In this week's issue... New York "Nash" adds airstaff - Maine TV stations try for sale again - Boston's "Hot" keeps staffing up - Canada's last daytime AM says goodbye - PA AM faces silence
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*Once you've launched the first country format on a full-market NEW YORK signal in almost two decades, how do you follow up your initial splash? If you're Cumulus' WNSH (94.7 Newark NJ), you give away enough tickets to pack the Roseland Ballroom for three nights of the "NASH Bash" with headliners including Kix Brooks, Lady Antebellum, Blake Shelton and Sara Evans - and then as soon as that's over, you announce the first pieces of your inaugural airstaff.
As seems to be typical these days, "Nash" isn't naming a morning show right away, instead launching with a midday and afternoon show, drawing from two very different sources of talent.
For middays, WNSH has picked a jock from outside the company with plenty of country experience. Kelly Ford signs on today in the 10 AM-3 PM slot, fresh from a speedy cross-country move that plucked her from Denver, where she'd spent 20 years in morning drive at Lincoln Financial Media country powerhouse KYGO-FM (98.5). Ford left KYGO last summer in what she described as a "mutual decision."
She'll be followed at 3 by Jesse Addy, who moves within Cumulus but outside the format where he's been working: Addy comes to New York from hot AC WDVD (96.3) in Detroit, where he was doing afternoons.
*While WNSH gets rolling with 21st-century country, alumni and fans of the city's big country voice in the 1970s and '80s will be remembering WHN (1050) at a reunion tonight and tomorrow. It's been just over 40 years since WHN flipped to a uniquely New York-feeling cosmopolitan country sound, shooting the station to the top of the ratings. WHN's PD of the era, Ed Salamon, went on to work with United Stations/Westwood One and then to lead the Country Radio Broadcasters trade association, and today is release day for his new book, "WHN: When New York City Went Country."
There's a release party for the book, featuring a panel of WHN alumni, tonight at 6 PM at Hill Country on West 26th Street; on Tuesday, WHN staffers will take over the airwaves of WFDU (89.1 Teaneck NJ) for a day of memories, running from 9 AM until 3:45 PM.
Syracuse-based Mars Hill Network has put another new signal on the air. WMHY (88.7 Richland Springs) filed for its license to cover on February 15. Broadcasting from an antenna attached to the side of a silo, the new WMHY signal extends the reach of Mars Hill's religious programming to a big swath of the Mohawk Valley including Herkimer and Little Falls.
From the "THAT didn't last long" file: Two weeks ago, we reported that WGDJ (1300 Rensselaer) had hired former congressman John Sweeney to host the 11 AM hour on weekdays. After all of eight shows, "Talk 1300" pulled the plug on Sweeney's show late last week, saying the time slot didn't work well with Sweeney's work as a lawyer. WGDJ has returned to running the syndicated Dennis Miller show in the 11-noon hour.
TV People on the Move: CNYTVNews.com reports Niko Tamurian has won a big promotion at the "CNYCentral" combo of WSTM (Channel 3)/WTVH (Channel 5) in Syracuse, moving up from weekend sports anchor to sports director. Tamurian, who's been with WSTM since 2007, replaces John Evenson, who's apparently Florida-bound.
In Oswego, Craig Fox is getting ready to rebuild WWLF-FM (96.7) more than a year after its tower collapsed in a January 2012 windstorm. The station (which relays country WOLF-FM 105.1 DeRuyter/Syracuse) has been operating under special temporary authority from the tower of co-owned WVOA (103.9) Mexico, but Fox now tells the FCC he's preparing to build a new tower for WWLF-FM at a site about 800 feet south of the old location. Fox says the old property was only big enough for a replacement self-supporting tower, but the new site will allow for a "sturdier" guyed tower that could be up as early as late summer.
Another damaged 96.7 in the North Country is also rallying back. WYSX (96.7 Morristown) was knocked off the air a little over a month ago by a lightning strike that touched off a fire, destroying the transmitter building it shared with Stephens Media sister station WPAC (98.7 Ogdensburg). Both stations have now filed formal STA requests with the FCC to operate on reduced facilities while they finish rebuilding: Stephens says WYSX's antenna wasn't damaged, but it's on reduced power (1 kW power output instead of its licensed 7.7 kW) until a new transmitter building can be built (not an easy task in a North Country winter!) and a replacement transmitter installed.
As for WPAC, it's in worse shape: Stephens reports the lightning took a direct hit on the 98.7 antenna, and so WPAC remains silent until both a replacement antenna and transmitter can be procured. WPAC tells the FCC it hopes to have a temporary facility on the air within another week or so, but "it may take 90 days...weather permitting, to restore licensed facilities."
Callsigns in the news: A new noncommercial FM construction permit serving a remote part of the Delaware Valley and the Catskills now has calls. WUUA (89.5 Glen Spey) will broadcast from a site southwest of Monticello, running 110 watts/394' and licensed to the B. Stephen Demchuk Foundation. And we've been remiss in not noting the new calls for WSKG's public radio relay on 88.1 in Greene: while it held the WWSA calls as a construction permit, it signed on as WSQN after the CP was transferred from an Endicott Catholic church to the local public broadcaster.
*An obituary that's also been inadvertently delayed as we've been working though some of the family health issues at this end: Neil Drew, longtime northern New York news director, died February 1 after a brief illness. After starting out in radio as a DJ and newsman (including a stint as news director at WIRD 920 in Lake Placid), Drew made a name for himself in a long career at Plattsburgh-based WPTZ (Channel 5), where he signed on as anchor in 1972 and presided over coverage of the nearby Lake Placid Winter Olympics in 1980. Drew moved into production in 1982, running his own company, then emerged from a brief retirement in 1997 to become news director at WICY (1490)/WVNV (96.5) in Malone, where he worked right up until he became ill earlier this year. Drew was 71.
A more immediate obituary comes from Cleveland, where former Syracuse reporter Tony Gaskins has died far too young. Gaskins came to Syracuse in the late 1970s from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, working first at WSYR (570) and then spending most of the 1980s at WIXT (now WSYR-TV 9). Gaskins moved to Cleveland's WEWS (Channel 5) in 1988, winning an Emmy during an 18-year stint there before finishing his career working for the city of Cleveland. Gaskins died Tuesday at age 56, apparently of a heart attack.
*Around this time last year, we reported on the pending sale of a pair of MAINE TV stations for what appeared to be absurdly low prices. In the end, New Age Media was unable to close on its attempted sale of Portland's CW affiliate, WPXT (Channel 51) and its MyNetworkTV sister station, Lewiston-licensed WPME (Channel 35), but now it's back with a new deal for 2013. Last year, it looked as though New Age was selling WPXT to Tyche Broadcasting, while sister company MPS Media was selling WPME to Triumph Broadcasting, both for $75,000 each.
That seemed like quite the bargain price at the time, and the deals filed last week for WPXT and WPME tell a somewhat different tale: New Age now proposes to sell WPXT to Arizona-based Ironwood Communications for $1,525,000 - still a low price for a station that was once Portland's Fox affiliate, but at least a reasonable figure - while WPME would go from MPS Media to Cottonwood Communications for just $75.000. That low price reflects what Cottonwood is really buying, which amounts to the WPME license and programming. Just as MPS has done, Cottonwood will enter into a deal with WPXT under which Ironwood will operate the My affiliate, selling air time and providing operational services for WPME for a fee of $30,000 a month. But wait, there's more: the deal also includes a spinoff of WPXT's real estate in Westbrook, for which Ironwood will assign purchase rights to Admiralty Properties, LLC for $1.3 million.
*It's been nearly 20 years since MASSACHUSETTS television changed for good when Sunbeam took over floundering WHDH-TV (Channel 7), transforming Boston's sleepy number-three news operation into a flashy, Miami-style operation that rocketed to the top of the ratings and prompted big changes at the market's other newsrooms along the way. Only a handful of on-air staffers still remained at 7 Bulfinch Place after the big Sunbeam shakeup, and one of the last of them is now retiring.
Victoria Block came to Channel 7 from the old WHDH (850) in 1986, when the TV station was still known as WNEV, and she's remained on board as a reporter ever since - but sometime next month, she'll leave the station and the business for what she describes as "sunshine, flip flops and family time." Only one other Channel 7 on-air staffer has been around longer: veteran investigative reporter Hank Phillipi Ryan has been there since 1982.
*Where are they now? Grace Blazer, last seen as PD of Boston's WTKK (96.9) before its flip to rhythmic top 40 (and before that, at WPHT in Philadelphia), has decamped to sunny south Florida, where she's now the PD of Clear Channel talker WIOD (610) and sister sports station WINZ (940). Meanwhile, back at what's now "Hot 96.9," PD Cadillac Jack keeps staffing up, largely with people he'd worked with in the past at WJMN (94.5). Roy Barboza was assistant music director at Jam'n before moving south to WFHN (107.1 Fairhaven) as director of mix shows. Now he's headed back up Route 24 to become music director at "Hot," where he'll also oversee mix shows on the weekends. There's also a new imaging director in the house, and he didn't have to travel far to get there: Doug MacAskill, another WJMN alumnus, moves to WTKK from CBS Radio's WODS (AMP 103.3), which let him go earlier this month.
Callsigns in the news: Mark down "WNNU" as the call for 89.5 in Great Barrington, the CP recently acquired by the WFCR Foundation to relay news-talk WNNZ (640 Westfield) to the southern Berkshires. And with 92.7 out on Martha's Vineyard now officially changed over to WBUA, the old "WMVY" calls have gone on a Florida vacation - they're now assigned to a Bible Broadcasting Network CP on 91.9 in Eastpoint, near Panama City. (And speaking of Florida vacations, you've been checking out our Florida tower and studio visits over on Tower Site of the Week, haven't you?)
*There will be radio on the radio in CONNECTICUT this afternoon. John Ramsey is a man of many talents - chief engineer at WCCC and WWUH, general manager of community station WAPJ, webmaster of HartfordRadioHistory.com - and today he'll be a guest on the "Talk of Connecticut" network (based at WDRC 1360 in Hartford) to talk about his recent book, "Hartford Radio" and play some classic airchecks. Ramsey will appear from 4-6 PM on the Mary Jones Show, and we'll at least be airchecking (inasmuch as we'll be tied up on the air ourselves at the "day job"...)
John Fuller's Red Wolf group is angling for a bigger signal for a recently-purchased translator. W258AL (99.5 Clinton) is applying to move about 10 miles northwest to the West Peak tower farm in Meriden, where it would run 50 watts from the tower of Red Wolf's WMRQ (104.1 Waterbury). What will the translator program? Based on what Fuller's been doing with his other translators, we'd guess this one becomes another link in the "La Bomba" Spanish AC network, currently fed to translators in Bolton and Bridgeport from an HD subchannel of WMRQ.
*We're not quite ready yet for our annual look at "Baseball on the Radio" (that's coming later in March), but we can report one prominent addition to the Philadelphia Phillies' radio web. On the NEW JERSEY shore, the Phils will be heard on WZXL (100.7 Wildwood). That big FM signal will augment the team's existing radio coverage at the shore - and the word is that sister Equity stations WMID (1340 Atlantic City) and WEZW (93.1 Wildwood Crest)will remain part of the network alongside WZXL, which just signed a five-year deal to carry the games. (Former Phils outlet WCMC 1230 in Wildwood apparently drops off the network now that WZXL takes over.)
*We've seen a slew of small AM stations leave the air in recent years in southwest PENNSYLVANIA, and now another one is fighting for its life. WAVL (910 Apollo) has struggled to find a niche for itself in the shadow of bigger AM signals from nearby Pittsburgh. After failing to make a go of it with a religious format, owner Evangel Heights Church flipped WAVL to conservative talk, but church officials tell the Valley News Dispatch that the format isn't paying its way and that they may take WAVL silent as early as the end of this week while they figure out what to do next.
That could take the form of an LMA, or it could mean the sale of the station. For now, at least, the church says it doesn't plan give up the WAVL license completely, saving it from the fate of other regional AMs in Connellsville, Brownsville, Charleroi and Oil City that have given up the ghost in recent years.
(Not on the table, apparently, is a revival of the failed frequency-swap attempt a few years back that would have moved Renda Broadcasting's McKeesport-licensed WPTT from 1360 to 910 with a bigger Pittsburgh-market signal, sending WAVL up the dial to 1360.)
*To the northeast, Kevin Fitzgerald's Telikoja Educational Broadcasting wants to relocate WPAL (91.7) from Laporte to nearby New Albany. The revised WPAL application would put the station on the same tower as WNKZ (103.9 Dushore) and WCIS-FM (90.9 Laporte),
*It's the end of an era in CANADA, even if nobody much noticed: last Sunday (February 17) was the end of the line for CKOT (1510 Tillsonburg ON). Tillsonburg Broadcasting put the station on the air in 1955 as a 250-watt daytimer, and it signed the station off 58 years later as a 10,000-watt daytimer, the very last daytime-only AM operation in all of Canada.
In 1965, CKOT spawned an FM sister, CKOT-FM (initially on 100.5 and later on 101.3), and the two simulcast for a few years before the FM went its own way in 1970. The AM side of CKOT tried several times to move to better AM frequencies (including 1600, which instead went to CHNR in nearby Simcoe, and later 1200) and to move to FM, but without success until 2007. That's when Tillsonburg Broadcasting was finally granted a second FM signal, CJDL (107.3) - and since then, CKOT's AM side has functioned only as a sunrise-to-sunset relay of "Country 107.3."
CKOT/CJDL president John Lamers, a descendant of the station's founder, told Milkman UnLimited that the AM signal was expensive to run and required pricey repairs - "and since it was being operated only as a repeater, generating no income, the decision was made to shut it down.”
*There's another silent station way out in western Ontario: Way of Life Broadcasting asked the CRTC to revoke the license of its religious station, CJIV (97.3), telling the agency that there wasn't enough listenership to sustain the operation. The license cancellation takes effect September 1.
*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: February 27, 2012 -
*It’s taken a long, long time to get a signal on the air at 94.9 in Montauk, NEW YORK.
It was way back in September 1989 when a group called “Women Broadcasters, Inc.” first applied for a class A construction permit way out there on the eastern tip of Long Island. That incarnation of 94.9 never came to fruition; after years of delays, the permit was cancelled in 1996 and the frequency was left fallow for more than a decade before being offered again at auction.
Last year, 21 rounds of bidding for the 94.9 signal ended with a $180,000 bid from “CSI Media Research,” part of John Fuller’s growing media presence based in southeastern CONNECTICUT, which is the area Fuller will be targeting when he officially signs on the station, now WJJF, this week.
The new WJJF (its calls are Fuller’s initials, previously used on his first station in the area, now WCRI 1180 in Hope Valley, R.I.) will be a news-talk outlet calling itself “94.9 News Now” and anchored by a local morning show hosted by Lee Elci. Elci’s been working for Cumulus (and before that, Citadel) for the last six years at another talker in the region, WXLM, following that talk format and those calls as they’ve moved around the dial from 104.7 (another Montauk-licensed signal) to 102.3 to 980.
The rest of the lineup at WJJF will be syndicated: Laura Ingraham 9-noon, Dennis Miller noon-3, Mike Gallagher 3-6 and Michael Savage from 6-10 PM. But Fuller is promising plenty of local news amidst that syndicated lineup, with two reporters out covering stories on the Connecticut side of the region and at least part-time coverage of eastern Long Island as well.
WJJF joins two other signals in Fuller’s cluster – AC WBMW (106.5 Ledyard) and top-40 WWRX (107.7 Pawcatuck) – but it won’t enjoy as strong a signal as either of those facilities; its 5.8 kW/341′ class A signal from Montauk will just brush the Connecticut coast with a 60 dBu signal, and at least for now it faces additional co-channel interference from a religious translator in Montville, W235AJ. Does Fuller have plans to improve WJJF’s signal? We wouldn’t be surprised; he’s in the process of upgrading WBMW from A to B1 by swapping its community of license with WWRX.
*Clear Channel’s shift of ESPN to FM in Hartford (at what’s now WUCS 97.9 Windsor Locks) left Hartford’s longtime ESPN affiliate, WPOP (1410), looking for new programming – but this week, Clear Channel will flip WPOP to Fox Sports Radio, giving it control of both national sports networks in the Hartford market. Local WPOP host Paul Nanos will continue to be heard, but he’ll move from afternoons to mornings when the network switch happens next Monday.
*Country music fans in the southern part of the New York metro area already have their dials pointed to 106.3 to hear Press Communications’ WKMK (106.3 Eatontown NJ) – and as of Thursday, their counterparts at the northern end of the market will be able to hear country on 106.3 as well.
That’s thanks to Cumulus, which is flipping WFAF (106.3 Mount Kisco) from a simulcast of adult contemporary WFAS-FM (103.9 Bronxville) to a simulcast of “Kicks Country” WDBY (105.5 Patterson), which operates out of the Cumulus cluster in Danbury/Brookfield, Connecticut. The new “Kicks” simulcast will reach from the Danbury area south to central Westchester County; depending on the behavior of the Bronx pirates who also use the 106.3 frequency, it will sometimes be audible in southern Westchester and into the Bronx as well.
(This is not the first time 105.5 and 106.3 have been simulcast; from 1993-1996, they operated in tandem as “New York’s Superstation,” WMJV/WMJU, and as “B-105/B-106,” WVYB/WVIB.)
*Is there another Hudson Valley format change on the way? Our friends at RadioInsight.com report there’s a slew of domain registrations pointing to an upcoming flip at Clear Channel’s hot AC “Star 93.3″ (WBWZ New Paltz), which appears to be getting ready to rock as “Rock 93.3.” (Radio Insight suggests that could be followed by a shift from rhythmic top 40 to mainstream top 40 at sister station WPKF “Kiss 96.1,” and a rebranding to “Oldies 93.5″ at WZCR Hudson.)
*Shamrock Communications is pulling a manager out of its Scranton, PENNSYLVANIA headquarters and sending him west. Willobee came to the top floor of the Times-Tribune building two years ago as operations manager, and now he’s being dispatched to Reno to play the same role at a brand-new cluster Shamrock is building out there. A new cluster, you say? Yes indeed – that same auction that landed 94.9 in Montauk for John Fuller allowed Shamrock to pick up four new FM channels licensed to communities north and east of Reno. Those class C signals will all operate from a shared site 54 miles away from Reno, with on-channel boosters turning them into “real” Reno signals. This isn’t Willobee’s first time out west; he worked at KEDJ (106.3) in the Phoenix market before programming WEQX (102.7) in Vermont and then joining Shamrock in 2010.
Replacing Willobee back in Scranton is Scott Laudani, who’s held a host of programming jobs all over New England at stations such as WHJY, WHEB/WGIR-FM, WLZX and most recently New Haven’s WPLR.
Five Years Ago: February 25, 2008 -
*It's all too common at the moment to hear about radio stations firing veteran air talents as they seek to cut costs. It's much more unusual to hear about one of those veteran jocks getting a new job - and all but unheard of to see that jock go right back to his old shift at his old station.But then there's nothing normal about the soap opera that's surrounded upstate NEW YORK's classic rocker, WCMF (96.5 Rochester), in the year and a half since Entercom announced plans to acquire it and several sister stations from CBS Radio.
No, Brother Wease isn't back on the air at WCMF (though we hear he's now working behind the scenes, doing sales across town at Clear Channel) - but the station is returning ousted midday host Dave Kane to its airwaves today, not quite three months after he did his "last show" under the old CBS ownership before the station changed hands to Entercom.
Since Kane's departure from WCMF, he had been freelancing at WHAM-TV (Channel 13), contributing bits to the station's morning newscast. For much of that time, though, Kane had apparently been negotiating with Entercom about a return to WCMF, which has been lacking in personalities since the start of the contract dispute that pulled Wease off the air just before Christmas. (In addition to releasing Kane, Entercom also chose not to keep night jock Dino Kay or weekender/production director Marc Cronin, leaving WCMF with only the Wease-less morning crew and with afternoon jock Big Marc.
With Kane's return to the station, he'll have a slightly different shift for his "Midday Mambo" (10 AM-3 PM, rather than his 11:15 AM-4 PM shift that followed Wease's extended morning show), and he'll have a new title, adding PD stripes. (And, we hope, restoring some stability to a station that's desperately needed some after the turmoil of the last few months.)
*On the TV side of things, Rochester Fox affiliate WUHF (Channel 31) is expanding its 10 PM newscast to a full hour, beginning March 3. That will create a 90-minute block of news produced by WROC-TV (Channel 8), which does the 10 PM Fox news and its own 11 PM newscast from the same Humboldt Street studio. March 3 is the start date for the hour-long Fox show, followed two weeks later by the launch of the market's first 7 PM newscast on NBC affiliate WHEC (Channel 10).
Over in Buffalo, Dennis Williams has disappeared from WIVB (Channel 4)'s airwaves and its website. Will former WKBW (Channel 7) sports director John Murphy take Williams' place in that seat over at Channel 4?
*And one more New York note: if you're within traveling range of Broadway, and you haven't yet caught "The Farnsworth Invention," Aaron Sorkin's gripping, if historically dubious, tale of the invention of television and its social consequences (we reviewed it here January 28), you'd best hurry - the play closes March 2.
*In MASSACHUSETTS, there's an unfortunate budget cut at Entercom's WRKO (680 Boston): the talk station axed veteran weekender Moe Lauzier, and the Herald says Lauzier learned of his dismissal from a producer 15 minutes in to what turned out to be his last show Saturday morning. Lauzier, 66, tells the paper he hopes to be working somewhere else (crosstown WTKK?) within a few weeks - and WRKO will reportedly fill Lauzier's slot with...infomercials. Lauzier would have celebrated his 25th anniversary at WRKO this June.
*EMF Broadcasting just keeps buying stations for its "K-Love" network, and the latest acquisition is in MAINE, where EMF is buying WCYI (93.9 Lewiston) from the Last Bastion Station Trust, which is holding the signal in trust for Citadel.
Since Citadel spun off WCYI (and former sister station WCLZ, now in Saga's hands) last June, the station has flipped from a modern-rock simulcast of WCYY (94.3 Biddeford, still with Citadel) to a simulcast of WCLZ's AAA format to a temporary all-blues format.
No purchase price has been announced for the deal, which will give K-Love its first full-power signal in Maine. (EMF has translators in Bangor and Orono, and it's in the process of acquiring WMEX in neighboring Farmington, New Hampshire, with a signal that reaches portions of southern Maine.)
J.J. Jeffrey's WLOB-FM (96.3 Rumford) is on the move: the talk station has changed city of license from Rumford to Gray, much closer to Portland. WLOB-FM already relocated its transmitter not long ago, relocating from Black Mountain to Streaked Mountain near South Paris, Maine; it's not clear whether WLOB can now hop even closer to its target listeners in Portland, or whether this is simply a matter of convenience to allow WLOB's studio at its AM transmitter site in Portland to also serve as the legal main studio for WLOB-FM.
*From CANADA this week comes word of the grant of a new station in Cobourg, Ontario - at least on paper.
In reality, CFMZ (103.1) has been operating for thirty years with a classical format, and will continue to do so. But instead of being licensed as a rebroadcast transmitter of its parent station, CFMX-FM-1 (96.3 Toronto), CFMZ will now operate as a separate license, offering at least 24 hours a week of separate content aimed at the local audience in Cobourg, mostly in the form of separate advertising from the main Toronto feed.
(And yes, there's an oddity here: not only is the Toronto signal, which came on many years after Cobourg, considered the "parent" station - but it appears, for reasons unknown to us, that the calls in Toronto were changed back to CFMX-FM-1 after briefly being flipped to CFMZ-FM-1 when the station was bought by Moses Znaimer. Could this have had something to do with the aborted attempt by CKFM 99.9 to change its calls to CFMX?)
Ten Years Ago: February 24, 2003 -
The nightclub fire in West Warwick, RHODE ISLAND that killed nearly 100 people last Thursday night would certainly have been a big enough story for the area's media outlets on its own -- and will continue to be so for weeks and months to come. But this tragedy turned out to have an unusual amount of resonance within the media community, beginning of course with the club's ownership. Jeff Derderian is a familiar name and face to TV viewers in eastern New England. Your editor remembers him from his early-nineties days behind the scenes at WBZ-TV (Channel 4) in Boston (when yours truly was toiling, equally behind the scenes, across the building at WBZ radio); later, he would work for WLNE (Channel 6) in the Providence market and then for five years as a reporter for Boston's WHDH-TV (Channel 7).
The rest of the week's news: in NEW HAMPSHIRE, WPKQ (103.7 North Conway) finally made it back on the air last Friday (Feb. 21), nearly two weeks after the fire atop Mount Washington that destroyed the power generators and the transmitter of sister station WHOM (94.9 Mount Washington). NERW hears that WPKQ is running at about 80% of licensed power while awaiting a more powerful replacement generator; its studio-transmitter link was damaged during the fire, so the signal from parent station WOKQ (97.5 Dover) is going by ISDN to the North Conway studios and then by analog microwave to the mountaintop. As for WHOM, we're told the station's main antenna suffered little damage; a replacement transmitter and STL could make it to the mountaintop later this week.
NEW YORK City has never been good territory for syndicated morning shows -- just ask Tom Joyner. His show disappeared from Emmis' WRKS (98.7 New York) this morning, replaced by a revived "Wakeup Club" with Jeff Foxx and Shaila, about a year after Joyner was brought in to replace the Isaac Hayes morning show.
From NEW JERSEY, a new simulcast to report: WMID-FM (102.3 Cape May) pulled the plug on its simulcast of standards WMID (1340 Atlantic City) after about a year and a half. Under new calls of WAIV, 102.3 is now simulcasting the CHR sounds of sister WAYV (95.1 Atlantic City), which never seemed to have much trouble covering Cape May County on its own, at least in NERW's experience....
Fifteen Years Ago: February 26, 1998 -
The folks at Sinclair Broadcasting have been busy this week, as they prepare to sell off their Rochester radio group -- while adding TV properties in Rochester and Buffalo. Entercom officially takes control of the former Heritage Media group in Rochester Saturday night, when Sinclair closes on its purchase of WBBF (950), WBEE-FM (92.5), WQRV (93.3 Avon), and WKLX (98.9) from Heritage, then immediately LMAs the stations to Entercom in preparation for sale. The official word is the standard "no immediate changes," but NERW's heard that one often enough...
More from upstate NEW YORK: The third shoe dropped this week in the Jacor format shuffle in Rochester, as WMAX-FM (106.7 Irondequoit) and WMHX (102.3 Canandaigua) put their all-Delilah stunt format to bed in favor of very soft, gold-based AC as "Sunny 106." NERW notes that Jacor's new gold-based soft AC in Des Moines, also "Sunny 106," has taken the calls KYSY; could the WYSY calls (last seen on 107.9 in suburban Chicago) be in the Flower City's future? Jerry Reo's handling mornings on Sunny; Delilah remains on the station from 7 till midnight.
Majac already owns the largest group of Binghamton market stations -- WENE (1430 Endicott), WKGB (92.5 Susquehanna), WMXW (103.3 Vestal), and WMRV (105.7 Endicott) -- and now it's adding one more, with the granting of a new CP for 107.5 in Endwell, transmitting from the WMRV site above Endicott. An earlier 107.5 CP, with the calls WRGG, was never built, and the frequency has been in use by a pirate running right-wing talk programming. Down the road in Owego, we hear WEBO (1330) is splitting from its simulcast with soft-rock WGRG (101.7) to go modern rock. Yep, modern rock on AM. We'll be passing through the area next month to bring you a complete report on this one.
Big doings in RHODE ISLAND this week, as Portuguese gets punted for public in Providence. Boston's WBUR-FM (90.9) is paying just under $2 million for Neto Communications' WRCP (1290) in Providence, and (as NERW first reported earlier this month) the station will become a WBUR simulcast serving northern Rhode Island. 1290 may not be the first public radio outlet in the Ocean State, though -- Rhode Island Public Radio has applied for a license to cover for its WBLQ (88.1 Westerly), and NERW can't wait to hear from our readers in the area about that station's on-air status.
If that's not enough, Howard Stern is entering the Providence market next week. Stern's newest affiliate is rhythmic CHR WWKX (106.3 Woonsocket)/WAKX (102.7 Narragansett Pier). He's already heard in much of the market via Boston's WBCN (104.1).
Moving north: Cumulus Broadcasting continues to gather strength in MAINE, buying Tryon-Seacoast's Central Maine group. Cumulus already has WQCB (106.5 Brewer) and WBZN (107.3 Old Town) in the Bangor market and WTOS (105.1 Skowhegan) in the Augusta market. Now it's adding WABK (104.3 Gardiner), WKCG (101.3 Augusta), WFAU (1280 Gardiner), WIGY (97.5 Madison), and WCME (96.7 Boothbay Harbor) to the group. Tryon-Seacoast owner Jeff Fisher keeps his New Hampshire properties in Franklin and Moultonborough.
In NEW HAMPSHIRE, there's a new format at WGXL (92.3 Hanover); "XL92" is moving from hot AC to full-out CHR.
Across the Connecticut River in VERMONT, Bruce James' Vermont Broadcasting Associates is locking up the Northeast Kingdom with the $630,000 purchase of WSTJ (1340) and WNKV (105.5) in St. Johnsbury from Northeast Kingdom Broadcasting. James already owns WGMT (97.7) in Lyndon.
On the TV side, no sooner is Hicks, Muse's Sunrise Television Corp. taking control of WPTZ (Channel 5) Plattsburgh and WNNE (Channel 31) White River Junction than it's trading them away. Hearst Argyle gets WPTZ, WNNE, and KSBW (Channel 8) Salinas CA, and Sunrise gets WNAC (Channel 64) Rehoboth-Providence along with WDTN (Channel 2) in Dayton, Ohio.