In this week's issue... Boston stations scramble to cover huge news week - Maine's Dielectric to exit antenna business - "Breeze" shifts at Jersey shore - Translator applicants make big plans
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*Let's get one thing out of the way right at the beginning of this week's column: if you're expecting perfect objectivity in our coverage of the week's events in Boston and the media's reaction to them, you're in the wrong place. Your editor cut his teeth in the broadcast news business learning from the professionals at Boston's WBZ (1030) way back in the 1990s and has always maintained a healthy respect for the quality of the news coverage that's come out of the newsroom at 1170 Soldiers Field Road. Back then, just as now, Boston Marathon day was, by itself, one of the biggest news days of the year, with all hands already on deck to deliver nonstop coverage of the race and the massive crowds that surround it.
So to have an even bigger news story develop at the end of the big race, and to have that story grow to immense national proportions over what was essentially a nonstop week of coverage that followed, was an enormously big deal. Whatever criticism might justifiably be aimed at the national coverage of the Marathon bombings and the ensuing manhunt, there's no way we can even begin to second-guess the tremendous local coverage that came out of WBZ radio, its sister TV station, WBZ-TV (Channel 4), or the other local newsrooms that spent the week keeping their community informed and comforted.
In our Wednesday mid-week update, we took a look at the exhaustive (and exhausting) coverage coming from all of those newsrooms early in the week. As the mysteries around the bombing turned into a Thursday-night drama that included the murder of a MIT campus police officer and a high-speed chase into Watertown, Boston's TV and radio newsrooms once again went into overdrive to cover a second chapter of the story that proved even more dramatic than the first.
When the scanner calls came in about the MIT incident just after 10 on Thursday night, it wasn't yet clear that it was connected to the bombings, and by the time the magnitude of the story in Cambridge and Watertown really became clear, it was well after 1 AM. The national cable news channels were already in their overnight repeat cycles (indeed, CNN had shut down its domestic control room in Atlanta for the night, leaving only the CNN International crew on duty), and that made channels 4, 5 and 7 the first lines of information for both local and national audiences. (Fox O&O WFXT, channel 25, was a little slower to ramp back up, leaving Fox News Channel with dated video of the MIT scene while CNN and MSNBC had live coverage from Watertown via channels 5 and 7; on radio, it was all WBZ through the overnight hours, largely simulcasting WBZ-TV, while Entercom's WRKO was stuck with syndicated Red Eye Radio as the night's dramatic events played out elsewhere.)
And then came Friday morning and one of the strangest days in Boston history. As law enforcement put the city under an effective lockdown, local TV and radio became a vital channel of communication to more than a million Bostonians cooped up in their homes while the streets outside emptied.
This being 2013, of course, radio and TV were hardly the only sources of news for a paralyzed city, and we'd be remiss to downplay the role that social media (especially, in this case, Reddit) played in spreading information about the standoff and manhunt. Where local radio and TV really shone, though, was in spreading accurate information about the standoff and manhunt. Even as they worked unbelievably long hours attempting to fill airtime with little or no new information from the police, the local stations avoided some of the pitfalls that social media and out-of-town news sources were stumbling into, including an especially egregious case of misidentification of the suspected bombers during those overnight hours.
On Friday morning, CBS once again simulcast WBZ's news coverage on most of its FM stations. Entercom's stations each went their own way with extensive coverage (with WEEI, in particular, turning away from its usual sports talk to become a source of news and conversation for its loyal audience), and at Greater Media the lockdown kept most of the staff away from the office and most of its stations largely playing music during the day. On the public radio side, WBUR-FM (90.9) once again offered its local coverage to a national audience, as did WGBH (89.7) via "The World."
Then, of course, everything returned to normal with startling speed: the authorities called off the "shelter in place" order in the 6:00 hour on Friday evening, followed almost immediately by one last round of startling news from Watertown as the last suspect was located and captured and cheering Bostonians flooded back into the streets.
*The story turns a little weird from there, if only because it ends up involving not one, but two, cases of "fleeting expletives" on the air. As the last act of the standoff was unfolding Friday night, NBC went to a simulcast of New England Cable News at just the wrong moment, catching a NECN anchor saying "we don't know s**t." And then on Saturday afternoon, David Ortiz' exuberantly unscripted salute to Boston went out not only over NESN and MLB Network but also over WEEI and the Sox radio network, prompting one of the most unusual tweets ever seen from an FCC chairman: "David Ortiz spoke from the heart at today's Red Sox game. I stand with Big Papi and the people of Boston," said chairman - and Harvard alum - Julius Genachowski.
Boston's radio stations will join together this afternoon at 2:50 for a moment of silence to honor the victims of the attacks on the city, and we suspect the tribute will spread well beyond the city as well.
*What did you see and hear amidst the media frenzy? Chime in below in the comment section to share your reaction to the week's remarkable news and let us know what we might have missed.
[And if you're up for more conversation about the role of the media, both traditional and social, you're cordially invited to join your editor in one of his other roles: I'm hosting "1370 Connection" on Rochester's WXXI all week, and we'll be talking about these issues today at noon in an interview with "Present Shock" author Douglas Rushkoff, and again on Wednesday at 1 PM when media maven Tom Proietti joins us in honor of his retirement from St. John Fisher College. If you're outside the area, we stream at wxxi.org, too.]
*Over in the world of sports radio, the bad timing award for the week goes to former WEEI weekend host Pete Sheppard. On Thursday, he announced that he's returning to the airwaves in the afternoon slot on underdog WUFC (1510 Boston), becoming far and away the most prominent name on little-heard "NBC Sports Radio 1510." Which would have been prominent news...had it not been completely drowned out just a few hours later by the far bigger headlines out of Cambridge and Watertown.
*The headlines from Boston and Watertown pretty much drowned out most any other news that might have come out of the Bay State this week, too, save for one FCC tidbit: we've been plowing our way through a sea of translator applications from the 2003 filing window that had been frozen for a decade and are now being thawed out as the Commission attempts to clear out its application backlog. In areas near top-50 radio markets, there's a window ending next week for applicants to revive their frozen 2003 applications, augmenting them with showings demonstrating that a grant of the translator won't preclude licensing of new LPFMs when that window opens, possibly later this year.
We'll run through a lot of those "thawed" applications in this week's column; for Massachusetts this week, the only such application was one for Amherst-based WFCR (88.5), which is applying for 97.3 in Worcester.
And in a desperate attempt to pluck some good news out of a most difficult week for Massachusetts, there's this, at least: when Rush was (finally!) inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last week in Los Angeles, guess who was among the invited guests?
None other than Boston radio's very own Donna Halper. Long before her days as a Boston-based radio consultant, historian and educator, of course, Donna was the music director at Cleveland's WMMS (100.7), where she's credited with breaking Rush on the U.S. radio scene. She's remained close to Geddy Lee and the band over the years, including an appearance in the recent documentary about the band, "Beyond the Lighted Stage," and it was a thrill to follow her during the week as she spent the week on the West Coast for the big event.
One more bit of good news: Greater Media's Boston cluster has promoted market manager Rob Williams to vice president of the five-station group, which includes WBOS (92.9), WBQT (Hot 96.9), WKLB (102.5), WROR (105.7) and WMJX (106.7).
Greater Boston Radio Employment Opportunity at Langer Broadcasting Group
Part-time traffic / music scheduling person for successful & growing hispanic ethnic radio group based in Boston's MetroWest area. Work with the latest station automation/scheduling software. Could lead to full-time position. WSRO 650 AM is the center of the Brazilian-American community and was voted 2 years running as the leading Brazilian station in the USA. Recently upgraded to be regional, WSRO reaches 5 states and serves greater Boston, Worcester & Lowell. Duties include traffic, music scheduling, generating logs and maintaining daily automation playlists. Familiarity with Brazilian Portuguese and production a plus but not required. Call 508-820-0001 x 105 or email resume to [email protected].
*To the extent there was any other big story in New England this week, it came from MAINE, where Friday brought an abrupt announcement that antenna manufacturer Dielectric is closing up shop in the next few months.
Dielectric has made its home in Raymond, north of Portland, since 1954; in 1986, it acquired the antenna business from RCA as that erstwhile giant exited the business, later picking up the Harris antenna line as well, and since 2001, it's been owned by the technology conglomerate SPX. At first, Dielectric was a profitable piece of SPX, bolstered by the DTV conversion that required thousands of new antennas and untold miles of new transmission line, switching components and combiners. But that process was largely over by 2009, and the subsequent years have been slower ones for Dielectric.
Still, the company made a prominent showing just a few weeks ago at the NAB Show in Las Vegas, with a sizable booth right by the main entrance to the radio exhibit hall and a product lineup that included several new FM and TV antennas - which is why it came as a surprise to many when SPX announced that "extremely difficult global economic conditions in the broadcast marketplace" had led to a decision to close down Dielectric's operations over the next two months.
The company isn't saying anything more, at least not for now - its announcement told customers not to expect any communication this week. "Dielectric broadcast and wireless antenna personnel will be unavailable during the week of April 22 as we focus on coordinating next steps," said the announcement from GM Mark Fichter. "We anticipate that by the early part of the following week of April 29 that we will be able to directly respond to your inquiries."
Dielectric's closure leaves one big FM antenna player still operating in the area: Shively Labs in nearby Bridgton, as well as several smaller players that have tapped into the deep well of RF expertise that calls southern Maine home. (Indeed, it's just within the last few months that a new FM filter company, P Cubed, has opened up shop in a former Dielectric facility in Raymond.)
*There was one new format in upstate NEW YORK to start the week last week: on Monday, Clear Channel relaunched country on Binghamton-market WBBI (107.5 Endwell), ending a brief trimulcast designed to move WBBI's former "Big 107.5" oldies audience down the dial to the new AM/FM combo of WINR (680) and translator W245BV (96.9). The "New Country B107.5" format now being heard on WBBI returns that format to the frequency after a decade-long absence; now, as then, it's intended to blunt the ratings of market-leading competitor WHWK (98.1), which is part of the rival Townsquare cluster.
Moving down the Delaware River, the management scuffle at small public radio outlet WJFF (90.5 Jeffersonville) continued last week with the resignation of eight of the station's nine board members. In a statement Friday, the board members complained they'd "been subjected to personal attacks and unfounded accusations of financial and ethical violations, none of which are true." The mass board resignation came just a week after the departure of WJFF general manager Winston Clark.
*In New York City, Univision Radio honored the long service of chief engineer Richard Ross by renaming the studio of WADO (1280) as the "Richard Ross Studio." Ross just notched 50 years with the company and its predecessors; he now oversees WADO, WXNY (96.3) and WQBU (92.7).
Up the dial, Dr. Joy Browne has returned to the city's airwaves, but not on a clearance she - or any host - would be likely to brag about: she's now being heard from 4-6 AM on weekday mornings up the dial at WWRL (1600), a far cry from her former midday clearance on WOR (710).
Radio People on the Move in the Hudson Valley: at Clear Channel in Albany, Shanna (late of WKSE in Buffalo) is the new morning co-host alongside Kevin Rush on WRVE (99.5 the River), while D Scott gets promoted to assistant PD down the hall at WKKF (Kiss 102.3).
In Poughkeepsie, WSPK (K 104.7) is looking for a new night guy now that Jeremiah Wood is heading south to take over afternoons at WILN in Panama City, Florida.
*There was plenty of translator news from around the Empire State as the FCC works its way through those thawed applications from the 2003 window, leading off with a bunch from Clear Channel and its subsidiaries. Clear is pushing forward with several 2003 applications, including 96.5 in Kingston, relaying WPKF (96.1 Poughkeepsie); 98.7 Scotchtown, relaying WRWB (99.3 Ellenville) and 94.1 Southampton, relaying WALK-FM (97.5 Patchogue). Bud Williamson's been at the forefront of the translator business around the state, and he's got several in this window: 99.9 in Middletown, 93.3 and 98.9 in Port Jervis, 99.7 in Poughkeepsie and 105.1 and 105.9 in nearby Milford, Pennsylvania. On Long Island, Juan Alberto Ayala has two applications moving forward: 94.1 in Flanders (relaying WSUF 89.9) and 107.1 in Hauppauge (relaying WPAT-FM 93.1 from Paterson, NJ).
Albany public broadcaster WAMC has two applications in this window, one for 106.3 in Dover Plains and one for 95.9 in Peekskill.
Upstate, Family Life Ministries is in the hunt with an application for 100.5 in Dunkirk, while Calvary Chapel of the Finger Lakes continues to seek more translators for its WZXV (99.7 Palmyra): it's pursuing proposals for relays 0n 106.1 in Niagara Falls, 100.1 in Darien Center, 107.3 in Attica and in Cortland, where it's modified an application for 96.3 to specify 107.1 instead. (Another nearby application for 92.3 in Groton has been modified for 92.1.)
Syracuse Community Radio applied long ago for a 93.9 relay in "Hinsdale," which would actually be right at the southern end of Onondaga Lake in the heart of Syracuse; that application now calls for a relay of WMCR-FM (106.3 Oneida) instead of SCR's own WXXE (90.5 Fenner). Down the road in Chittenango, Galaxy Broadcasting still wants a relay of WTKW (99.5 Bridgeport), now on 93.5 instead of 93.7.
And south of Utica, existing translator W267AT (101.3 Sherburne) is applying to relocate eastward to Oneonta. (It has also changed primaries in order to keep relaying EMF's K-Love programming out of Utica; it now relays WKVU 107.3.)
*Just a bit of translator news from CONNECTICUT: Clear Channel's still seeking a 102.1 in Millbrook, relaying WKSS (95.7) from Hartford. Connecticut Public Radio's WNPR (90.5 Meriden) wants 97.7 in Torrington and 96.9 in Danbury. And in Shelton, WMNR (88.1 Monroe) wants a relay on 105.1.
At Press Communications, the new brand on WWZY (107.1 Long Branch) is simply... "107.1 FM." The former "Breeze" has ditched some of its softer AC tunes and is leaning more current than it did in its Breeze days, and it's subtitling itself as "A Music Radio Station." For now, it's jockless in middays and afternoons after shedding most of its former airstaff, but today will bring a morning show to the station as Nina Siciliano and Tom Devoy's "Pork Roll and Eggs" show slides up the dial from sister station WBBO (98.5). WBBO, in turn, gets a new morning show hosted by its current midday jock, Kelso, and its night jock, Sara Cucci. And what of WWZY's Ocean County sister station WBHX (99.7 Tuckerton)? For now, it continues to simulcast "107.1, A Music Radio Station," but there's buzz that a new format is in the works on 99.7.
Meanwhile at Greater Media, WJRZ (100.1 Manahawkin) is making a bid for some of the listeners who might be displaced by WWZY's shift from classic to current. After three years as a straight-ahead AC sharing the "Magic" branding with Greater sister station WMGQ (98.3 New Brunswick), WJRZ moves to classic hits today, reports RadioInsight, returning to a format it used from 2000-2009.
*One of the region's oldest college stations recently marked a big anniversary. WSOU (89.5 South Orange) just turned 65, and the Seton Hall University station celebrated with an anniversary dinner that brought 210 alumni and current students together. The event included the induction of two WSOU alumni into the station's hall of fame: NBC investigative producer Bob Windrem '68 and 1010 WINS reporter Glenn Schuck '85.
"Some of the attendees that might be familiar to NERW readers included station alumni Bob Ley, Bill Rock, Pete Tauriello, Christina Stoffo, Frank Garrity, Matt DeVoti, Bernie Wagenblast, Mark Mitchell, Bob Capasso, Brandi Ferraro, Jackie Kajzer (aka Full Metal Jackie), and others. While not a station alumnus, Broadway Bill Lee was there too. It was a nice evening for all," reports WSOU general manager Mark Maben.
*The Hope Christian Church of Marlton has been a prolific seeder of translators all across a region that stretches from New Jersey into Pennsylvania, Delaware and even Maryland, and it's hoping to get still more relays of its WVBV (90.5 Medford Lakes) out of the thawing of the 2003 translator freeze. In New Jersey, those applications include 97.7 in Salem, 94.9 in Marlton and 104.1 in Manahawkin. The church also has an application for 106.5 in Trenton that it's shifting to 106.3, now with a proposal to relay Clear Channel's WISX (106.1 Philadelphia) instead.
Other Garden State translator applications moving forward in this month's filing window include Clear Channel proposals for 98.3 in Washington (relaying WAEB-FM 104.1 Allentown) and 104.1 in Trenton (relaying WRFF 104.5 Philadelphia). Priority Radio wants 104.5 in Toms River (moved from 104.1) to relay its WVBH (88.3 Beach Haven West). Maranatha Ministries' WJPH (88.9 Woodbine) wants a relay on 105.7 in Millville. Oh Tschand is applying for 92.7 in Franklin Township, proposing to relay WWFM (89.1 Trenton). And Best Media is, inexplicably, still seeking several translators that would relay out-of-state religious outlets, even though that doesn't appear to be permissible for stations in the commercial part of the band: it's asking for 105.9 in Edison, 100.7 in Roosevelt, 100.9 in Manahawkin and 107.7 in Ewansville, as well as 102.1 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, all to relay KGBV (90.7) from Hardin, Texas. (Those translators originally proposed to relay WWBM from Yates, Georgia, which has been deleted by the FCC.)
*The news out of PENNSYLVANIA is also mostly translator-focused, and it starts with Hope Christian Church of Marlton. The WVBV folks are seeking 97.1 in Collegeville, 107.1 in Reading, 100.5 in Hershey (modified from 100.9), 95.1 in Gettysburg (modified from 95.7) and 94.9 in Philadelphia itself. Clear Channel is also in the Keystone State translator hunt, seeking 92.1 in Laureldale (WAEB-FM 104.1 Allentown) and 99.3 in New Baltimore (WFRE 99.9 Frederick MD). Temple University's WRTI wants 92.5 in Exton (modified from 92.9, a curious move considering the proximity of WXTU on 92.5 in nearby Philadelphia) and 106.7 in Columbia (modified from 106.1, another curious move considering the proximity of WZCY 106.7 Hershey.)
In Reading, WLCH (91.3 Lancaster) is seeking a relay on 99.3; in Wilkes-Barre, Family Life Ministries is still proposing a new 92.5, now relaying local public broadcaster WVIA; in the Lehigh Valley, religious WJCS (89.3 Allentown) wants relays on 106.3 in Lehigh Township, 92.1 in Allentown and 106.5 (moved from 106.3) in Kutztown. And over in western Pennsylvania, Starboard Communications has modified its application for 99.9 in Sharpsville to instead specify 100.5, now relaying WHKZ (1440) from Warren, Ohio.
*Some non-translator news? It was in short supply across the Keystone State, except in the Lehigh Valley, where WGPA (1100) moves in today at a new studio home at 429 East Broad Street in Bethlehem.
*It was a very quiet week in CANADA, too, except perhaps in the Maritimes. That's where Milkman UnLimited reports Scott Boyd is stepping down as the news director at CHRK (101.9 Sydney NS), where he was part of the founding staff when "Giant 101.9" went on the air five years ago. He's heading for "opportunities outside radio," and no replacement has been picked yet.
*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: April 23, 2012 -
*There’s some big tower work on the way in eastern MASSACHUSETTS.
It is indeed the worst possible scenario for the Boston TV stations that shared an antenna atop the old WBZ-TV tower in Needham: the upper master antenna that failed April 8 will have to be removed from its perch more than 1300 feet above Cedar Street in order for the damage to the power divider to be fully repaired. That’s a big project, and it means continued headaches for the stations that were using the antenna.
As we reported last week, WBZ-TV (Channel 4/RF 30), WCVB (Channel 5/RF 20), WSBK (Channel 38/RF 39) and WGBX (Channel 44/RF 43) have been temporarily relocated to the lower master antenna, which is still functioning – and which had been the home of WGBH-TV (Channel 2/RF 19). Because WGBH and WCVB can’t share the same antenna, WGBH has moved to WCVB’s lower-power standby antenna further down the tower, and now it appears the station will be stuck there for a while.
“We understand how frustrating it is to be without the WGBH service, but we are doing everything possible to see that repairs are made as quickly as possible, with consideration for the safety of the work crews,” says a statement from WGBH.
The station says it could take a month to get all the work done, which is bad news for Channel 2 viewers in outlying areas who depend on over-the-air reception of the signal (or whose cable systems pick up WGBH over the air.)
And given how complex antenna work can be at the top of a tall tower, and how unpredictable New England weather has been this spring, even that estimate could prove to be conservative. We’ll be following along as the stations and tower owner Richland Towers work through the project.
*Out west, there’s a new morning show at WBEC-FM (95.9 Pittsfield), where Glen Turner starts tomorrow. He’s worked at Boston’s WMKK (93.7) and at WERZ (107.1) in Portsmouth, N.H.
*All of America mourned Wednesday as news spread of the death of Dick Clark – but long before “the world’s oldest teenager” was a national TV and radio fixture, he was doing local TV and radio in upstate NEW YORK. For Clark, “it all started at a little 5,000-watt radio station in Utica,” where Clark was well-connected indeed. His uncle owned WRUN (1150) and WRUN-FM (104.3), and his father, Dick Clark Sr., was managing the stations when Clark made his on-air debut as a college student in the late 1940s.
Clark went across town to get his first full-time gig after graduating from Syracuse University in 1951, becoming “Dick Clay” on WKTV (then on channel 13), hosting an afternoon country music show called “Cactus Dick and the Santa Fe Riders” – and it wasn’t long before Clark’s talent bought him a ticket south to PENNSYLVANIA and a new job at Philadelphia’s WFIL-TV (Channel 6), where the rest was history.
(Our colleague Peter Naughton has much more on Clark’s central New York roots over at CNYRadio.com…)
*In Philadelphia, Merlin Media’s WWIQ (106.9 Camden NJ) enters its second week stunting as “Hannity 106.9″; while it’s widely expected that the station will be going all-talk soon, Merlin remains in “no Rush” to reveal its eventual lineup.
Congratulations to WWIQ’s competition, CBS Radio’s KYW (1060 Philadelphia), the only NERW-land station to return from Las Vegas with the NAB’s Crystal Radio Award for exemplary community service.
*CONNECTICUT radio owner John Fuller was another NERW-land visitor to the NAB Show (we spotted him on the floor along with one of his top executives, Red Wolf Broadcasting VP Brian Ram) – and he’s adding to the signal reach of his new WJJF (94.9). The news-talker is licensed to Montauk, New York, and Red Wolf is now buying a translator there. It’s paying Community Bible Church $10,000 for W230BH (93.9).
Five Years Ago: April 21, 2008 -
*The oldest broadcast studio site in continuous use in MASSACHUSETTS could have another occupant soon. WBZ (1030) began building its broadcast center at 1170 Soldiers Field Road in 1947, and along with sister station WBZ-TV (Channel 4), it's called the site home ever since. Through multiple renovations and expansions over the years, the building has also been home to WBOS shortwave, WBZ-FM (100.7/92.9/106.7), WODS (103.3) and today to WSBK (Channel 38).
But more than a decade after its last major expansion, the building's prominent site near the Charles River is being targeted by Harvard University, which has itself been growing by leaps and bounds on the Allston side of the Charles. Just last year, Harvard relocated WGBH from its longtime studios on Harvard-owned land along Western Avenue to a new facility on Market Street. Last week, the Globe and the Harvard Crimson both reported that Harvard is in talks with CBS to acquire WBZ's nine-acre site.
Any deal would have to be "a good, sound business decision," WBZ general manager Ed Piette tells the Globe.
NERW notes that CBS has relocated several of its prominent properties recently - in Philadelphia, KYW radio and TV left their Independence Mall studios last year after almost 40 years when their lease expired, while in New York the company is slowly moving most of its radio stations into a consolidated studio in the Hudson Square neighborhood of lower Manhattan.
Moving WBZ would give the stations a chance to start fresh in a new building designed for 21st-century needs, rather than dealing with the quirks of a facility whose core is more than sixty years old, but it might also mean the end of some unique aspects of the Soldiers Field Road site, including the on-site backup tower for WBZ(AM), the helipad and the convenient highway access and parking.
*Longtime WHDH (850 Boston) morning man Jess Cain was never able to win induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame during his lifetime, despite strong support from his New England fans. Now he's been named one of three posthumous inductees to the Hall this year. Cain will join WGN's Bob Collins and Dick Whittinghill of KMPC Los Angeles in being inducted at a ceremony in Chicago November 8.
It looks like the FCC is starting to crack down on several of the high-powered pirates that have been making waves on the Boston FM dial. The Commission recently issued a $10,000 Notice of Apparent Liability against Richard Clouden for operating "Big City FM" on 101.3 from 616 Blue Hill Avenue. A high-powered pirate at 96.5 operating from Montello Avenue in Brockton received an FCC warning earlier this month as well. Will the visits from the Commission have any effect on the increased levels of pirate activity in town? (2013 update: No.)
*Almost a quarter of a century after it signed on from studios on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, Z100 is now broadcasting from NEW YORK City itself.
WHTZ (100.3 Newark) became the latest Clear Channel station to move into the company's new cluster studios at 32 Avenue of the Americas last Friday, when it said farewell to the Jersey City studios (and amazing view of lower Manhattan) that the station has called home for most of the last decade.
With WKTU (103.5 Lake Success) having moved to Sixth Avenue from its own Jersey City home at the end of March, that leaves only WLTW (106.7 New York) yet to move downtown; it's still at 1133 Avenue of the Americas, for the moment.
The last occupant of the old WWPR (105.1) studios at 1120 Avenue of the Americas went silent on April 11, by the way; the "Wake up with Whoopi" morning show had continued to feed a small group of affiliates in places such as Las Vegas, Utica and Binghamton long after it disappeared from Clear Channel's big outlets in New York (WKTU), Philadelphia (WISX) and elsewhere. Word is that Whoopi signed off with what amounted to a three-hour complaint about how she hadn't enjoyed doing radio. It's not clear who's filling her former shifts at WMXW (103.3 Vestal) in Binghamton or WUMX (102.5 Rome) in Utica.
*In RHODE ISLAND, WPRV (790 Providence) has picked up the first local talent for its "True Oldies" format.
Bruce Palmer will voicetrack the 3-7 PM shift, adding to the station's morning run of Don Imus, its evening Yankees games and its carriage of Scott Shannon's syndicated oldies format. Down the hall, WPRO (630 Providence)/WEAN (99.7 Wakefield-Peace Dale) puts Matt Allen in the 6-9 PM shift, sending Michael Savage to 9-11 PM and Jerry Doyle to 11 PM-1 AM.
*We start our PENNSYLVANIA news this week by noting the passing of a UHF TV pioneer. John Powley put WHGM (103.9) on the air from Wopsononock Mountain high above Altoona in 1970, following that up four years later by signing on WOPC-TV (Channel 38), an ABC affiliate that took its calls from the mountain's nickname ("Wopsy") and maintained an abbreviated schedule for most of its 14 years on the air.
Powley sold the stations in 1986; WHGM became oldies WALY, while WOPC moved down the dial to channel 23 and became today's WATM-TV. In later years, Powley worked with his daughter Caroline and son-in-law Bill Smith to apply for and build new TV signals around the country, including WNGS (Channel 67) in Springville, south of Buffalo, N.Y.
Powley died April 6 in Altoona; he was 72.
Ten Years Ago: April 21, 2003 -
Radio listeners in Toronto, who already have more choices on the dial than any other city in CANADA, are about to get still more listening options. The CRTC last week granted four new licenses in the nation's largest city, though only three of them will be available to listeners using analog radios.
On the AM dial, the San Lorenzo Latin American Community Centre gets 1000 watts day and night on 1610 for a non-commercial service that will broadcast primarily in Spanish, with some additional programming in Italian, Portuguese and Tagalog. The grant displaces dormant CHEV, a mobile station that broadcast community hockey games and other events in and around Etobicoke; it hasn't been heard in several years, and if it does return it will have to find a new frequency.
On the FM side, Canadian Multicultural Radio gets 440 watts on 101.3 to broadcast programs in 22 languages, most of them South Asian. This grant also displaces an existing transmitter - the Etobicoke relay of CHIN (1540), a low-power fill-in signal meant to reach areas west of downtown Toronto that lose the directional AM signal at night. That transmitter (CHIN-1-FM) will move down the dial to 91.9 - and boost power to 99 watts - once CMR is ready to sign on at 101.3.
La cooperative radiophonique de Toronto had applied for 91.7 for its French-language programming, but an objection from CHOW-FM (91.7 Welland) down on the Niagara Peninsula resulted in a change of proposed frequency. The new French service, the first in Toronto not operated by Radio Canada, will instead operate on 105.1 when it signs on.
And Sur Sagar Radio, which broadcasts to Toronto's South Asian communities over FM subcarriers, was granted a new broadcast license - but only in the digital domain. Sur Sagar thus becomes the first digital-only broadcaster in Canada, operating on the "channel 2" multiplex of Toronto's Eureka digital radio system; perhaps this will spur sales of digital radios, which are slowly becoming available in Canada at prices comparable to the subcarrier-equipped radios already widely available in Toronto's multilingual communities.
We'll head up to MAINE next, where Citadel is selling a station that's certainly on the periphery of its holdings. WCRQ (102.9 Dennysville) came along for the ride when Citadel bought out Pilot a few years back, but there's no strategic plan that includes the Calais area way Down East, which CRQ serves with a big 100,000 watt signal. So Citadel's spinning the station to Bill McVicar, who already owns nifty little local stations WQDY (92.7/1230) in Calais and WALZ (95.3) in Machias. And since McVicar's $190,000 purchase of WCRQ would give him pretty much the entire US side of the Calais market, he's putting WQDY(AM) up for sale. Hmm..."Radio Disney - We're Down East"??
It's not just Down East where Citadel is spinning off tangential properties; it's also central MASSACHUSETTS. Inside Radio reports that Citadel will sell WAHL (99.9 Athol) and WCAT (700 Orange) to Steve Silberberg for $875,000. WAHL, which does oldies (and which used to be WCAT-FM until Citadel moved those calls to the former WRKZ 106.7 in Hershey, Pennsylvania) and WCAT, which is leased out to a Spanish-language religious broadcaster, are the first stations in the area for Silberberg, who's best known for his string of AAA stations that includes WXRV (92.5 Haverhill-Boston) and Vermont's "Point" network.
PENNSYLVANIA will soon be home to two new Catholic stations: today's the day Starboard Broadcasting is due to sign on its new format at WZUM (1590 Carnegie) near Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, WAAT (750 Olyphant) will return to the air in a few weeks with new calls of WQOR ("Queen of the Rosary") and a new tower under new owners Holy Family, we're told.
Fifteen Years Ago: April 23, 1998 -
There will soon be a new commercial TV station in MAINE. A company called "Winstar" has settled with the other applicants for channel 23 in Waterville. The new station will broadcast from Danford Hill in Litchfield. NERW wonders: "WB23"?
Elsewhere in the Pine Tree State, Portland talker WGAN (560) has found a replacement for the soon-to-be-defunct Mary Matalin show in afternoons. John McDonald, who hosts the Saturday and Sunday morning shows on WGAN, will take the 3-6PM weekday slot, while giving up his Sunday morning program. McDonald has done weekends at WGAN since 1991; he's also a storyteller, newspaper columnist, and former correspondent for WMTW-TV -- which, by the way, has started broadcasting from a new set. And in Topsham, "Galaxy 95.5," WXGL, is being transferred from Liz and Stan Arno to Chris Outwin.
In RHODE ISLAND, we hear WBUR's new public radio outlet, WRNI (1290) will debut on May 1. The Boston Globe reports that Robert Ames (late of WBZ and the old WEEI) and Deborah Becker will be local hosts on 1290.
Finally this week, NERW salutes the folks at Toronto's CBC Broadcast Centre for an incredible open house last Sunday. The occasion was the move of CBC Radio One from CBL (740) to CBLA (99.1) -- but the CBC went far beyond the call of duty, with all-day live broadcasts from the atrium, an hour-long special at noon, and every staff member on hand to welcome visitors to all three radio floors of the Broadcast Centre building. We had a great time...and now we're really going to miss the programming when CBL leaves 740 kHz for good come October.