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!
MONDAY 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).
What 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.
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."
*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.
*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.
*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!