sialiano started with WKTU 15 years ago as a sidekick to Sean "Hollywood" Hamilton, and the duo stuck it out at the station through several shift changes, moving from afternoons to mornings and then back to afternoons, where Hamilton is now solo while Goumba Johnny looks for a new gig.

*Down the hall at Clear Channel sister station WHTZ (100.3 Newark), it may be hard to tell these days whether "Z100" is a radio station or a TV production house. The legendary top-40 station is developing a national presence on TV, where its annual "Jingle Ball" concert was televised coast-to-coast on the Fuse music network, which also broadcast a pre-show special and a "making of" special.

And that's not all the TV activity in the halls at Z100: the "Phone Taps" segment of the Elvis Duran morning show now has a TV presence, too. Last week, Spike TV ran a series of pilots for "Phowned," a TV version of the morning show's phone pranks.

*Out on Long Island, Cox's cutbacks appear to have hit WBLI (106.1 Patchogue), where the station's morning show with Dana DiDonato and Randy Spears was gone from the website on Sunday and appears to be gone from the station entirely.

*The tension between local TV stations and cable companies reached a boiling point over the weekend in Utica, where negotiations between Smith Media and Time Warner Cable broke down and Smith's NBC affiliate WKTV (Channel 2) was pulled from the cable lineup, along with its CW subchannel.

But Time Warner Cable (which continued to feed WKTV to viewers in the Rome area under a separate retransmission deal) didn't deprive its customers of NBC programming: instead of the local WKTV, viewers found Nexstar's WBRE (Channel 28) from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on their cable.

In Smith's other northeast market, Burlington/Plattsburgh, Time Warner pulled in - ironically enough - Nexstar-operated WUTR from Utica to replace Smith's ABC affiliate WVNY-TV on cable for viewers in the Malone, Lake Placid and Port Henry areas, while Watertown's WNYF replaced Smith-operated Fox affiliate WFFF on cable.

Nexstar, however, is not at all happy about the added viewership: reports that CEO Perry Sook sent Time Warner a cease-and-desist letter on Saturday, saying the cable company had never obtained permission to carry the WBRE or WUTR signals outside their home markets. (Time Warner says it's within its contractual rights to carry the stations.)

Sook then upped the ante with a letter asking the mayor of Utica to "REVOKE" (yes, in all-caps) Time Warner's local franchise rights; the mayor tells the Observer-Dispatch that would be a matter for the City Council to consider.

Connoisseurs of irony who aren't sufficiently sated by Nexstar's multiple roles in this particular kerfuffle might want to consider one more wrinkle in the dispute: the Utica cable system that's at the heart of the conflict came to Time Warner from Adelphia, which inherited it from Harron - which owned WKTV from 1980 to 1992, during which time we're quite certain there was never any question about being able to see the station on cable!

*The Smith/Time Warner dispute isn't the only cable carriage conflict playing out upstate: there's still no resolution to the battle between Sinclair and Time Warner over carriage of Sinclair's Fox affiliates in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Pittsburgh, as well as CBS affiliate WGME in Portland, Maine and MyNetworkTV outlets in Buffalo, Syracuse and Pittsburgh.

Time Warner says it has an agreement directly with Fox to continue to bring network programming to viewers who now get WUTV, WUHF, WSYT and WPGH on their cable systems, a threat that's sure to play into negotiations as the Dec. 31 deadline approaches.

While we'll be on our usual holiday break here at NERW, we'll keep you updated as these stories develop - check out our Twitter feed, or the top of this page if there's especially big breaking news, or "like" our brand-new presence on Facebook.

*Meanwhile in Syracuse, local news is going wide: Barrington Broadcasting launched widescreen (albeit still standard-definition) news last week at the trio of stations it operates. NBC affiliate WSTM (Channel 3), CBS affiliate WTVH (Channel 5) and CW affiliate WSTQ-LP have a new set and new graphics; meanwhile, Newport Television is building its new set and preparing to go full HD at its dominant ABC affiliate, WSYR-TV (Channel 9).

Maurice DuBois is the new evening anchor at New York's WCBS-TV (Channel 2), shifting from mornings to replace Chris Wragge, who's moved from local to fulltime network work as one of the new co-hosts of CBS' "Early Show." (One of Wragge's colleagues on the "Early Show" set is Jeff Glor, a Buffalo native who'd anchored at WSTM and at Boston's WHDH-TV before moving to CBS.)

One other bit of TV-related news: The parent company of New York PBS station WNET (Channel 13) is exiting the publishing business. owns Current, the biweekly newspaper that covers the world of public media, but it's selling the paper to Washington's American University for what's being described as a "nominal" amount. Current is already based in the DC suburbs, and it's expected that AU's ownership will provide a better fit, more resources and fewer conflicts of interest.

(Disclaimer: your editor recently contributed a centerfold of tower pictures to Current; check out the Nov. 29 issue if you're at a public station and have a copy around...)

*Back to radio, there are more changes on the Hudson Valley's FM dial: two of the Digital Radio Broadcasting translators that were carrying WVOS-FM (95.9 Liberty) have switched to another oldies outlet, WGNY (1220 Newburgh), being received via the HD2 of sister station WJGK (103.1). The WGNY oldies feed is now being heard on 95.7 in Poughkeepsie (W239BL) and 94.1 in Orange County (W231BP Chester); WVOS is still being heard on 105.7 in Ellenville (W289BE).

EMF Broadcasting is rearranging its station lineup in the Mohawk Valley now that it's no longer leasing WOKR (93.5 Remsen) to the defunct "God's Country" network. 93.5 is back to running EMF's "Air 1" Christian rock network, and now EMF is flipping formats and calls between its two Utica-licensed stations, moving "Air 1" and the WRCK calls from the big signal on 107.3 to the smaller signal on 100.7, while the WKVU calls and EMF's flagship "K-Love" service move from 100.7 up to 107.3.

Is there an AM-on-FM simulcast coming to Clear Channel's Syracuse cluster? The "Net Gnomes" over at have picked up on a bunch of domain registrations for "" and the like, suggesting that WPHR (106.9 Solvay) could be poised to swap its urban "Power" format for a simulcast of WSYR (570)...or, perhaps, that Clear Channel is simply thinking ahead and warehousing domain names for the future. (NERW notes that the last time WPHR tried to change format, the black community in Syracuse protested quite loudly, and WPHR's 2009 antenna move took the 106.9 signal from a wide-coverage class B licensed to Auburn to a lower-powered B1 with coverage more tightly focused on the city's urban core; that's not necessarily the signal move that would go along with a 570/106.9 simulcast, not to mention the revenue hit Clear Channel would take from giving up one of just four FM program streams in the market, so count us as at least mildly skeptical of this one for now.)

Some translator news from the Finger Lakes: the Finger Lakes Radio Group has returned W292DQ (106.3 Geneva) to the air, but it won't stay on that channel long. The former relay of public station WRVO (89.9 Oswego) has a construction permit to move to 95.7, but that won't be its permanent home, either - it's expected to land at 96.1, where it will likely become an FM relay for news-talker WGVA (1240 Geneva). Meanwhile, WRVO has been granted a new translator in Ithaca. W233BR (92.5) will run 10 watts from Connecticut Hill west of Ithaca, at least initially.

And out on Long Island's East End, Peconic Public Broadcasting has finally closed on its purchase of WLIU (88.3 Southampton) from Long Island University.

The $850,000 deal was completed Wednesday night, and we're sure the folks at Peconic are breathing a little easier after many months of uncertainty about the station's financing and future. Its calls are expected to change to WPPB

*Two obituaries from New York City: Clay Cole was New York's answer to Dick Clark in the days of local teen dance shows on TV. Born Albert Rucker, Jr. in Youngstown, Ohio, he started on TV there in 1953, then moved to Providence in 1958 to host "Al Rucker and the Seven Teens" before coming to the New York market a year later on WNTA-TV (Channel 13). That's where he took the name Clay Cole, and it's where he found fame both on TV and as the emcee and producer of live concerts.

When WNTA became noncommercial WNDT, Cole relocated to WPIX-TV (Channel 11), his home base until 1968. In later years, he worked as a TV writer and producer, returning to the air in 1979 as co-host of WABC-TV's "AM New York," and he recently wrote a book, "Sh-Boom! The Explosion of Rock and Roll (1953-1968)," with David Hinckley of the Daily News.

Cole was found dead in his home on Saturday (Dec. 18); he was 72.

And on Long Island, they're mourning Joel Blumberg, whose varied career included producing play-by-play for many area pro and college sports teams and on-air work as a sports anchor for WEVD and Long Island's WGBB. Blumberg was on his way to Madison Square Garden to work a Heat-Knicks game on Friday when he suffered a heart attack while on the train; he was 64.

*We weren't expecting to do a "NERW Bookshelf" this year, there having been a paucity of new volumes about Northeast broadcasting or by Northeast broadcasters - but then the mailbox produced some last-minute Bookshelf contenders:

Bill O'Shaughnessy is part of a rare breed these days - an individual station owner with a passionate belief in the value of local radio. With his deep connections to New York's political, literary and business worlds, O'Shaughnessy has long been an outspoken editorialist and an interviewer who brings some very big names to the microphones at WVOX (1460) and WVIP (93.5) in New Rochelle.

After collecting many of his writings and interviews in three previous volumes, O'Shaughnessy took a six-year break before returning with his latest. Vox Populi: The O'Shaughnessy Files has just been published by Fordham University Press, and the release of the 500-page volume was marked by a big party at Le Cirque in Manhattan earlier this month.

And up here in Rochester, one of our local broadcasting legends has just published his own memoir. On the Air tells the story of Jack Palvino's days as one of the star DJs on WBBF (950) and his subsequent years as co-owner of the very successful Lincoln Group, which started with WVOR (100.5) and grew to include a cluster of stations in Rochester as well as signals in Buffalo and Youngstown, Ohio. The volume is for sale at area Wegmans supermarkets and the bookstore at St. John Fisher College, where Palvino was part of the very first graduating class in 1955.


You've got just a week or so left before that 2010 calendar on your wall is as obsolete as your analog TV set. (Unless you're in Canada, or you have a converter box or cable.)

But lucky for you, we're here to help: Tower Site Calendar 2011 is now available, featuring more than a dozen great images of radio and TV broadcast facilities all over the country (and even beyond - this year's edition takes us to Mexico!)

Thrill to a night shot of KFI's new tower! Check out the WAEB Allentown array just after it lost a tower - or enjoy the history at venerable sites like those of KID in Idaho Falls, WCAP in Lowell, KTKT in Tucson and Rochester's Pinnacle Hill.

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 a very limited quantity (just one left!) of the signed, limited-edition version of the 2011 calendar and much more in the store!

Need your calendar by Christmas? We'll be shipping them through noon on December 24 (this Friday!). Overnight shipping is available for a fee ($15 -$26 depending on your ZIP code; e-mail for a quote), and orders of 20 or more calendars get a discount. We'll even add a bow ora gift card upon request.

Order now at the Store!

*Back in the days when WEEI was an all-news station, the Patriots were the laughingstock of the NFL and the Bruins and Celtics were the top teams in town, Eddie Andelman all but defined sports talk in eastern MASSACHUSETTS.

Next Sunday, Andelman's forty-year run on Boston sports radio will come to an end when he hosts his last "Sports Huddle" show on WTKK (96.9 Boston), a broadcast he says will be the last of his long career.

Andelman started the "Huddle" on WBZ in 1970 and moved it to then-all-news WEEI (590) in 1971, but the show was best known for its long run at WHDH (850), where it started in the mid-seventies and ran until 1991. During the WHDH years, Andelman began his signature "Hot Dog Safari" fundraiser event and became one of the market's best-known personalities - and one of the first to be plucked away to help launch the all-sports format at WEEI (which swallowed up WHDH's old 850 spot on the dial in 1994, bringing Andelman full-circle.)

As younger talkers began to take the spotlight at WEEI, Andelman and the station parted ways in 2001, and recent years found him in less-visible spots on the dial, first on WWZN (1510) and later on in his current Sunday-evening slot on WTKK.

And now, after what by his count were more than 10,000 shows, Andelman is calling it quits. The Andelman name, however, will live on in Boston media, thanks to his sons, David, Michael and Dan, who operate the "Phantom Gourmet" franchise that now stretches across radio, TV and the web.

*A veteran WHDH engineer has died. Paul Hurd started his broadcast career at Vermont's WDEV way back in 1942, served in the Naval Reserves during World War II, then came to the Merrimack Valley after the war, working at WCCM in Lawrence and then as chief engineer at WHAV in Haverhill before being called to active duty in Korea.

Hurd came to Boston's WHDH in 1952 to help engineer Red Sox games with Curt Gowdy, then joined RCA as a television field engineer, only to return to Boston in 1957 to supervise construction of WHDH-TV (Channel 5). Hurd stayed with channel 5 through its entire 15-year run under WHDH ownership, moving over WHDH radio after the Herald-Traveler lost the TV license in 1972. In 1974, Hurd became the chief engineer for the stations (by then WHDH 850 on the AM side and WCOZ 94.5 on the FM side), remaining there until his retirement in 1986.

Hurd moved back to Vermont in 1999, and that's where he died on Dec. 12, at the age of 89.

*In Framingham, the tower site on Mount Wayte Avenue that was long home to WKOX (1200) and later to WBIX (1060) was left with just one small AM signal as a tenant after WBIX became Catholic WQOM this fall, moving its studios out of the building and its daytime facilities to its nighttime transmitter site in Ashland.

But that remaining station, Portuguese religious WSRO (650 Ashland), has some big plans. Owner Alexander Langer applied last week to boost WSRO's daytime power from 250 to 1500 watts and to increase night power from 9 to 62 watts. The power increase would come with a change from non-directional to directional operation, using both of the former WKOX towers. Those 440-foot towers were rather tall for 1200 kHz, but with top-loading they're 116 electrical degrees at 650 kHz. WSRO's new pattern would direct most of its signal north and east, away from Westfield's WNNZ (640) and Providence's WPRO (630).

*Some good news from MAINE: Jim Bleikamp's plan to build a new tower for WCME (900 Brunswick) on the site of a former drive-in movie theater is moving ahead within the town's planning board. After raising some questions about WCME's need for its own tower and about some technical issues surrounding the tower, the planning board voted last week to send the proposal to the next stage, a public hearing in January.

On the DTV front, Bangor's WABI (Channel 5) has changed RF channels, trading its UHF facility on 19 for a VHF signal on channel 13. VHF over UHF? In this case, yes - most of the rest of the Bangor DTV dial is also on VHF, and there are lots of VHF-only outdoor antennas still scattered across eastern Maine.

*Corm and the Coach are back for another round in VERMONT, where they were last heard on the air at WNMR (107.1 Dannemora NY) during an ill-fated partnership that ended with accusations that the station's owners weren't paying them for their services. Now Steve "Corm" Cormier and Coach Tom Brennan have partnered with Northeast Sports Network, where they're doing a webcast morning show on

The new version of their long-running show, "Corm and the Coach and Lana Too," also features former co-host Lana Wilder, who'd remained behind when Corm and the Coach departed their longtime home at Clear Channel's WCPV (101.3 Essex). Wilder had segued to mornings on sister station WEZF (92.9 Burlington) before being let go there in February.

MIDWEEK UPDATE: The former home of Corm and the Coach is getting a new format. On January 1, WCPV will flip from "Champ" rock to ESPN sports, picking up that affiliation from WKDR (1390 Burlington), which will flip to Fox Sports Radio.


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*There's a station sale in western PENNSYLVANIA - but we don't believe well-known border broadcaster Tim Martz is paying $290,000 for WPYT (660 Wilkinsburg) just because he wants an AM daytimer that covers most of the Pittsburgh market. Martz' plans for the station include an FM translator as well: he has a pending application to move W261AX (100.1) from Oakdale, west of Pittsburgh, to the KDKA-TV tower in the city's North Hills, where it would run 99 watts.

What will Martz do with the 660/100.1 combo? We know that the previous would-be purchaser of WPYT, veteran broadcaster Eddie Edwards, planned to go urban with the station before his health problems derailed that proposed $450,000 purchase from Alex Langer.

On TV, Alby Oxenreiter is the new sports director at WPXI (Channel 11), where he replaces the retiring John Fedko. Oxenreiter came to WPXI when it took over newscast production for Sinclair's Fox affiliate, WPGH (Channel 53), where he had been sports director.

*In Harrisburg, Clear Channel's stations had to vacate their building in hurry on Wednesday morning when a fire started on the roof. Most of the stations in the cluster went to automation, but WHP (580)'s morning man, R.J. Harris, put his cellphone on the air and kept broadcasting as he headed out the door to broadcast from his truck. The fire was put out fairly quickly, and all the stations were back in the studios by 6 AM.

*There's a PD opening in Philadelphia, where Leo Baldwin is out at Beasley's WRDW-FM (96.5) after five years at the helm of "Wired." Kannon, who's APD, music director and afternoon jock, is serving as interim PD.

*In CANADA, Cogeco has won the CRTC's permission to build a Montreal station cluster that's larger than the rules would normally allow. Cogeco's purchase of Corus Radio's Quebec holdings will add four Montreal stations - sports-talk CKAC 730, English-language AC CFQR 92.5, rocker CKOI 96.9 and talker CHMP 98.5 - to Cogeco's existing CFGL (105.7 Rhythme FM), which will give Cogeco three French-language FMs, one more than the usual cap. Cogeco told the CRTC that it needed three signals to be competitive on the Montreal FM dial.

In Sherbrooke, Cogeco hoped to be allowed to keep CKOY (104.5) by turning the signal from an originating broadcaster into a relay transmitter of CKAC, but the CRTC denied that application, ordering Cogeco to sell CKOY, as well as CJEC in Quebec City and CFEL in Montmagny.

*The CRTC has set a hearing date of February 11 for Haliburton's applications to buy CJCS/CHGK (107.7 Mix FM) in Stratford and CFSF in Sturgeon Falls - and to hear another application from Haliburton for a new signal. The fast-growing broadcaster wants 2.8 kW (average 1.36 kW)/80 m DA on 97.5 in Kemptville, along the 416 south of Ottawa.

The CRTC has approved a power increase for CHLK (88.1) in Perth. It will go from 1350 watts o 5.4 kW maximum ERP, in order to better serve listeners in areas such as Lanark and Westport.

Not winning the CRTC's approval is the application from CKGS (105.5) for a new transmitter at Mont Ste-Claire that would have expanded "Kool Radio"'s signal from the La Baie area of the Saguenay regional municipality to the larger communities of Chicoutimi and Jonquiere. The CRTC found that the application for 250 watts on 105.9 would create new competition that would hurt other stations in those markets with equally precarious finances.

*There's a new general manager at Corus Radio's Toronto cluster: Suzanne Carpenter starts January 3, when she moves west on the 401 from the VP/GM post at Corus' radio and TV holdings in Peterborough and Kingston. Carpenter has also been GM at Corus Radio in Hamilton.

And that's it for our regularly scheduled NERW issues for 2010! Watch this space next week for our big 2010 Year in Review issue, and watch our Twitter and Facebook feeds for breaking news until we're back here with our next NERW issue January 3, 2011!

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.

December 21, 2009 -

  • We start with some sad news from western PENNSYLVANIA, where KDKA (1020 Pittsburgh) lost one of its signature voices last Tuesday morning. Fred Honsberger made a name for himself in the early seventies with stints as news director at WKBO (1230 Harrisburg) and at WRSC/WQWK in State College, and it didn't take him long to make it back to his native Philadelphia, where he did news for KYW (1060). He moved to sister station KDKA in 1979, just in time to cover the Three Mile Island disaster, for which he won an Alfred I. DuPont award.
  • Honsberger became KDKA's news director in 1984, then moved over to the talk side in 1989, most recently in the noon-3 PM slot. For nearly a decade, he also hosted a TV talk show on the PCNC cable channel, before a series of illnesses forced him to give up that job. In recent years, Honsberger had been doing his show from his home in Monroeville, and it was there that he died on Tuesday, at the age of 58. Tributes to Honsberger quickly began pouring in, including a page of memorials in the Post-Gazette (and a fine obituary at from our colleague Jason Togyer), and a memorial service Sunday at the Salvation Army's Pittsburgh Temple.
  • From this end, we'd add one memory of Honsberger that hasn't been mentioned much in the official obituaries: in the early years of the Internet, Fred was one of the first big-name talk hosts to experiment with the new medium; for a while, he was a regular and enthusiastic participant in the newsgroup that also birthed the earliest version of this column more than 15 years ago - and we join in sending our condolences to Honsberger's family (including wife Christine and sons Kyle and Kevin) and to the KDKA family.
  • This week's development on the AM-on-FM translator front comes from right here in Rochester, and it's a big one: Bob Savage is paying Family Life Network $75,000 for the translator formerly known as W220DE (91.9 Greece). As we' ve already reported here on NERW, that translator now holds a construction permit to move from the west side of Rochester up to the centrally-located Pinnacle Hill tower farm, where it will run 99 watts on 92.1 as W221CL - and we can now report that it will become "NewsTalk 92.1," relaying Bob's talk programming from WYSL (1040 Avon), which puts a big daytime signal over Rochester but suffers at night from adjacent-channel IBOC interference from WBZ (1030 Boston). The new translator signal is expected to be on the air within the first couple of weeks of 2010, we're told.
  • There's a new callsign in Utica: WUTI is the new ID at the AM 1150 facility long known as WRUN; it continues to broadcast an automated music format that ranges from top-40 to classic hits.
  • There's probably no TV weatherman with a bigger cult following in the region than NEW HAMPSHIRE's Al Kaprielian, who's been the star personality on Channel 50 in Derry for more than a quarter of a century, sticking with the small UHF station as it's transitioned from independent WNDS to My Network affiliate WZMY and as the station has passed through the hands of several owners. But Kaprielian's TV run is scheduled to come to an end New Year's Eve as part of current owner Shooting Star's plan to end the remaining local programming on "My New England TV," which will mean job losses for seven other WZMY employees in addition to Kaprielian. Kaprielian's fans, who saved his job once before when it was threatened, have banded together again to try to keep the quirky weatherman on the air; if nothing else, he'll keep his radio gig across the state line at WCAP (980 Lowell MA).
  • In western MAINE, Dick Gleason's WOXO (92.7 Norway) is reaching a bigger audience, now that it's signed on its newly-upgraded signal from a site on Shaw's Ledge near Greenville, about eight miles north of its old class A (2 kW/361') site in Norway. From the new site, WOXO is a class C3 signal, with 5.2 kW/735', reaching deeper into Lewiston/Auburn (and north towards Rumsford) than it did before.

December 19, 2005 -

  • The future of one of eastern MASSACHUSETTS' most powerful FM signal is a little clearer this week - but Greater Media's announcement that it's entered into exclusive negotiations to buy WCRB (102.5 Waltham) from Charles River Broadcasting raises just as many questions as it's likely to answer.
  • The answers, first: Charles River's decision to sit down at the table with Greater Media closes the book (most likely) on several months of talks with potential buyers that included Clear Channel, Entercom, Infinity, Marlin and, reportedly, the Boston Red Sox. Neither Clear Channel nor Infinity has said anything publicly about what their intentions for 102.5 would have been. Marlin's Woody Tanger says he would have kept WCRB's classical format, but his bid, in the $60 million range, fell far short of Charles River's target. Entercom's Julie Kahn told Boston media outlets that she would have moved the rock format of WAAF (107.3 Worcester) to 102.5 and kept classical alive on 107.3. The Sox would no doubt have created a sports station on the frequency, in what would have been a major challenge to Entercom's market-dominating WEEI.
  • So what will Greater Media do with the full-market 102.5 signal, if it's able to complete a deal with Charles River (likely for an amount somewhere north of $90 million)? The company's already at the FCC-imposed limit of five FM signals in the Boston market. Four of those are full-market signals, transmitting from the Prudential Tower (WBOS 92.9, WTKK 96.9, WROR 105.7 and WMJX 106.7). The fifth - and the one Greater Media would no doubt spin off if it acquires WCRB - is country WKLB (99.5 Lowell), which transmits from Andover, with an excellent signal over Boston's northern suburbs, the Merrimack Valley and southern New Hampshire, but without the reach into Boston or the western and southern suburbs that Greater Media would like to have.
  • A RHODE ISLAND high school has settled the dispute over its FM license. Coventry High School's WCVY (91.5) had its license challenged by a group called "Educational Radio for the Public of the New Millennium," under a provision which can force noncommercial stations to share time on their frequency if they broadcast for less than 12 hours a day. Many school stations, facing similar challenges, have installed automation and gone to a 24-hour schedule. Coventry, however, decided to settle - and so WCVY will be limited to operating from 2-10 PM on school days, with "Educational Radio" (which we believe is a religious broadcaster, the name notwithstanding) operating on 91.5 the remainder of the day during the school session, and all day on weekends and school holidays.
  • A NEW HAMPSHIRE politician-turned-talk host will be off the air after the New Year. Arnie Arnesen's show was cancelled on WNTK-FM (99.7 New London)/WUVR (1490 Lebanon) earlier this fall, and now the originating station, WTPL (107.7 Hillsborough) says it won't keep Arnesen on the air after this month. Arnesen says her outspoken views - including calling SUVs "F-U-Vs" and ridiculing their owners - made it hard for the station to attract advertisers. She continues her TV gig, hosting "My TV Prime" on WZMY (Channel 50) in Derry, and we suspect we haven't heard the last of her by a long shot. WTPL has yet to announce a replacement for Arnesen's afternoon slot.
  • On the other side of VERMONT, WFAD (1490 Middlebury) has traded oldies for ESPN sports, sharing the format with sister station WTWK (1070 Plattsburgh NY) in the Burlington market. The stations are branding themselves as "ESPN Radio Champlain Valley," and WFAD continues as the Red Sox affiliate for Middlebury as well. (WTWK's a daytimer, and it doesn't have Sox rights for Burlington; presumably it'll separate from the simulcast with WFAD during Sox day games.)
  • And yes, Howard Stern's departure from terrestrial radio is our top story from NEW YORK this week. Love him or hate him - and we'll admit to a little of both - it's hard to argue that his two decades at WXRK (92.3 New York) didn't change the conception of what a radio morning show could be.
  • The turnout on West 56th Street on a drizzly Friday morning - tens of thousands of Stern fans waiting for several hours to see Howard and his crew say their farewells (and to repeat, over and over again, that his show was "the last of a dying breed") - was itself something of a testament to the bond Stern and his radio family forged with their listeners over the years, and it's prompted much head-scratching over the question of where those listeners will go now. Will they rush out to buy Sirius receivers and subscriptions? Will they give David Lee Roth a chance? Will they leave radio entirely?
  • In the meantime, Stern's now-former station in New York, WXRK (92.3), says it will roll out its new WFNY-FM calls on January 1, followed quickly by the new daytime schedule that now officially includes JV and Elvis (aka the Doghouse) in middays. The station will continue to play rock on the weekends, with an airstaff that includes Julie Slater (the only remaining WXRK jock) and veterans Harris Allan and Dan Neer.
  • In Albany, the Stern fallout turns out to include a format change, as Regent's WQBK (103.9 Rensselaer)/WQBJ (103.5 Cobleskill) flip from modern rock "The Edge" to active rock "Q103," adding more classic rock (and the Michigan-based "Free Beer and Hot Wings" morning show) to the schedule.
  • The other big story from New York this week was Bob Grant's announcement that he'll be leaving WOR (710) in January. Grant came to WOR in 1996 after his comments about former Commerce Secretary Ron Brown got him ousted from his longtime home at WABC; and he's never had the same visibility in his 4-6 PM slot on WOR that he did in earlier years. WOR's moving away from political talk when Grant leaves; he'll be replaced by chef Rocco diSpirito in that prime drivetime slot.
  • Out on Long Island, WLIM (1580 Patchogue) drops its Polskie Radio Polish programming. It flipped to Spanish full-service programming as "Radio Formula" early last week, with Polskie Radio continuing on WRKL (910 New City) at the other end of the metro area.
  • There's a format - or at least a nickname - change in CANADA this week, as hot AC CKMB (107.5 Barrie) drops its "Star 107.5" identity and becomes "107.5 Kool FM." The name change coincides with CKMB's move to a more powerful signal from the CKVR (Channel 3) tower south of Barrie.

December 18, 2000 -

  • A new era is about to dawn in Toronto radio -- on one of the city's most venerable frequencies. NERW was scanning the dial on Friday afternoon and caught one of the first tests of CHWO (740), the new 50,000 watt voice of "Prime Time Radio." The new station will operate from the Hornby transmitter site that was home to the original Toronto 740, the CBC's flagship CBL, from the 1930s until the station moved to FM last year. But while CHWO is paying the CBC for the use of the Hornby site, it could soon be writing those checks to someone else. The CBC issued a "Request for Information" last week to begin exploring the possibility of selling its huge network of transmitter sites across Canada to a private operator, which would then lease transmission services back to the CBC. For tower-management companies, the deal would provide access to a huge amount of vertical real estate in both rural and urban Canada, while for the CBC, the deal would provide plenty of cash for the conversion to digital radio and TV -- and a guarantee that CBC services will retain priority use of the sites.
  • Meanwhile on 740, we're now told January 8 is the target date to move the adult standards from little CHWO (1250 Oakville) to the big 740 signal, and we expect to be hearing more tests on the 50 kW clear channel over the next three weeks or so. (A note about those call letters: CHWO had requested CFPT as the new 740 calls. But at press time, NERW learned that the CRTC had rejected that request, so CHWO will instead move its existing calls to 740 from 1250. That, in turn, means 1250 will become CJYE, "Joy 1250," when it goes all-religion in January.)
  • Out in Western NEW YORK, John Bulmer is re-entering the world of radio ownership. Bulmer sold his WWFY (100.9 Berlin VT) to Vox this fall, but he structured the deal in a way that leaves him in the game: he ends up with $775,000 in cash, plus Dunkirk's WDOE (1410) and Fredonia's WBKX (96.5). WDOE runs oldies (mostly off the satellite), while WBKX is country as "the Bull."
  • The Binghamton area could soon have a new FM station, thanks to the FCC. The agency received two petitions to amend the table of allocations to add a class A channel on 93.3 in northeast Pennsylvania. One, from Montrose Broadcasting (WPEL AM-FM), would have put 93.3 in Hallstead -- but the one the FCC approved will put the channel in Susquehanna, Pa., already the nominal city of license for WCDW (100.5), which is itself trading its Conklin, N.Y. city of license to WKGB (92.5). 2010 update: 93.3 was indeed allotted to Susquehanna, but a decade later the FCC has yet to issue a CP for the channel, whch has several noncommercial applicants.
  • Confused? Just drive an hour south to Scranton, where the FM dial went topsy-turvy this week. First, Citadel ditched the country "Cat" simulcast on WCTD (93.7 Dallas) and WCTP (94.3 Carbondale), flipping WCTD to an automated countdown and WCTP to a bizarre mix of personal ads as "Love Radio." But if Citadel was thinking of picking up the 80s format on one or both, it was late to the punch, as Entercom flipped its soft AC simulcast of WSHG (102.3 Pittston) and WWFH (103.1 Freeland) to 80s as "The Buzz" midweek. WCTD resurfaced Friday as "New Rock 93-7 X," with WBSX calls said to be on the way, while WCTP is now simulcasting Citadel's CHR WBHT (97.1 Mountaintop) into the northern reaches of the Scranton market. (We believe WEMR-FM on 107.7 in Tunkhannock also continues the WBHT simulcast.)
  • From RHODE ISLAND comes word that Clear Channel is selling WPRI-TV (Channel 12) to Hicks, Muse-funded Sunrise Television. Sunrise owns WNAC (Channel 64), which has been operated by WPRI for the last few years under an LMA. Does that mean a duopoly in Providence? Not without a waiver, since there are fewer than the "magic" eight separate TV voices in the Providence market. Clear Channel keeps its radio cluster in Rhode Island: WHJJ (920 Providence), WSNE (93.3 Taunton), WHJY (94.1 Providence), and WWBB (101.5 Providence).
  • Finally this week, our condolences to family, friends, and colleagues of ABC Radio's Tim O'Donnell. He began his career at Watertown's WOTT (1410, now WUZZ), but made it to the network by his mid-twenties, reporting on events that ranged from the assassination of Robert Kennedy to Y2K. O'Donnell suffered a heart attack December 5, and died Wednesday morning (Dec. 13) at a hospital in Ridgewood, N.J. O'Donnell was just 57; he's survived by wife Eileen and sons Tim and Kevin.

New England Radio Watch, December 22, 1995

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