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July 11, 2011

Merlin Drops 101.9 Clues

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

*If you're looking for hard facts about what's coming next to NEW YORK's WRXP (101.9) once Randy Michaels' Merlin Media takes over later this summer, you're not going to find them here (or anywhere) just yet. But there's plenty to speculate about this week, fueled by some interesting staffing moves that the new Merlin group is making.

Consider this: it's been widely rumored that the new calls on 101.9 will be "WYNY," a rumor that gained force last week when Merlin registered several related domain names - and then on Friday, Merlin went and hired none other than Pete Salant, the veteran jock/programmer/consultant who took the original WYNY on 97.1 to #1 in the market as an adult-contemporary signal under NBC in the early 1980s.

Nobody's saying much yet about what role Salant, best known as a music programmer, will play at Merlin, though we're hearing he'll be working alongside COO Walt Sabo (best known as a talk programmer) on the format launch due later this summer.

And in the meantime, there is an all-news voice who's reportedly joining Merlin's staff: Jeff McKay departed Metro Networks at the end of June, just shy of his 20-year mark with the traffic service. And McKay, of course, was one of the signature Metro traffic voices on CBS Radio's WINS (1010)...and on New Jersey 101.5 (WKXW-FM Trenton), which was long consulted by none other than Walt Sabo. (Radio is a small business, isn't it?)

Meanwhile, one of WRXP's current top executives is leaving. Brian D'Aurelio, who was operations manager for 101.9 and its sister Emmis stations WRKS (98.7) and WQHT (97.1), will be leaving the company at month's end. D'Aurelio also served as night jock on WRXP.

*And as long as we're clearly in speculation mode, we cast an eye across the Atlantic to the troubles Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation is facing at its British newspaper operations. News Corp. was forced to shutter the News of the World, one of the oldest newspapers in the world, yesterday amidst growing allegations of illegal phone hacking by journalists there. And even as the company faces regulatory fallout in Britain, where its planned buyout of the BSkyB satellite service is under attack, it's worth wondering whether there are possible regulatory issues ahead for News Corp. here in the US as well, especially if lawsuits end up being filed against the company, which is incorporated in Delaware, or if its top executives were to face criminal charges as a result of the News scandal.

This matters to NERW, of course, because News Corp.'s Fox Television Stations unit owns several valuable TV licenses in the region - WFXT in Boston, WTXF in Philadelphia and, most prominently, WNYW and WWOR-TV in the New York market. As it stands, the Fox TV stations have yet to be granted the most recent license renewals for which they applied, hung up by the continued legal fracas over the FCC's indecency rules. But the licenses for WNYW and WWOR are especially sensitive issues, since they're also entangled by two other issues: cross-ownership with Murdoch's powerful (if not especially profitable) New York Post and the ongoing complaints from top New Jersey officials that Secaucus-licensed WWOR has failed to live up to its promises of public service to the Garden State.

As it turns out, both of those issues were in the headlines last week, too. On the cross-ownership issue, a federal court in Philadelphia muddied the waters still further with a ruling that essentially upheld the FCC's "scarcity" rationale for imposing ownership caps and cross-ownership restrictions, at the same time tossing out the most recent Commission attempt to explicitly allow newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership in the 20 largest markets, New York included. (The court did indicate, though, that the FCC's plans to relax the cross-ownership ban in the largest markets would have passed muster if it had been given more time for public comment.)

For now, though, the court's ruling means News Corp. will continue to be at the FCC's mercy for ongoing waivers of the statutory ban that would otherwise prohibit the company from owning both WNYW/WWOR and the Post - and that in turn would appear to make News Corp./Fox rather more vulnerable to the political fallout that could follow if the scorching reaction to the British hacking scandal gains traction across the Atlantic.

And then there's WWOR's New Jersey issue. With regulators paying close attention to that station's unique situation, it appears that Fox is taking no chances: not only did it restore the station's late newscast to its old hour-long 10 PM timeslot last week after moving it to a half-hour at 11, we're hearing that the new 10 PM "My 9" newscast has been focused almost entirely on New Jersey, complete with a backdrop of Jersey City behind the anchors in Secaucus.

*We note, too, that while the region once boasted numerous newspaper-broadcast co-ownerships everywhere from Portland to Brockton to Philadelphia to Buffalo, the only other owner that's currently at major risk from the continued crossownership uncertainty is Tribune in CONNECTICUT, which owns the Hartford Courant and two TV stations in the market, WTIC-TV (Channel 61) and WCCT-TV (Channel 20). Tribune's Hartford situation is even more dependent on waivers than Murdoch's in New York, since Hartford/New Haven is outside the top 20 markets where the FCC would allow TV/radio crossownership if it can get its proposed new policy past the procedural hurdles.

(There's one other longstanding newspaper-broadcast co-ownership situation in the region, the Shamrock stations in northeastern Pennsylvania that are under a common roof with the Scranton Times-Tribune under Lynett family ownership, but the Commission has traditionally been loath to unwind grandfathered situations like that one, which dates back to the early years of radio in Scranton, so while some license renewals have been delayed, there's no reason to think the FCC will make the Lynetts unwind WEJL, WBAX, WEZX and their sister stations from the Times-Tribune, Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice and other regional holdings.)

*Upstate Radio People on the Move: after spending much of his career at top-40 WPXY (97.9), Mike Danger is moving down the hall to "98PXY"'s Entercom sister station, rocker WBZA (98.9 the Buzz). On August 1, Danger will take over the PD/afternoon drive duties last filled by the recently-departed Dem Jones. He'll remain as PD of PXY as well, but will relinquish his afternoon airshift there.

Down the road at oldies WLGZ (102.7 Webster), veteran jock Chuck McCoy moves up from weekends/fill-in duty to the full-time evening gig on "Legends 102.7." That shift was last occupied by the late Tom Noonan, who died a few months back.

On TV, Arthur Chi'en is back on the air as a street reporter for WPIX-TV (Channel 11) after a bizarre incident last October when he ended up in a tussle with a man dressed as a clown during the Greenwich Village Halloween parade. Chi'en suffered severe facial fractures as he fell from a parade float to the street while trying to get free from the man, who was trying to climb aboard the float. He tells the Daily News he thought his career was over, but with the help of good surgeons and seven metal plates in his face, he's able to make a comeback. (His attacker ran away and has never been caught.)

There's a news director opening in Albany, where Gary LaPlante is leaving Fox affiliate WXXA (Channel 23) after three years on the job. He's heading down the Pike to Boston to become assistant news director at Fox's WFXT (Channel 25).

On radio in Albany, top-40 WFLY (92.3 Troy) is looking for a new night guy as Eddie Hernandez leaves the job - and, apparently, the radio business as well.

*It never made it on the air, and now it's history: at the request of permittee Cram Communications (Craig Fox), the FCC has deleted the never-built construction permit of WVOA (720 DeWitt). The AM signal would have served Syracuse, and it advanced as far as an experimental signal test a few years back from another proposed site south of town, but it evidently never made economic sense to build the signal, which most recently was a CP for 2500 watts by day, 39 watts at night, non-directional from Fox's WOLF (1490) tower at the south end of Onondaga Lake.

Out on the east end of Long Island, it appears another silent AM won't be heading into history after all. WNYG (1440) signed off from its longtime Babylon home last summer, and the clock has been ticking ever since then toward the August date when the station's license would be cancelled after a year of silence. But we're now hearing WNYG will be back on the air before that; under new owner Radio Cantico Nuevo, construction is reportedly well underway for the new WNYG facility, diplexed with WLIM (1580) out in Patchogue. The new WNYG will be licensed to Medford, running 1000 watts, daytime-only, from one of the WLIM towers. (Previous owner Multicultural Radio Broadcasting needed to get WNYG's Babylon facility out of the way of a power increase and pattern change at co-owned WNSW 1430 in Newark, N.J.)

*And as long as we're back in the New York City area, a reminder that our friends at SBE Chapter 15 are hosting an Ennes Educational Seminar on July 23 at Columbia University.

It's a great way for radio and TV engineers to get up to date with the very latest in automation, IT and RF technology, and it's a lot cheaper than a trip to the NAB convention, too.

(Find all the information here...and tell them NERW sent you!)

TOWER SITE 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.

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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 fybush.com store!

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*Larry Kruger was part of RHODE ISLAND's most famous morning team, working alongside the legendary Salty Brine at WPRO (630) from 1978 until 1993.

The recent Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame inductee, who died Tuesday at age 66, started his broadcast career at WEMJ in Laconia, N.H. and WHYN in Springfield, then came to WPRO in 1973, moving to mornings and Brine's show five years later. Kruger remained at WPRO for two more years after Brine's retirement; he also worked at WWBB (101.5) and several other Ocean State stations as well as at Boston's WMEX and WODS.

*Rhode Island Public Radio/WRNI is providing some help to Coventry High School's WCVY (91.5). Now that the high school has FCC permission to stay on the air 24/7 after the deletion of its former share-time partner, WRJI (91.5 East Greenwich), WRNI is providing WCVY with programming to help fill those extra hours. Students are on the air at WCVY from 2-8 PM on weekdays when school is in session, and when they're not on, the WCVY signal will fill a gap between WRNI's Providence-licensed 1290 signal and WRNI-FM (102.7 Narragansett Pier) down in South County. The deal also includes internships for Coventry High School students at WRNI. (And we should note also that WRNI-FM has boosted its power; it has a new directional antenna that allows it to go to a full 6 kW from its Narragansett Pier site.)

*Short of a championship duck-boat parade (of which there's been no shortage lately), one of the greatest public spectacles in MASSACHUSETTS is the July 4 Boston Pops concert and fireworks show over the Charles River basin between Boston and Cambridge. So it's no wonder that plenty of Boston media people are questioning why the national CBS TV broadcast of the show had to be "enhanced" with a pop-music soundtrack and faked special-effects shots showing fireworks behind Boston landmarks where the real (and thoroughly spectacular) fireworks show can't actually be viewed.

The show's producer, former WNEV-TV (Channel 7, now WHDH-TV) owner David Mugar, defended the broadcast as an "entertainment" production, but we're hoping he and the network will heed the protests from those (your editor included) who believe the real show is plenty entertaining on its own, needing no special effects to please a national audience, as it did back in the days when the local WCVB broadcast was simply simulcast to the nation on A&E.

(How petty is petty? We're hearing that the Bruins were going to bring the Stanley Cup to the Hatch Shell stage for an Independence Day appearance in front of the home crowd - see "duck-boat parade," above - but the network nixed the plan because it's NBC, not CBS, that has the Stanley Cup broadcast rights. Now that's petty...)

*The creator of one of Springfield's most enduring TV shows has died. As an announcer in the early years of WWLP-TV (Channel 61, later channel 22) in the 1950s, Phil Shepardson was a jack-of-all trades, hosting kids' shows, reading the weather and working behind the scenes. But he's best remembered for creating "As Schools Match Wits," the high school quiz show that has endured right into the present day (albeit over on public station WGBY). Shepardson also taught for many years at Westfield State College before retiring to Florida in the early 1990s; that's where he died on June 29, at age 76.

And while longtime NERW readers will recall our longtime criticism of the Boston Globe for the quality of its reporting on radio in the 1990s, we've got to tip our editorial (and graphic!) hat to the paper for a nice little piece that ran on Sunday, featuring a graphic comparing the broadcast coverage of the Red Sox radio network to that of the Yankees.

The graphic even picked up on both teams' Florida radio affiliations, and about the only quibbles we'd offer are that for a game that's played largely at night, it might have been nice to compare the skywave reach of each team's big AM outlets (WCBS 880 for the Yanks, WTIC 1080 for the Sox)...and that the graphic treats part-time affiliates as though they're full time, giving the Yankees credit for Rochester's big-signal WHAM even though the station carries only a limited schedule, which means there's a big chunk of western New York that's not quite as Yankee-blue as the map suggests. (Especially the area around NERW Central, but that's another story...)

*In central PENNSYLVANIA, they're mourning a radio guy who died far too young. Pat Boland spent most of his career in State College, where he was most recently PD/news director and morning host at WRSC-FM (103.1). But in June, Boland had to leave that job as he fought brain cancer, writing on his blog that "I do plan to return to the radio someday. Now I have to take care of my body and mind. I can’t work myself into the grave."

Sadly, that return won't happen; Boland took a turn for the worse not long after moving home to his native Somerset County, and he died early Wednesday morning, July 6. Pat Boland was just 42 years old.

*There's some happier news to report about a couple of Radio People on the Move. Connecticut native Paul Walker is a familiar presence on the message boards and mailing lists, but he's spent most of his peripatetic broadcast career away from NERW-land, working news and DJ jobs everywhere from Florida to North Dakota to Nebraska to Illinois, where he's most recently been doing mornings at WGGH (1150 Marion).

Now Paul's back in the region as the new afternoon jock at Dennis Heindl's WDDH (97.5 St. Mary's), and we're especially pleased to hear that he landed the job through a classified ad he placed right here on NERW.

Down Route 6, another friend of NERW has a new on-air gig: Tom Lavery, late of Erie's WQLN (and now at Erie's WMCE 88.5 and a contributing editor to PBRTV.com), is now also the morning news guy at Joe Vilkie's WMVL (101.7 Lineville/Meadville) and WHYP (1370 Corry), where he replaces Andy Alm.

And as long as we're in the Erie area, we note that Nexstar's WJET-TV (Channel 24) and WFXP (Channel 66) debuted their new on-air looks on Friday, with new graphics and separate new sets for both stations. The stations aren't going HD just yet - that's a "seven-figure project," says general manager Tim Dunst - but they do plan to make the conversion before long.

While Erie's not yet in HD, Scranton is - and it should come as no surprise that the station leading the charge into high definition is longtime market leader WNEP-TV (Channel 16). The ABC affiliate launched its HD newscasts over the weekend, beginning with its Saturday 6 PM show, and it appears it will have the HD local news marketplace to itself for a while, with only Nexstar's NBC affiliate, WBRE (Channel 28), still in SD, as any real sort of local-news competition at all.

*The tussle over a proposed new radio tower in NEW JERSEY will continue for a little while longer. Officials in the borough of Lake Como in Monmouth County say they won't decide until at least mid-August on Greater Media's proposal to build a new 533-foot tower for WRAT (95.9 Point Pleasant) to replace its shorter (280') tower just to the north. Greater Media proposes to build the borough a new "pocket park" to replace protected state parkland where the tower would be built. In order for the deal to move forward, the borough must ask the state for permission, and that decision won't come until next month at the earliest.

"We are going to be dealing with the facts not the emotional issues and everyone’s opinions,” Lake Como mayor Michael Ryan told the Asbury Park Press.

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*It was a quiet week in CANADA, but for fans of modern rock in Toronto, it brought some bad news: just shy of his 25th anniversary with CFNY (102.1), station owner Corus has parted ways with longtime personality Alan Cross.

In recent years, Cross had taken on more of a management role, serving as senior PD of Corus Interactive and Integrated Solutions, but he continued to host the weekly "Ongoing History of New Music," which logged 691 episodes before taking its summer hiatus this year. Cross tells the Toronto Star his departure from Corus was a "business decision," and he hints he might soon return to the air elsewhere.

*In Montreal, the week brought good news and bad news about Cogeco's plan to return the former CINF (690) and CINW (940) facilities to the air with all-traffic programming in partnership with the provincial transport ministry (MTQ).

A Montreal Gazette article touted the stations' return as being imminent, though it also raised the possibility that the revived 690 and 940 signals may run lower power than the full 50 kW for which they were authorized as clear-channel facilities. But no sooner did that article run than Cogeco removed its applications from consideration at next Monday's CRTC hearing, where they were expected to be approved. It's not clear why the applications were withdrawn, but that's not an uncommon move, and there's no reason to think it signifies any long-term problems with the project.

Elsewhere in Quebec, Radio Rimouski is applying to add a relay transmitter to its CFYX (93.3 Rimouski). The new transmitter in Amqui would run 900 watts max DA (280 watts average)/202.6 meters on 92.7. Radio Rimouski is also asking the CRTC to allow it to sell local advertising on CFYX in the Baie-Comeau, Forestville and Matane markets.

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: July 12, 2010 -

  • Catholic radio is coming to Boston in a big way. Alex Langer has filed an application to transfer WBIX (1060 Natick) to Buffalo-based Holy Family Communications. Holy Family, which operates stations in Buffalo and Rochester, will pay $1 million in cash for WBIX, and Langer will take a $500,000 tax deduction for donating the rest of the value of the station to Holy Family.
  • If message-board chatter is any indication, then the big story over the long holiday weekend came out of southern NEW JERSEY, where Atlantic Broadcasting lobbed a pretty big bombshell into the Atlantic City market on July 2 with the launch of "Wild 102.7," a new high-energy rhythmic top-40 aimed straight at the summer beach crowd on the Jersey Shore. The new format came with a new signal, as Atlantic completed its move of the former WJSE (102.7 Petersburg) north from Cape May County into Atlantic City, with a new class A transmitter facility atop a beachfront high-rise building, a new city of license of Ocean City and new calls: WWAC, last seen on the old Channel 53 analog TV that's now WMCN-DT (Channel 44). "Wild" shares its DNA with Long Island's "Party 105" - both have JVC Broadcasting partners John Caracciolo and Vic Latino at the helm, and south Jersey is, if anything, even more ready for an energetic rhythmic format than the east end of Long Island. We'll be watching closely as "Wild" ramps up its promotional effort to take advantage of the all-too-short summer season at the shore.
  • MASSACHUSETTS lost two TV news icons in as many weeks, one as familiar to viewers in the Boston market as the other was in Springfield. In Boston, John Henning never attained the star status of a Chet Curtis or a Jack Williams, but over four decades in TV news in the hub he quietly became a fixture in the industry. A native New Yorker, Henning came to Boston for college and stayed, becoming a reporter at WNAC-TV (Channel 7) in 1964. Henning soon ended up behind the anchor desk, and over a long career he moved seamlessly between the field and the studio.
  • He moved from station to station, too, landing at WHDH-TV (Channel 5) in 1968, then moving with most of the WHDH staff to the new channel 5, WCVB, in 1972, where he had the distinction of anchoring the last WHDH-TV newscast and the first WCVB news the next morning. In 1979, he returned to channel 7 (by then WNEV), then finally moved to WBZ-TV (Channel 4) in 1982. At Channel 4, Henning worked as both a statehouse reporter and for many years as anchor of the midday news. He retired from WBZ in 2003, by then having become the station's senior correspondent. In recent years, until his health began to decline from myelodysplastic syndrome, Henning had been working with his former WBZ colleague Geri Denterlein at her public-affairs consulting firm. John Henning died Wednesday night, at 73, and Boston TV is poorer for his passing.
  • Out west, Keith Silver was one of the class acts of Springfield TV news. In nearly 40 years in the market, Silver rose from rookie radio reporter (at WSPR 1270, where he worked from 1956 until 1964) to TV reporter to anchor to news director at WWLP-TV (Channel 22), where he became a fixture during a career that lasted from 1964 until his retirement in 2005. Silver died July 2 in West Springfield, at age 80.
  • MAINE has a new Catholic radio station, and it's apparently just the start of a network that eventually hopes to serve much of the state. The Presence Radio Network signed on WXTP (106.7 North Windham) in the Portland market last Wednesday (July 7) after closing on the purchase of the former WHXR from Nassau. The network says it's negotiating for a station in the Bangor market as well.
  • The head of RHODE ISLAND PBS (WSBE-TV) has died. Bob Fish had been president of the public station since 2006, but his history in New England broadcasting stretched back four decades. A Bryant College graduate, Fish was the president of the Rhode Island Broadcasters Association, and had worked in management at WPRO and at Boston's WRKO, where he was the general manager who oversaw the 1981 format change from top-40 to talk. In 1984, Fish became president of Federal Communications, which owned WHJJ/WHJY in Providence. After those stations were sold to Merv Griffin in 1989, Fish moved in and out of radio and TV for the next few years, at one point owning stations in Phoenix and for a time owning part of a car dealership in Rhode Island. Fish was 65.
  • In Utica, Ken Roser has reimaged his pair of AM stations to promote their new FM translator. WUTQ (1550 Utica) and WADR (1480 Remsen) are now calling themselves "B95.5" and being heard on W238CA (95.5 Middleville), which has a CP to run 250 watts from the Smith Hill tower farm in Utica. That should make for some interesting driving on the Thruway, as Utica's "B95.5" quickly gives way to Albany's WYJB - also "B95.5" - heading east from Utica. There's no format change to Utica's B, which continues the "Beautiful Music" standards/soft AC format already heard on WUTQ/WADR, running jockless except for Hank Brown's morning show and some weekend ethnic programming. (Roser, by the way, is no stranger to AM-on-FM translators: his "Lite 104.7" in Amsterdam is an FM translator for WVTL 1570, running a similar format to WUTQ/WADR.)
  • And we're sorry to report the death of Peter Shamin, who was known as "Peter Shain" on the air during a career that found him on both sides of the mike, most notably as a weekend oldies jock on WNBC (660) in its final years. Behind the scenes, Peter worked for NBC Radio, WQCD (101.9), WOR (710) and Westwood One over more than 30 years in the business - and he always enjoyed sharing his stories, both in person and on several message boards that he frequented. He'd been in poor health lately, and he died far too young on July 7, at just 53.

Five Years Ago: July 10, 2006 -

  • One of the dangers of leased-time broadcasting is, quite simply, that the broadcaster doesn't have full control of the station - so when a leased-time station is sold, as happened recently to WRIB (1220) in Providence, RHODE ISLAND - there's always the danger that the new owners will want to change the programming. The ethnic broadcasters who have called WRIB home for decades are steaming this week, though, and given the way their broadcasts were abruptly ended, we don't blame them one bit.
  • The sale itself was no surprise - NERW reported the $1.9 million deal back in our October 17, 2005 issue - but when Seekonk, Massachusetts-based mega-church Faith Christian Center was making its plans to take over operations from longtime WRIB owner Carter Broadcasting, the expectation was that the Spanish, Portuguese, Armenian, Italian and other ethnic broadcasters, as well as the mainly Catholic leased-time religious programmers, would have 30 days' notice to allow them to transition to other signals in the market. Instead, the end came with no warning at all. Last Friday, church attorneys simply pulled the plug on WRIB at 12:30 in the afternoon, giving several broadcasters just a few hours to remove their office equipment from the station's building and threatening them with trespassing charges if they didn't move quickly enough.
  • Across the border in MASSACHUSETTS, programmer Mario Mazza has exited WCRB (102.5 Waltham) ahead of the changes that will be coming to the classical station (and its associated World Classical Network) whenever its long-pending sale is consummated. Mazza came to WCRB in 1994, fresh from the controversial flip of classical WNCN (104.3 New York) to rock, and while he's been accused of "dumbing down" WCRB's format over his tenure there, it should also be noted that WCRB is - at least for now - still around and still doing fairly well in ratings and revenue, which is more than most of the commercial classical stations that were around in 1994 can say now. Mazza's getting about as far from Boston as it's possible to get in the world of classical radio - he's taking the general manager post at public radio WHIL (91.3) in Mobile, Alabama, a community-operated station licensed to Spring Hill College.
  • And in CANADA, the launch of CHTN-FM (100.3 Charlottetown) last Wednesday came with a big streetside live broadcast - but lost in the hoopla over the new "Ocean 100.3" was the end of oldies on Prince Edward Island, as CHTN (720) flips to an "Ocean" classic hits simulcast for the next three months, before going silent for good sometime between now and early October. Newcap now has calls for the Ocean's future sister station - it'll be CKQK, according to the latest Industry Canada database - but its application to use 105.5 instead of 89.9 hasn't been approved yet, and while initial reports said the station would be called "K-Rock," the Newcap corporate website calls the station "The Island." Stay tuned...

10 Years Ago: July 11, 2001 -

  • It's every PD's dream to own a small-town radio station (isn't it?), and now Bobby Hatfield of WBBF in Rochester is living it. He's picking up WCNR (930) in Bloomsburg, PENNSYLVANIA from the local Press-Enterprise newspaper. The station sits just down I-80 from the big Scranton/Wilkes-Barre cluster belonging to his Rochester employer, Entercom.
  • Over in Syracuse, WBGJ (100.3 Sylvan Beach) made its on-air debut just before we left, with a simulcast of WOLF's Radio Disney programming that's said to be temporary. It's less clear whether the simulcast of market-leading country station WBBS (104.7 Fulton) on Clear Channel's new 105.1 DeRuyter signal is permanent or not; Clear Channel just flipped the DeRuyter calls from WVOQ to WXBB(FM), calls last heard in the region on what's now WSAK (105.3 Kittery ME).
  • Albany will soon have yet another FM drop-in, thanks to the Vox folks, who won FCC approval this week for their latest allocations swap. Here's how it will work: WHTR (93.5 Corinth) will move south to Scotia and up the dial to 93.7. But to prevent Corinth from being left (gasp!) without a "first local FM service", WFFG (107.1 Hudson Falls) will change city of license to Corinth, without changing transmitter site or power. Ah, bureaucracy...
  • Up in the Catskills, mark down two new formats for Liberty's WVOS and WVOS-FM. The FM, on 95.9, flipped from country to AC, while the AM side on 1240 picked up the country, ditching standards in the process.
  • The big news in MASSACHUSETTS came from WXKS-FM (107.9 Medford), where PD John Ivey announced he's leaving the building to head up the biggest Clear Channel "Kiss" of them all, KIIS-FM (102.7) in Los Angeles. Expect the jockeying to succeed Ivey at Boston's "Kiss 108" to keep making headlines for several weeks...
  • 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

  • The new FM station in Bedford (Manchester) NH has new calls to match -- well, sort of -- its new nickname, "The Fox." The construction-permit calls of WAEF were replaced by WOXF over the Fourth of July weekend. 96.5 continues to crank out classic rock, with copious ads for MacNeil's Banquet Hall, which just happens to be owned by station owner Donna MacNeil.
  • Boston rocker WBCN (104.1) has finally filled its evening DJ vacancy. The 7 to midnight slot had been filled by part-timers since the April 1 shuffle that moved Howard Stern out of that slot and into mornings. Now "The Rock of Boston" has hired Nik Carter to do evenings full-time. Carter used to be heard locally on modern-rock competitor WFNX (101.7), then departed to do mornings on WDGE (99.7)/WDGF (100.3) in Rhode Island. No word yet on who fills his slot on Rhode Island's "Edge" stations.
  • From the radio-with-pictures file: Boston's WB affiliate, WLVI (56) was off the air for more than an hour Wednesday night, July 10, due to a power failure at the station's Needham, MA transmitter site. The power failure came right in the middle of "WB56"'s 10pm newscast, and blew out most of the "Star Trek" rerun that followed. Problems with the backup generator at their shared transmitter site also caused brief outages for WFXT (25), the Fox affiliate, and WSBK (38), the UPN affiliate. About a mile away from the shared 25/38/56 site above the Sheraton Needham hotel is the studio of WUNI (27), the Worcester- licensed Univision station, and their programming was also briefly interrupted. No interruption was noted on WCVB-TV (5), the ABC affiliate with studios just across the highway, or on any of the many FMs that share a nearby tower.

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