January 17, 2011
Pittsburgh's WYEP Swallows WDUQ
Were you on vacation earlier
this month? Away from the computer? Did you miss our giant 2010 Year in Review special? It's available
all year, including the Rant, right
here! And don't wait until NERW Monday
for breaking news - follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates as they happen!
NOW ENTERING OUR
Last week's column quietly marked NERW's
17th anniversary, and that means this week marks the beginning
of our 18th year providing NERW-land with the latest news and
informed speculation on station sales, format changes, people
moves and engineering news affecting the radio and TV community.
It doesn't happen for free. We're grateful to our advertisers (and would love
to add you to that list, at very reasonable rates!), and we depend
on your voluntary subscriptions to keep this column going year
If you're already a subscriber, thank
you. If not, we've got a special anniversary deal for
you this week: subscriptions at the $35 individual level will
come with a free copy of Tower Site Calendar 2011,
usually available only at the $70 professional level.
Click here to support NERW!
Thanks for your support...and on to year
*For many decades now, the pecking order
of public radio in western PENNSYLVANIA was pretty clear:
the classical music on WQED (89.3) and the news and jazz on WDUQ
(90.5) split the lion's share of noncommercial listening - and
fundraising - in the Pittsburgh market, while relative newcomer
WYEP (91.3) was a niche player, with a loose AAA format attracting
a small but loyal group of somewhat younger listeners.
So it may have come
as something of a surprise when the long saga of Duquesne University's
attempts to sell WDUQ ended abruptly on Friday afternoon with
the announcement that the station had a buyer: a new group called
"Essential Public Media," a joint venture between Colorado-based
Public Radio Capital (working through a new nonprofit offshoot,
Public Media Company) and WYEP.
Public Radio Capital has been an increasingly important player
in the public radio landscape in recent years, financing station
deals as large as the sale of Boston's WCRB to public broadcaster
WGBH. Its involvement in Pittsburgh began last year when a group
of local philanthropic organizations hooked up with Pittsburgh
Public Media, a new nonprofit created by WDUQ's current management,
to take out an option (with PRC serving as consultant) to buy
the station from Duquesne.
That option ended up expiring without being exercised, and
for the last few months nobody was saying much at all about WDUQ's
future, even as the station was busy moving out of its longtime
home and into new quarters elsewhere on the Duquesne campus -
a location where its stay will be brief, as it turns out. Once
WDUQ's sale to Essential Public Media closes, the station will
get new call letters and a new studio home at WYEP's relatively
new facility on Pittsburgh's South Side, and Essential will be
under no obligation to retain the station's current staff.
And that raises an interesting point about the sale:
at least according to what Duquesne officials said at their Friday
afternoon news conference, Essential's $6 million offer for WDUQ
was one of two that was considered, with the other offer - for
a lower amount - coming from Pittsburgh Public Media, the group
organized by WDUQ's present management. The $6 million sale price
(brokered by Roger Rafson of CMS Station Brokerage for Duquesne)
is considerably lower than the university's original asking price
in the $10-12 million range - but that was widely viewed as an
overly ambitious goal, particularly in the wake of the $8.7 million
sale of commercial station WAMO-FM and its two AM sisters a year
earlier. (As another benchmark, Clear Channel just last week
sold a class B commercial FM station in the larger San Jose,
California market, KUFX, to Entercom for $9 million.)
Essential says it will seek to build on WDUQ's local journalism,
while WYEP general manager Lee Ferraro says they'll be "working
with the community of jazz lovers in Pittsburgh as well."
The deal includes educational opportunities for Duquesne students
to intern and even get jobs at the new 90.5; Duquesne, meanwhile,
says it will use the revenue from the station's sale to fund
several new educational programs that fit more closely with the
university's core mission than the radio station did.
*There's a familiar set of call letters returning to Pittsburgh.
The WBZZ calls went with "B-94" on what's now KDKA-FM
(93.7) for almost a quarter of a century before being dumped
in 2004 when the station went to rock as WRKZ. By the time CBS
resurrected "B" in in 2007, the WBZZ calls were in
use elsewhere, and of course "B" went away again last
year in favor of sports. But when the WBZZ calls became available
again last week after their former home in Albany flipped (it's
now 90s-pop "Crush," WQSH), CBS grabbed them, and now
they're on the station formerly known as WZPT (100.7 New Kensington).
No other changes are planned for hot AC "Star 100.7,"
Meanwhile, there's a familiar voice disappearing from the
Pittsburgh airwaves - well, some of them, anyway, as Terry Lee
discontinues his Sunday-night oldies show on WJAS (1320). The
veteran Steel City jock is still being heard on Saturdays on
WLSW (103.9 Scottdale), at least in the southern half of the
*While public radio people in Pittsburgh work to build a new
90.5, the commercial radio community in Scranton is mourning
one of the key players in building one of that city's most famous
stations of an earlier era. Alan Kornish came to WARM (590) in
the early 1960s to do sales, but by the end of the decade he'd
taken over as general manager, helping to mold WARM into one
of the most dominant top-40 voices anywhere in the country. Kornish
died at his home in Exeter on Thursday (Jan. 6); he was 74.
Cary Simpson has calls now for his new 1490 in State College:
the new signal, licensed to neighboring Lemont, PA, will be WSCE.
CALENDAR 2011 - IT'S HERE!
It's 2011 now - and that 2010 calendar on your
wall won't do you much good, will it?
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
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 signed calendars, back isues and much
more in the fybush.com store!
Orders of 20 or more calendars get a discount.
We'll even add a bow or a gift card upon request.
now at the fybush.com Store!
*For talk radio listeners in eastern MASSACHUSETTS,
the week ended with two hosts gone from their usual spots - and
one familiar voice back on the air at a new location.
familiar voice belongs to Michele McPhee, the newspaper columnist-turned-talk
host who'd been doing nights at Greater Media's WTKK (96.9) until
"creative differences" pushed her out of that slot
in November. Now she's on the air at Entercom's WRKO (680), where
she starts today in the 1-3 PM slot that had been home to Charley
Manning, who took over middays last spring when Clear Channel
moved Rush Limbaugh over to its own WXKS (1200). Manning failed
to catch ratings fire (though Limbaugh's numbers on WXKS have
also been far from stellar); will McPhee's more distinctive on-air
personality give WRKO some much-needed traction?
Meanwhile in morning drive, Don Imus is now off the air in
Boston. He'd already been cut back to just a sliver of morning
drive - 5-7 AM - as his Boston affiliate, WTKK, expanded the
profile of its local morning show with Jim Braude and Margery
Eagan, and as of last Thursday he's off completely, with "The
Jim & Margery Show" now starting at 6, following an
extra hour of Phil Hendrie.
Will Imus find a new Boston radio home? The options aren't
promising: rival talkers WRKO and WXKS both appear fairly committed
to their own local entries in the morning horse race, as does
Imus' original morning home in town, sports-talk WEEI. And even
if WEEI's competition, "Sports Hub" WBZ-FM (98.5),
were interested, there's a little matter of some very bad blood
between Imus and CBS Radio that would have to be overcome.
So for Imus fans in Boston, it's either distant reception
of Providence's WPRV or New York's WABC, or Fox Business Channel
on TV, at least for now.
Meanwhile, WTKK has a replacement for Eddie Andelman's Sunday-night
"Sports Huddle"; Chicago-based Simon Badinter, whose
"Simon's Rendezvous" originates at WGN (720), will
be heard from 7-10 PM in Boston as well.
*Where are they now? Mark Edwards was the music director at
Boston's WCRB during its days under Nassau ownership, and now
he's landed a new job in Kansas as music director of Kansas Public
*RHODE ISLAND's new governor won in
spite of heavy opposition from the state's most prominent talk
station, WPRO (630 Providence), and now Lincoln Chafee has kicked
off his administration by telling state employees not to appear
on talk shows while they're on the job, something he says he
won't do, either. Predictably, Chafee's decree stirred up plenty
of discussion on WPRO and competitor WHJJ (920), which was only
amped up when he ended the week by calling on advertisers to
likewise avoid talk radio. Chafee did say that he and his staff
will continue to speak to radio news departments and to Rhode
Island's public radio station, WRNI, and the whole matter made
for interesting Sunday
newspaper fodder as well.
*There's a new station on the air in MAINE:
Dan Priestly received a license to cover for WGUY (1240 Ellsworth)
last week, though the station apparently signed on in late December.
A veteran Maine broadcast executive has died. After serving
as a bomber pilot in World War II, Chuck Sanford began his broadcast
career in 1947 at Bangor's WJOR (1230), a station that was later
merged in with Guy Gannett's WGUY. Sanford stayed with Gannett
for many decades, moving from WGUY to Portland's WGAN, where
he served as news director, station manager and eventually vice
president. Sanford was named Maine's Broadcaster of the Year
in 1976 and inducted into the Maine Association of Broadcasters'
Hall of Fame in 1993, seven years after he retired from broadcasting.
Sanford also served as a civilian aide to the Secretary of the
Army in the 1970s and 1980s. Sanford died January 12, at age
*In NEW HAMPSHIRE, there's a new afternoon
jock at Saga's WKNE (103.7 Keene). "Sunny Joe" Allen
comes to WKNE from upstate New York, where he'd been production
director and on-air (as "Yo Sunny Joe") at WMVN (100.3)
and WOLF-FM (105.1) in the Syracuse market.
FOUNDCUTS -- The ultimate weekly 3-hour musical
journey spotlights those "oh wow" hits you don't hear
anymore from the 80s and beyond. Contact us to see if Foundcuts
is available in your market now. E-mail Dave at email@example.com
for a demo.
FM GEAR NEEDED -- Seeking two-bay low-power FM antennas
(Jampro, PSI, Dielectric or others) at 96.5. Also looking for
1 kW FM transmitter, tube type OK. We pay shipping. Contact Allen,
dba Alleo, firstname.lastname@example.org
or 770-300-9287 (8 AM-9 PM).
You can have
your ad here, for just a few dollars a week! Click
for information on the most economical way to reach tens of thousands
of Northeast radio and TV people each week.
*Back in the fall of 2009, we reported on
the newest radio signal to be licensed in NEW YORK City,
translator W296BT (107.1), speculating (here
about what might become of the little signal serving lower Manhattan
and pieces of downtown Brooklyn and southern Queens.
After a year in which not much happened with the little signal
(including any actual on-air appearance on 107.1, where it's
still an unbuilt construction permit), W296BT is once again on
the move. The translator has chosen a new primary signal to relay
- Clear Channel's WLTW (106.7) - and it's applied to move from
Brooklyn to 4 Times Square, the prominent broadcast facility
that towers over midtown Manhattan.
And that's not all: the application calls for the translator
to move to 106.5, cheek-by-jowl with WLTW on the crowded New
York dial. What gives? Educated speculation suggests that the
translator, if its CP is granted for the move, would operate
on 106.5 only very briefly, just long enough to be licensed on
that channel - and then to apply for a move to another frequency
where its signal wouldn't be buried under the HD Radio sidebands
of WLTW. From 106.5, the translator (owned by Michael and Tammy
Celenza and Young and Eun Kwon under the "Apple 107.1 Inc."
banner) would be eligible to make a minor change to 106.3 or
95.9, both reasonably open channels on which a 250-watt signal
from 4 Times Square would cover much of Manhattan and at least
small parts of the outer boroughs. What happens then? That's
anyone's guess, though the obvious next step would be for someone
to use the translator as a relay of an HD Radio subchannel from
an existing New York FM station.
...Or, perhaps, as a translator of a new New York-targeted
signal with less-than-optimum reach into lower Manhattan and
Brooklyn, whereupon we note that last week, the FCC approved
EMF Broadcasting's purchase of WCTZ (96.7 Port Chester), which
is now ticketed for new calls "WKLV-FM" once EMF closes
on the sale and moves the station to the Trump Tower in New Rochelle
as the new Big Apple home of "K-Love." (The WKLV calls
come from Blackstone, Virginia, where they're in use on an AM
on Long Island, there's a format change coming in Suffolk County:
as JVC Broadcasting takes over WKJI (96.1 Center Moriches) from
Barnstable, it's ending (as expected) the "K-JOY" AC
simulcast with Barnstable's WKJY (98.3 Hempstead). In its place
comes country, as 96.1 prepares to relaunch tomorrow as WJVC,
"My Country 96.1."
*It was announced last spring, but the debut of "All
Night with Joey Reynolds" ended up being delayed almost
a year. Now the former WNBC (660) jock, who later went into overnight
talk on WOR (710) and in syndication before that show ended last
year, is finally coming to TV: his show will debut January 24
at midnight on "New York Nonstop," the DTV subchannel
of WNBC (Channel 4). Reynolds will broadcast from the NASDAQ
Marketsite window in Times Square.
*There's AM-on-FM translator action from a few corners of
the Empire State this week: way up north in Malone, Tim Martz's
WICY (1490) is now simulcasting on W274BI (102.7), with an expanded
classic hits format and a new slogan: "The North Country's
Greatest Hits, 102.7." As for WICY's construction permit
to move to 1500 as a 50,000-watt daytimer licensed to Mooers
and serving Montreal, there's no sign of construction yet.
In the Mohawk Valley, WIZR (930 Johnstown) is poised to get
an FM translator: it's in the process of acquiring W240BA (95.9
Canajoharie) from Northeast Gospel Broadcasting. The translator
has an application to move to 96.5 in Johnstown, using 250 watts
from the WIZR tower.
The airstaff is coming together under PD Mike Morgan at Albany's
newest station. "The Crush 105.7" (WQSH Malta) has
Mark Vanness and Meredith McNeil doing mornings as "Mark
& Meredith"; Vanness had been the morning man at 105.7's
previous incarnation, WBZZ, while McNeil had been doing afternoons,
a shift that now goes to market veteran Ellen Rockwell, last
heard on WFLY (92.3).
In Syracuse, CNYRadio.com
reports that WSYR-FM (106.9 Solvay) hasn't been immune to the
cutbacks at some of Clear Channel's news hubs around the country,
with reporters Tiffany Latino and Michelle Clark gone and more
hubbed news content coming from WGY in Albany instead.
*The life of a TV station general manager is a stressful one,
and it's rare to see a GM at a station last for even a decade
these days. So it's impressive, to say the least, that Arnold
Klinsky has survived at the helm of Rochester NBC affiliate WHEC
(Channel 10) since 1983, when he came to town along with new
owner Viacom, which had employed him at Hartford's WVIT. Viacom
is long gone, but Klinsky remained, and our editorial hat is
off to him as he retires later this spring.
No replacement has been named for Klinsky, who'll depart WHEC
*Want to see some big TV antennas come down? We're featuring
on-the-scene action shots of the dismantling of the top of the
WXXI-TV/WUHF-TV tower on Rochester's Pinnacle Hill over at Tower
Site of the Week this week - stop by and check them out!
*Larry Oyer was known as "Larry Williams" on WRCK
in Utica and WYJB and WGNA in Albany, and "Hollywood Hudson"
doing overnights on WPXY in Rochester in the late 1980s. The
veteran jock, who'd recently been working for Albany's Times
Union, died Tuesday (Jan. 11) of brain cancer; the Utica
native was just 57.
12 months, one page - all the year's
news and events in one place!
*There's a new brand for CANADA's
biggest sports radio station: Toronto's CJCL, "THE FAN 590,"
is now "Sportsnet Radio FAN 590." The brand comes from
another group of media outlets owned by parent company Rogers
Media, the Rogers Sportsnet services that operate regionally
across Canada - and it's a counterpunch against the announcement
last week that Canada's other big sports-TV player, CTV's TSN,
is contemplating the launch of a "TSN Radio" network.
also launched the "Sportsnet Radio" brand on another
of its sports stations last week, CFAC (960) in Calgary; CTV,
if it decides to move ahead with "TSN Radio," has plenty
of stations on which the network could air, including existing
"Team" sports signals in Ottawa (CFGO 1200) and Montreal
(CKGM 990) that survived the last ill-fated attempt to launch
a nationwide sports radio network a decade ago. (The Toronto
flagship of the old "Team Radio Network," CHUM 1050,
is now a simulcast of CTV's CP24 TV news channel.)
*Toronto's multicultural CHIN Radio is getting a stronger
FM relay for its AM signal. CHIN (1540) is also heard on CHIN-1-FM
(91.9), and now the FM signal has been granted a boost from 161
watts DA (350 watts maximum) to 1850 watts DA (5 kW maximum),
still from 86 meters above average terrain. The power increase
will boost the population in its 3 mV/m (70 dBu) contour from
442,756 to more than 1.5 million.
The Madawaska Valley, up in the northern reaches of Cottage
Country between Pembroke and Bancroft, is getting its first radio
station. Haliburton Broadcast Group was granted a license for
a new 12 kW/127m signal on 106.5 from Barry's Bay; it will be
the 16th station in the Haliburton family, and will presumably
bear the same "Moose FM" brand as most of the rest
of Haliburton's stations in the region.
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.
One Year Ago: January 18, 2010 -
- When Clear Channel began working to upgrade its AM signals
in eastern MASSACHUSETTS more than a decade ago, rumors ran rampant
all over the mailing lists and message boards about a possible
flip of WKOX (1200) to talk.
- It was a long time coming, but it appears those rumors will
soon be reality. Last year, WKOX completed its upgrade, changing
city of license from Framingham to Newton and powering up to
50,000 watts fulltime from the rebuilt transmitter site in Newton's
Oak Hill neighborhood that originally belonged to WUNR (1600
Brookline). And last week, Clear Channel announced that it will
soon swap calls between WKOX and sister station WXKS (1430 Everett),
ditching the "Rumba" Spanish tropical format now on
1200 in favor of a talk lineup drawn heavily from Clear Channel's
Premiere Radio Networks.
- A few of the key pieces of that lineup - most notably Glenn
Beck's late-morning show and Sean Hannity's afternoon-drive show
- are already available for immediate clearance in Boston, and
Clear Channel has made no secret of its intention to eventually
fill the slot between them with its top-name talent, Rush Limbaugh,
who's long been heard on Entercom's WRKO (680 Boston). Limbaugh's
contract with WRKO reportedly runs through late 2012, and at
least for now Clear Channel says it intends to be "as respectful
as possible with some of the current contractual obligations
with WRKO." But the company hasn't hesitated to shift Rush
to its own stations in other markets, most recently in North
Carolina with the launches of "Rush Radio" talkers
in Raleigh-Durham and Winston-Salem/Greensboro earlier this month.
- The speculation is already flying hot and heavy over what
a third talk station might do to the competitive balance between
WRKO and its fierce rival, Greater Media's WTKK (96.9 Boston).
Even with 50 kilowatts, the signal of the new WXKS 1200 won't
have the full-market coverage that WTKK enjoys, and will arguably
enjoy even less useful nighttime coverage outside Route 128 than
the already signal-impaired WRKO. What's more, the "Rush
Radio"/Premiere model relies heavily on out-of-market syndicated
talent - and Boston is not a market that's ever taken to national
talk in the way it responds to local talkers. Would Clear Channel
make the investment in local talk that WRKO and WTKK have made?
It's already hired a general sales manager for the new station
with local talk experience - Alan Chartrand, who's worked at
both Entercom and Greater Media as a top sales executive - and
more staffing announcements are expected soon.
- In western PENNSYLVANIA, Clear Channel already launched a
talker a few years back - WPGB (104.7), which grabbed Rush and
the Pirates baseball rights away from CBS Radio's long-established
KDKA (1020). Now it's CBS' turn to aim for a piece of the FM
spoken-word market. The rumors began on the message boards late
last week, and quickly spread to the Post-Gazette, which confirmed
on Friday that CBS is planning to launch an all-sports FM station,
most likely on "B94" WBZW (93.7 Pittsburgh), which
has struggled in the top-40 war with Clear Channel's WKST-FM
(96.1 Pittsburgh). Is it just coincidence that CBS moved B94
morning co-host BuckHead to Detroit last week to do afternoons
on its new "Amp 98.7" (WVMV), leaving the morning show
as just "Bubba and Melanie"? Unlike Boston, where CBS
launched "Sports Hub 98.5" WBZ-FM last year with two
franchises that were already in its local lineup - the Patriots
from WBCN and the Bruins from WBZ(AM) - the big sports franchises
in Pittsburgh are all locked up (for now) with the two existing
AM sports players in town. Clear Channel has all three pro teams:
the Pirates on WPGB, the Steelers on WDVE (102.5) and the Penguins
on WXDX (105.9), with Fox Sports outlet WBGG (970) also carrying
the latter two teams. University of Pittsburgh sports also air
on Clear Channel's WWSW (94.5) and WBGG. The other existing sports
talker, ESPN-owned WEAE (1250), offers Penn State sports.
- Does that leave room for sports on a future "KDKA-FM"?
There's plenty of local sports-talk talent available at the moment,
including longtime WPGB/WEAE host Ellis Cannon, who was ousted
from his 6-9 PM slot on WPGB last week due to budget cuts. Michael
Savage's show, which had been heard on delay, moves to a live
6-9 PM clearance on WPGB, followed by a delayed hour of Glenn
- The Boston-based WEEI network has lost its northernmost affiliates,
up in Bangor, MAINE, where Blueberry Broadcasting has flipped
WAEI-FM (97.1) and WAEI (910) to the Fox Sports national feed.
Blueberry's Bruce Biette tells the Bangor Daily News that WEEI
breached its contractual agreement with the Bangor station, but
he's not saying what the details of the issue were; WEEI's Jason
Wolfe says Blueberry "chose to end its contract with us,"
and we suspect the whole thing will end up in court before long.
WEEI is still heard in southern Maine via WPEI (95.9 Saco/Portland.)
Five Years Ago: January 16, 2006
- One of MAINE's best-known sports voices was silenced early
Friday morning in a fire that destroyed his Falmouth home. Frank
Fixaris served as sports director of WGAN-TV/WGME (Channel 13)
from 1967 until 1992, and had more recently been part of the
"Morning Jab" team at WJAE (1440 Westbrook)/WJJB (900
Brunswick)/WJJB-FM (95.5 Topsham). Investigators say the fire
was touched off by a cigarette that had not been properly disposed
of. Fixaris' wife was able to escape the fire, but Fixaris, 71,
died in the blaze. The "WJAB" stations ran syndicated
programming in place of the "Morning Jab" show on Friday,
after learning of the news; at press time Sunday night, their
website had been converted into a tribute to Fixaris.
- In MASSACHUSETTS, WAVM (91.7 Maynard) founder/advisor Joseph
P. Magno appeared in court Friday for hearings on the charges
that he raped an underage male student at Maynard High School.
During the hearing, evidence emerged accusing Magno of molesting
at least four other Maynard High students, some as long ago as
1980. Magno was taken to Emerson Hospital after the hearing,
where he's being treated for ongoing medical problems. Meanwhile,
WAVM itself returned to the air late last week, as school officials
assembled a team of parents and community volunteers to oversee
the operation of the station. Until further notice, two adults
will be present at all times when students are at the station.
There's no word on how the Magno arrest has affected Maynard's
consideration of the settlement offer from Living Proof in the
ongoing fight for the station's survival; we'll keep following
this story closely.
- A coastal NEW JERSEY FM station is working towards a better
signal over Atlantic City and southern Ocean County. Press Communications'
WKOE (106.3 Ocean City) has filed its application for its new
106.5 Bass River Township facilities, which will be on the WWSI
(Channel 62) tower in Tuckerton. The class A station will operate
with 1.45 kW/682' from that site, if the application is granted.
- Sinclair is pulling the plug on its only PENNSYLVANIA newscast.
The company announced last week that it will discontinue its
10 PM "News Central" broadcast on Pittsburgh Fox affiliate
WPGH (Channel 53), replacing it beginning January 30 with an
hour-long newscast produced by crosstown NBC affiliate WPXI (Channel
11). The move leaves 35 WPGH news staffers without jobs, and
no promises that they'll be hired by WPXI, which already has
a substantial infrastructure in place for additional news. (It's
been producing a 10 PM newscast for its PCNC cable news channel
for many years.)
10 Years Ago: January 15, 2001 -
- Just in to NERW, there's word of two radio sales, one big
and one not so big, that promise some change on the region's
dial. The big one is the sale of all of Citadel Broadcasting,
which is being acquired by investment firm Forstmann Little &
Co. for about $2 billion. Citadel's holdings in the region include
major clusters in Maine (Portland, Augusta/Waterville, Presque
Isle, and Calais), New Hampshire (more of the former Fuller-Jeffrey
group on the Seacoast), Rhode Island (WPRO AM-FM, WWLI, and three
others, plus WBSM/WFHN in New Bedford), Massachusetts (WXLO and
three others in Worcester), Connecticut (WSUB/WQGN/WAXK in the
New London market), upstate New York (the former Pilot group
in Syracuse and Ithaca, the former Mercury stations in Buffalo,
and the former Wicks cluster in Binghamton), Pennsylvania (Scranton,
Allentown, and Harrisburg), and New Jersey (Atlantic City).
- The not so big one is the sale of Carter Broadcasting's WROL
(950 Boston). NERW hears that WROL is being sold to Salem Communications,
which will pair the station with its WEZE (590 Boston). This
isn't the first time Carter has tried to sell WROL; the proposed
sale of the entire Carter group (except WCRN Worcester) to Catholic
Family Radio in 1999 fell through when CFR was unable to close
the purchase. It's also not the first time WEZE has had a partner
on the Boston dial; Salem paired it with WPZE (1260) for a year
or so after WEZE moved from that 1260 spot to 590 in 1997. Could
950 become the "new WPZE"?
- The Clear Channel radio empire is about to add another radio
station to its Boston cluster, in a sale that looks as though
it will put to rest years of speculation about the future of
Framingham's AM radio voice. Fairbanks Broadcasting has filed
to transfer its last station, WKOX (1200 Framingham) to "Capstar
TX Limited Partnership," the name under which Clear Channel
has been doing much of its acquiring lately. WKOX has been at
the center of Boston radio's rumor mill for the better part of
the last decade, it seems; from an abortive attempt by what was
then Westinghouse to pair the station with WBZ to a proposed
sale two years ago to Edward Karlik's "B-Mass" partnership.
WKOX's sister station, then known as WKLB (105.7), was sold to
Evergreen and then to Greater Media back in 1996, leaving WKOX
hanging with leased-time foreign language programming. With the
death of station owner Richard Fairbanks last year, some sort
of change was probably inevitable. So what happens next? WKOX
will join adult standards WXKS (1430 Everett), urban CHR WJMN
(94.5 Boston) and CHR WXKS-FM (107.9 Medford) in the Clear Channel/Boston
stable. Will WKOX begin running Clear Channel's Fox Sports Radio
format, following in the path of other recent Clear Channel AM
flips? Could WXKS(AM) join in as a simulcast? And what of WKOX's
proposed move to Newton and the WUNR(AM) transmitter site?
- Our NEW YORK news this week starts with the imminent return
of a station that's been silent since Thanksgiving. WSIA (88.9
Staten Island) is owned by the City University of New York's
College of Staten Island, and it's the only radio station the
borough has. But when the T1 line that connects the WSIA studios
to the transmitter on Todt Hill failed in November, WSIA managers
discovered that the tower the station uses now belongs to the
state Department of Environmental Conservation. The DEC bought
the land from a group of friars called the Order of Minor Conventuals,
which had leased space on the tower to WSIA for 19 years. The
sale contract, though, specified that the tower could only be
used for "religious, non-commercial broadcasts" --
so the DEC refused to allow Verizon to enter the property to
fix the balky T1 line. After more than a month of negotiations,
the DEC finally relented last week, we're told -- but WSIA is
still waiting for Verizon to get the T1 working again so that
its broadcasts can resume.
- At the other end of the Staten Island Ferry, it was the end
of an era last week when Vin Scelsa did his last show on WNEW
(102.7 New York). Scelsa's freeform "Idiot's Delight"
was the last vestige of WNEW's old music format, and both sides
agreed not to seek a renewal of his contract when it ran out.
So while WNEW fills those overnight hours with talk-show reruns,
Scelsa's reportedly headed to WFUV (90.7) to keep doing his thing
in the noncommercial world.
15 Years Ago: New England Radio Watch, January 17, 1996
can sponsor this weekly feature! Click here for information!
NorthEast Radio Watch is made possible by the generous
contributions of our regular readers. If you enjoy NERW, please
click here to
learn how you can help make continued publication possible. NERW
2011 by Scott Fybush.