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In this week"s issue... Cumulus readies 94.7 launch in NYC - Lightning, fire destroy NY FM site - Wolf out after two weeks on WDST - OTA Broadcasting buys NH LPTV from Binnie - TTP files Montreal 850 application - WKAJ will not die, still

By SCOTT FYBUSH

EDITOR"S NOTE: Thanks to all of you who"ve expressed concern about "Mrs. NERW." Lisa"s still in the hospital here in Rochester, but she"s on track to a full recovery. It will be a week or two yet before she"s able to handle subscription or advertising inquiries, which should go straight to your editor in the meantime; as always, we greatly appreciate your patience as we work to get things back to normal around here!

wrxp-nashfmMONDAY MORNING UPDATE: Cumulus" "Wheel of Formats" ended right on schedule, with a New York -focused audio montage including Frank Sinatra"s "New York, New York" and Billy Joel"s "New York State of Mind" - and moments ago, that launched into the city"s first full-signal country format in more than a decade and a half.

"The World"s Biggest Country Station, New York"s new Nash FM" is, as expected, the market #1 outpost for what Cumulus expects to make into a national lifestyle brand. ("Country for Life" is the tagline on the fairly skimpy site that went live just as the station was launching.)

There"s no sign - yet, at least - of live air talent or even much of a New York-based staff to the station, which we"re expecting to be programmed on more of a national level, likely with a lot of input from Cumulus in Nashville and Dallas. And in a way, that shows how it was only Cumulus that had the ability to pull off a successful country station in New York City in 2013. The company"s existing New York cluster of WABC (770) and especially WPLJ (95.5) already has a sales force that"s heavily focused on the suburbs, which is where 94.7 will draw the bulk of its audience, too. And Cumulus" strong national sales focus should also help overcome a lot of the perceived "New York agency bias" that has kept country off the dial in New York City since WYNY (103.5) flipped to WKTU 17 years ago this month.

Much more on Nash FM in the days and weeks to come...

MONDAY"S ORIGINAL COLUMN: *If you"re reading this as it"s being published early Monday morning, you"ve still got a few hours of suspense ahead of you before we find out what the newest commercial FM format in the NEW YORK City market will be. At 9:47 AM, Cumulus will end its weekend of "wheel of format" stunting on WRXP (94.7 Newark NJ).

wrxp-947newyorkWhat comes next? Over at RadioInsight.com, Lance Venta picked up late last week on some changes at several of the “Nash FM” domains registered by Cumulus in late 2012. Those domains spent the weekend parked on a staging server, and along with Cumulus" recent registration of numerous "Nash" trademarks, they reinforce the conventional wisdom that says Cumulus is getting ready to launch a country format into a market that hasn’t had a full-signal country FM since the old WYNY (103.5) flipped back in 1996.

We’ll have updates right away…just as soon as the flip is official.

Meanwhile, the former owner of 94.7 is back on the air up in northern Westchester County. Family Stations picked up WDVY (106.3 Mount Kisco) from Cumulus as part of the sale of 94.7, and last week WDVY completed its flip from country (simulcasting with WDBY 105.5 Patterson/Danbury, which stays with Cumulus) to Family, taking the WFME calls that used to be on 94.7.

*Upstate, Cranesville Block Company just might be the luckiest broadcaster in the region. After spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to build a four-tower 10,000-watt directional array for its new WKAJ (1120 St. Johnsville), Cranesville was on the verge of losing its entire investment when the FCC refused to grant the station a license to cover its construction permit.

The WKAJ site, June 2012
The WKAJ site, June 2012

That, as NERW readers know, was in large part Cranesville’s own fault, since it didn’t complete that construction before the December 2011 expiration date on the CP, and didn’t contact the FCC for an extension until after the towers finally went up in early 2012.

The FCC acknowledges that it"s "deeply concerned about [Cranesville]’s disregard of the Commission’s requirements for seeking additional time, its failure to provide complete information initially, and its unauthorized construction after permit expiration," and it admonishes Cranesville for all that – but it also recognizes (no doubt aided by the intervention of U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer) that there were some pretty serious factors keeping WKAJ from being built on time.

As we reported back in October, Cranesville made the case to the FCC that the aftereffects of two big storms that hit the region made it impossible for construction crews to get to St. Johnsville for several months, and even if they had been able to access the site, Cranesville itself was unable to pay much attention to WKAJ because it was focused on its own core business of supplying concrete and concrete blocks to assist in all the other road and building repairs in the region.

Taking pains to emphasize that this ruling isn’t intended to set any precedent for other permittees, the FCC has now extended the WKAJ construction permit to the end of 2012 and reinstated the station’s callsign, leaving just one more step (the actual license to cover) yet to take place before the long-delayed signal can finally hit the air in the Mohawk Valley.

In other similar cases, the FCC has imposed some hefty fines after the fact on broadcasters who’ve engaged in unauthorized construction after CP expiration, but the Commission’s careful use of the term “admonish” suggests that Cranesville won’t even face any monetary penalties.

*When WDST (100.1 Woodstock) announced at the start of 2013 that it was adding longtime Albany morning man Bob "Wolf" Wohlfeld to its lineup, the move felt a little strange to us - as a laid-back AAA outlet, "Radio Woodstock" didn"t seem like a good fit for the more high-energy sort of "Waking Up with the Wolf" show Wohlfeld had done at WPYX in Albany and at WPDH in Poughkeepsie before that. Turns out we weren"t the only ones thinking that way: on Friday morning, Wohlfeld was abruptly gone from WDST and former morning man Greg Gattine was back in place.

"My style of humor and the things I do best were not going to work with what WDST is known for," said Wohlfeld on his Facebook page. "It was a very friendly parting and I hope to work with Gary on some other projects in the future."

The WYSX/WPAC site, Sunday morning (photo: Dave Merz/WYSX)
The WYSX/WPAC site, Sunday morning (photo: Dave Merz/WYSX)

*Way up north, Stephens Media is scrambling to get two of its stations back on the air after a lightning strike early Sunday started a fire that destroyed the transmitter building shared by WYSX (96.7 Morristown) and WPAC (98.7 Ogdensburg). The fire also knocked off sister station WNCQ (102.9 Canton), which had an STL link running through the WYSX/WPAC tower. WNCQ was able to get back on the air with a computer running automation from its transmitter site south of Canton, but WYSX and WPAC are reduced to streaming-only services for now as Stephens works to get temporary transmitters in place to restore signals from their shared site.

*Bill Binnie has been a busy man in recent months, building a broadcast empire centered on NEW HAMPSHIRE with the acquisition of more than a dozen former Nassau radio stations and what"s now WBIN-TV (Channel 50). But Binnie"s a seller this week, parting with WYCN-LP (Channel 13) in Nashua just a year after closing on his purchase of the station from Center Broadcasting. Binnie"s Carlisle Capital paid just $10,000 for the licenses of WYCN-LP and three more LPTVs in Nashua, Manchester and Concord (plus assumption of debts and non-compete agreements that pushed the purchase price into the mid-six figures), and he"s reaping a substantial profit from selling just WYCN-LP to Michael Dell"s OTA Broadcasting for $4.1 million.

Why the sudden surge in value for a signal that few in southern New Hampshire have ever even noticed? It"s because in addition to its analog channel 13 dial position and its cable carriage in Nashua and vicinity, WYCN has a construction permit to cut over to digital operation on RF channel 36. Dell"s OTA group has been betting big that UHF channels like that will bring even bigger bucks in the upcoming spectrum auctions, especially in crowded spectrum areas such as eastern New England, where OTA is also buying Providence-market CW affiliate WLWC (Channel 28/RF 22). And unlike Providence, where it appears OTA will actually operate WLWC for a while, it appears Dell"s group plans to simply lease WYCN right back to Binnie to continue operating out of his WBIN studio in Derry.

*In MASSACHUSETTS, the upset win by the Baltimore Ravens last night not only ended the New England Patriots" season, but also the broadcast career of one of the greatest sports voices New England has ever known. Former WBZ (1030) sports director Gil Santos was already honored lavishly for his 36 years as the Pats" play-by-play announcer at the team"s last regular-season game, where he was inducted into the team"s Hall of Fame alongside his longtime broadcast partner Gino Cappelletti. Like most of New England, Santos was hoping his retirement at the end of the Patriots season would come with a Super Bowl win in New Orleans, but it wasn"t to be: the team"s loss Sunday night marked his 745th and last game behind the microphone. Santos has suffered serious health problems in recent years, and we wish him all the best in his retirement.

And we’re mourning versatile newsman Bill Rossi, who was best known for his time alongside Matt Siegel on WXKS-FM (Kiss 108). Rossi started out in radio back in the 1950s in his native New Bedford, where he worked at WNBH (1340) and WBSM (1420). Later on, he worked at WPRO in Providence and at WRKO and WCOP in Boston. Rossi died January 9 in Billerica, at age 79.

*A RHODE ISLAND AM station wants a power increase. Blount Communications’ WARV (1590 Warwick) now runs 5000 watts day and night from its three-tower array. It’s asking the FCC to approve a daytime power increase to 8000 watts, based on measurements taken last year of the new signal at adjacent-channel WUNR (1600 Brookline).

Where are they now? Former Pawtucket Red Sox play-by-play voice Aaron Goldsmith has been hired by the Seattle Mariners to work alongside Rick Rizzs on this year’s games. Goldsmith had also worked up in MAINE for the Portland Sea Dogs. He’s the first permanent replacement the Mariners have hired after the death of Hall of Famer Dave Niehaus.

*There"s more local news coming to CONNECTICUT TV viewers: Fox outlet WTIC-TV (Channel 61, aka "Fox CT") is running promos for a new "Fox CT News at 5," to debut next Monday. The new newscast, anchored by Al Terzi and Alison Morris, will join WTIC-TV"s existing afternoon/evening shows at 4, 10 and 11 PM.

In New London, Cumulus has named two new PDs: Julie Johnson moves from sister station WELJ (104.7 Montauk NY) to classic rock WMOS (102.3 Stonington), while Nick Giuliano moves up to the PD chair at top-40 WQGN (105.5 Groton). Down the road at John Fuller"s Red Wolf group, it appears a new HD2-via-translator format is brewing: RadioInsight reports W258BI (99.5 New London) is stunting in advance of a launch as country "US 99.5," fed by the HD2 channel of sister station WBMW (106.5).

And in New Haven, they"re mourning Bob Norman, who went from hosting "Dialing for Dollars" on WNHC-TV (Channel 8, later WTNH) to serving as the station"s news director and lead anchor during its "Action News" heyday in the 1970s. Norman jumped from TV to politics, serving as mayor of East Haven from 1985-1991 and later in several administrative positions with the state of Connecticut. Norman died Saturday, at age 77.

*In VERMONT, we have belated news of the death of Bill Hobart, a longtime fixture on the dial in the Burlington area. Hobart began his radio career right after World War II in Troy, New York at WTRY, but by 1950 he had crossed the state line to work at WSYB (1380 Rutland). Later in the decade, he moved to Burlington to work at WDOT (then at 1400) and at WJOY (1230). The 1960s found Hobart becoming an FM pioneer, helping to launch WJOY’s sister FM signal (now WOKO 98.9), the market’s first commercial FM in 1967. Later on, Hobart worked for WWSR (1420 St. Albans), WEZF (92.9) and WVMT (620), and still later he spent more than a decade building a TV program at Burlington High School. Hobart died Dec. 12, at 87.

*In NEW JERSEY, Scott Taylor has been promoted to general manager at WAWZ (99.1 Zarephath), where he replaces the Rev. S. Rea Crawford. Taylor has been with “Star 99.1” since 1994, when he came on board as the morning host. He became the PD there in 2000 and station manager in 2003.

*There’s an antenna down in southeastern PENNSYLVANIA: at Villanova University, the antenna of WXVU (89.1) fell from a light pole at Villanova Stadium sometime on January 11. Engineer Mark Humphrey reports the antenna is “beyond repair,” and the station is operating from a temporary antenna attached to the stadium’s press box while a permanent replacement is ordered.

Another departure at Beasley’s WRDW-FM (Wired 96.5) in Philadelphia: “Grooves” is out as afternoon jock and music director, with no replacement named yet.

*Up in St. Mary’s, it was moving day last week for WKBI (1400) and WKBI-FM (93.9), which are now operating from the studio of new sister station WDDH (97.5). In nearby Kane, WDDH has disappeared from translator W256BS (99.1), which has asked the FCC for permission to move to 99.7 and to relay WXMT (106.3 Smethport) instead of WDDH.

*After just under three years as WLLI, AM 1150 in Huntingdon has returned to its heritage callsign, WHUN. The Forever Broadcasting station appears to have quietly changed formats at the end of 2012, flipping from classic country (which gave the station its "Willie" nickname and previous calls) to ESPN Radio sports.

ttp-montreal*CANADA"s largest Francophone radio market could soon have yet another new AM signal. We"ve known for a few months now that the Tietolman-Tétreault-Pancholy (TTP) partnership would be seeking a third new signal to go with the English (on 600) and French (on 940) news-talkers already authorized but not yet on the air, and now the CRTC has made the latest TTP application public. As expected, it calls for a French-language sports station on 850 kHz, the frequency vacated back in 1999 when the former CKVL (founded by TTP principal Paul Tietolman"s father, Jack) became CINF on 690.

The TTP 850 application, which will be heard by the CRTC at a March 20 hearing, calls for 50,000 watts by day and 22,000 watts at night from a new four-tower array to be built southwest of Montreal at Notre-Dame-de-L"ile-Perrot, aiming most of the signal north and east into Montreal and nulling co-channel WEEI (850 Boston, which used to suffer significant nighttime incursion from the old CKVL) and KOA in Denver.

TTP is promising around-the-clock live and local sports hosts, even though it won"t have play-by-play of any of the major local teams. (That really starts and ends in Francophone Montreal with the NHL Canadiens, who used to be on all-sports CKAC 730 before Cogeco began leasing that signal out to the provincial transportation department as all-traffic "Radio Circulation"; the Habs are now heard in French on Cogeco"s top-rated talker, CHMP 98.5.)

The CRTC hearing on March 20 will also include another new Montreal application: with 50 watts on 102.9 in the Saint-Laurent neighborhood of Montreal, the proposal from AGNI Communications calls for an ethnic format heavy on Tamil-language programming, replacing a service now heard on an FM subcarrier of CISM (89.3).

And there"s one more application on the agenda for that March 20 hearing in Gatineau, Quebec: in Prince Edward County, along the north shore of Lake Ontario, the Prince Edward County Radio Corporation is applying for a 3 kW/71 m signal on 92.3 for a new community radio station that will serve Picton and neighboring communities. While Prince Edward County is home to the transmitters of several stations licensed to nearby areas (including CJOH-TV-6 Deseronto and CJBQ 800 Belleville), this new signal would be the first actually licensed to the "county" (an amalgamated municipality of some 25,000 people) itself.

indietoronto-logo*The future "Indie 88.1" (CIND) in Toronto is angling for a power increase before it"s even made it to air. Barrie-based Rock 95 Broadcasting, which beat out almost two dozen competitors last year for the 88.1 frequency previously home to CKLN, has struck deals with three other broadcasters that would otherwise have limited the new CIND to the same relatively small signal as CKLN. CIND"s original authorization called for 850 watts (max DA)/328.4 m, but it"s now asking the CRTC to be allowed to run 4 kW (max DA)/281 m from First Canadian Place.

That extra power goes in the direction of two co-channel stations and one on a first-adjacent channel: CHES (88.1 Erin), CFRH (88.1 Penetanguishene) and CJIQ (88.3 Paris). but CIND has worked out arrangements with all of them. French-language community station CFRH will get up to $70,000 from CIND (pending the completed power increase), as well as CIND-supplied equipment for a CFRH rebroadcast transmitter on 106.7 in Barrie, if that"s approved by the CRTC.

As for the remaining stations, they"ve all entered into a mutual interference agreement. CHES has already applied to boost its power from 250 watts to 1250 watts, while CJIQ will be allowed to go all the way up to full class B (50 kW/150 m) if it desires.

*After a year with Rogers, veteran Toronto personalities "Humble" Howard Glassman and Fred Patterson have moved over to competitor Astral Media. Rogers made a big deal out of signing the duo to do a podcast, and then used them as well in mornings on CIKR (K-Rock 105.7) in Kingston, but it couldn"t offer Humble and Fred what Astral could: on-air slots in bigger markets such as Toronto, Hamilton and London. Starting tonight, Humble and Fred will be on the air at CFRB (1010 Toronto) at midnight and at CHAM (820 Hamilton) and CKSL (1410 London) at 10 PM, filling slots that had been occupied previously by syndicated "24/7 Comedy." That service will still be heard overnight (1-5 AM) on CFRB and the rest of the broadcast day on "Funny 820" and "Funny 1410."

Radio People on the Move: Dan Wylie is leaving CFJR (104.9) in Brockville to move west down the 401 to London, where he"s taking on the PD chair at CKLO (98.1 Free FM).

*It"s 2013! Do you have your 2013 Tower Site Calendar yet? It can be on your wall in just a few days, if you order right now!

This is the 12th edition of our annual calendar, which features photos of broadcast towers taken by Scott Fybush on his travels.

The 12-month wall calendar boasts a full-color photo each month of a well-known broadcast transmitter site.

This year’s edition includes sites in Florida, Wisconsin, Kentucky, California, Iowa, Idaho, Las Vegas, Colorado, Boston, Cleveland, Albuquerque, upstate New York and western Massachusetts. We"ve also redesigned the calendar to make it more colorful (don"t worry; the pictures are still pristine) and make the spiral binding our standard binding -- your calendar will hang even better on your wall now! And of course, we still have the convenient hole for hanging.

Order 20 or more for a 10% discount! And while you"re at the Fybush.com store, check out the new National Radio Club AM Log and the final stash of FM Atlas editions.

For more information and to order yours, click here!

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 23, 2012 -

*The first major format change of 2012 – and the first big sign of the Cumulus-Citadel consolidation in the region – comes to us from central PENNSYLVANIA, where Cumulus has restored the heritage format on WMHX (106.7), the Hershey-licensed signal most recently playing 90s pop as “Channel 106.7″ under Citadel ownership.

That frequency’s heritage in the Harrisburg market is country, beginning in the early 1980s when then-WPDC-FM in Elizabethtown changed calls to WRKZ, “Z107.” With a big signal blanketing not only Harrisburg but the other big regional markets of York and Lancaster, Z was a potent force in the area for almost two decades.

The Z incarnation of 106.7 lasted until 2002, when Citadel began shuffling formats, turning 106.7 into “Cat Country” WCAT-FM. That lasted just two years, with the 2004 flip to “Coolpop” WCPP sending country back to Carlisle-licensed 102.3, now WCAT-FM “Red 102.” But Cumulus didn’t get the 102.3 facility as part of its Citadel purchase; it’s now in trust pending a buyer, leaving Cumulus to get into the country game by returning “Z” to 106.7, which it did on Friday at 1:06 PM.

The new “Z Country 106.7,” soon to bear new calls WZCY-FM, comes into a market that’s more competitive for country than it was in the days of the old WRKZ.

Clear Channel’s WRBT (“Bob 94.9 FM”) knocked the old WRKZ out of the top country spot in town a decade ago, and continues to hold a dominant position in the market against the less-than-full-market “Cat” signal. Bringing country back to the full-market 106.7 spot on the dial promises to change that dynamic in Harrisburg – and it will have an impact as well in York, where Gettysburg’s WGTY (107.7) owns the country market.

The 106.7 signal reaches into Lancaster as well, but Cumulus’ country focus there is on another signal it inherited from Citadel, WIOV-FM (105.1 Ephrata).

There’s no word yet on staffing for the new 106.7, and no indication of imminent changes at the rest of the reshuffled Cumulus Harrisburg cluster, which also includes rhythmic top 40 “Hot” WWKL (93.5), hot AC WNNK (104.1), modern rock WQXA-FM (105.7) and ESPN outlet WHBG (1400).

Meanwhile, one of the stations spun off into trust from the Citadel-Cumulus deal has named a morning man: rocker WTPA (92.1 Palmyra) has named Chris Tyler as its new morning man. Tyler had been over at Clear Channel until the budget cuts last summer ousted him as operations manager, PD and morning man at WRVV (97.3 the River).

*A NEW JERSEY story we missed in the year-end chaos: Coastal Broadcasting’s WFNE (106.7 North Cape May) moved down the dial to 106.3 at 2 PM on December 28, boosting its power from 3 kW to 6 kW and moving to a new transmitter site near Wildwood that somewhat better centers its signal over land. The move was made possible by the shift of what’s now WTHJ from 106.3 in Ocean City to 106.5 in Bass River Township.

*Our NEW YORK news starts on the HD Radio dial in New York City, where Emmis pulled the plug on the “Hot 97 Throwbacks” classic hip-hop format that had been running on WQHT (97.1)’s HD2 channel for just over five years. It’s been replaced by “myRXP,” the streaming service that’s keeping alive the rock format that Emmis had programmed on former sister station WRXP (101.9, now Merlin all-news WEMP).

*Our New England report starts in RHODE ISLAND, where Salem didn’t stay long in the Providence market. After just a year operating WBZS (550 Pawtucket), Salem is selling the station to Wisconsin-based Catholic broadcaster Starboard Media Foundation, which will flip the signal to its “Relevant Radio” Catholic programming.

The flip comes with a healthy profit for Salem: it paid $550,000 to buy the station (formerly WDDZ) from Disney, and it’s selling the station for $750,000.

*In CONNECTICUT, they’re mourning “Dr. Mel,” WTNH (Channel 8) chief meteorologist Mel Goldstein, who died Wednesday (Jan. 18) at 66 after a long battle with multiple myeloma. Goldstein came to WTNH in 1986 after a career at Western Connecticut State University, where he ran a weather network that supplied more than a dozen area stations with forecasts. As chief meteorologist, “Dr. Mel” became a WTNH fixture for a quarter-century before his illness forced him to retire last August.

Five Years Ago: January 21, 2008 -

*It"s been a while since Bob Grant was making headlines in NEW YORK - but the WABC (770) night talker was back in the news last week after Radio & Records cancelled its plans to give him a Lifetime Achievement Award at its upcoming convention.

The about-face apparently followed a barrage of e-mails to the magazine and its parent company from Scott Pellegrino, a former producer for rival talk host Jay Diamond, and it revived the controversies that got Grant ousted from WABC back in 1996. This time, though, most of Grant"s fellow talk hosts closed rank around him, with Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and others using their shows to speak out in Grant"s defense, with some of them vowing to boycott the R&R award ceremony.

At week"s end, one of R&R"s rivals, Talkers magazine, seized the opportunity to announce that it would give Grant an award of its own in conjunction with WABC, to be presented at its own convention in June.

*After 23 years at the helm of WXRK (92.3 New York), VP/general manager Tom Chiusano is stepping down. Chiusano was there when Infinity flipped the station from WKTU to "K-Rock" in 1985, riding both the successful Howard Stern years and the turbulent "Free FM" period that followed. Chiusano says he"ll stay with WXRK as a consultant through mid-year; no replacement has been named yet.

Disney"s WEPN (1050 New York) continues to expand the reach of its ESPN programming beyond its own directional signal. In addition to the impending simulcast on WCHR (1040 Flemington NJ), WEPN announced last week that beginning today, it will be heard on The Morey Organization"s WLIR (107.1 Hampton Bays), bringing its sports programming to the east end of Long Island. WLIR has been temporarily simulcasting sister station "Party 105" (WDRE 105.3 Calverton-Roanoke) since dropping the last incarnation of the modern rock for which WLIR was known at its old Nassau County home, now WQBU (92.7 Garden City).

Over in the Albany market, the FCC has pulled the plug on the WCKL (560 Catskill) license after several years of silence, interrupted by brief returns to the air to keep the license alive. Here at NERW, we last heard WCKL on the air last June - did someone forget to let the FCC know about its latest "keep-alive" broadcast?

*While MASSACHUSETTS waits to see whether the Patriots can make it 19-0, there"s a change of voices coming in another Boston sports broadcast booth. After several years heading the Red Sox PR office, and one year as a part-time color commentator in the Sox radio booth, Glenn Geffner is heading south to join the Florida Marlins radio team. Geffner (who was also a broadcaster for the Rochester Red Wings a few seasons back) had been handling color for games when Dave O"Brien was working for ESPN; O"Brien"s committment to ESPN has ended, and he"ll now join Joe Castiglione for the full 2008 season.

There"s a new station on the air near Warren, in northwestern Pennsylvania. WNAE-FM (102.7 Clarendon) has signed on with a simulcast of "Kinzua Country" WKNB (104.3 Clarendon); expect a new permanent format there soon.

We"ve been remiss, incidentally, in noting the death of the founder of WKNB and its sister stations WNAE (1310 Warren) and WRRN (92.3 Warren). LeRoy Schneck died January 3 after a short hospitalization following a fall. Schneck began his broadcast career in 1941 in Du Bois and put WNAE on the air in 1946. He ran Kinzua Broadcasting until the stations were sold in 2005 to present owner Frank Iorio. Even then, he made occasional on-air appearances on the stations he founded, where he was perhaps best known as host of the "Just Stuff" talk show. Schneck had been named "Man of the Century" by the Warren County Chamber of Commerce, among other honors. He was 88.

*On the MAINE-NEW HAMPSHIRE line, Clear Channel indeed flipped the format on WUBB (95.3 York Center ME) to top-40 "Kiss" last Monday, and for the moment it"s a complete simulcast (except for spots) of Boston"s WXKS-FM (107.9 Medford), including the "Matty in the Morning" show.

*CANADA"s biggest market is one radio station smaller this week. CFBN (1280 Toronto) turned its license in to the CRTC, after the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, which owned the station, discontinued its operation.

1280 was originally CFYZ, programmed with live reports about airport traffic and travel-related features, but changed calls and format last April, switching to business news and information. The business programming continues , at least for now, or so CFBN"s website claims; we weren"t able to connect to the CFBN stream on Sunday night.

Ten Years Ago: January 20, 2003 -

Buffalo"s WWKB (1520) will ditch its business talk format next Monday morning (Jan. 27) to become "a thing of the past," with legendary "KB morning man Danny Neaverth at the helm. Stay tuned for much more in next week"s issue...

Alex Langer is selling his original MASSACHUSETTS radio station, but it won"t lead to much change for listeners. WBIX (1060 Natick) is being transferred to Perspectives Broadcasting, controlled by Brad and Bonnie Bleidt, the same folks who have been programming a business-news format on the station under an LMA with Langer. The deal values the station at $10 million; it"s a nice payoff for Langer, who bought then-silent WBIV for just $50,000 back in 1995 and put it back on the air from the WKOX (1200) site in Framingham. Today, WBIX runs 40 kilowatts by day and 22 kW during critical hours with a format that includes news updates from the Boston Business Journal. Langer, who also recently sold his 1470 signal in Marlborough (ex-WSRO, now WAZN), keeps WSRO (650 Ashland); he"ll also take a seat on the board of Perspectives.

Meanwhile out in Winchendon, WINQ (97.7) is getting a new owner as well, as Saga makes the station its latest acquisition in a region that stretches from Springfield north through the Pioneer Valley and into southern Vermont and New Hampshire. Saga pays Joseph Gallagher"s Aritaur group $400,000 for the station, which programs hot AC for the area west of Fitchburg; we expect it will end up combined somehow with Saga"s Keene operations (WKBK, WZBK, WOQL, WKNE-FM).

The rumors are flying hot and heavy in VERMONT about a format flip at WCVR (102.1 Randolph), and we hear they"re true: the station will soon drop its country format for a simulcast of the classic rock on "Champ" WCPV (101.3 Essex) from the Burlington market.

While the rumors keep swirling around NEW YORK"s WNEW (102.7), with the tabloids picking up on message-board chatter about a flip to AAA that didn"t happen last week, there is one bit of actual news from the Empire State this week: Binghamton public broadcaster WSKG was granted a construction permit to move off the Ingraham Hill tower it"s long shared with WICZ (Channel 40). WSKG-FM (89.3), WSKG-TV (Channel 46) and WSKG-DT (Channel 42) will be the tenants on a new 288-meter tower being built nearby. (WSKG-FM is operating under an STA at a temporary site for the moment, having been kicked off the WICZ tower last November.)

It was delayed more than two weeks, but the format change at WKMB (1070) in Stirling, NEW JERSEY finally took place over the weekend. Country came to an end on WKMB with sign-off on Saturday (Jan. 18); black gospel, as "Harvest Radio," took over Sunday morning, with the same WKMB airstaff, at least for now.

Fifteen Years Ago: January 19 & 22, 1998 -

On both sides of the border, the cleanup continues from the Ice Storm of "98. Power has been restored to all but a few small corners of Ontario, New York, and northern New England, while it may be another week or more before the "Dark Triangle" south of Monreal finally gets its power back. For broadcasters across the region, it"s also been a slow return to normal. NERW visited some of the communities in Ontario and New York hit by the ice storm, and here"s what we found:

ONTARIO: In much of the province, the only way you"d know there was a storm was to look at the news. Headlines on radio, TV, and in the newspaper continue to track the cleanup. Even CPAC, the Canadian equivalent of C-SPAN, got into the act, offering an unedited video view of the newsroom of CFRA (580 Ottawa) as its reporters, anchors, and editors covered the storm"s aftermath.

As we drove east on Highway 401, the scope of the damage became more apparent. Many of the trees in the Kingston area are missing limbs, and there are still crews along many roads repairing power lines. On the air, the most obvious sign of storm damage is on the FM dial, where both CFMK (96.3) and CFLY (98.3) are operating with extremely low power, barely enough to reach the city limits. CFMK"s tower on Wolfe Island, shared with CKWS (Channel 11), was toppled by the ice, while CFLY"s transmitter building in Harrowsmith was hit by ice falling from that tower. CFLY and AM sister station CKLC (1380) are running a daily program every afternoon at 1 with a roundup of storm news, including community-by-community updates from local officials and the power companies. CFMK"s sister station, CFFX (960), has returned to its usual oldies format. The sign outside its studio on Counter Street tells the story -- "Riders on the Storm."

NERW rode the ferry to Wolfe Island to see the CKWS site firsthand. Late on a Sunday afternoon, the property was swarming with workers. The twisted wreckage of the old 840-foot tower has been stacked in several neat piles, and tower segments for a replacement are on hand. CKWS is on the air with a very low power signal, not strong enough to make it to the cable headend serving Trenton, some 60 miles to the west. Wolfe Island remains without power, and it was a sobering site to see the darkness cover the island at sunset as we rode back to the mainland on the ferry.

Further up the St. Lawrence River, generators continue to power the main Ottawa transmitter sites, both the Camp Fortune site where most of the big FM and TVs are located and the Rogers site where several newer TV stations are located.

On the NEW YORK side of the river, several Watertown stations remain off the air or at low power. Right now, all three Watertown AMs are either simulcasting their FMs or being simulcast on them. Here's how the lineup looks:

WTNY (790) lost a tower to the storm and is operating non-directional from one of its remaining towers in the meantime. Its programming, mixing storm updates and adult contemporary music, is being simulcast on WCIZ (93.5), which is operating with a flea-powered temporary transmitter that covers only the city of Watertown. WATN (1240) and WTOJ (103.1) are simulcasting as well, with daytime programming that"s still dominated by storm information. Sister station WWLF (106.7 Copenhagen) has returned to its usual CHR format as "The Border." The other half of the Border"s usual simulcast, WBDR (102.7 Cape Vincent), remains silent due to serious power problems in that area. Cape Vincent"s other station, WMHI (94.7), is also dark. WUZZ (1410) also lost a tower and is operating non-directional for now, simulcasting country sister station WFRY (97.5). NERW wonders why the storm information heard on WATN/WTOJ wasn"t put on WFRY"s big signal, the only class B FM in Watertown...

Up in QUEBEC, the CBC sprung a surprise this weekend while returning CBM (940) to the air. In the process, they"ve also jumped the gun on the startup of CBC Radio One"s new FM signal into Montreal. CBM (88.5) signed on today, a few months ahead of schedule. There"s scheduled to be a six-month transition period, after which CBM will leave 940. CJAD remains on 1410 for now, although even that interim frequency has been experiencing occasional power failures. NERW wonders whether CJAD might try to persuade the CRTC to let it move straight from 1410 to 940, eliminating the need to rebuild the destroyed CJAD facilities on 800? Just a hunch...

CBC Radio Two programs returned to CBM-FM (93.5) today as well, after an eleven-day absence as CBM-FM was used for storm coverage.

La Société Radio-Canada (that"s the CBC to Anglophones) has sprung another FM surprise. The 95.1 Montreal facility that will soon be the home of SRC"s AM service (now heard on CBF 690) took to the airwaves early, signing on as "Radio-Services Monteregie," a French-language service aimed at the inhabitants of the devastated "Dark Triangle" south of Montreal, where power has yet to be restored to thousands of homes.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I am sadden learning the passing of BOB NORMAN .
    I work at WTNH-TV in the 70’s and being in the enginnering department,
    had the pleasure working with MR. NORMAN as audio person for ACTION NEWS .
    He was always friendly and kind to whom ever he worked with.
    He was a pure professional at his job.
    RIP BOB IT WAS MY PLEASURE WORKING AND KNOWING YOU !

  2. It’s interesting that apparently WARV-AM 1590 in Warwick, RI is only taking WUNR-AM 1600 into consideration for its request to boost power. WSMN-AM 1590 on WARV’s same frequency, in Nashua, NH, has had a CP for new facilities for years, but doesn’t seem to be any closer to building it outn than when they first applied. If WSMN took exception to WARV’s request, would they have any standing since there has been no progress in that regard?

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