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In this week"s issue: Clear Channel launches FM sports in Hartford - WNED sets date for WBFO takeover - Is WKAJ gone before launching? - Tower down in upstate New York - iHeartRadio adds college signals - Humble & Fred get big podcast partner

by SCOTT FYBUSH

*It was just over a year ago when we learned that Clear Channel planned to move WPKX (97.9) from its Springfield cluster across the border to become part of its Hartford, CONNECTICUT group of stations - and as of last Friday morning at 6, the station"s move is complete.

WPKX made its technical move a little earlier in the week, turning off its Enfield-licensed transmitter at Provin Mountain in Massachusetts and beginning tests of its new Windsor Locks-licensed class A facility atop the One City Place skyscraper in downtown Hartford, using Clear Channel"s satellite country service to provide temporary programming.

But nobody seriously believed 97.9 would remain country after its move, since the Clear Channel Hartford cluster already includes dominant country station WWYZ (92.5 Waterbury); instead, the long-running speculation that WPKX would do sports proved to be reality. Just up the road from ESPN"s worldwide headquarters in Bristol, WPKX is now "97.9 ESPN," duplicating the format Clear Channel already offered in the market on WPOP (1410 Hartford), albeit with an FM signal that reaches more of the market at night than the directional AM signal covers. (That includes ESPN"s own Bristol headquarters complex, where the "Worldwide Leader" had been operating an experimentally-licensed FM signal, WX4ESPN on 98.1, carrying ESPN Radio programming; that signal is now silent.)

The new 97.9 antenna in Hartford

For now, 97.9 is a fulltime ESPN Radio satellite feed, but Clear Channel plans to add a local afternoon show soon; it"s not clear whether the AM simulcast will remain, or whether there will be a new format on the way for 1410. (As of Friday afternoon, no callsign changes had been requested for 97.9 or 1410 - or for WRNX 100.9 Amherst, the Springfield-market Clear Channel signal that inherited the "Kix" country format formerly heard on 97.9.)

*Clear Channel has been aggressively growing its iHeartRadio streaming service, moving beyond its initial launch with the company"s own stations to add hundreds of signals owned by other broadcasters. In recent months, iHeart has signed up stations owned by Univision and Cumulus, and now it"s expanding its reach to college radio. The initial slate of college broadcasters added to the service last week includes NEW JERSEY"s WSOU (Seton Hall University), as well as WICB (Ithaca College) from upstate New York, WERS (Emerson College) from Boston and WFRD (Dartmouth University) from New Hampshire. Temple University"s webcast-only "WHIP" from Philadelphia is also one of the first dozen or so college stations to link up with the iHeartRadio platform.

There"s a new signal on the air in Ocean County, where WLNJ (91.7 Lakehurst) signed on last week. The new station is owned by the same folks who run WYRS (90.7 Manahawkin) and simulcasts that station"s religious format.

And WBGO (88.3 Newark) has turned on an HD2 subchannel from its new transmitter site at Four Times Square in Manhattan. Like WBGO"s main channel, the HD2 is jazz - but in this case, showcasing "emerging artists," including student performers.

*The future of the newest AM station in upstate NEW YORK is up in the air after the FCC cancelled its construction permit. Cranesville Block Company"s WKAJ (1120 St. Johnsville) had until December 15, 2011 to complete construction and file for a license to cover, but that date came and went with no sign of anything on 1120 save for some publicity surrounding a morning show to be hosted by longtime Utica personality Hank Brown.

Last week, the FCC deleted the WKAJ calls, sending the 10,000-watt daytime/400-watt night facility into limbo, but don"t count the station out yet: it appears Cranesville actually built the WKAJ facility and had begun the lengthy process of proofing it when the construction permit ran out, and we hear the station"s Washington lawyers are working with the FCC to get WKAJ reinstated so the station can sign on legally.

The old WMML/WBZA tower, behind the studios

Meanwhile in Glens Falls, there"s a big change coming to an AM tower. Later today, workers will begin dismantling the tower on Everts Avenue in Queensbury that"s been home to WMML (1230, ex-WBZA) for forty years and to sister station WENU (1410 South Glens Falls) for the last decade or so, when that signal moved north from its old site alongside I-87 south of town.

The Adirondack Broadcasting stations will be off the air temporarily while a replacement tower is erected, which could take up to two weeks, depending on the weather. In addition to carrying the two AM stations" signals, the new tower will also host Verizon Wireless antennas.

*With all the paperwork completed, there"s just one step remaining in SUNY Buffalo"s sale of public station WBFO (88.7 Buffalo, and satellites WOLN 91.3 Olean/WUBJ 88.1 Jamestown) to fellow public broadcaster WNED. That"s the actual closing of the $4 million transaction, followed by WNED"s takeover of WBFO"s operations, and it"s now slated to occur February 29th, with WNED operating WBFO as of March 1. WNED still hasn"t laid out exactly what programming changes are in store when it takes over, nor has it said which WBFO employees will make the move downtown. (For WBFO employees with many years of service under their belts, it will likely make more financial sense to stay with the university system in other capacities until retirement.)

In the short term, it appears WBFO will largely simulcast the news and talk programming now heard on WNED (970), but WNED officials have indicated their intention to explore a sale of the 5,000-watt directional AM signal down the road; in the meantime, fans of WBFO"s distinctive weekend blues programming are already wondering if the next few shows will be the last, at least in the current daytime slots.

WNED says the WBFO calls will remain in place on 88.7.

It took almost a dozen years, but the other station in Buffalo owned by another branch of the SUNY system is finally getting a power increase. WBNY (91.3), the student-run station at Buffalo State University is the only source for alternative rock in the Queen City, and it has struggled ever since its 1982 debut to be heard with just 100 watts/112" from the top of one of the buildings on Buff State"s Elmwood Avenue campus. In 1998, WBNY applied to boost power to 1150 watts/115" DA, but it appears the application languished in Canadian-approval limbo for years before finally being approved. WBNY"s new directional antenna will retain the current 100-watt signal to the west, over Canadian soil, but it will considerably improve the station"s penetration in Buffalo"s eastern suburbs, including Amherst and Cheektowaga.

One more note from Buffalo: Bill O"Laughlin has departed his noontime "2 Sides" hosting job at WGRZ (Channel 2), which runs the local talk show in lieu of a noon newscast. O"Laughlin, whose most recent radio gig was at WECK (1230), says it was his decision to move on from WGRZ; he"ll be replaced starting today by former WKBW-TV/WGRZ reporter Stefan Michajliw.

*In Ithaca, morning co-host Dave Vieser has departed WHCU (870). He"d been with the Saga news-talker since 2006, and CNYRadio.com reports this was Vieser"s decision, not the station"s. Meanwhile in Syracuse, it didn"t take Dave Frisina long to find a new home after being ousted from classic rocker WTKW. He"s now across town at Cumulus" new rocker, WXTL (105.9 the Rebel), where CNYRadio.com reports he"ll start sometime in February.

Here in Rochester, Joe Fleming is out as chief engineer of Rochester"s Entercom cluster after a 12-year run with the stations that included the big studio move from Midtown Plaza to High Falls almost a decade ago, followed by the incorporation of several former CBS Radio stations into the group a few years later.

In Oneonta, SUNY Oneonta is buying translator W217BY (91.3) from Digital Radio Broadcasting for $12,500. The translator is relaying WUOW-LP (104.7), the low-power public radio station operated by the college, but that LPFM signal will be going away, leaving the 91.3 facility as WUOW"s primary home for Oneonta-area listeners. But wait - what will W217BY be translating? That would be a new full-power license up the road in Milford on 88.5, which will serve the Cooperstown area and will presumably take the WUOW callsign when the LPFM is surrendered. (Licensees can"t operate both an LPFM and a full-power license, with the exception of universities that have both a professionally-run station and a student outlet. At SUNY Oneonta, that student station is WONY on 90.9.)

Way, way up north, a little college station in the Adirondacks appears to be defunct. WPSA (98.3 Paul Smiths) is - or at least was - the 10-watt voice of little Paul Smith"s College, tucked away in the mountains north of Saranac Lake. But in a December letter to the FCC, the college notified the commission that it wanted to "cancel our license and give up our call numbers (sic) effective immediately," and now WPSA has been deleted from the FCC"s books.

*Radio People on the Move in the Hudson Valley: Mike Adams, late of WFLY (as "Adam Kelly"), is the new 2-7 PM host at Townsquare"s "Crush" (WQSH 105.7 Malta/Albany). And with Andrew Boris" departure from mornings at WRRV (92.7 Middletown)/WRRB (96.9 Arlington), there"s a new lineup for "Music All Morning" at the modern rock station: Boris" co-host Brandi remains, now joined by "Deuce," who"d been the morning show producer at Cumulus sister station WPDH.

A veteran Albany talker is branching out into TV. WGDJ (1300)"s Paul Vandenburgh is launching a daily talk show on MyNetwork TV affiliate WNYA (Channel 51, "My 4" on cable). The show will run from 4-5 PM on weekdays. Down the road in Utica, CNYTVNews.com reports Tom Coyne is out after 17 years as program director at NBC affiliate WKTV (Channel 2), where he also voiced many of the station"s spots and occasionally filled in on sports; he"d been sports director at WUTR (Channel 20) before joining WKTV.

We"re sorry to report the death of Steve Fitz, a fixture on Albany-area radio and TV for many decades. Fitz started in radio at Schenectady"s WSNY (1240, now WVKZ) in 1948 and is credited with launching the market"s first talk show, "Party Line," on WSNY in 1952. In the 1960s, Fitz moved on to WGY (810) and WQBK (1300, now WGDJ) and WMHT-TV (Channel 17), along with some public relations work. In recent years, he"d been a regular guest on Bob Cudmore"s talk show at WVTL (1570) in Amsterdam. Fitz died January 22 at age 84.

Delmonico

And we"re sorry to report the death of James Delmonico, whose career at General Electric started in manufacturing but ended as general manager of its Schenectady broadcast stations, WGY, WGFM and WRGB. Delmonico led those stations from 1974 until his retirement in 1987, and by then he"d served as a director and chairman of the New York State Broadcasters Association. But he"s perhaps best remembered for his years as national president of the Broadcasters Pioneers (now the Broadcasters Foundation of America), where he"s credited with helping the organization climb out of a deficit into financial stability. Delmonico, who was inducted into the New York State Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2005, died January 21 at age 91 in Syracuse, where his son Joel is Clear Channel"s market manager.

*In PENNSYLVANIA"s Lehigh Valley, it didn"t take long to fill the PD vacancy at Clear Channel top-40 WAEB-FM (104.1 Allentown): Jeff Hurley starts today in that post, moving over from sister station WLAN-FM (96.9 Lancaster) after six years there, most recently as PD/OM. Replacing Hurley at WLAN-FM is Holly Love, who" s been promotions director at Clear Channel Harrisburg and middays at WRBT (94.9) there; earlier, she"d been APD, music director and morning co-host at WLAN. And there are more changes happening at WLAN-FM: morning co-host Liz Bell was gone from the station at week"s end, leaving the station without a morning show for now.

Radio People on the Move in Philadelphia: Rob Tingle is now part of the Chio & Shila morning show at Beasley"s WRDW-FM (Wild 96.5), returning to the air after losing his job when his former station, WKQX (101.1 Chicago), was bought by Merlin and flipped to all-news last year. Over at Clear Channel, Kade is now voicetracking nights on WRFF (104.5), but he remains based across the country at sister station KYSR (98.7 Los Angeles). Down the hall at WISX (Mix 106.1), it"s more out-of-market voicetracking: Wendy Wild will be tracking middays in Philadelphia from her home base at New York"s WKTU (103.5). And a "Where are they now?" installment: veteran Philly talent Paul Barsky has landed in south Florida, where he"s now doing afternoons at talker WFTL (850 West Palm Beach). Barsky"s last radio gig had been at CBS Radio sports talker KRLD-FM (105.3 the Fan) in Dallas, back in 2010.

Backyard Broadcasting is getting ready to add an FM translator to its WWPA (1340 Williamsport): it"s filed to buy W203BF from Florida"s Pensacola Christian College for $25,000, and it already has a CP to move the translator from 88.5 into the commercial part of the band, where it will operate on 101.3, having been displaced by full-power WXPI on 88.5.

And in the Pittsburgh suburbs, there"s a new middayer at Keymarket"s "Froggy" country stations (WOGI 104.3/WOGG 94.9/WOGH 103.5): Heather Storm moves east from Wisconsin"s WKSZ to become "Heather Green" at Froggy, where she"ll take over the airshift now occupied by PD Dave Anthony. Meanwhile at WKFB (770 Jeannette), mainstay Frankie Day is giving up most of his oldies airtime at the end of January, though he"ll remain in place on the station"s "Morning Memory" show.

*A MASSACHUSETTS translator is nearing its final destination: what started as W291CC (106.1) in Sanford, Maine has been migrating down the coast, moving up the dial to 106.3 as W292DY. Now it"s filed for a license to cover back on 106.1, operating with a whopping three directional watts from a site in Amesbury. The translator is owned by Port Broadcasting, which apparently plans to pair it with WNBP (1450) in Newburyport.

Just up the dial, a deal between Multicultural Broadcasting and the latest incarnation of the venerable Music of Your Life format is landing standards music in the evening, overnight and weekend hours on WAZN (1470 Watertown) beginning Wednesday. The format will also be heard on MRBI stations in other large markets, though apparently not in New York City just yet.

DirecTV customers in and around Boston can breathe a little easier: with the Super Bowl now less than a week away and the Patriots poised for their fourth ring (impartial about Boston sports? us? never!), it was almost inevitable that a combination of customer and political pressure would force an agreement to return NBC affiliate WHDH-TV (Channel 7) and its CW sister station WLVI (Channel 56) to DirecTV...and so it did. (Some DirecTV customers in areas beyond the reach of WHDH"s broadcast signal, primarily up in New Hampshire, were getting New York"s WNBC fed to them by DirecTV in the interim.)

The actual NBC game broadcast next Sunday is just part of an on-air barrage of coverage in and beyond both the Pats" and Giants" home markets, of course. On radio, both contenders in Boston"s big sports rivalry will be carrying the play-by-play of the game - flagship WBZ-FM (98.5 the Sports Hub) will have the local call with veterans Gil Santos and Gino Cappelletti, while WEEI (850/93.7) will have the national call from Dial Global, formerly Westwood One. Local reporters are headed to Indianapolis from all over the region, too, and we were particularly tickled by the promos our local WROC-TV (Channel 8) in Rochester is running for its coverage. WROC is sharing sports director John Kucko with sister Nexstar stations all over the country, including WFXV/WUTR in Utica and WBRE/WYOU in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and it"s promoting Kucko"s big gig ("only one Rochester sports reporter has what it takes...") with a clever spot showing all its sister stations" logos and Kucko holding a mic festooned with multiple flags.

Where Are They Now? Boston TV viewers from the 1990s fondly remember Meg Lavigne"s days as WSBK (Channel 38) program director, in part because of her on-air duties as host of "Ask the Manager." Lavigne moved on to Viacom/Paramount/CBS sister stations WGNT in Norfolk, Virginia and WUPA in Atlanta before joining syndicator Litton Entertainment, best known for programming ABC"s Saturday morning block. Last week, Litton named Lavigne its president for television.

And we note the passing of "Rocko," who was the night guy on WAAF (107.3 Worcester) from 1995 until 1998, when he took over afternoon drive following Opie & Anthony"s "Mayor Menino is dead" stunt-gone-wrong. Rocko, whose real name was Frank Pallaria Jr., stayed at WAAF until 2002. He died January 19 in Sarasota, Florida, at just 46 years old.

*A VERMONT morning host is leaving: John Nolan has been just "Nolan" on the "Live with Nolan and Tara" morning show at WEZF (Star 92.9) in Burlington - and now he"s headed to the west coast for what the station describes as "an incredible opportunity to BLESS a brand new community." Nolan"s last day on the air at WEZF was Saturday.

*In CANADA, the CRTC has given Bell"s "CTV Two" outlet in the Toronto market permission to build two over-the-air digital signals in the Hamilton/Niagara region. CKVR (Channel 3) is licensed to Barrie, north of Toronto, and rival broadcasters fought its proposal to add digital transmitters on channel 35 in Hamilton and channel 42 in Fonthill. Why bother? Because the Canadian "sim-sub" policy currently doesn"t allow CKVR to force cable systems in Hamilton and points east to replace US signals carrying the same programming with CKVR"s feed - and its regional advertising, but the presence of an over-the-air CKVR signal would allow CTV Two to force "sim-sub" in Hamilton and Niagara, and to reap the benefit of being able to sell advertising across the entire Toronto extended market.

The application drew stiff opposition from rival broadcasters, especially Hamilton"s own CHCH (Channel 11), which complained that it would suffer economic harm from the addition of new CKVR transmitters on its home turf. In a divided decision, the CRTC ruled that because CKVR won"t be able to solicit local advertising in the area, CHCH shouldn"t be affected. But commissioners Rita Cugini and Peter Menzies offered up a sharply-worded dissent, saying Bell is doing an end run around the CRTC"s rule that"s supposed to prohibit TV duopolies, especially since the new transmitters will bring no benefit to what"s supposed to be CKVR"s local audience up in Barrie, where Menzies and Cugini say Bell has cut back on local news staffing and production.

Radio People on the Move: Milkman UnLimited reports Cub Carson is coming home to Ottawa after doing mornings at CKHY (105.1 Halifax); he"s leaving "Live 105" to become morning host at CKKL (93.9 BOB FM), where he starts February 13. In Peterborough, Pete Dalliday moves from evenings to afternoons at CKWF (The Wolf 101.5), replacing Brian Ellis.

And here"s an item that should raise some fresh questions about just how close streaming is coming to supplanting broadcast radio as the most important platform for talent: the longtime Toronto morning team of Humble and Fred has signed a deal with Rogers Radio - but not to air on any of Rogers" terrestrial stations. Instead, Rogers is promoting HumbleandFredRadio.com on 19 of its radio station websites all over Canada. "It"s like having another Rogers radio station that lives solely in the digital space," said Rogers Radio programming VP Julie Adam in the release announcing the deal.

 

From the NERW Archives

 

Yup, we"ve been doing this a long time now, and so we"re digging back into the vaults for a look at what NERW was covering one, five, ten and - where available - fifteen years ago this week, or thereabouts.

Note that the column appeared on an erratic schedule in its earliest years as "New England Radio Watch," and didn"t go to a regular weekly schedule until 1997.

One Year Ago: January 31, 2011 -

*One of the oldest campus/community stations in CANADA is fighting for its continued existence after a surprisingly harsh decision from the CRTC that will compel it to sign off for good next month.

CKLN (88.1 Toronto) has been in the CRTC"s sights since the summer of 2009, when the station was locked out of its home at Ryerson Polytechnic Institute by campus building managers who were concerned about infighting among the station"s board and staff. The lockout lasted seven months, during which time CKLN programming consisted only of an intermittent loop of pre-recorded material that had been put in the automation system before the lockout.

That, of course, fell afoul of the strict content mandates that the CRTC imposes, and that triggered a CRTC inquiry that led to promises by CKLN"s management that the problems with the station would be resolved in short order. Believing those promises hadn"t been kept, the CRTC ordered CKLN to a hearing last May (subsequently adjourned to December) at which the station was asked to show cause why its license shouldn"t be revoked.

On Friday, the CRTC announced its decision from the hearing: instead of imposing the "mandatory order" that the Commission usually uses to give a wayward licensee one last chance to come into compliance (as it did for CHSC in St. Catharines, which was called on the carpet at the same CRTC hearing in May), it announced that CKLN"s license was being revoked, effective February 12.

The CRTC says it"s simply lost any confidence in CKLN"s management to control the station, or in the power of a mandatory order to bring about the needed changes.

"Moreover, when asked about how it would respond to the issuance of mandatory orders or the suspension of its licence, the licensee stated that it believes it is taking all necessary steps to ensure compliance. It therefore stated that the issuance of mandatory orders or the suspension of its licence would not change its approach going forward," the CRTC said in its majority decision.

Commissioner Louise Poirier dissented strongly from the decision: "No other licences have been revoked in this manner in recent Commission history," she wrote. "Such revocations have always been preceded by either a mandatory order or a short-term licence renewal. The Commission is thus creating a precedent with respect to the principle of gradation of regulatory measures taken by the Commission when dealing with a licensee in a situation of non-compliance. This action is unwarranted and inequitable."

The CRTC"s license revocation is unlikely to be the last word on CKLN"s fate: a station meeting is set for tonight, and it"s very likely that the station will appeal the decision, at least delaying its fate.

*It"s been eight years since Tom Joyner"s syndicated morning show was heard in NEW YORKCity, but now the Dallas-based "fly jock" is back in the Big Apple - and right back at his old home. WRKS (98.7). The Emmis-owned urban station never named a replacement for comedian D.L. Hughley when he disappeared from his morning shift there last August, and it"s been filling the timeslot with music and interim hosts ever since.

When Joyner returns to "Kiss" next Monday, the station will still have one local voice in the morning: veteran newsman Bob Slade will continue to do local newscasts during the Joyner show. (And the return of Joyner to morning drive means an all-syndicated drivetime lineup for WRKS, which carries Michael Baisden in afternoons.)

*Two program directors are out in Buffalo: at Entercom, Brian Demay is gone from WTSS (Star 102.5) after four years in the PD chair; for now, Sue O"Neil will add WTSS duties to her PD responsibilities down the hall at WKSE (98.5). Demay also did an afternoon airshift on WTSS. Meanwhile at locally-owned WECK (1230 Cheektowaga), Tom Schuh is out as PD after helping to get the station on the air a couple of years back.

*A veteran western PENNSYLVANIA talk host is dead. Doug Hoerth was a fixture on Pittsburgh"s airwaves from 1980 until 2007, making stops along the way at WWSW/WTKN (970), KQV (1410), KDKA (1020) and most famously at WTAE (1250), before ending his career at Renda"s WPTT (1360) and WJAS (1320).

"Uncle Dougie" poured his distinctive personality into his show, which was heard in afternoon drive for most of its run, and friends tell the Pittsburgh papers that he slid into depression after losing his last regular airshift at WPTT in December 2007. Two years later, his longtime producer/co-host Laurence Gaines died, and friends say Hoerth had become reclusive after that.

Police were called to Hoerth"s home in suburban Bellevue after he didn"t answer his phone for several days, and they found his body there on Tuesday night. Hoerth was 66.

(You can read much more about Doug Hoerth , in an excellent tribute piece from Tube City Almanac"s Jason Togyer.)

*After more than 17 years of operating WQQQ (103.3) in Sharon, CONNECTICUT as a commercial station, Dennis Jackson is turning the station"s airwaves over to a nearby public broadcaster in a week"s time.

Starting February 7, WQQQ will be LMA"d to WSHU-FM (91.1 Fairfield), which will replace the station"s current full-service AC format with an expansion of the public radio service WSHU provides to Fairfield County and much of eastern Long Island via its own three full-power signals and a multitude of translators.

Acknowledging that it"s "bittersweet to be ending the local local local approach we"ve had all these years," Jackson says he and his wife Maureen, longtime WSHU supporters, are "very happy to be simplifying our lives and to be working with successful and good people to carry a format I really believe in."

The handoff from WQQQ"s local operation to WSHU will take place during a special morning show next Monday, the last appearance by veteran morning team Joe Loverro and Marie Castagna, who"ve been managing the station for Jackson for many years.

Five Years Ago: January 29, 2007 -

*The founder and longtime station adviser to high school station WAVM (91.7) in Maynard, MASSACHUSETTS, died last week, just as his trial on child rape and indecent assault charges was getting underway.

Joseph Magno spent all day last Monday in court as attorneys held a pre-trial hearing in the case, then died at his home in Hudson that night, apparently of a heart attack. Magno had been under house arrest there since last March.

Magno, 66, had been in poor health for the last year or so, since the charges against him became public. A jury was to have been seated for the trial later in the week; the charges will now be dismissed once a formal death certificate is filed with the court.

Before Magno made headlines on those charges, he was a prominent figure for his tireless work to keep WAVM on the air in the face of threats to its survival from several religious broadcasters. The station eventually worked out a settlement that will allow it to boost its power to 500 watts, an upgrade that should take place in the spring.

*Qantum Communications wants to move WRZE (96.3 Nantucket) to the Cape Cod mainland. It"s applied under the new FM rules to change "The Rose" from a Nantucket-licensed class B signal to a Dennis-licensed class B1, running 25 kW/297" from the WCOD (106.1 Hyannis) tower on Hokum Rock Road in Dennis.

*In northeast PENNSYLVANIA, sports radio is back on the AM dial. Responding to Connoisseur"s flip of sports WFNN (1330 Erie) to oldies WFGO a couple of weeks ago, Citadel"s flipping WRIE (1260 Erie) from standards to sports today as "ESPN Radio 1260 the Score." WRIE will also carry the Jim Rome show in middays.

Former WFNN talk hosts Captain Dan and Allan Carpenter have resurfaced; our friends over at PBRTV.com report that Captain Dan is joining WJET (1400) PD Jeff Johns and Mike Boremann for a new morning show on WJET, replacing Don Imus. Carpenter, meanwhile, takes over mornings at "Bob FM" WXBB (94.7 Erie).

The new FM rules brought with them two interrelated Pennsylvania applications, one of which would move a station across state lines from Maryland. Bob Stevens" Broadcast Communications, Inc. wants to move WANB-FM (103.1 Waynesburg) to Mount Pleasant, PA, upgrading from class A to B1 with 4.8 kW/754" from a tower site in Uniontown and throwing a fringe signal as far north as downtown Pittsburgh. To make the move possible, sister station WROG (102.9 Cumberland MD) applies to move to Chambersburg, PA, where it would become a class A facility on 102.9 with 350 watts/1351".

Up in State College, Steve "Hitman" Hilton drops the nickname and moves from WGMR (101.1 Tyrone) to the new WBHV (94.5 State College) for weekends; also joining WBHV is Mak McKeehan, for nights.

And in Scranton, we can finally put some punctuation on our ongoing coverage of the move of WBZU (910, ex-WGBI) from its longtime Davis Street tower site to the rooftop tower of WEJL (630 Scranton): the Davis Street tower came down last week, with the aid of a big crane. Thanks to Entercom CE Lamar Smith for sharing the pictures!

*The top story from CANADA this week is an obituary: John Majhor died last Tuesday, ending a career that included 11 years on the air at Toronto"s CHUM (1050), a pioneering role as one of North America"s first VJs on "Video Singles" on CFMT-TV and "Toronto Rocks" on CITY-TV, and later work in Los Angeles, New Mexico and South Carolina, as well as a return to Toronto in the early nineties at CJEZ, CFRB and CITY. Over the last few months, Majhor made his fight with brain cancer public. It progressed quickly, and he succumbed at his home in Minnesota at the far-too-young age of 53.

Ten Years Ago: January 30, 2002 -

It may have been "The Best of Everything," but the music format that aired for the past year or so on WDRC (1360) in Hartford and three other Buckley Broadcasting AMs in CONNECTICUT has been replaced by talk, effective today (Jan. 28). Replacing the adult contemporary format, which ranged in vintage from big-band standards to more recent tunes, is a talk lineup that includes current WDRC morning host Brad Davis, followed by Joy Browne and the Dolans. We hear the stations, which also include WSNG (610 Torrington), WWCO (1240 Waterbury) and WMMW (1470 Meriden), will add the Bill O"Reilly syndicated afternoon talk show when it launches later in the spring.

We"ll detour next to CANADA to report the sad news of Peter Gzowski"s death last Thursday (Jan. 24), a result of the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema that followed a lifetime of smoking. Gzowski first came to attention in the late sixties as the youngest editor ever named at Maclean"s magazine, but his broadcast career began in 1971, when he joined CBC Radio as host of a new nationwide show called "This Country in the Morning." He left CBC Radio a few years later for an ill-fated stint on CBC-TV as the uncomfortable host of "90 Minutes Live," then returned to writing before rejoining CBC Radio in 1982 to host "Morningside." It was in that role, from the fall of 1982 until the show ended in 1997, that Gzowski became the unofficial voice of Canada, conducting tens of thousand of interviews with everyone from prime ministers to the most average of Canadians. A typical "Morningside" show was as likely to include a call for favorite pie recipes as an interview with a political leader or literary luminary. Gzowski"s commitment to documenting the quirks and distinctions of Canadian society came through in the contests the show ran, including one for the best completion of the phrase "As Canadian as..." (The eventual winner: "As Canadian as possible, under the circumstances.")

Gzowski never left the world of print, either, compiling several volumes of Morningside Papers and several other Canadian best-sellers, most recently A Peter Gzowski Reader, a compilation of his columns for the Globe and Mail and other recent articles. Gzowski had also returned to TV after the end of "Morningside," hosting occasional specials for CBC television and radio. He was 67 years old, and was survived by his ex-wife, five children and his longtime companion, Gillian Howard.

Back to the states we"ll go, with some morning show developments in MAINE. The Bangor Daily News reports some folks in town aren"t happy about the change a few weeks ago that ousted local morning hosts Charles Horne and Lee Jonason from talker WVOM (103.9 Howland) in favor of "Maine in the Morning" with former WKCG (101.3 Augusta) morning team Mike Violette and Eric Leimbach. The new show comes from Augusta, and is being heard over the "Voice of Maine" talk network Clear Channel created at WVOM, WHQO (107.9 Skowhegan) and WCME (96.7 Boothbay Harbor).

We"ll start our NEW YORK news with a new station on the air in the Rochester area. WBJA (102.1 Albion) signed on sometime last week (it was first reported to us on Tuesday), carrying Calvary Satellite Network programming with a signal that"s far better than we"d expected from a low stick class A some 35 miles west of Rochester, co-channel with a high-power signal from Toronto"s CN Tower. Yet WBJA is coming in just fine here at NERW Central, complete with legal IDs claiming service to "Niagara," which does seem a bit unlikely to us, especially with a null in their directional antenna out that way. We"ll check the signal out in more detail when next we head to Toronto next month...

Fifteen Years Ago: January 25, 1997 -

Welcome to the first edition of "NorthEast Radio Watcher." If this looks and sounds familiar to you, it should. NorthEast Radio Watcher (aka NERW) is the successor to "New England Radio Watcher" (coincidentally enough, also aka NERW), which for the last few years has attempted to chronicle the ups and downs of broadcasting in the six New England states and vicinity. The new NERW will maintain that mission -- but in keeping with our relocation to a new home base in Rochester NY, we"ll also be including news and notes from across upstate New York. No need to panic; with any luck, the only thing you"ll notice will be somewhat infrequent posts for the next six weeks or so as we relocate.

And with that, on with the all-new, completely-changed, same-as-it-ever-was NERW:
Just in the nick of time: As the FCC clock ticks ever closer to February 9, one Massachusetts station has been saved from extinction. WCEG (1530) in Middleboro MA has returned to the air from a transmitter site in North Middleboro, running one kilowatt daytime-only with programming from the Massachusetts Radio Reading Service. WCEG started out in the early 90s as a nifty little local music station, but with a tiny signal in a sparsely- populated area, it failed to catch on. Brockton"s WMSX (1410) bought the station a few years back, simulcasting it with WMSX for a time, and running Portuguese-language programming for a while as well. WCEG had been dark for several years, and was in danger of losing its license when Steve Callahan took it over with the radio-reading format, which NERW thinks is a clever way to provide a public service while simultaneously keeping WCEG alive.

WCEG"s return leaves just a handful of dark stations facing extinction next month. Here"s the roll call: WTOX (1450) and WHMX (105.7) way up in Lincoln ME are being purchased by Bangor Baptist Church -- except that the application to transfer WTOX has somehow been dismissed. NERW speculates that WHMX may return simulcasting the church"s WHCF (88.5 Bangor). WRPT (1050) Peterborough NH has an application pending to change frequency and city of license, becoming 650 kHz in Ashland MA. The same owner has been granted permission to return dark WBIV (1060) Natick MA to the air as a daytimer from the WKOX site in Framingham MA, but with two weeks to go, there"s still no sign of WBIV. WHWB (970) Rutland VT has been dark for years and shows no sign of returning. WQQW (1590) Waterbury CT will expire quietly, allowing its new owners to expand the pattern and power of their WWRL (1600) in New York City. And amazingly enough, NERW knows of not a single licensed station in upstate New York that is presently dark! We"ll update the list again as February 9 approaches.

From the radio-with-pix front (noted in the milliseconds between Patriots-related programming): Another nifty independent station is about to bite the dust in the Boston market. WNDS (Channel 50) in Derry NH is being sold to the new Global Shopping Network, and by mid-March, it"s slated to become the fifth Boston-area UHF station running either home shopping or infomercials. Meantime, Boston"s WCVB (Channel 5) is kicking off its 25th anniversary celebration with on-air promos, and celebrating the 15th anniversary of its evening magazine show "Chronicle." And over in upstate New York, Syracuse"s WSTM (Channel 3) has hired Don Lark as its main weekday anchor. Lark was known for many years as the main anchor on WFSB (Channel 3) in Hartford CT. Back on the air after being dark for many years is Channel 26 in Jamestown NY, now with a new transmitter site closer to Buffalo and with the religious programming and WNYB-TV calls that used to be on Channel 49 in Buffalo, which is now WB affiliate WNYO-TV.

A few station sales to report: Bob Bittner Broadcasting is adding a third New England station, WJTO (730) in Bath ME. Bob tells us he plans to keep most of WJTO"s talk programming, along with some of the beautiful music heard on his WJIB (740) Cambridge-Boston and WNEB (1230) Worcester MA. Between 730 and 740, Bob"s stations will cover most of the Atlantic coast from Cape Cod to Maine during the day.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Scott,
    F.Y.I. Stefan Michajliw did not work at WIVB-TV, but first as a Reporter at at WKBW-TV, then for a few years at WGRZ-TV as a Reporter. His work after that included most recently, as P.R. on the campaign of Chris Collins, the former Erie County Executive, and before that, with the City of Buffalo School Board as P.R. person.

  2. Although WFNW-AM 1380 has been mostly silent for the past several weeks, they return to the air every now and then on a sporadic basis for several hours. Their last such broadcast was about 2-3 weeks ago.

  3. That whole CKVR (CTV”two”) deal makes no sense to me. If Ch.3 is an afilliate, then they’d have the same programming as whatever “two” channel serves Toronto…(is that Ch.15?) Anyway, having the ability to do carry-out that ludicrous “sim-sub” rule seems pointless, since Ch.3’s programming would be identical? — and already received on cable via the Toronto station, which would be under sim-sub anyway. The only argument would be that the Niagara region needs their own afilliate….which is what they’ve done.

  4. CORRECTION:

    CTVtwo Toronto is probably 52 (right?) — I was thinking of their cable allocation in the Niagaga region when I referred to “15”.

  5. rbwny, it’s a little more complex than that. CKVR *is* “CTV Two” for Toronto. Its only OTA transmitter is the one up in Barrie, which was analog 3 (I forget the digital RF channel!) It has long enjoyed cable carriage throughout southern Ontario, but the simsub rules only apply to areas within a certain radius of the OTA transmitter.

    So…in Toronto itself and points north, if CKVR is running the same show that’s running on ABC or CBS or NBC, cable viewers tuned to WKBW or WIVB or WGRZ will see CKVR instead, allowing CTV to sell that audience to its advertisers. But cable viewers in Hamilton and Niagara, at least up until now, will be seeing Buffalo ads and promos because the cable companies aren’t required to “simsub” CKVR in those areas.

    By adding the new transmitters, the cable companies in Hamilton and the Niagara region will now have to replace the US feeds with CKVR when they’re running the same programming, and CTV argues that it will therefore be able to charge the same ad rates on CKVR that other full-market competitors like CITY can charge.

    As for channel 52, that was CKXT, the old “Toronto 1” that became “Sun TV,” but Quebecor surrendered that OTA license when it transformed the CKXT OTA service into a national cable channel, Sun News. The connection here is that the RF channel CKVR wants to use in Hamilton is, if I’m not mistaken, the channel CKXT was using for its Hamilton relay. I believe CKXT’s main Toronto transmitter was using RF 40 for its DTV signal, and that channel is now being reused by “Omni 2,” CJMT.

  6. Thanks, Scott. I didn’t realize ch. 3 was TORONTO’s CTV.2! It makes more sense now. And yes I’m familiar with the “subbing” laws. When my parents were alive I’d visit them in Niagara, and seeing the U.S. nets blocked-out by Cdn stations was very annoying! And I did happen to notice back then that CKVR was never subbed when they aired Jay Leno alongside NBC.

    P.S….what RF ch. did Hamilton have on 44? IIRC I thought THAT was CKXT.

  7. I don’t believe there was ever an RF 44 licensed to Hamilton. There was briefly an analog 44 in Toronto, CJMT (“Omni.2”), and now RF 44 belongs to CITY-TV there, still remapped to 57.1.

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