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July 25, 2011

Millennium Merges Into Townsquare

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

*One of NEW JERSEY's largest broadcast groups has a new name and new management this week. Ever since Oaktree Capital, parent company of Townsquare Media (the former Regent Broadcasting), took Millennium Radio New Jersey under its wing, rumors had been flying about the New Jersey stations becoming part of the Townsquare umbrella.

Those rumors became reality last week, placing the 11 Millennium signals in Trenton and on the shore under the Townsquare banner, where they join other NERW-land Townsquare clusters in Buffalo, Utica and Albany, as well as a slew of small-market Townsquare outlets elsewhere in the country.

The move to Townsquare pushes Millennium president/CEO Bill Sauer out of that post and into an "interim" consulting role; replacing him at the helm of the New Jersey stations (WKXW "New Jersey 101.5" in Trenton; WOBM/WADB, WOBM-FM, WJLK and WCHR in Monmouth-Ocean and WENJ/WENJ-FM, WFPG, WSJO and WPUR in Atlantic City) is Zoe Burdine-Fly, who'd been GM of the Regent/Townsquare stations in Flint, Michigan.

*Radio People on the Move: Scott Taylor has returned to WAWZ (Star 99.1) in Zarephath as station manager, just two months after exiting the Pillar of Fire Christian AC outlet. Downstate, Paul Hunsberger is ending a remarkable 63-year career at WSNJ (1240 Bridgeton), where he's been serving as an account executive and as host of the "Off the Cuff" show. Hunsberger is now 93, and he says he's retiring at year's end because of health concerns.

*The top story in NEW YORK this week, once again, is at 101.9 on the dial, where NERW was first to tell you that the new calls on the former WRXP would be WEMP. Those calls showed up on the air at 5 PM on Thursday (July 21), a full six days after NERW followers on Facebook and Twitter first heard about them.

But the new calls, so far, haven't brought with them the full-fledged new format that's been rumored for Merlin Media's signal. Instead, the week brought more of the "FM New" AC programming that's been occupying 101.9 (and 101.1 in Chicago, newly renamed WWWN) since Merlin took over from Emmis, killing off WRXP's alternative format. (There's alternative rock back on the New York airwaves now, at least for HD Radio owners; Clear Channel quietly flipped its HD2 channel on WAXQ 104.3 to its "Alt Project" national format last week.)

What's next for 101.9? Merlin's certainly still not saying - there's still no website or stream for "FM New," though very basic Facebook pages for the New York and Chicago outlets quietly appeared over the weekend.

(You can hear the very first WEMP ID, by the way, over at our sister site TopHour.com.)

*Once upon a time in an earlier incarnation as WPIX-FM, 101.9 was among the first FM stations to move its transmitter to the World Trade Center - and later, as WQCD, 101.9 became the first FM to return from the Trade Center to the Empire State Building to escape some of the multipath problems that existed with FM from Manhattan's southern tip.

It has, of course, been almost a decade since the remaining FMs at the Trade Center were so abruptly and tragically forced to move their sites elsewhere, but now one of those FMs is at least talking about coming back. In a New York Times article last week, managers at Columbia University's WKCR (89.9) raised the possibility that they might look at moving their transmitter from its current home at Four Times Square down to the new 1 World Trade Center skyscraper when it's completed soon.

We hadn't heard much talk about broadcast operations from the new 1WTC since the early stages of planning, when it appeared that the city's TV stations (working under the Metropolitan Television Alliance banner) were planning to build a new master DTV site there to replace the somewhat makeshift DTV facilities that were built at the Empire State Building in the years after 9/11. But the MTVA's plans had become hazy in more recent years; building a new master DTV site is an expensive proposition, after all, in an era when most New Yorkers get local TV from cable or satellite and when the Empire facilities, if not perfect, seemed to be functioning well enough.

There had been little talk at all about a new master FM operation at 1WTC. Commercial broadcasters were well aware that the signals that had been at WTC before 9/11 had experienced reception problems in parts of midtown Manhattan, and the cost of building a new master FM facility to replace or supplement the excellent facilities at Empire (and backups at Four Times Square) would have been prohibitive.

The cost of a new standalone FM facility for WKCR would surely be quite high, too, and WKCR's managers tell the Times they still haven't done all the research to determine whether the move would be financially possible. And so for now, we'll file away WKCR's talk of a move as an interesting possibility that appears to be a long way from reality...

*The New York chapter of the Society of Broadcast Engineers has rescheduled the Ennes educational seminar that was to have taken place last week. It's now planned for November 5, and we'll have all the details about the lineup and new schedule as they become available.

*Out on Long Island, WNYG (1440) has become The Station That Will Not Die. Widely given up for dead after Multicultural Broadcasting bought it and took it silent to improve sister signal WNSW (1430 Newark), the little AM signal at 1440 returned to the airwaves last week after a year of silence. WNYG's old Babylon site is gone now, and instead the station is licensed to Medford, out to the east. The new WNYG is a 1000-watt daytimer diplexed off one tower of WLIM (1580 Patchogue), and it's running Spanish-language religious programming from new owner Radio Cantico Nuevo.

*Radio People on the Move upstate: Buffalo's WGR (550) is advertising for a new PD; we hear that Andy Roth is being moved to a new position within Entercom, leaving a big opening for a sports-talk programmer. In Watertown, Budd Yeman (aka "Bud Green") has departed ratings monster WFRY; he recently moved to a new home down south, leaving an afternoon opening at "Froggy."

And in Binghamton, Equinox is launching the market's first HD subchannel/translator. "Sunny 107" is a combination of the HD3 channel on WRRQ (106.7 Port Dickinson) and its co-located translator, W296BS (107.1 Johnson City). When "Q107" moved from an outlying transmitter site to the main Ingraham Hill tower farm, that 107.1 translator suddenly became redundant, but now it's carrying a very soft AC format that kicked off with a nonstop stunt of Bobby Hebb's "Sunny."

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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.

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*Northwest PENNSYLVANIA's newest FM signal has picked a tower site. Rick Rambaldo's First Channel Communications says it's hoping to build a tower in Zuck Park in Millcreek Township, on Erie's west side, for its new 92.7 signal licensed to Lawrence Park. First Channel won the high-profile $2 million auction for the class A facility this spring, and it has a somewhat challenging task in finding a workable transmitter site for the signal, which must city-grade Lawrence Park (east of Erie) at the same time it protects CJBX (92.7 London, Ontario) from interference, all while trying to put a usable signal over as much of the greater Erie market as possible. The Times-News reports that First Channel is now negotiating with Millcreek Township over zoning for the proposed tower as well as rental payments for the land next to the park.

*In the Harrisburg market, there are new calls coming to WWII (720 Shiremanstown). New owner Holy Family Radio plans to relaunch the station as WHYF when it puts Catholic programming on the daytime-only signal next month.

*In Philadelphia, Radio One's WPHI (100.3 Media) has parted ways with morning team Star and Buc Wild after just nine months, the latest blow for a once high-profile duo that's bounced around from New York's WWPR to Philly's WUSL to WPHI in recent years. No replacement for Star and Buc Wild has been named so far.

*On TV, WTXF (Fox 29) in Philadelphia is getting a big-name news director: Steve Schwaid is inbound from Atlanta, where he was a news executive for Meredith and news director of that company's CBS outlet, WGCL-TV. Schwaid, of course, has a long history in northeast TV, having run the newsrooms at WVIT in Hartford, WGME in Portland and at Philadelphia's WCAU before heading up the news operations for NBC's O&O stations.

Congratulations to Pittsburgh radio veteran Jack Bogut, now with WJAS (1320) but late of KDKA and WTAE: he's being inducted into the Broadcasters Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio in November.

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*There's a new morning man at WGIR (610) in Manchester, NEW HAMPSHIRE: Paul Westcott takes over that role, and it's an unusual internal Clear Channel promotion: he's been the host of "White House Brief" on Clear Channel's iHeartRadio streaming service.

*Radio (and TV) People on the Move in MASSACHUSETTS: David Baer is leaving the news director's post at Gormally Broadcasting's WGGB (ABC40/Fox 6) in Springfield after three years there. Cissy Baker is the interim replacement there. In Boston, Jimmy Chunga has departed his weekend gig at Greater Media's WTKK (96.9); he's headed back home to Salt Lake City for mornings at KENZ (101.9 the End). And on Boston TV, several anchors are moving on: Matt Lorch is leaving the early-evening newscasts on WHDH-TV (Channel 7) to anchor the 5 PM newscast at Seattle Fox affiliate KCPQ (Channel 13). Steve Lacy has left the weekend anchor chair at WCVB (Channel 5) for the morning anchor chair at New York Fox O&O WNYW (Channel 5). And with former WHDH anchor Frances Rivera heading for mornings at New York's WPIX (Channel 11) starting next month, 12-year WPIX veteran John Muller is out at the Tribune-owned CW affiliate.

*It's another all-star class for this year's Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame induction: the ceremony September 15 will honor sports talker Eddie Andelman; WBZ-TV reporter Charles Austin; TV news pioneer Jack Chase; talk host (and longtime Fenway Park announcer) Sherm Feller; writer/commentator/poet Dick Flavin; WCVB anchor Natalie Jacobson; longtime TV/radio writer Anthony LaCamera; his son, WCVB/WBUR executive Paul LaCamera; "Car Talk" hosts Tom & Ray Magliozzi; late Sox announcer Ned Martin; station owner Tom McAuliffe; talk producer and host Ken ("Muck") Meyer; WCVB "Chronicle" host Mary Richardson; Yankee Network founder John Shepard III - and, perhaps most remarkably, Eunice Randall Thompson, the pioneering female broadcaster of 1XE/WGI fame in the early 1920s. (And if our good friend, historian Donna Halper, doesn't get to induct Eunice Randall, something's gone terribly wrong.)

The induction ceremony will be held at the Marriott Quincy, and there's ticket information at www.massbroadcastershof.org.

*We're sorry to report the passing of Sidney Sanft, former owner of WOKW (now WMSX 1410) in Brockton. Sanft got his start in broadcasting with Armed Forces Radio in World War II (as shown), and went on to a career with the federal government developing electronic processing of tax returns. He moved to Massachusetts in 1962, working on television productions and serving as a founding board member of the Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Lowell as well as owning WOKW. That's where his son, Marshall, got his start in radio - and today the younger Sanft, aka "Bruce Marshall," owns his own station, WARE (1250 Ware). Sidney Sanft died July 8; he was 86.

*There's HD local TV news in the news at both ends of New England this week: in Bangor, MAINE, ABC affiliate WVII (Channel 7) is trying to emerge from its perpetual third-place rut with a staff expansion, HD conversion and the addition of some new broadcasts. In September, WVII will launch a new 6:30 AM newscast,hosted by Clay Gordon and Nicole Gerber, followed at 7 by a local hour on sister station WFVX (Fox 22); the 10 PM show on WFVX, which drew attention when WVII began recording it right after its live 6 PM newscast, will also go back to being live this fall. The conversion to HD at WVII/WFVX will leave only one Bangor newscast in SD: NBC affiliate WLBZ (Channel 2), which originates much of its news from sister station WCSH in Portland.

In Providence, RHODE ISLAND, the race for full local HD is about to hit the tipping point: keen-eyed observers have noticed that CBS affiliate WPRI (Channel 12) and Fox sister station WNAC (Channel 64) are originating their newscasts from a temporary set this week. Once they're done with their HD conversion, only ABC affiliate WLNE (Channel 6) will be in SD, and its new owners have also promised to convert to HD soon.

*Lots of Radio People on the Move in CANADA this week: in Toronto, Bill Watters is out of afternoon drive at CFMJ (Talk Radio AM640), replaced by Arlene Bynon in the 4-7 PM slot. Tina Trigiani replaces Bynon in the 1-2 PM slot, and Watters will still be heard doing the Maple Leafs pre-game shows and offering hockey commentary in morning drive. Jonas Siegel, who'd been part of the CFYI Leafs broadcast team, has moved over to CHUM (TSN Radio 1050) to cover the team there.

The "Billie and Maddog" show is no more at Toronto's CKFM (Virgin Radio 99.9); Billie has left the station, but Maddog remains as solo morning host. At Montreal's Virgin Radio (CJFM 95.9), Milkman UnLimited reports Nat Lauzon has departed middays, but she'll be heard on weekends over at CFQR (Q92.5) while she pursues a freelance voice talent business. Milky also reports that the morning team of Bob Magee and Corrie Miller are out at Hamilton's CING (Vinyl 95.3), with bigger changes possibly afoot at the classic hits station.

Another veteran Toronto talent, Fred Patterson (half of the longtime duo of Humble and Fred), has departed his post as PD of the Corus cluster in Peterborough.

*There's a format change in London: Corus' CKDK (103.9), licensed to Woodstock, ditched its classic hits format ("Greatest Hits 103.9") on Friday morning at 10:39, replacing it with a somewhat more recent gold-based format as "More 103.9," promising "More 70s, More 80s and More 90s."

*Two new signals are on the air in the Maritimes: Tantramar Community Radio's CFTA (107.9) in Amherst, Nova Scotia hit the air at 1:07 PM on Thursday from its new tower (a monopole of the kind you'd normally see cellphone antennas mounted on) and Nautel transmitter. "So far today, we have had good signal reports from Northern Nova Scotia, Southeast New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island," says CFTA operations manager Ron Bickle, who's been working for years to get the community station on the air. And no sooner was CFTA on the air than its commercial competitor in town, CKDH, signed on its new FM signal on 101.7. Once CKDH-FM completes its testing, the clock will start ticking on CKDH's AM signal at 900, which will have 90 days to sign off.

*And there's a new twist in Canada's impending conversion to digital TV. Stations in "mandatory markets" have to shut off their analog signals by August 31, but now the CBC is asking the CRTC for permission to retain some smaller analog signals that would oterwise have gone completely dark rather than converting to digital.

In NERW-land, the list includes English-language CBC outlets in London, Kitchener, Quebec City, Saguenay and Trois-Rivieres and the Radio-Canada outlet in Windsor, and here's how it would play out: CBLN-TV London would move from channel 40 to 23, reducing power, as would CBLN-TV-1 Kitchener, moving from 56 to 29. In Quebec, CBVE-TV (Channel 5) would take over the former channel 11 analog facilities of CBVT, the Radio-Canada signal moving to DTV on 12; CBMT-1 in Trois-Rivieres would move from channel 28 (the new digital home of Radio-Canada's CKTM) to CKTM's analog facilities on channel 13, while CBJET Chicoutimi would stay on channel 58 but drop power from 12 kW to 595 watts. And in Windsor, CBEFT wants to move from channel 54 to channel 35 at reduced power. The CRTC has yet to rule on the requests.

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 26, 2010 -

  • After not quite two years as a talk station, CANADA's Astral Media has flipped CHAM (820 Hamilton) right back where it came from. On Thursday at noon, CHAM ditched "Talk 820," which had failed to make much of a dent in Corus' dominant CHML (900) since launching in September 2008. In its place is "Today's Country 820 CHAM," returning the 50,000-watt signal to the format it had used for decades before making the flip to talk.
  • The revived country CHAM features morning host Mike Nabuurs, who'd been doing the station's late-morning talk shift. And along with sister station CKOC (1150)'s oldies format, we believe it makes Hamilton the only large Canadian market that still has two stations playing music on the AM dial - three, if you count Evanov's nearby CKPC (1380 Brantford), which recently flipped to a news/country hybrid.
  • John Manzi worked in several New England states during his long radio career, but it was in RHODE ISLAND that Manzi became known as "Big Ange," bringing his high-energy delivery to stations that included WJAR, WICE, WHIM and most memorably WPRO. Manzi, who also went by "Andy Jackson," worked in Binghamton (WINR), Elmira (WELM) and Maine (WASY, WZON) as well during a career that stretched from the sixties into the late eighties. He died July 17 in Providence, at 67.
  • In CONNECTICUT, Hipolito Cuevas made headlines a few years back when he sparred with the FCC over his unlicensed Spanish-language station in New Haven. "La Nueva Radio Musicale" was eventually shut down in 2000, and Cuevas went legit shortly thereafter, working at WXCT (990 Southington) and later at WNEZ (910 New Britain). Cuevas had a number of health problems, including kidney and heart disease and diabetes; he died on July 7 at just 44.
  • Almost a year after being displaced from WCLX (102.9 Westport NY), VERMONT's "Album Station" is back on the air down the dial. Diane Desmond and Russ Kinsley had kept their eclectic AOR format alive via a website (www.musicheads.us) after their dispute with WCLX owner Dennis Jackson led to their departure from the FM airwaves over Lake Champlain, but on Friday they returned to the air via another leased facility, RadioActive's WZXP (97.9 Au Sable NY), transmitting from the old WPTZ-TV site at Terry Mountain south of Plattsburgh. WCLX, meanwhile, remains very much on the air with a similar AAA format and a new operator, Chip Morgan's "Farm Fresh Radio."
  • Some good news for NEW HAMPSHIRE's scrappy little classical station: Harry Kozlowski's WCNH-LP (94.7 Bow) received planning board approval last week for the new transmitter installation it's planning at its new full-power CP, WCNU (91.5 Bow). Some neighbors had objected to the new signal, but others showed up in force at a planning board meeting to support WCNU's proposal, which would add a small transmitter shed and even smaller antenna to an existing 40-foot pole. (NERW notes that "I don't want to look at a shed every day," an actual objection from an actual neighbor at the board meeting, may well be one of the least persuasive NIMBY complaints we've ever seen...)
  • In New York City itself, public station WNYC-FM (93.9) will soon be operating from fully licensed facilities for the first time since 9/11. Until now, WNYC has remained officially licensed at its long-gone World Trade Center site, while its actual operation has remained under Special Temporary Authority with 4 kW from the Empire State Building master antenna. The problem with WNYC's return to its old Empire home was the short-spacing that plagues so many stations in the region - when 93.9 moved from Empire to the World Trade Center in the early 70s, it lost the grandfathered short-spacing it enjoyed to adjacent-channel WZMX (93.7 Hartford), and WZMX's current owner CBS Radio objected to the interference an Empire-based WNYC-FM would cause to the Hartford station. WNYC and CBS finally reached a settlement, and now WNYC-FM will once again be licensed to Empire at 5.4 kW/1361', just shy of the 6 kW a full class B signal would use at that height. With WNYC's impending return to licensed status, only one of the Trade Center FM signals is still in license limbo: SBS' WPAT-FM (93.1) continues to operate under STA at Empire as it works out its own short-spacing issues.

Five Years Ago: July 24, 2006 -

  • The Citadel corporate mandate to install the syndicated Opie & Anthony show at most of its rock stations nationwide landed especially hard in western NEW YORK this week. With only one logical place in the Buffalo market for the O&A show - modern rock "Edge" WEDG (103.3) - this morning's arrival of Opie & Anthony meant a big move for one of the Queen City's top-rated (and longest-running) morning shows. After 11 years on WEDG (and its predecessor, WUFX, "the Fox"), Ted Shredd and Tom Ragan will move their "Shredd and Ragan" show to the 3-7 PM slot beginning this afternoon. The duo used their last morning show Friday to gamely promote the move, blowing up their alarm clocks on the air in a nice bit of radio theater.
  • WEDG managers are trying to put a positive spin on the move, telling the Buffalo News that Shredd & Ragan may find a bigger audience in the less-competitive afternoon hours - but in a city with no huge afternoon rush hour keeping listeners in their cars, can Shredd & Ragan find the kind of audience loyalty and listening time they've enjoyed in the morning?
  • The message boards were also quick to notice one area Citadel market that wasn't getting "infected" with the "O&A virus" - in Syracuse, where rocker WAQX (95.7 Manlius) would seem to be an obvious candidate for the show, the morning team of Beaner and Ken is being left intact, perhaps because it's also being simulcast to Citadel's WRAX in Birmingham, Alabama. Whatever the reason, "95X" lost a Syracuse competitor last week, as Clear Channel euthanized "The Dog" and flipped WWDG (105.1 DeRuyter) from modern rock to hot AC, focusing on modern AC hits from the 90s and the last few years and rebranding the station as "Nova 105.1" (or perhaps "nova 105-one," if you're the graphic artist who designed the logo.)
  • Up in CANADA, the AM-to-FM juggernaut marches on in a big way this week. In Halifax, Nova Scotia, Maritime Broadcasting System (MBS) launched the FM replacement for CHNS (960) at noon on Wednesday, pulling the plug on the oldies format heard on AM in favor of classic rock as "89.9 Hal FM. With the debut of the new format on CHNS-FM, the AM signal will go dark within 90 days. Over on Prince Edward Island, we hear that Newcap has begun testing its second FM signal. In addition to new CHTN-FM (Ocean 100.3), "K-Rock 105.5" is now being heard, announcing calls CKQK. (There's still no timeline for MBS' CFCY 630 to complete its move to FM in Charlottetown, leaving PEI with no full-power AM signals.)
  • Returning to Nova Scotia, CFAB (1450 Windsor) has applied to make its own move to FM, with 100 kW DA/159 m on 92.9. The CFAB move to FM is just one of many on the agenda for a CRTC meeting September 11 in Quebec City; the bigger story, by far, is a set of four Corus applications to move its network of AM talk stations to the FM dial in most of Quebec.
  • Here's how those applications shake out: CJRC (1150 Gatineau-Ottawa), which has applied for FM moves in the past, would go to 104.7 (11 kW DA/95 m); CHLT (630 Sherbrooke) would move to 102.1 (23 kW DA/91 m); CHLN (550 Trois-Rivieres) would move to 106.9 (100 kW DA/87 m) and CKRS (590 Saguenay) would move to 98.3 (100 kW DA/148 m). If the moves are granted, the AM dial would become nearly silent in Sherbrooke (with only CKTS 900, the relay of Montreal's English talker CJAD, still standing) and Trois-Rivieres (which would have only CKSM 1220 Shawinigan, the relay of CHLN - unless it, too, goes silent during the conversion) - and it would be completely silent in Saguenay.
  • In other news, "Humble Howard" Glassman has lost his morning gig at CKFM (99.9 Toronto), a year after the station dropped his longtime morning partner, Fred Patterson. Also out at CKFM are morning producer "Bingo Bob" and newscaster Judy Croon, and we hear the entire station is running jockless for several weeks as it retools.
  • In NEW JERSEY, WKOE (98.5 Ocean Acres) finally dropped its "G Rock Radio" simulcast this morning at midnight, stunting with the Eagles' "New Kid in Town" en route to a noon flip (as had been widely rumored) to country as "Jersey Kountry K98.5." New calls are WKMK, as of 10 this morning.

10 Years Ago: July 25, 2001 -

  • Clear Channel has been awfully aggressive lately when it comes to moving its signature talk talent to its own radio stations, but in the Upper Valley of NEW HAMPSHIRE, one small station owner is fighting back. As we told you last week, Bob Vinikoor's WNTK-FM (99.7 New London) lost the Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Dean Edell shows, both syndicated by Clear Channel's Premiere, to Clear Channel-owned WTSL (1400 Lebanon), with the programs moving to their new homes on Thursday (July 19). But Vinikoor didn't take the move lightly; he tells NERW he spent the last few months trying to persuade Premiere it was making a mistake by moving from WNTK, whose FM signal covers much of western New Hampshire, to the little 1000-watt WTSL, which is strong in Lebanon and nearby Hanover but decidedly a distant signal in New London and Newport, more than 30 miles away. Vinikoor's efforts included a videotape showing the scenery in his coverage area -- and the weak WTSL signal on his van's radio. The tape was returned, unwatched, by Premiere executives, leading Vinikoor to try to get it to Limbaugh himself. And when it became clear that the battle was lost, Vinikoor switched to a new plan: hiring former gubernatorial candidate Deborah "Arnie" Arneson to fill Limbaugh's old shift on WNTK. Arneson's show debuted Thursday on the station, bringing Vinikoor media attention that included Manchester's WMUR-TV and several area newspapers.
  • Elsewhere in the Granite State, a well-known name is getting back into the ownership game with the purchase of WBNC (1050/104.5 Conway) and WMWV (93.5 Conway). Ron Frizzell sold his Portland/Lewiston cluster to the Harron folks (WMTW-TV) last year; now he's buying the Mount Washington Valley stations from Lawrence Sherman's North Country Radio. It's always fun to see the old-fashioned names Frizzell uses for his companies ("Wireless Talking Machine" was the usual one in Maine, Massachusetts and upstate New York in years past); this time it's the "Mount Washington Radio and Gramophone, L.L.C" buying the stations. The WBNC simulcast does country, while WMWV is AAA; purchase price hasn't been announced yet.
  • Ralphie Marino is coming back to MASSACHUSETTS, a year after departing WJMN (94.5 Boston) for the morning gig at New York City's WKTU (103.5 Lake Success). Look for Marino over at the new Entercom complex, taking Charlie Wilde's old seat at the middle of the WQSX (93.7 Lawrence) morning show, alongside Karen Blake, Heather Gersten, and "Survivor" Richard Hatch.
  • Some good news for the Entercom cluster here in Rochester: the FCC this week approved the allocation shift that will transform 93.3A Avon, 20 miles south of Rochester, into 93.3A Fairport, just a few miles east of Rochester. In practical terms, it means a real city signal for WBBF-FM, once the paperwork is filed that will move its antenna from a rimshot tower down in Livingston County to the WBEE-FM (92.5 Rochester) stick on Five Mile Line Road in Penfield. (On a historical note, that tower was the original "WBBF-FM," since that was the first call on what's now WBEE-FM back in 1961 - and on 101.3 MHz back then, to boot!)
  • In PENNSYLVANIA, Greater Media gets new calls to go with its new "Mix" format on Philadelphia's 95.7: WEJM becomes WMWX, a call last seen in the region on what's now WMEK (99.9) up in Auburn, Maine. Harrisburg's new Clear Channel "Kiss" changes calls from WWKL-FM (99.3) to WHKF, as long expected, while up in Erie, 102.3 changes again from WLKK to WQHZ-FM, just a few weeks after trading its longtime WJET calls with WLKK(AM) on 1400.
  • And across the state line in OHIO, the call changes from the big format/facility swap in Cleveland are beginning to take shape. We've heard Cleveland's 1220, ex-WKNR, using the "WHKC" ID as it waits to take its new "WHK" identity (those calls having been parked at the former WCCD 1000 Parma), and we know Clear Channel temporarily moved the "Kiss" WAKS calls from 104.9 Lorain to 98.1 Canton (ex-WHK-FM) in preparation for swapping them with the WKDD calls still on 96.5 Akron (which is hiding its calls with a "WKDD Akron has moved to 98.1" announcement once an hour!). We know WCLV-FM's calls moved with the classical format from 95.5 Cleveland to 104.9 Lorain - and now we know that the WFHM calls that replaced it on 95.5 are also showing up down in the Youngstown market, where Salem took the dark 1440 facility that had been WHKW and changed the calls to WFHM(AM). Whew...

15 Years Ago: New England Radio Watch, July 30, 1996

  • Nostalgia is big on the airwaves in Boston this summer. As part of Barry O'Brien's big WVBF reunion on August 10, former 'VBF jocks have been invited to take airshifts for the day on 70s-rocker WEGQ 93.7. Tape will be rolling here at NERW headquarters. The hi-fi VCR will also see action this coming Saturday, August 3, when the 3-8pm slot on WRCA (1330) formerly occupied by the late Bill Marlowe will be home to a Marlowe remembrance hosted by Ron Della Chiesa of WGBH. And from the rumor mill: Greater Media's WMEX (1150) in Boston did a brief stab at bringing back the oldies one Saturday night a few weeks ago, and while it hasn't been heard since (the station is back to its usual leased-time Spanish), rumor has it new jingles are being cut. 1150 tried doing oldies when it got the WMEX calls a decade ago, and of course the calls themselves were part of the "Wimmex" top-40 legend on 1510 (now WNRB) in the '60s and early '70s.
  • Also from the history files: Longtime (1951-1983) WBZ radio and TV weatherman Don Kent was honored a few weeks ago with the dedication of Don Kent State Park, a small portion of the Wollaston Beach Reservation in Quincy. The park sits on the site of the old Kent's Carpetland store, from which Kent first broadcast the weather for WJDA (1300) in Quincy in the late 40s. Kent now lives in New Hampshire, and his forecasts are still heard on WQRC (99.9) on Cape Cod and WEMJ (1490) in Laconia NH.
  • On the fringes of New England: M Street reports the former WMJR (107.1) in Hudson Falls NY, some 50 miles north of Albany and just a few miles west of the Vermont line, has become WHTR, "Hot 107.1." I'll check that one out next weekend as I hit the road for Buffalo and Syracuse. And a familiar sound in the southeast Connecticut area is about to go FM-only... WLNG in Sag Harbor, Long Island is selling its AM 1600 operation to Unity Broadcasting of New York City. Unity will presumably shut down WLNG(AM), allowing its flagship WWRL 1600 New York to expand its pattern a bit to the east (and since the WWRL transmitter is in Secaucus NJ, west of NYC, that's good news for WWRL). Unity bought silent WQQW 1590 Waterbury CT earlier this year for the same reason. The good news is that the very distinctive, jingle-laden sound of WLNG will continue to be heard in glorious mono on 92.1 FM. Also down that way, the former WMRW 98.5 Westhampton LI has become WLRI, after a brief stint with the WLIR calls that now live on its simulcast 92.7 in Garden City LI. And 92.7's old WDRE calls are now in Philadelphia on the former WIBF 103.9 Jenkintown. Scorecards are for sale in the lobby...

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