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.
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
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
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
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
*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
*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
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:
CNYRadio.com 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. WNET.org 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
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 RadioInsight.com
have picked up on a bunch of domain registrations for "NewsRadio1069WSYR.com"
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.
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
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:
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.
CALENDAR 2011 - IT'S HERE!
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
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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
But wait - there's more! We now have a
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as well as a limited supply of Tower Site Calendar 2010
as well - plus a very limited quantity (just one left!)
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Need your calendar by Christmas? We'll
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Overnight shipping is available for a fee ($15 -$26 depending
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*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.
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).
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 NSNSports.net.
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
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
*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!
the NERW Archives
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 PBRTV.com 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 rec.radio.broadcasting
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
- 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
- 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
- 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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2010 by Scott Fybush.