In this week's issue...CBC pulls Kitchener-Waterloo local feed - Maritimes FM shuttered - Pats pick Santos replacement - Barnhart back at WROC - Translators vie for slots in Manhattan, Philadelphia - Format flip in Rhode Island
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*Radio regulation in CANADA can be a funny thing sometimes. Just ask the CBC, which abruptly had to pull its local morning show off the air in Kitchener, Ontario, only to restore it at week's end.
There was never any dispute over the CBC's ability to broadcast over CBLA-FM-2 (89.1 Paris), the CBC Radio One outlet serving the Kitchener-Waterloo area - just over which programming was allowed to be broadcast on that signal based on the station's existing license. When the FM station went on the air back in 1999, it did so as one of several new FM "transmitters" attached to the license for CBLA-FM (99.1 Toronto), the FM replacement for the old CBL (740) and its wide-area AM signal.
Last November, the CBC applied to convert the 89.1 signal from a "transmitter" of CBLA-FM to its own separate license, which would allow (and indeed require) the station to originate its own programming rather than relaying the Toronto local programs. In March, the CBC made a high-profile launch of a new morning show for Kitchener-Waterloo on both 89.1 and online. And then, last week, a complaint from a rival commercial broadcaster made the CRTC aware that the CBC had made that on-air launch before the agency had actually approved the November application to grant a new license for a "station," rather than a "transmitter," at Paris.
That's why, for a few days last week, the CBLA-FM-2 signal was back to rebroadcasting the Toronto morning show while the local Kitchener-Waterloo show was being heard only via streaming audio. Fortunately for the CBC, its friends at the CRTC moved quickly: on Thursday, they granted the November application for a new station license for 89.1, and by Friday morning, the local show was back on the air for Kitchener-Waterloo and vicinity.
(The bigger challenge, going forward, will be for the CBC's localism plans in other communities that aren't fortunate enough to have their own existing transmitters; the folks in Hamilton, for instance, have had to make do for now with an web-only "local CBC station" for lack of an available frequency.)
The same CRTC decision also approved the Radio-Canada applications to convert two Espace Musique outlets in Quebec from "transmitter" to "station" status, allowing them to originate local programming. The ruling affects CBFX-1 (104.3 Trois-Rivieres) and CBFX-2 (90.7 Sherbrooke).
*A CRTC hearing June 26 will consider applications for two new community stations. In Mount Forest-Wellington North, 40 km or so north of Waterloo, Saugeen Community Radio is applying for 88.7, with 1.65 kW/73 m, to carry 112 hours a week of local programming, while out in Bathurst, N.B., Bathurst Radio wants 50 watts/32 m on 103.3, where it would carry 84 hours of local programming each week.
In Saint John, N.B., there's a hole on the radio dial this week. CJRP (103.5) went silent last Sunday morning for what owner Bob Pritchard says was the last time. "Legends 103.5" was the latest incarnation of a 50-watt signal that's tried several formats under several callsigns since TFG Communications put it on the air a decade ago as all-comedy CFHA. Subsequent owner Geoff Rivett flipped the station to rock as "The Pirate," CJEF, before selling it to Pritchard in 2008. Over the last five years, the longtime Toronto broadcaster says he's spent more than $600,000 trying to keep the station afloat as a "fiercely local" operation playing classic hits and lots of local talk, but those losses have become unsustainable. Pritchard says he's looking for a buyer for the station, but he'll return the license to the CRTC if he can't find one soon.
*In a blessedly quiet week in MASSACHUSETTS, the big news came from the New England Patriots and flagship station WBZ-FM (98.5 the Sports Hub), where there's now a successor to 36-season play-by-play voice Gil Santos. When the Pats start playing this fall, the announcer in the booth will be Bob Socci, He's spent the last 16 years calling Navy football games, which is where he caught the ear of Pats owner (and Navy football fan) Bob Kraft; he's also been the radio voice of the Pawtucket Red Sox, the Norfolk Tides and the Albuquerque Isotopes. Socci will work alongside Scott Zolak, who returns for a second season of color commentary in the Pats' radio booth.
An update on last week's mention of David Ortiz' "fleeting expletive" issue: while the exuberant F-bomb was certainly heard on the NECN TV broadcast, which isn't covered by FCC obscenity rules, there's some debate about whether it was ever heard on broadcast radio. WEEI's Jason Wolfe tells the Los Angeles Times that the pre-game show a week ago Saturday was running through a delay on flagship WEEI-FM (93.7 Lawrence-Boston) and Big Papi was bleeped before his comments hit the airwaves. But Wolfe also says the Red Sox network broadcast wasn't running through the delay, and so it's possible some stations elsewhere on the network may have carried the comments unbleeped. (And we continue to stand with number 34: Boston's our F-ing city, too!)
Where are they now? Former WXKS (Talk 1200) morning man Jeff Katz returns to the airwaves of eastern New England today, launching a daily one-minute commentary that will air in morning and afternoon drive on WCAP (980) in Lowell.
Clear Channel's last batch of filings in the 2003 "translator thaw" window includes a second signal in Worcester: it's requesting 140 watts on 97.7 in "Westchester" (but with an antenna at the WTAG site in Holden), ostensibly to relay WSRS (96.1 Worcester). To the east, Living Proof Inc. is pushing forward with an application for 102.1 in "Quincy," though the 29-watt signal would actually transmit from Hingham. If granted, the 102.1 signal would relay W279BQ (103.7), which will soon be transmitting from the new Hancock tower in downtown Boston - and which is, in turn, now relaying Living Proof's WYDI (90.5) from Derry, NEW HAMPSHIRE.(And before W279BQ moves to the Back Bay, it's still operating from a temporary location in Saugus - where our buddies Mike and Jeff spotted it and photographed it for NECRAT.us. Yes, that's a four-bay antenna mounted to a support pole holding up the netting on a driving range!)
There's a proposed translator move in the Granite State this week, too, unrelated to the 2003 window: Saga's W231BR (94.1 Manchester) has been transmitting from a site atop the VA Medical Center on the east side of Manchester, but it's been notified that its lease won't be renewed - and so the translator is applying to move westward to Mount Uncanoonuc and the tower of sister stations WZID (95.7) and WMLL (96.5), where its 250 watts will provide a broader reach than the present site offers, albeit with less signal penetration in downtown Manchester. The translator is half of Saga's "Hot Hits" translator combo along with W276BJ (103.1) up in Concord, both fed by WZID's HD2.
*In MAINE, community station WERU (89.9 Blue Hill) celebrates its 25th anniversary this week by kicking off a series of events that include an all-day marathon broadcast on Wednesday. That's the actual anniversary of the station's first broadcast - and did you know that it began from a converted chicken barn on Blue Hill Mountain owned by none other than Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary? Other events include an open house at the station on June 29 and a 25th anniversary concert in Ellsworth at which Stookey will be a featured performer.
*We now know what was up with a callsign change in southern RHODE ISLAND: the former WJZS (99.3 Block Island) filed to become WMNP as it changed hands from Astro Tele-Communications to 3G Broadcasting - and our content partners at RadioInsight.com report the former "Variety 99.3" has flipped to top-40 as "Mixx 99.3," which presumably means the new callsign stands for "Mixx Newport."
The new "Mixx" is billing itself as live and local, with a wider mix of music than a typical top-40 and no syndicated programming. Matt Girard moves up from 3G's sister stations in the Florida panhandle to serve as WMNP's program director, with more airstaff to be named later.
*Both bits of CONNECTICUT news this week come from the translator thaw - and both involve veteran broadcaster Dennis Jackson. He's filing to move forward with an application for 103.7 in Georgetown, relaying his yet-unbuilt WJZZ (90.1 South Salem NY), and one in 102.5 in Danbury that would relay WSHU-FM (91.1 Fairfield).
*More FM translators in NEW YORK City? That's what Bridgelight Communications is hoping for as it files its applications in the translator "thaw," where it's pushing ahead on a chain of proposals that would bring its signal from northern New Jersey all the way to the eastern tip of Long Island. On the New York side of the Hudson, Bridgelight's applications include one for "Fort Greene" that would actually put its new 95.1 signal atop the 4 Times Square skyscraper in midtown Manhattan, where it would relay WJUX (99.7 Monticello), presumably by way of existing translator W276AQ (103.1 Fort Lee NJ). Bridgelight's applications filed last week also include a string of translators heading out to eastern Long Island: 98.1 in Gordon Heights (near Coram), 102.1 in Tiana (near Quogue) and 97.9 in Redwood, all fed from WRDR (89.7 Freehold Township NJ).
Other FM "thaw" applications last week were upstate: in Monroe, Mary Katonah is moving forward with her late husband John's application for 106.1, relaying WRPJ (88.9 Port Jervis); in Durhamville, near Oneida, Wolf Radio has shifted its original 103.7 application to 103.3, relaying WMVN (100.3 Sylvan Beach); in "Elmwood," Pathway Community Radio wants to relay WOLF (1490 Syracuse) on 93.9 - right from the WOLF(AM) tower in Syracuse; and in Canandaigua, FMX Broadcasting shifts its original 103.1 application to 103.3, relaying WNYR (98.5 Waterloo).
*Here in Rochester, Rachel Barnhart made big headlines six years ago when she fought a court battle to get out of her contract at WROC-TV (Channel 8) and move to a weekend anchor/reporter slot across town at WHAM-TV (Channel 13). Barnhart's court fight helped to contribute to a change in state law that ended up outlawing non-compete clauses in broadcast contracts. So there's a certain irony in her latest move - as of this past Tuesday, Barnhart is back at channel 8, where she's reporting from the field and where she's slated to take over the 4 PM newscast when current anchor Matt Molloy departs later this year.
Binghamton's new urban station still doesn't have a license - the Urban League of Broome County has been operating WJOB-FM (93.3 Susquehanna PA) under a construction permit since last year - but it's already seeking a stronger signal in town. WJOB is asking the FCC for a 99-watt on-channel booster that will operate from an antenna on a water tower atop a warehouse off Main Street in Johnson City, filling in some gaps in the parent station's coverage caused by the rough terrain between the main transmitter and downtown Binghamton. (We'll have a close-up view of the booster antenna if it's approved; the proposed site happens to be right across the street from your editor's cousin's auto parts business, and while he's normally more into nature photography, perhaps we can press him into tower-photo duty if the opportunity arises...)
In Albany, "J. Will" is now the program director at Pamal's WAJZ (96.3 Voorheesville), replacing Erin "Charlie" Buchwald. J. Will, whose real name is Jaleel Williams, is the son of one of the market's iconic urban jocks, Ron "Sugar Bear" Williams, and he continues in morning drive on "Jamz 96.3" as he takes on his new PD duties.
Congratulations to Eileen Buckley, whose many years of contributions to Buffalo news radio were recognized at the Buffalo Broadcasters Association's BEMA (Buffalo Excellence in Media) awards. Now the assistant news director at WBFO (88.7), Buckley was honored with BEMA's Pinnacle Award at the celebration Friday night. (We're still waiting for a full list of winners, which we'll have for you in next week's issue.)
*Our NEW JERSEY news starts with the sale of an unbuilt FM construction permit. Calvary Chapel of Montclair won the CP for 90.3 in Taylortown back in December 2010, and new owner Redeemer Broadcasting will have until this coming December to get it built. If they succeed, they'll have a 60-watt signal from up in the Ramapo Mountains north of Dover and west of Wayne, with a fringe signal that won't quite reach either populated community with 60 dBu. Redeemer already owns WFSO (88.3 Olivebridge NY); its $45,000 purchase of the Taylortown CP will add a second full-power signal alongside several translators in the Redeemer fold. Roger Rafson's CMS Station Brokerage handled the deal for Calvary.
Salem has parted ways with Peter Thiele after five years as PD of WNYM (970 Hackensack), which means he won't be along when WNYM and sister station WMCA (570 New York) move their studios from Hasbrouck Heights across the Hudson to the former WOR (710) digs at 111 Broadway after WOR completes its move to Clear Channel's plant at 32 Avenue of the Americas near Canal Street. The move will put WMCA's studios back in its city of license for the first time in three decades, and NERW believes it will be the first time in the history of what's now WNYM that the 970 facility has had its main studio in New York.
Down the shore, AllAccess offers a little more information about Greater Media's changes at WJRZ (100.1 Manahawkin), which has gone back to classic hits from AC "Magic." PD Glenn Kalina is still there, but his morning co-host Dianne DeOliveira and afternoon jock Tripp Rogers are out and the station is staying jockless through this week while it lines up a new airstaff.
Translators? Absolutely: the last days of the "thaw" filing period found several interesting applications pushing forward at the FCC. Veteran engineer Ted Schober is looking to put translators in some very populated areas: he's modified a 97.5 application originally in West Orange to instead call for a Jersey City transmitter site. That translator would relay WPAT (930 Paterson), as would a proposed 105.5 in Alpine - but the Alpine signal wouldn't actually come from the Armstrong tower, instead using a site several miles to the west. Bridgelight Communications wants 96.7 in Tremley (which appears to be a dot just west of Carteret) to relay WRDR (89.7 Freehold Township). At the other end of the state, Schober is seeking 95.3 in Lawnside (alongside I-295 near Bellmawr, just east of Philadelphia) to relay WBZC (88.9 Pemberton). Delaware-based Priority Radio has modified its 92.9 application in Cherry Hill to instead specify 103.7, relaying WXHL (89.1 Christiana DE). And Clear Channel has modified its 105.7 application in Vineland to call for 94.9, where it's supposed to relay first-adjacent WDSD (94.7 Dover DE).
*Across the river in PENNSYLVANIA, there's translator action in Philadelphia proper: Denise Choi is moving ahead with a 95.1 translator application in "Millbourne" (actually, it appears, a church steeple in west Philly) that would relay WPRB (103.3 Princeton NJ). In Reading, Scranton pubcaster WVIA (89.9) is moving ahead with its application for a translator on 107.1.
On the western end of the state, EMF Broadcasting is moving forward with a 92.5 Connellville translator application, planned to relay "K-Love" outlet WDKL (95.9 Grafton WV). In nearby Irwin, WKHB (620) already has one translator on FM at 94.1, but owner Broadcast Communications Inc. is also moving ahead with a long-dormant application for 92.1. Religious broadcaster He's Alive, Inc. has modified its application for 98.1 in Beaver to specify 97.9 instead, still relaying WRWJ (88.1 Murrysville), and up in Meadville, Family First Foundation is moving ahead with an application at 102.1 that would relay WMVL (101.7 Linesville).
Radio and TV People on the Move: in Allentown, WAEB-FM (104.1) afternoon jock/PD Jeff Hurley is adding some big new duties at Clear Channel, where he's just been named operations manager for the Harrisburg cluster and regional program manager for the area, effective today. There's a search now underway for a new PD and afternoon jock at B104.
Down the road in Harrisburg, David Baer is the new news director at Sinclair's WHP-TV (Channel 21) and sister station WLYH (Channel 15). Baer comes to Harrisburg from Albany, where he was squeezed out of the news director job at WXXA (Channel 23) when its newsroom was taken over by crosstown WTEN (Channel 10); at WLYH - a former Clear Channel sister to WXXA - he replaces Craig Hume, who's now news director at KSNV (Channel 3) in Las Vegas.
Back in Philadelphia, there's a new home for Spanish Beisbol Productions' Phillies radio broadcasts. They'd been airing on WTTM (1680 Lindenwold NJ), but starting Friday they're moving over to WOGL (98.1)'s HD4 channel, which carries "Phillies 24/7," mostly in English otherwise. Bill Kulik (who's Spanish Beisbol's president) calls the games along with Rickie Ricardo and Angel Castillo.
*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!