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June 27, 2011

Randy's Back

Stay tuned to our Twitter and Facebook feeds for breaking-news updates as they happen!

*Want to make every message-board server in NEW YORK melt down from a deluge of speculative posts? It's easy, really - just spread the word that former Jacor/Clear Channel/Tribune honcho Randy Michaels is coming back into radio in a big way, partnering with an investment firm to take over three of Emmis Communications' biggest stations, including the struggling WRXP (101.9 New York).

That's just what happened last week, of course, and it's a tribute to the IT staffs of the various radio discussion sites that they haven't crashed under the crush of rumor and wishful thinking that's surrounded the first few days of the new Merlin Media LLC, Michaels' partnership with the GTCR private equity firm and Emmis itself, which will continue to hold a minority stake in WRXP and its Chicago sister stations, WLUP (97.9) and WKQX (101.1).

Merlin's not yet saying what it plans to do with the stations, but the speculation (based on domain-name registrations and one of the company's first big hires, former WINS general manager Greg Janoff, now Merlin's executive VP of revenue) is that the rock format in New York is on the way out, to be replaced by some sort of spoken-word format that would provide an FM challenger to CBS Radio's lucrative AM trio of WCBS/WINS/WFAN and Citadel talker WABC. Unless, of course, the rumored new calls, "WYNY," are actually pointing toward a revival of country music in a market where that format has been absent for years.

Or, perhaps, everything we're seeing so far (including a promo that's been making the rounds for an all-news format on what's now WKQX in Chicago) is just a smokescreen, and the canny Michaels and his new Merlin crew are simply doing what Michaels has always done best: getting people talking about him and his stations - and in the process, getting people to pay attention to radio, which the industry desperately needs right now.

So what is in store for WRXP and its sister stations? "We have almost ruled out polka," Michaels tells NERW - but we'll have to stay tuned, of course, to find out what's really in the works.

*While we wait to find out what Michaels is up to, we know a little more this week about the fate of the last open FM channel in the radio market where Michaels' career took off. Way back in 1996, Dick Greene's Culver Communications petitioned the FCC to allocate a class A signal on 92.1 in Lockport. In 1999, the FCC shifted the allocation to the Buffalo suburb of Amherst, and in 2004 it was reserved for noncommercial use. And seven years later, the channel finally has a "tentative selectee" to build and operate it - or rather, a trio of tentative selectees, thanks to current FCC policy that eliminates comparative hearings in favor of a complex and arcane points system that now often results in ties.

And those ties - like the one that the FCC determined now exists among the applications of Medaille College, Calvary Chapel of the Niagara Frontier and the Lockport Seventh-Day Adventist Church - are now resolved by an FCC dictum that the tied selectees should share time on their frequency.

But there's a reason they're called "tentative" selectees: just as broadcasters and their consultants and lawyers have learned how to navigate the points system to yield so many ties, they've also learned that a more detailed examination of the documentation submitted with those applications can often bring about a Commission re-examination of its points decisions, overturning those tentative selections. It's likely that there will be challenges to this three-way share-time, which would result in one of the largest markets served by alternating operators. (And it's not the only share-time decision the FCC handed out this week - we'll have others later in the column, too.)

If the decision isn't challenged or overturned, and if none of the groups drop out, as has happened elsewhere, Buffalo listeners will end up with a decidedly split personality on 92.1: college radio from Medaille for part of the day, preceded and followed by religion from Calvary Chapel (likely to end up, at least partially, as a repeater of the national CSN network) and the Seventh-Day Adventists (likely to end up, at least partially, as a repeater of the national Three Angels network). It's not even clear that all three stations will share a common transmitter and antenna: while Medaille and Calvary proposed use of a site at the WBFO (88.7) tower near the University of Buffalo north campus, the Lockport group applied to use the Time Warner Cable tower on LaSalle Avenue in Buffalo.

The three-way share in Buffalo won't even be the most complex arrangement on the Empire State dial: for that, we turn to the Hudson Valley, where the FCC points system resulted in a four-way tie among religious broadcasters Birds of a Feather Media, Calvary Chapel of the Hudson Valley, Christian Media Associates and Somos la Llave del Futuro, all of whom will have to share a class A facility on 102.5.

No share-time was needed to resolve a third disputed channel: the gears of the FCC's points system ground out a single tentative selectee for 93.3A in Susquehanna, PA, just over the line from Binghamton: the Broome County Urban League gets that one for a much-needed voice for the black community in Binghamton, which has been lacking a radio outlet since WUCI (91.5) folded many years back.

*There's a third big story in New York this week, and it comes out of Albany. While lawmakers made big headlines with some of their other votes at the end of their legislative session, another bill made it through both the Assembly and State Senate without much attention. "An act to amend the penal law, in relation to unauthorized radio transmissions," aka Bill A326B, makes New York the latest state to criminalize pirate radio at the state level, making it a class A misdemeanor to "knowingly make or cause to be made a radio transmission...on a radio frequency assigned and licensed by the FCC [between 530-1710 kHz AM or 88-108 MHz FM] without authorization or having first obtained a license from the FCC or duly authorized federal agency, in violation of federal law."

We'd expect some celebratory words about the bill's passage (after having passed the Senate, but not the Assembly, during several recent sessions) when the New York State Broadcasters Association holds its annual Executive Conference tonight in Bolton Landing. NERW will be on hand for the event, which will honor NBC's Brian Williams as Broadcaster of the Year. Hall of Fame inductees this year include Regis Philbin, Rod Wood and Carrie Lazarus of Syracuse's WSYR-TV, Buckley Broadcasting owner Rick Buckley, former WHEC-TV Rochester GM Arnold Klinsky, the late William B. Williams of WNEW and retiring NYSBA leader Joseph A. Reilly.

*Radio People on the Move: Dem Jones departs Entercom rocker WBZA (98.9 the Buzz) in Rochester after seven years with the station, the last four as PD and afternoon jock. No replacement has been named yet.

In the Albany area, two of Brian Larson's Northeast Gospel Network FM translators are on the move, both displaced by the move-in of WNYQ (105.7, now WQSH) to Malta: W288BF (105.5 Troy) wants to move to 99.1, while W290CC (105.9 Scotia, actually operating from a site south of Amsterdam) hopes to relocate to 95.1.

Out on Long Island's East End, there's another call change: Hamptons Community Radio just moved the WPKM callsign from 88.7 Montauk to 90.7 Easthampton Village, swapping the WEER calls from 90.7 to 88.7. Now 90.7 is flipping again, becoming WEEG to better match its sister station.

There's an interesting clause in the $1 contract that will transfer unbuilt WYNY (1400 Middletown) from Bud Williamson's Digital Radio Broadcasting to his wife, Juli, extending the life of a construction permit due to expire at the end of August: the deal doesn't include the WYNY calls, which will stay with Digital Radio. Could those calls indeed be heading down the Thruway to Merlin's 101.9 in New York? (See the first four paragraphs of this week's column for our answer...)

And we got news late in the week of a plane hitting a tower in the Buffalo area - but look at the picture before you get too worried about the aftermath. That radio-controlled plane flew into the tower of Dick Greene's WECK (1230 Cheektowaga), somehow wedging itself between the folded unipole antenna and the tower itself; engineer Mark Humphrey, who shared the picture with us, reports that the plane's owner "has made arrangements with a rigger to retrieve it."

*From the obituaries: Ira Kleinman's forte was sales, and he pursued that calling at a series of media jobs that included WABC-TV (Channel 7) and Warner Brothers Television before going into management in the late 1970s as sales manager at WMCA (570). In later years, Kleinman was general manager at Westchester stations WFAS (1230/103.9 White Plains) and WXPS (107.1 Briarcliff Manor). He also hosted several weekend travel and entertainment shows. Kleinman died last Sunday at 74.

*There was big news out of the NEW JERSEY legislature, too, as lawmakers in the state assembly voted, 45-30, to reject Governor Chris Christie's plan to hand over management of the NJN public television system, along with about $2 million in income from federal subsidies and tower rental, to New York's WNET and political broadcaster Steve Adubato Jr.

"Giving NJN to New York makes no sense," assemblyman Patrick Diegnan told the Star-Ledger before the vote.

The 15-day period during which lawmakers can stop the deal ends on Tuesday, and the state Senate could vote today to join the Assembly in quashing the deal. It's not clear exactly what would happen to NJN if the deal isn't consummated: the state employees now operating NJN from its Trenton headquarters have already been notified that their jobs will end on Thursday, and state treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff told lawmakers that those layoffs will go ahead as planned, essentially causing NJN to "cease to exist."

But that doesn't mean the network would actually go off the air: the state has committed to meeting the minimum FCC requirements to keep the licenses alive, and some of the Democratic lawmakers behind the vote to defeat the Christie plan say there's actually money in the state budget that could be used to keep NJN operating - at least on television. (The sale of NJN's nine radio stations to New York's WNYC and Philadelphia's WHYY is moving through the legislature without opposition, and it's expected to be complete next week.)

*More big Garden State news: one of the best-known broadcast teams from "New Jersey 101.5" (WKXW-FM Trenton) is coming back to the Millennium Radio talk station. Jeff Deminski and Bill Doyle made big headlines during their 1993-1999 run as the afternoon team before departing for Detroit and CBS Radio's WKRK (97.1, now WXYT-FM) and then Greater Media's WCSX (94.7), where they did mornings until 2010. Deminski and Doyle have been doing fill-in shifts on talk stations including Philadelphia's WPHT (1210), and last week they announced they'll be back on the air in afternoons at New Jersey 101.5 on July 5.

That, in turn, means "The Jersey Guys" are out of a job as their contracts go unrenewed. Ray Rossi had been part of the team since its debut in 1999; after his co-host Craig Carton moved to New York's WFAN, Rossi was co-hosting wth Casey Bartholomew.


Maybe you need an extra copy for the wall of your shop. Maybe you gave your first copy away as a gift. Maybe the year just got away from you and you forgot to order your Tower Site Calendar 2011.

Whatever the reason, do we have a deal for you!

It's June now, and we want to clear out our remaining stock of the 2011 calendars so we can make room for the 2012 calendar, already in production. And that's why we're offering our very limited remaining supply for just $8 postpaid. (That's a $10 discount from the original list price of $18!)

Tower Site Calendar 2011 features more than a dozen great images of radio and TV broadcast facilities all over the country (and even beyond - this year's edition takes us to Mexico!)

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

But wait - there's more! We also have a small supply of the new FM Atlas, 21st edition back in stock, as well as a limited supply of Tower Site Calendar 2010 - plus signed calendars, back isues and much more in the store!

Orders of 20 or more calendars get an even bigger discount. We'll even add a bow or a gift card upon request. But don't are limited, and the calendar will sell out soon!

Order now at the Store!

*Our New England news this week starts in Providence, RHODE ISLAND, where the state's proximity to MASSACHUSETTS still doesn't translate into immediate acceptance of air talent from the much larger Boston market less than an hour away.

Clear Channel found that out last week when it pulled the plug on its two-year carriage of the "Matty in the Morning" show on WSNE (93.3 Taunton MA). "Coast 93.3" hadn't exactly been simulcasting Matt Siegel and his crew from their home base at Boston's "Kiss 108" (WXKS-FM 107.9 Medford), swapping in its own AC playlist for the top-40 of Kiss, but it was hardly a local morning show in a market that treasures its local personalities.

Of course, Matty's replacement on WSNE is even less local: he's Toby Knapp, afternoon jock at Clear Channel's WIHT (99.5) in Washington, DC and a prolific voicetracker who's heard on many of the company's stations around the country. Combined with Ryan Seacrest in the afternoon, that leaves Coast with only one "local" airshift, and Kristin Lessard's midday shift on WSNE is tracked after her live morning gig down the hall at sister station WWBB.

*Boston, of course, is big on its own local personalities and stories, and there have been few stories as long-lasting as the hunt for fugitive South Boston mob boss "Whitey" Bulger, which came to an end at just about the worst possible time for any news operation. The news of Bulger's capture in California broke a few minutes after midnight on Thursday, after the early editions of the morning newspapers were already put to bed and the TV newscasts had signed off.

But while the Globe and Herald hurriedly remade their front pages, at least one local media outlet was live and local. If the powers that be at WBZ (1030) still had any doubts about the wisdom of returning Steve LeVeille to his overnight talk slot after the brief "Overnight America" experiment in 2008-2009, the broadcast more than proved its value early Thursday morning as LeVeille provided ongoing updates of the breaking news from the west coast, aided immeasurably by Dan Rea, the 8 PM-midnight WBZ radio host who was a WBZ-TV reporter during the Bulger era. By about 2:30, morning news anchor Joe Mathieu was in place as well, replacing the pre-recorded (and pre-Bulger-news) local news updates that ran at 1 AM and 2 AM.

And of course the capture of Bulger was big news for another Boston AM station as well: WRKO (680) afternoon talker Howie Carr literally wrote the book on the story ("The Brothers Bulger," published in 2006), and in addition to his own shows on Thursday and Friday, Carr was ubiquitous on national TV in the days following the arrest.

*We're still learning about the extent of the damage to broadcast facilities in western Massachusetts from the June 1 tornadoes that ripped across the region, and while most of the region's commercial stations survived largely unscathed, one college station wasn't as lucky. Springfield College took an intense hit from one tornado, and Mike Fitzpatrick of stopped by the WSCB (89.9) facility over the weekend and shared his photos of the damage atop International Hall with us. WSCB remains off the air, and it's not clear when it might be able to return to the air, since the building itself also suffered heavy damage, losing most of its windows to the storm.

*A new noncommercial channel on Martha's Vineyard will be shared by two religious broadcasters if the FCC's tentative selection holds: Calvary Chapel of Cape Cod and Cape Cod Catholic Radio will share the class A 104.3 signal at West Tisbury; among the applicants they beat out were the operators of low-power community station WVVY (93.7) on the Vineyard, who'd sought a larger signal.

While we're out in the Cape and Islands, we note that WCIB (101.9 Falmouth) now has a translator to better serve the Lower Cape. W264BA (100.7 Harwich) is operating with 80 watts and has an application pending to increase its power to 220 watts. (The translator is owned by Jeff Shapiro's Nantucket Public Radio and was relaying WNCK from Nantucket, which is itself now a relay of Boston's WCRB.)

*A call change in NEW HAMPSHIRE: WCNH-LP (94.7 Concord) becomes WNHN-LP; its classical format and calls are in the process of migrating down the dial to the new WCNH (91.5 Bow), and the LPFM will go to new owners.

*On the MAINE coast, Light of Life Ministries is transferring the construction permit for WJVH (91.5 Belfast) to the Word Radio Educational Foundation, thus buying more time for the 50 kW CP that was due to expire in August.


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*Your NERW editorial team spent the weekend in western PENNSYLVANIA, and while we'd like to say that the lead story from the area was daughter Ariel's appearance Saturday morning on the "Saturday Light Brigade" show heard on WRCT (88.3 Pittsburgh) and other fine noncommercial outlets around the region, the real story is happening just up the dial at 90.5.

That's where Duquesne University will transfer operation of WDUQ to Essential Public Media at the end of the day on Thursday, amidst lots of questions about what comes next.

Here's what we know for sure: while all but two of the more than 20 employees at the current WDUQ will lose their Duquesne jobs when the LMA (and eventual sale) to Essential takes effect Friday morning, 11 of them will be working, either as paid staffers or on-air volunteers, for the new 90.5 operation. Jazz hosts Bob Studebaker and Helen Wigger will host the jazz format that will be heard on 90.5's HD2 channel, with Wigger also serving as operations director. Larkin Page-Jacobs will continue as "All Things Considered" local host and as a news reporter, and much of the rest of the news staff (excepting "Morning Edition" local host Alexandria Chaklos) will be making the move as well. Two of WDUQ's specialty shows, "Music from India" and the syndicated "Rhythm Sweet & Hot," will continue as well; Dr. Vijay Bahl and Harish Saluja were already volunteers, and "Rhythm" host Mike Plaskett, who'd been membership manager at WDUQ, will keep the show going at the new 90.5 as a volunteer, alongside co-host Bob Abraham.

But other key players in the existing WDUQ won't be moving across the river to the South Side studios of WYEP (91.3), which is partnering with Essential Public Media to operate the new 90.5. WDUQ general manager Scott Hanley, who led the unsuccessful Pittsburgh Public Media bid to buy the signal from Duquesne, has already departed for a new nonprofit job, and the station's director of engineering and IT, Chuck Leavens, was among the WDUQ staffers not offered a job at the new 90.5. (Fear not: he'll continue to run the Pubtech and Pubradio listservs that have become essential parts of the public radio universe.)

Tony Mowod, the signature voice of jazz on WDUQ and its syndicated JazzWorks service (and of jazz in Pittsburgh in general), tells the Post-Gazette he was offered a job with JazzWorks at its new home, but chose not to accept the offer, instead staying at Duquesne as an adjunct music professor and working with his own Pittsburgh Jazz Society to keep the music alive.

It's still not clear where 90.5 will be operating from on Friday morning, nor who'll be hosting "Morning Edition"; the station will eventually move to WYEP's "Community Broadcast Center" on the South Side, but it seems likely that the studios will remain at their temporary Duquesne University home for at least the start of the LMA period. And we're told the WDUQ calls will stay in place as well, at least until the LMA is converted to a $6 million sale to Essential Public Media.

*On our way back home from Pittsburgh, we caught something that will soon be history: the triple ID on K-Love outlet WLVX (107.1 Greenville). When the former WEXC was sold to EMF Broadcasting last year, the "K-Love" company said it really wanted only the FM signal and would put its two AM sisters, WLOA (1470 Farrell) and WGRP (940 Greenville) up for sale - and now the two little AMs have sold.

As Ohio Media Watch reports, the new owner is no big surprise: it's Joe Vilkie's Vilkie Communications, which had leased the WGRP signal a while back to simulcast Meadville-market oldies signal WMVL (101.7 Linesville). Vilkie is paying EMF $50,000 for WGRP and Youngstown rimshot WLOA, and OMW speculates that both stations will end up running the same "Cool" oldies now heard on WMVL. Pittsburgh-based broker Ray Rosenblum handled the sale of the AMs.

*In addition to the Susquehanna-licensed, Binghamton-market 93.3 we mentioned earlier, there's one other Keystone State noncommercial FM signal on the FCC's latest list of tentative selectees: north of Williamsport, a new class A allocation on 107.5 goes to Williamsport Guardian, Inc., the alternative-newspaper publisher that just put WXPI (88.5 Jersey Shore) on the air. The Guardian group prevailed over an application from Scranton's WVIA public radio and several religious broadcasters.

*The Montreal Canadiens weren't even the most successful hockey team in CANADA this past season (not that Lord Stanley's cup is hanging out in Vancouver at the moment, either) - but the Habs will have a new English-language radio home as they make another run for the trophy this fall. After many years on CJAD (800), the team has signed a seven-year deal with Bell Media's CKGM (Team 990), starting this fall.

More moves among Montreal institutions: Terry DiMonte, a veteran of CJAD, CHOM (97.7) and (briefly) CFQR (92.5) is coming back to the city after more than three years of wakeups at CFGQ in Calgary. DiMonte will be back on the air doing mornings at CHOM once a contract issue with current employer Corus is worked out, reports the Montreal Gazette.

*More Radio People on the Move in Ontario: After less than a year at CJCL (The Fan 590) in Toronto, Andrew Krystal is off the air, replaced in early afternoons by Eric Smith; he's reportedly being reassigned to other duties with station owner Rogers. In Ottawa, Milkman UnLimited reports Neil Headly is out as morning man at CJOT (EZ Rock 99.7).

And on TV, CTV wants a stronger signal in Hamilton and on the Niagara peninsula when it relaunches the "A" stations as "CTV2" this fall.

It's applying for digital relays of Barrie-licensed CKVR (Channel 3) on RF channel 35 in Hamilton, on the CHCH-TV tower, and on RF channel 42 in Fonthill, on a Bell wireless tower. CTV says it will continue to not sell local ad time in the Toronto/Golden Horseshoe market, but by being on the air in Hamilton and Niagara it can force cable companies to "simsub" the CKVR/CTV2 signal, complete with regional and national ads, over Buffalo stations that are carrying the same shows.

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: June 28/July 5, 2010 -

  • When a tornado hit the CONNECTICUT coastline Thursday afternoon, its path of destruction took it across both the studio and transmitter site of Cumulus' WICC (600 Bridgeport). The storm wreaked havoc on downtown Bridgeport, where WICC and sister station WEBE (107.9 Westport) share studio space in an office building on Lafayette Square. The winds picked up an air conditioner from the roof of the building, turning it on its side and ripping a hole in the roof right over the WICC newsroom. The building was quickly evacuated, leaving both stations running on makeshift automation all through Thursday night and into Friday morning - but for WICC, that was just the beginning of its technical challenges.
  • The WICC transmitter site at Pleasure Beach sits on an offshore island that used to be connected to the mainland by a short bridge - but since a fire damaged the bridge in the 1990s, the site has been reachable only by boat or by walking across the water at low tide, which proved to be a big problem when the power went out and the station's generator began to malfunction. WICC ended up being off the air from the time the storm hit until early Saturday morning, save for a brief period Thursday evening when it was on the air (with music-only automation) on the generator; the good news, at least, is that by Friday morning drivetime the studios were once again accessible, allowing WEBE's morning show to air on schedule and WICC to provide at least a webcast.
  • The NEW YORK State Broadcasters Association inducts some big names into its Hall of Fame tonight at its 48th annual executive conference in Bolton Landing. This year's class includes two living inductees: WHAM-TV's veteran anchor Don Alhart (44 years and counting at the same station!) and Jim Roselle of WJTN (1240) in Jamestown, who has even Alhart beat - he's been with WJTN for 57 years! From the roster of broadcasters we've lost, the NYSBA is inducting New York rock radio legend Scott Muni, Dan DeNicola of Albany's WRGB and New York's Percy Sutton, longtime owner of WLIB and WBLS - a worthy lineup, indeed.
  • VERMONT Public Radio is getting ready to bring its classical network service to the Randolph area and to the I-89 corridor through central Vermont. VPR closed on its purchase of WCVR-FM (102.1 Randolph) last week, and it will relaunch the station in early July under new calls WVXR, joining existing full-power VPR Classical signals in the Burlington, Upper Valley and Bennington/Manchester areas.

Five Years Ago: June 26, 2006 -

  • It was originally slated to go to Pamal, but the Albany move-in signal of WNYQ (105.7 Malta) will instead go to Regent Communications, which announced Monday that it's buying the station from Vox. No purchase price has been announced yet for the deal, which will put now-silent WNYQ in a cluster with sports WTMM (1300 Rensselaer), rock simulcast WQBJ (103.5 Cobleskill)/WQBK (103.9 Albany), hot AC WABT (104.5 Mechanicville) and country WGNA (107.7 Albany).
  • And in Boston, Nassau has confirmed that it's negotiating with Greater Media to acquire the signal of WKLB (99.5 Lowell) and the intellectual property of WCRB (102.5 Waltham). The company tells the Globe that it intends to keep the classical music going on 99.5 once the deal is completed. Stay tuned...
  • If you go looking for the most crowded FM dial in the country, the odds are you'll end up in NEW JERSEY. So it's always pretty big news when a station in the Garden State manages to make a significant signal upgrade, as Press Communications did last week when it turned on the new 106.5 Bass River Township signal for WKOE, the station that was formerly at 106.3 in Ocean City. The new 106.5 signal, broadcasting with 1450 watts at 683' above average terrain from the WWSI (Channel 62) tower in Tuckerton, covers a good chunk of the Jersey Shore from southern Ocean County well into Cape May County, and it's on a clear enough channel to get west almost to Philadelphia on a good car radio, too.
  • In place of the "Breeze" soft AC simulcast that had been on WKOE at 106.3, Press is using 106.5 to simulcast "G Rock Radio" from WHTG-FM (106.3 Eatontown), creating a two-signal adjacent-channel simulcast that blankets nearly the entire shore. G Rock had been heard on WBBO (98.5 Ocean Acres) in Ocean County, and the WBBO calls will soon be swapped with WKOE.
  • The Albany, NEW YORK TV market is about to get its first formal duopoly, as Tribune exits the market and sells its WB (soon to be CW) affiliate, WCWN (Channel 45, formerly WEWB), to Freedom Communications. Freedom owns CBS affiliate WRGB (Channel 6), and for the last few years it's provided some programming, promotions and sales services to UPN (soon to be My Network TV) affiliate WNYA (Channel 51), which is owned by Venture Technologies. Freedom will pay $17 million for Channel 45, which is actually $1.5 million less than Tribune paid for the signal in 1999, when it purchased what was then noncommercial WMHQ. The station began as a commercial operation, under the calls WUSV, before becoming a secondary public TV outlet in the late eighties. Under Freedom, it's likely to add a 10 PM newscast this fall - and we wouldn't be at all surprised if it picks up the WRGB-produced 7 AM newscast that now airs on WNYA. (In fact, we won't be a bit surprised if management of WNYA ends up passing to another Capital District broadcaster to avoid market-concentration issues.)
  • In CANADA, television visionary Moses Znaimer now has his eye on Toronto's classical radio station. Moses Znaimer, who founded CITY-TV, MuchMusic and several other TV networks, is applying to the CRTC to buy CFMX from Martin Rosenthal's Trumar Communications for C$12 million. "Classical 96.3" operates on 103.1 in Cobourg (its original frequency, which Rosenthal bought out of bankruptcy in 1983) and on 96.3 in Toronto, where the station's studios are now located. Znaimer tells the CRTC he intends to keep the classical format. He'll make his case at an August 1 hearing.

10 Years Ago: June 25, 2001 -

  • We know a bit more about those AM applications in MASSACHUSETTS we mentioned last week: an FCC typo put WSRO (1470 Marlborough)'s new site in the wrong spot. In reality, the station would move to the Lexington site of WAMG (1150 Boston) when it changes its COL to Watertown.
  • Talker WRKO (680 Boston) has a new PD. Jay Clark is heading to the Entercom station to replace the departed Al Mayers; Clark had been VP/GM of the now-defunct Comedy World network.
  • Radio Disney is back to a single signal in RHODE ISLAND; Hall Communications flipped WWRI (1450 West Warwick) away from the Mouse on Wednesday night (6/20), changing to a simulcast of the urban oldies it's programming on WNBH (1340 New Bedford).
  • The new Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League will have plenty of radio coverage when they begin play this fall. WGIR (610 Manchester) will be the team's flagship, with outlying areas hearing the games via WGIR relays WGIN (930 Rochester) and WGIP (1540 Exeter), as well as WTSL (1400 Lebanon), all part of Clear Channel's New Hampshire group. We'll still be rooting for the Rochester Amerks, thanks...

15 Years Ago: New England Radio Watch, June 25, 1996

  • There's a new radio station on the air in New Hampshire's largest market. WAEF, 96.5 FM, took to the airwaves at 5pm on Thursday, June 27, after a day of recorded heartbeat noises. "96.5 the Fox" is promoting itself as "Rock without the hard edge," and what it appears to be is a broad- based mixture of rock...everything from the Beatles to Crosby, Stills, and Nash, all the way to the Dave Matthews Band. WAEF is one of that shrinking breed, a singly-owned station. Donna MacNeil fought tooth and nail for this CP against some much bigger competition, and now she's up against two well-established AM-FM combos, Saga's WFEA/WZID and Knight's WGIR AM-FM (along with another standalone, Bob Bittner's easy-listening WKBR 1250).
  • A small Connecticut AM signal has been sold. WXCT 1220 in Hamden, a suburb of New Haven, is being sold by Milstar Broadcasting to Quinnipiac College in Hamden. Reported price, according to Broadcasting and Cable, is $500,000. WXCT has a long and colorful history, including stints as WDEE, WCDQ, WOMN (targeted at WOMeN!), WSCR, and WNNR...and just about every format in the book, including multiple tries at top 40, country, and oldies. Most recently, WXCT has been a Spanish-language broadcaster.
  • Up in Vermont, Pathfinder Broadcasting is building a two FM-one AM combo, with the purchase of WFAD 1490 Middlebury VT, WMNM 92.1 Port Henry NY, and separately, WGTK 100.9 Middlebury VT. WMNM (Oldies 92) and WGTK (K-101 Classic Rock) both serve the Burlington area; WFAD is a local class IV for Middlebury. WMNM, by the way, is the latest incarnation of what began as WHRC, Peter Hunn's one-man station that he documented in a book some years back. NERW contributing editor Garrett Wollman passed through the Burlington area earlier this week; he reports that WWGT 96.7 Vergennes-Burlington was not heard, although they had been testing earlier in the week. Also not on yet was WRJT 103.1 Royalton VT.
  • A snag for WKOX 1200 Framingham-Boston in its plans to increase power: The Boston Globe reports that selectmen (that's the town council to you non-New England types) in the town of Sudbury have rejected WKOX's plans to build three 199-foot towers on 8 acres of town-owned land. The reason (what else) was that the towers might alter Sudbury's "rural character." The "rural" site on which the towers were to have been built? A former Unisys plant on a busy highway...go figure! The Sudbury site was a backup plan for WKOX, which has been stalled in its attempts to go to a dual-site operation, with nights at the current site in Framingham and days as 50kw ND from the WNTN(AM) tower in Newton. Framingham officials approved WKOX's request to tear down its two 400-foot towers and replace them with three 199-footers...but the daytime side of the plan is reportedly on hold. I believe, but am not certain, that the Sudbury site would be used for daytime directional operation with a strong lobe towards Boston.

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