July 4, 2011
Nassau Exits New England
Stay tuned to our Twitter
and Facebook feeds for breaking-news updates as they happen!
*It's hard to believe that it was just seven years
ago when Nassau Broadcasting was boasting about assembling a
cluster with "more stations than any one owner has ever
had in New England." But that's what we wrote in NERW back
in March 2004, and for a while, the New Jersey-based broadcaster
was flying high.
Then the boom went
bust, and Nassau was right there in the headlines, too. After
making headlines with the $60 million purchase of WCRB in 2007,
a tightening credit market left the company unable to turn its
LMA of WFKB (107.5 Boyertown PA) into a $22 million purchase
in 2008. By 2009, Nassau was under the control of its largest
creditors, led by Goldman Sachs, and it soon sold off WCRB for
Now Nassau CEO Lou Mercatanti is taking back control of the
company, but at a price: Inside Radio reports that the
lenders, led by Goldman Sachs, want out of owning the company,
and they're willing to sell it back to Mercatanti at a steep
discount. Thursday's IR exclusive reports that Mercatanti's
group will pay only about a fifth of Nassau's debt - $54 million
out of $258 million that's owed - to buy back the stations.
But the Nassau that emerges will be a much smaller company,
closer to the group that Mercatanti acquired from founder Herb
Hobler in 1986 than the regional behemoth that it became since
The transfer of control to Goldman Sachs already forced Nassau
to put several stations in a divestiture trust, and now Inside
Radio is reporting that by the end of 2012, the slimmed-down
Nassau will exit New England entirely, selling the rest of its
stations in MAINE, NEW HAMPSHIRE and VERMONT as
well as some non-core AM signals in PENNSYLVANIA.
And in the process, we finally have some answers to some unresolved
questions stretching back a few years - like, for instance, what
ever happened to the Granite State station sales that Nassau
announced back in 2009? The plan back then was to sell Nassau's
own WWHQ (101.5 Meredith) and WNNH (99.1 Henniker) to Great Eastern
Radio for $1.25 million, while WWHK (102.3 Concord), which Nassau
was leasing from Capitol Broadcasting, was to have gone to Andrew
Sumereau's Birch Broadcasting for $1 million. Neither of those
sales closed, and those three stations have been largely silent
ever since, returning only for brief periods to keep their licenses
alive (and to keep us wondering what was going on with their
Now we know: behind the scenes, Goldman Sachs was apparently
blocking those transfers from taking place while it negotiated
a restructuring of the Nassau operations. And now that the restructuring
is moving forward, so are the sales: a notice of consummation
of the WWHK sale was filed June 23, with the others to follow.
(That includes one Maine station, WXTP 106.7 North Windham/Portland,
which has been operating under an LMA to the "Promise"
Catholic broadcasting group that will soon buy it outright.)
The Inside Radio report (disclaimer: your editor also
works for IR as editor of its Radio Journal and
100000Watts.com sites) also says there's a sale in the works
in the short term for two Vermont stations, WEXP (101.5 Rutland)
and WTHK (100.7 Wilmington), which simulcast as classic rock
With those stations gone, that leaves Nassau with 10 stations
in Maine (eight FMs/two AMs), eight in New Hampshire (six FMs/two
AMs), ten in Vermont (seven FMs/three AMs) and three FMs on Cape
Cod to shed within the next year or so to carry out the downsizing
plan that will return it to its core markets in New Jersey, Pennsylvania
and Maryland and, Nassau hopes, leave the company debt-free by
2015. (Religious AMs WCHR 920 Trenton and WBYN 1160 Lehighton,
PA are also on the divestiture list.)
Nassau will also sell off the real estate that came with its
ill-fated WCRB purchase: the company still owns the vacant former
WCRB studios in Waltham, on the edge of an office park near Route
And just as we were here to chronicle Nassau's wild acquisitions
ride a decade ago, we'll be here to chronicle its sell-offs,
and the effects they have on major Nassau markets such as Concord/Lakes
Region NH, Lebanon NH-Rutland VT and Portland, Maine.
*There's some good news for Nassau as it seeks to sell its
Portland stations, at least: they'll suddenly be in a much larger
Arbitron market. The ratings service has redefined the boundaries
of several markets, including Portland, to add adjacent counties
to the metro. In Portland's case, that means a sudden jump from
market #168 to #89 this fall, thanks to the addition of Androscoggin,
Oxford, Sagadahoc and part of York counties to what had previously
been a one-county market, Cumberland. (And that, apparently,
means the demise of the former Lewiston-Auburn market, too.)
*It was a quiet pre-holiday week elsewhere
in New England, with just a few headlines out there in NERW-land:
the CONNECTICUT Whale AHL hockey team (formerly the Hartford
Wolf Pack) are moving to Marlin Broadcasting's WCCC-FM (106.9)
this fall, where they've signed a one-year deal that will keep
longtime team announcer Bob Crawford behind the mike. The team
had been heard on the HD2 channel of WTIC-FM (96.5) last year.
In Worcester, WICN (90.5) has a new general manager: Gerry
Weston moves home to central Massachusetts after a stint as GM
of public stations WSCL/WSDL on the Delmarva peninsula.
In Vermont, WFTF (90.5 Rutland) is being sold: Rutland-based
Christian Media Fellowship will get $80,000 for the station from
Essex-based Christian Ministries, which will add WFTF to its
extensive network of signals based at WGLY (91.5 Bolton).
And a yet-to-be-built northern New Hampshire FM construction
permit is trading one set of heritage New England calls for another:
WREF (89.7 Lisbon) has changed calls to WSSH.
*There's a new news director at RHODE
ISLAND's struggling ABC affiliate: WLNE (Channel 6) in Providence
brings Irene Mahoney-Paige down US 6 from Hartford, where she's
been executive producer at WTIC-TV (Channel 61). Mahoney-Paige
takes over from Dan Fabrizio, who departed WLNE during Citadel
Communications' acquisition of the station.
CALENDAR 2011 - CLEARANCE SALE NOW ON! GET 'EM BEFORE THEY'RE
ALL GONE...AT JUST $8 EACH!
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
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
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 fybush.com 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 wait...supplies are limited, and the calendar will
sell out soon!
now at the fybush.com Store!
*The NEW YORK State Broadcasters Association
said goodbye to its longtime leader in style Monday night. NYSBA's
49th annual executive conference once again took place at the
Sagamore Hotel at Bolton Landing on Lake George, and the night
brought out many of the state's most prominent broadcast leaders
and an impressive dais of honorees, too.
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams was the last of the
big names to arrive, since he had a newscast to finish in Manhattan
before being flown up to the Adirondacks on what he described,
with his usual dry humor, as the "smallest charter plane
I've ever flown" to accept his Broadcaster of the Year award.
"Inside Edition" host Deborah Norville spoke frankly
of the challenges she's faced in her broadcast career as she
accepted the Carol Reilly award, named for the late spouse of
retiring NYSBA president Joseph Reilly.
It was Reilly himself who brought the house down with his
musical performance as he was inducted into the NYSBA Hall of
Fame, a fitting honor for the man who's shepherded one of the
nation's largest state broadcasting groups for more than three
decades. (It wasn't Reilly's only honor of the evening; earlier,
he was presented with a proclamation from no less than Pope Benedict
XVI himself.) Reilly had plenty of praise for his successor,
former Associaton for Maximum Service TV head Dan Donovan, but
at least for now it was hard for many in the room to imagine
anyone other than the gregarious Reilly at the helm of NYSBA.
Reilly had some big names to keep him company among this year's
Hall of Fame inductees, starting with veteran TV personality
Regis Philbin, who shared tales of his early years in television
with the packed banquet hall. From Syracuse, WSYR-TV (Channel
9)'s longtime anchor team of Rod Wood and Carrie Lazarus joined
the Hall, as did Buckley Broadcasting/WOR owner Rick Buckley,
recently-retired WHEC-TV (Channel 10) general manager Arnold
Klinsky from Rochester and, posthumously, longtime New York City
DJ William B. Williams.
Accepting the honor on Williams' behalf was 2005 inductee
William O'Shaughnessy, who spoke movingly of his own early years
in New York radio, when he was a regular member of Williams'
lunch circle, and praised the hall for finally adding Williams
to its ranks.
The evening concluded with the presentation of NYSBA's Broadcast
Awards for Excellence (check out the full list here),
but the conference continued on Tuesday with discussions of some
of the big issues facing the Empire State's broadcasters. NAB
president Gordon Smith was on hand, and his keynote address focused
largely on the fight he's waging to preserve UHF spectrum for
broadcast TV against an FCC leadership that he says is increasingly
focused on broadband. (Expect some powerful PSAs to hit the airwaves
later this year to help make the NAB's case.)
*We didn't catch it on the air as we headed home from Bolton
Landing, but the Syracuse-based Mars Hill Network is about to
launch its newest full-power signal. WMHU (91.1 Cold Brook) applied
to the FCC on Thursday for its license to cover, and when it
begins full-time operation it will rimshot the Utica/Herkimer
area from a site near Middleville, not far from the WKTV (Channel
2) tower. And speaking of Utica, CNYRadio.com reports that Jules
Thompson, former assistant PD/news anchor at Syracuse's WSYR,
has been hired as news director of WIBX (950), freeing up current
news director Jeff Monaski to become WIBX's program director,
filling the vacancy left by Gene Conte's crosstown move to Galaxy's
WTLB in May.
more definite this week about Merlin Media's format plans for
WRXP (101.9 New York) when it takes over operation of the station
from Emmis later this summer, but there's at least one more big
name to add to the Merlin talent roster: veteran consultant Walt
Sabo comes on board as Merlin's chief operating officer, adding
more support to the theory that Merlin honcho Randy Michaels
is planning some sort of spoken-word format for the station -
or that he's playing the mother of all head games with the city's
radio community, which wouldn't be at all out of character for
him. (Meanwhile, WRXP unceremoniously cancelled the big concert
it was planning for September, making it even more clear that
the station's current rock format is on the way out sometime
*The efforts of some NEW JERSEY lawmakers to stop the
transfer of the state-owned NJN television network came close,
but in the end Democrats in the state Senate fell one vote short
in their attempt to overturn Governor Chris Christie's plan to
put the network's four TV stations in the hands of New York-based
WNET and the Caucus group run by Christie political ally Steve
And that meant NJN's
four decades of broadcasting from Trenton ended on schedule late
Thursday night. On the NJN TV stations, the final edition of
"NJN News" concluded with a shot of the empty Trenton
newsroom, and at night's end the network's acting executive director
delivered a short farewell message to viewers before the stations
signed off. They returned to the air Friday morning with a new
identity - "NJTV" - and with a new schedule and a much
smaller staff. In place of "NJN News" is a new public-affairs
show, "NJ Today," debuting with a stripped-down "summer
edition" before making its official launch this fall. Gone
is the NJN2 service that provided time-shifted runs of "NJN
News" and other network programming; for now, NJTV is running
just one statewide service. The four TV licenses in Montclair,
New Brunswick, Trenton and Camden remain with the state, though
the new NJTV group will collect rental income from the stations'
For NJN's nine-station radio network, there was no legislative
attempt to stop Christie's outright sale of the licenses. The
new owners took control of the stations at midnight on Friday,
splitting the former statewide network in half. New York City's
WNYC took over the four northernmost signals (WNJP 88.5 Sussex,
WNJY 89.3 Netcong, WNJT 88.1 Trenton and WNJO 90.3 Toms River),
which maintain most of the former NJN Radio schedule, including
the overnight simulcast of jazz from Newark's WBGO, under the
new banner of "New Jersey Public Radio."
To the south, Philadelphia's WHYY (90.9) took over the five
remaining signals - WNJM 89.9 Manahawkin, WNJN 89.7 Atlantic
City, WNJZ 90.3 Cape May Court House, WNJB 89.3 Bridgeton and
WNJS 88.1 Berlin - which became a straight simulcast of WHYY's
24-hour news and information service.
*Meanwhile on the commercial side of the Garden State FM dial,
Ray Rossi is remaining with "New Jersey 101.5" (WKXW-FM
Trenton) even after losing his afternoon "Jersey Guys"
talk show to the returning talk team of Deminski and Doyle. Starting
next Monday, Rossi will be heard in the 11 PM slot on "The
Late Show with Jersey Guy Ray Rossi." (His former afternoon
co-host, Casey Bartholomew, has departed the station.)
And 101.5 weekend "record handler" Don Tandler has
gone 24/7 - he's teamed up with another Jersey jock, "Big
Tom" Lawler, to launch a new streaming service called PopGold Radio, which made
its official debut on Friday. It's kicking off with a countdown
of the top 1000 hits of the 1960s, as chronicled on the WABC
MusicRadio charts...and it's well worth a listen!
*A public broadcasting era came to an end
in western PENNSYLVANIA on Thursday night, too: after
62 years, Duquesne University handed over operation of its WDUQ
(90.5 Pittsburgh) to the new Essential Public Media consortium
that includes principals of the Public Radio Capital brokerage/financing
firm and Pittsburgh's public AAA station, WYEP (91.3).
The new "90.5" (which will be burying its use of
the WDUQ calls until the sale to Essential closes later this
year, bringing new calls with it) keeps some of the voices that
were heard on the station's previous incarnation, but there was
plenty of emotion on the air Thursday as the rest of WDUQ's staff
said goodbye. Among the staffers not making the move to the new
90.5 operation were morning news anchor Alexandria Chaklos and
the station's signature jazz voice, evening host Tony Mowod.
can hear the last minutes of the old WDUQ, and read some trenchant
commentary from friend-of-NERW Jason Togyer, over at PBRTV.com...)
But no sooner did the jazz fade away on "Essential Public
Radio" than it was reborn in a new form. "Jazz lives.
Pittsburgh sure as hell was never going to let it die,"
said the blog
posting on Friday announcing the August launch of a new 24-hour
jazz service from PubMusic,
a new programming service that will provide a variety of formats
to public radio. The new service, which will include an online
Channel," will feature some very familiar names from
the WDUQ era: Tony Mowod, for starters, along with former WDUQ
general manager Scott Hanley and former jocks Evelynn Hawkins,
John Lasanich and Dave Becker.
And who's behind the new services? None other than former
WDUQ chief engineer Chuck Leavens, who was also our congenial
tour guide for the transmitter visit featured on this week's
installment of Tower
Site of the Week! The jazz service is just the first of several
new offerings on the way from PubRadio, and we'll be watching
closely as this new operation takes root.
*One obituary from the Keystone State: there's word that Joni
Beck died Friday night in North Carolina, where she'd moved after
a career that included sales and management jobs in and around
Harrisburg at stations that included WHTF (92.7 Starview) and
WQXA-FM (105.7 York), where she served as general manager.
*And on TV, the growing "Me TV" subchannel network
has added WFMZ (Channel 69) in Allentown to its affiliate list.
The arrival of "Me TV" on WFMZ's 69.3 subchannel pushes
Retro TV to 69.4. (WFMZ carries weather on 69.2.)
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, email@example.com
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.
*Belated "Happy CANADA Day"
wishes to our readers north of the border, where there was a
big format change to mark the occasion last week. After just
a year on the air, CJOT (99.7 Ottawa) dropped its "EZ Rock"
format on Thursday in favor of classic hits as "Boom"
- beg pardon, "boom," in their preferred lower-case
the same move sister station CJEZ (97.3 Toronto, now CHBM) made
in 2009, and in Ottawa Astral believes the move away from contemporary
tunes to older music will give its station an edge against Bell
Media's long-dominant AC station, CJMJ (Majic 100).
*In Windsor, the clock is now ticking on CBC Radio One outlet
CBE (1550), which made its official switch to CBEW (97.5) on
the FM dial on Friday. That means the 10 kW AM signal, which
enjoys wider coverage across southwest Ontario, Michigan and
Ohio than the new FM outlet, will go dark no later than September
30, leaving no primary CBC Radio One outlets on AM between Manitoba
in London, Ontario, the long-delayed debut of CKLO (98.1) is
finally at hand. The CRTC granted Blackburn Radio several extensions
as it worked to resolve some interference issues with the new
station, but testing of the 40 kW max DA (12.6 kW average)/150m
signal finally got underway in mid-June. The official launch
of the station (expected to carry a triple-A format as "98.1
Free FM") is set for tomorrow.
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
Five Years Ago: July 3, 2006 -
- It's still not completely official - and won't be until sometime
after the holiday, at the earliest - but it's now abundantly
clear that the WCRB calls and the classical music format will
survive in eastern MASSACHUSETTS after Greater Media buys the
existing WCRB (102.5 Waltham) facility from Charles River Broadcasting.
Nassau acknowledged last week that it's negotiating with Greater
Media to acquire the "intellectual property" - calls,
format and staff - of WCRB, as well as the license to what's
now country WKLB (99.5 Lowell), which will end up with the WCRB
calls and classical format when country moves to 102.5.
- We don't yet know a price tag for either end of the deal
- the 102.5 sale to Greater or the 99.5 sale to Nassau - but
we can make some educated guesses. On the Greater Media side
of the ledger, trading 99.5 for 102.5 moves WKLB's signal coverage
over a more central part of the Boston market. While 99.5, like
102.5, is a full class B (50 kW/492' equivalent) signal, its
transmitter location on Wood Hill in Andover is too far north
to reach much of the south shore or even Boston proper, where
the high signal levels from the FMs on the Pru (including Greater's
other four signals) keep almost anything from out of town from
penetrating. With an antenna on the "FM128" tower in
Newton, 102.5 will give WKLB full Boston-market coverage for
the first time since the calls and country format were on 105.7
almost a decade ago.
- For Nassau, the new WCRB on 99.5 will mesh nicely with its
existing network of four "W-Bach" classical signals
that stretches all the way up from the New Hampshire seacoast
to down east Maine. And since those "W-Bach" signals
get their programming from WCRB's World Classical Network, the
Nassau purchase of WCRB will also bring the programming source
in-house. (Nassau is already making noises about rolling the
classical format out in some of its other markets, in fact.)
- It's almost a given that the move of WCRB to 99.5 will prompt
complaints from loyal listeners in Boston, Brookline, the western
suburbs and the south shore - all areas where the 99.5 signal
is either weak or overwhelmed by stronger nearby FM transmitters.
(There's a parallel to be found in Cleveland, where longtime
classical voice WCLV sold its full-market class B signal on 95.5
five summers ago, trading down to a rimshot class A on 104.9
that was located on the other side of the market from most of
the station's listener base.) But compared to the alternative
- no WCRB at all, or one reduced to an HD-2 simulcast - it's
not as bad as it could have been, and we're sure that will be
the party line once the deals are complete.
- Has any market in PENNSYLVANIA seen as much change in the
last few years as State College? In the latest installment of
the format merry-go-round in Happy Valley, Forever has pulled
the plug on top 40 "Hot 103.1" WJHT, moving the "Quick
Rock" format to 103.1 from its current home on WQWK (98.7
Pleasant Gap). The WQWK calls will move to 103.1 as well (their
fourth home in State College, having started on 96.7 State College,
which later became the 97.1 University Park facility that's now
oldies WOWY) - and 98.7, under new calls, will simulcast "Froggy"
country from WFGY (98.1 Altoona). (NERW notes that State College
has had a "Froggy" in the past - the 94.5 that's now
smooth jazz WSMO was once WFGI.)
10 Years Ago: July 11, 2001 -
- PENNSYLVANIA is a good a place as any to start the news,
with format changes in three major markets. Philadelphia's "Jammin'
Gold" didn't live to see another summer on Greater Media's
WEJM (95.7); that station took on the "Mix" moniker
at the end of June, becoming an AC outlet under the programming
leadership of Chris Ebbott (inbound from Los Angeles' KFI, where
he was marketing director). Greater Media ditched the format
at its Detroit outlet that same week, flipping "Groove"
WGRV (105.1) to "Magic" WMGC-FM and launching a shot
across the bow of Clear Channel's market-leading AC WNIC (100.3
Dearborn) with a talent raid that brings veteran WNIC morning
host Jim Harper to the new "Magic."
- To Harrisburg, next, as Clear Channel made the anticipated
change from oldies to "Kiss" CHR on WWKL-FM (99.3)
July 1, with new calls expected soon. Countering the move is
WEGK (92.7 Starview), which dumped its classic rock format the
same day to become "Big 92.7" with oldies as WHBO(FM).
- Up in Erie, we just missed a call swap that restores a heritage
call to its longtime home: Talker WLKK (1400) returned to its
old call of WJET(AM), while the WLKK calls moved to the former
WJET(FM) at 102.3, which remains modern AC as "the Point."
- Plenty of news in NEW YORK, but we'll start with the one
bit that hasn't actually happened yet: the rumor mill's been
churning about a format change at Buffalo's WWKB (1520). For
more than a decade, the Entercom-owned station has been running
a series of little-noticed fringe formats, including satellite
country, talk and business news. Last week, the message boards
lit up with word that the erstwhile WKBW would be returning to
its musical roots with a 70s-pop format. As we go to print with
this issue, though, it's still business talk and leased-time
religion on 1520...
- Rochester's WXXI (1370) is going through some cutbacks. The
public broadcaster marked its 17th anniversary last week by laying
off veteran producers Bill Flynn and Carol Colella and cancelling
its late-night blues show, one of the last remnants of the "news-and-jazz"
format the station launched with back in 1984. Replacing the
music in the overnight hours will be satellite-delivered World
Radio Network programming, leaving host Jim McGrath also out
of a job.
- The big deal in CANADA was, literally, a big deal: the long-dormant
Standard group flexed its muscles this week with an agreement
to buy 62 radio stations in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia
from Telemedia. The latter group already cashed out of its Quebec
and Maritimes interests with a sale to Astral last month. The
deal turns Standard into a 75-station group with outlets in almost
every major community in Ontario, including a four-station cluster
in Toronto that adds Telemedia's sports CJCL (The Fan 590) and
AC CJEZ (EZ Rock 97.3) to Standard's news-talk CFRB (1010) and
hot AC CKFM (Mix 99.9). No sale price has been announced.
15 Years Ago: New England Radio Watch, July 5, 1996
can sponsor this weekly feature! Click here for information!
- Boston-area radio listeners found quite a surprise on Independence
Day when they tuned into talk-formatted WRKO (680). The American
Radio Systems flagship gave the talk hosts a couple of days off...and
in their stead is a revived version of "the Big 68,"
the top-40 legend that was WRKO from 1967 until 1980. The station
did not try to bring back the legendary 'RKO jocks, instead using
the current talk hosts (Pat Whitley & Marjorie Clapprood,
Jerry Williams, Howie Carr, and the "Two Chicks," Leslie
Gold and Laurie Kramer) to introduce what's being billed as the
"Top 96 of 1968." A few of the old Drake jingles have
been resurrected, notably that top-hour sounder that aired on
*every* RKO/Drake station of the era, and the "20/20 News"
sounder (ditto!) The same countdown is airing in a 4 or 5-hour
repeat cycle until Saturday morning, when the talk returns. A
correspondent to the Boston-Radio-Interest mailing list notes
that the countdown WRKO is running (number 1 is "Hey Jude")
does NOT match the actual end-of-1968 countdown WRKO issued...but
instead corresponds to the national Billboard rankings. Ah well...
- Elsewhere in New England...the 96.5 frequency is getting
even more crowded. Last week, the newcomer was class-A WAEF Bedford-Manchester
NH. Now it's been joined by W243AI Newport RI, the Ocean State's
first FM translator. W243AI uses 55 watts on 96.5 from the Newport
Hospital. NERW traveling correspondent Garrett Wollman reports
the signal to be adequate into Fall River, some 15 miles north
of Newport. W243AI rebroadcasts WCRB 102.5 Waltham MA, Boston's
commercial classical outlet. It helps rectify a lack of classical
music in Rhode Island... the only other full-time classical outlet
is 95.9 WVBI Block Island, which runs the SW Classic FM service
with a very weak signal.
- Up in Vermont, the former WBFL 107.1 Bellows Falls-Brattleboro
has been reborn under new ownership as WZSH, soft ac "Wish
107." The WZSH calls were last seen about six years ago,
on what's now WNVE 95.1 South Bristol-Rochester NY, also as a
soft ac station called "Wish." NERW wonders whether
the CP for WSSH 101.5 Marlboro VT will turn out to be a simulcast.
(The WSSH calls also spelled "Wish" for years in their
former home on 99.5 Lowell-Boston, now WOAZ.) WBFL's former simulcast
partner, WNBX 100.5 Lebanon NH, continues as AAA "River."
And Garrett Wollman offers several additional Vermont tidbits:
WWGT 96.7 Vergennes had resumed testing as of late last week,
with a modern rock format that was not city-grade in downtown
Burlington, and WNCS 104.7 Montpelier now calls itself "The
Point," though it's made no change to its rock format.
- One of New Hampshire's newer radio stations has changed format
and calls again. 98.7 in Somersworth NH (near the Seacoast) began
its life as a CP with the calls WTSN-FM (its sister AM is WTSN
1270). It took air two years ago as AC WRGW "The Rock Garden,"
then went through a series of changes a few months back, becoming
WRDX and briefly running an adult-standards format as "Radio
Deluxe" before returning to AC. Now M Street reports 98.7
has become WBYY, "The Bay." The WBYY calls were last
spotted on a little all-sports AM station near Grand Rapids MI.
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.