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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.

cbla-fm-2There 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.

cjrpIn 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.

w279bq-saugus
W279BQ (photo: NECRAT.us)

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."

wmnp-mixxThe 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.

wjobfm-smBinghamton'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.

wjrzDown 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!

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 30, 2012 -

*Few days in NEW YORK City radio history have produced so many surprises  as this past Thursday.

We knew, of course, that ESPN had long coveted an FM outlet to overcome the signal deficiencies of its New York flagship WEPN (1050), a perpetual laggard in the ratings battle against CBS Radio’s behemoth WFAN (660). But of all the possibilities floated for a new WEPN-FM, the news on Thursday came as a nearly complete surprise: a complex deal involving ESPN, Emmis Communications’ WRKS (98.7) and YMF, which recently took over Inner City Broadcasting’s WBLS (107.5) and WLIB (1190).

Now that the dust has settled, here’s how it all plays out – and what we think it all means:

For listeners, the effects of the deal began to appear on the FM dial almost as soon as the ESPN press conference was underway Thursday morning: WRKS began simulcasting with WBLS in what was billed as a “celebration” of 30 years of urban radio on “Kiss 98.7.”

That simulcast, which ended Friday night as the stations went into their separate weekend programming, was the result of a $10 million deal under which YMF is acquiring the intellectual property of WRKS: the “Kiss” nickname, the station’s playlist and some of its airstaff. Starting today, YMF begins the challenging task of merging the “Kiss” DNA with its own WBLS, bringing together two stations that have been competitors for more than a generation.

Here’s what we know so far about that piece of the puzzle: WBLS will keep its own Steve Harvey morning show instead of taking WRKS’ Tom Joyner. In middays, it’s WRKS’ Shaila (who displaces WBLS’ own Deja Vu.) Jeff Foxx remains in afternoons on WBLS (leaving the syndicated Michael Baisden without a New York home), and at night Lenny Green comes over from WRKS, replacing Keith Sweat on WBLS. We’ll know more this weekend about what moves where, but we’d expect WBLS staples such as Hal Jackson, Imhotep Gary Byrd and the Sunday gospel and Caribbean blocks to remain in place.

At least one longtime WRKS weekend staple, DJ Red Alert, made an emotional signoff Saturday night and apparently won’t be making the move to WBLS. Nor, apparently, will be Felix Hernandez and the Sunday edition of his “Rhythm Review,” though he’ll continue to be heard Saturdays on WBGO (88.3).

And as for the branding? All signs of “Kiss” disappeared from the WBLS website right at midnight – so in effect, it appears YMF may have paid more for the privilege of eliminating WBLS’ biggest competition than for much of the branding that went with WRKS.

*Over at 98.7, it’s ESPN Radio as of 12:01 this morning, simulcasting WEPN (1050) – but what’s on the air is less complex than the tangled financial web behind the scenes. Emmis has been one of the more debt-heavy big broadcasters out there (notwithstanding that it bought WRKS itself for a very reasonable $68 million back in 1994) and its arrangement with ESPN will help to pay off some of the $240 million Emmis now owes creditors.

Here’s how Emmis plans to make all this pay: on the content side, Emmis is getting $10 million from YMF for the WRKS intellectual property, plus additional quarterly payouts of 15% of any revenue increase WBLS shows as it adds WRKS content. On the signal side, the Emmis lease of 98.7 to ESPN is a twelve-year deal starts out at $8.435 million for the first year and increases by 3.5% each year through 2024.

But wait – there’s more! That money won’t flow directly to Emmis as it comes in. Instead, Emmis is structuring a new subsidiary that will hold the 98.7 license and its lease proceeds as collateral for a new $75 million loan from Wells Fargo and TIAA, the national teachers’ insurance company. It’s the proceeds from that loan that Emmis will use to pay down some of its more immediate debt.

In effect (at least if we understand this all clearly), what Emmis is doing here is extracting pretty much every bit of value it can from the 98.7 license without actually selling it outright. Emmis says the entire deal – intellectual property, signal lease, additional payments from YMF and all – will bring in $96 million, and that’s probably more at this point than the 98.7 signal would fetch on an open market in an outright sale.

*If not for the WRKS upheaval, we’d have led this week’s column with another huge story from New York: the death of one of the city’s best-loved rock DJs.

In a 48-year career spent entirely in the city, Pete Fornatale lived the dream, starting in 1964 as an exceptionally talented student DJ on WFUV (90.7), the radio station at his alma mater, Fordham University. At WFUV, Fornatale pioneered free-form rock programming on what had been a staid “educational” FM station, and he quickly parlayed that skill into paying work at WNEW-FM (102.7), one of the city’s first commercial free-form rockers. Fornatale was on WNEW-FM from 1969 until 1989, fighting to keep the free-form torch burning in an increasingly structured world of commercial radio formats. In 1982, he launched “Mixed Bag,” a Sunday bastion of themed free-form programming that came along with Fornatale when he moved down the dial to WXRK (92.3) in 1989 to do middays.

In 1997, Fornatale returned to WNEW-FM for what turned out to be that station’s last gasp as a classic rocker, but that lasted only a year, and by 2001 he was back where he’d started at WFUV, where “Mixed Bag” settled in nicely to what had by then become a professionally-run AAA format, a successor in a way to the free-form radio Fornatale had started there back in the sixties.

Fornatale also became a successful author, writing books that included an early history of music radio (“Radio in the Television Age,” co-written with Josh Mills in 1983) and his story of the Woodstock festival.

*PENNSYLVANIA‘s only NBA team is changing radio homes, and it’s not waiting until the start of the next season to do it. The Philadelphia 76ers were once a cornerstone of the all-sports format on CBS Radio’s WIP (610), but as WIP and CBS kept adding more play-by-play rights, the Sixers found themselves at the bottom of the priority list, often being shuffled to talker WPHT (1210) now that the Phillies have become WIP’s star attraction, followed by the Flyers.

Instead of being the number-four team at WIP (which also has the Eagles), the 76ers are becoming the star attraction at Greater Media’s “Fanatic,” WPEN-FM (97.5 Burlington NJ). It’s being described as a “multi-year deal” that starts at the beginning of the NBA playoffs, and it will also put most Sixers games on WPEN (950).

Fornatale died Thursday, several days after suffering a stroke. He was just 66. WFUV will remember him with a special broadcast next Saturday (May 5) in his old “Mixed Bag” timeslot, from 4-8 PM.

Five Years Ago: April 28, 2008 -

*One of the legendary top 40 voices of the northeast has been silenced, far too young. "Big Ron" O'Brien, whose career included stops at Philadelphia's WFIL, WYXR/WLCE and WOGL and New York's WXLO, WNBC and WTJM, died Sunday morning (April 27) of complications from pneumonia.

O'Brien began his broadcast career in 1969 at KUDL in Kansas City, and in the typical progression of the day, he quickly moved through Denver (KTLK), Chicago (WCFL) and Atlanta (WQXI). By 1974, he was in New York, doing nights at "99X," and by 1976 he was in Philadelphia at WFIL, where he spent three years.

O'Brien then moved to Los Angeles, where he worked at KFI and KIIS, then to St. Louis and Denver (with a brief interlude at WNBC in the early 1980s) before returning to Philadelphia in 1996, where he worked at WYXR (104.5, later WLCE). In 1999, O'Brien was part of the inaugural airstaff at New York's WTJM (Jammin 105); in 2002, he joined Philadelphia's WOGL (98.1) for afternoon drive, and it was there that he remained for what turned out to be the last six years of his career.

O'Brien had been ill for several months, WOGL says. He was just 56.

*Elsewhere in PENNSYLVANIA, the sale of WNTJ (850 Johnstown) from Forever to Birach Broadcasting has closed, and as of midnight last night, the news-talk format that had been on 850 (and simulcast on WNTW 990 in Somerset) has moved back to its former home on 1490 in Johnstown. The 1490 signal, which holds the WPRR calls long heard in Altoona, has been running an all-sports format; it returned to Forever's hands last fall in a purchase from Nick Galli's 2510 group. The WNTJ calls will return to 1490 as well, probably later this week.

So what happens now with 850? The $300,000 purchase by Birach includes not only the license for 850 (and for another Forever station, WCND 940 in Shelbyville, KY) but also the 115-acre tower site in Paint Township, Somerset County. Forever was reportedly eager to be free of the hassles of maintaining that nine-tower site, easily the most complex directional array in the northeast, and NERW suspects Birach isn't in this deal with the intent of maintaining the 10 kW DA-1 Johnstown signal on 850, either. Birach has interests elsewhere in the region (including WWCS 540 in Canonsburg, near Pittsburgh, and WTOR 770 Youngstown, NY, serving Toronto) - could the company have plans to move the Johnstown signal elsewhere? That would be a challenging task, since that nine-tower directional array shoehorns the Johnstown 850 into a tight squeeze between other 850 signals in Cleveland (WKNR) and Boston (WEEI), not to mention 860s in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Toronto and plenty of other nearby-on-the-dial stations that would need to be protected.

In the meantime, there's a loop repeating over (and over and over) on 850 directing listeners up the dial to 1490 - and no indication at all on the WNTJ website that anything has changed.

*NEW YORK's WOR (710) is apparently about to bring back one of the station's signature voices. John R. Gambling is the third generation of Gamblings in what had been an unbroken chain on WOR's "Rambling with Gambling" morning show from 1925 until the station fired him in 2000. Gambling resurfaced a year later on WABC (770), but lost his midmorning shift there in Citadel's budget cuts earlier this year.

Now Allan Sniffen's New York Radio Message Board is reporting that WOR will bring Gambling back to morning drive, possibly as early as next week, alongside current morning host Joe Bartlett. The odd player out, apparently, will be Bartlett's current co-host Donna Hanover.

WOR hasn't commented on the reports yet, but there's a news conference planned for Wednesday; we'll keep you posted.

*The big news in MASSACHUSETTS last week came from the TV management front, where WHDH-TV/WLVI VP/general manager Randi Goldklank was all over the tabloids after being arrested at Logan Airport following an incident during a flight last Sunday night. Goldklank told state police that a male passenger sitting next to her had been harassing her; Delta Airlines told police she had been acting "unruly" aboard the plane. A police report claimed Goldklank told the officers who met the plane, "I'll have a news crew down here in minutes and you will lose your (bleeping) jobs."

Goldklank was arrested for disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and assault and battery on a police officer. She's on leave from the stations and apparently in rehab. At least for now, station owner Sunbeam Broadcasting is standing behind Goldklank, who was reportedly on medication for depression after the recent death of her mother. Former WHDH-TV general manager Mike Carson, who'd been consulting for the station, is back as interim VP/GM in Goldklank's absence.

*One of Boston's best-known and longest-running sportscasters has died. Don Gillis began his career in radio, first at New Bedford's WBSM and then at Boston's WHDH, in the late forties, filling in for Red Sox announcer Curt Gowdy when illness kept him off the air for much of the 1957 season and hosting the "Voice of Sports" talk show, which set the stage for all the sports talk that would follow over the decades in Boston. When WHDH-TV (Channel 5) launched a nightly sportscast in 1962, Gillis was the station's first sports director, crafting the blueprint for local TV sports reporting. Gillis was the first sports anchor in Boston to have film clips during his reports, and he'll forever be remembered for his coverage of the Red Sox during their "Impossible Dream" season of 1967.

When WHDH-TV folded a decade later and was replaced by the new WCVB on Channel 5, Gillis followed many of his colleagues out to Needham, becoming WCVB's sports director for its first decade on the air.

Gillis retired as sports director of WCVB in 1982, but he stayed on as host of "Candlepin Bowling" on Saturday afternoons until the end of the show's run in 1996.

Gillis died Wednesday (April 23) at his Cape Cod home. He was 85.

Ten Years Ago: April 28, 2003 -

Just in to NERW is word that Jerry Williams has died. The dean of Boston talk radio, Williams came to town in 1957, already a decade into a career that began in Bristol, Virginia in 1946. At Mac Richmond's WMEX (1510), Williams' night shift was a sharp departure from the top 40 the station played the rest of the day. When Williams took the air at 10 PM, WMEX turned into Boston's first talk station, as Williams interviewed the newsmakers of the day and took listeners' phone calls.
In 1965, Williams departed for Chicago's WBBM, but he was back in town four years later, bringing his talk show back to the nighttime airwaves at WBZ (1030), where he stayed until October 1976, when he headed to New York for a brief stint at WMCA (570), followed by four years at Philadelphia's WWDB (96.5).

In 1981, Williams was back on the air again in Boston as part of the original talk lineup at WRKO (680), the station that was once WMEX's competitor in the waning days of AM top 40. Williams, now ensconced in an afternoon drive shift, quickly became the best-known and most controversial talker in town, using his show as a forum to oppose mandatory seat belt laws and, most memorably, to support a 1990 tax revolt (launching, in the process, the political careers of Barbara Anderson of Citizens for Limited Taxation - not to mention the radio career of the Herald's Howie Carr, who would later make that WRKO shift his own).

In 1994, Carr replaced Williams in the afternoon, with the veteran host moving to mid-mornings on WRKO (a shift he derided as "The World's Shortest Talk Show"); by January 1997, Williams had been relegated to a weekend slot, and by 1998 he was gone from WRKO and living in retirement on the South Shore.

Williams couldn't stay silent for long, though. In January 2000, he resurfaced as part of an ambitious talk lineup on the "new" WMEX (1060 Natick), but health problems got in the way, and he was off the air there within two months. A stroke in April 2001 further weakened him, but not enough to keep him from trying a daily show on WROL (950 Boston) last December and even making a return to WRKO to do some weekend fill-in this past February.

It was October 20, 1927 when the callsign "WEVD" was first heard on the NEW YORK radio dial, on a little 500-watt signal way up there at 1220 kilocycles - and ever since then, those calls have been heard somewhere on the dial in market number one. But after more than 75 years and three distinct spots on the dial (the original WEVD, which landed on 1300, then on 1330, and is today's WWRV; WEVD-FM, which lasted on 97.9 from the fifties until 1988; and the former WHN/WMGM/WHN/WFAN/WUKQ on 1050, which took the WEVD calls in a trade for the FM signal in 1988), the initials of famed labor leader Eugene Victor Debs are about to bow out for good. It's no surprise, really, that Disney will change the calls when it formally converts its LMA of WEVD (1050) into a $78 million purchase that's expected to close within the week; after all, the WEVD calls have long since ceased to have much relevance to New York radio listeners, and they've only been heard once an hour since 1050 flipped to ESPN radio in September 2001. So "WEPN" it will be at 1050 on the dial...and only those few of us who feel a deep passion for New York radio history are likely to spend much time reflecting on the loss of the fifth-oldest callsign in continuous New York use. (Only WOR, WNYC, WMCA and WWRL have been around longer.)

Fifteen Years Ago: April 30, 1998 -

Boston has lost one of its legendary broadcasters. Carl DeSuze died Wednesday night at the age of 83.

DeSuze was WBZ's morning host from the 1940s until the early 1980s, a record that's unlikely ever to be broken. His urbane on-air manner and affection for all things European made for an unlikely fit with WBZ's top-40 format in the sixties, but the combination worked, and DeSuze remained on top of the ratings for years. In addition to his duties as "New England's Alarm Clock," DeSuze traveled the world, relating his experiences in lectures across New England. A Maine native, DeSuze was proud of his Bowdoin education. After college, he worked at several Maine radio stations before moving to Boston and WBZ.

On a personal note, your editor had the opportunity to work with DeSuze while helping to prepare WBZ's 75th anniversary celebration in 1996. While DeSuze's health was already failing, he was eager to share his memories and his memorabilia. I'll long treasure the memory of spending several afternoons at his home in Concord, as he sifted through several boxes of photos and posters, recounting the stories of celebrities interviewed and distant capitals visited. DeSuze's death follows that of Gordon Swan by only a few months; together, they represented an era of WBZ history that's now all but lost.

Listeners to Boston's number-three public radio station will be hearing some changes come June. WUMB (91.9, simulcast on WFPB Falmouth and WBPR Worcester) is abandoning its nighttime smooth-jazz "Quiet Storm" format in favor of a mixture of blues, world music, gospel, and reggae. Days are changing too, as the acoustic traditional folk is joined by "electric folk" (their words!) and world music. Could WUMB be taking a cue from public radio stations like Philadelphia's WXPN or Spindale, North Carolina's WNCW, which have found new audiences for public radio with their folkish spins on the AAA format? We're looking forward to giving the new 91.9 a listen...

On we go to NEW YORK, where WTOR (770 Youngstown) is reportedly testing, and has now applied for a license to cover. Another 770 in WABC's home state? You bet, since Youngstown is just north of Niagara Falls, as far away from New York City as you can get in the Empire State, and this 770 will be a daytimer with a directional signal pointed straight out over Lake Ontario, towards Toronto, hence the calls. NERW will be making the drive to Youngstown this weekend; more on this one next week.

And we mourn the passing of two veteran broadcast engineers. Charlie Hallinan died last Wednesday at his home in Binghamton. Hallinan was one of the founders of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, and built many of the Southern Tier's radio stations. And Mike Venditti of Cherry Hill, N.J. died at home on Monday. Venditti was a legend in the world of superpower AM, having rebuilt border blaster XERF (1570 Ciudad Acuna, Mexico) in the 1970s and returned it to the air. Over the years, Mike built 57 AM stations. He'll be deeply missed.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Scott,

    I posted on a comment on the radioinsight.com thread about WMNP yesterday. Today is the same story, that is; it is still IDing as Variety 99.3 and using the programming of Cumulus Media Network’s Hot AC format. I believe that Lance may have reported the change via the Facebook page and other sources which announce this upcoming change to CHR “Mixx 99.3,” however the change has yet to take place on-air. If I find out anything further that can be verified, I’ll let you know.

    Richard J. Cabral
    Dartmouth, MA

  2. An additional comment…

    The station is currently doing it’s legal ID “illegally.” Yesterday and just now at 11:00 PM, the pre-recorded legal has yet to be changed. It is still “Variety 99.3 – WJZS Block Island-Narragansett-Kingston,” even though the call sign was changed to WMNP with the FCC on 04/21/2013.

  3. Just a few musings, noting the shutdown of CJRP-FM in St John I
    remember visiting and still have a couple of pictures of the original
    CJRP 1060 Quebec City when visiting in 1967

    CRTC seems to be very anal about some of the most peculiar things.
    Speaking with cousins in the Maritimes and Quebec they think the government in Ottawa is from a completely different planet. called
    “Bizzaro world” much like Washington just in different though equally strange ways.

    Does anyone else think the one place the behemoths of the
    industry should have never been allowed is entry into
    translators….they should be restricted to small independent AM improvement…not for the pigs to buy up even more of everything
    and crowd the little guy out at the trough.

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