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January 17, 2011

Pittsburgh's WYEP Swallows WDUQ


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.

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*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," CBS says.

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 market.

*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.


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*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.

The 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 Radio.

*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 86.

*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.


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*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 and 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 station.)

*Out 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, 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 in March.

*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.

Rogers 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.

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.

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 Beck.
  • 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

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