In this week's issue... Langer plots WMSX move - Format change in upstate NY - Wade out at Z100 - NERW on the Road - PLUS: Baseball on the Radio 2013, the finale
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*There's a new AM signal coming to eastern MASSACHUSETTS, as owner Alexander Langer moves forward on a relocation of the former WMSX (1410 Brockton). When Langer announced his $100,000 purchase of the silent AM signal from Kingdom Church exactly a year ago (as you'll read if you scroll down to our "Archives" section at the bottom of the page, he told us he didn't have a move immediately planned - WMSX “happened to be a good local signal at the right price,” he said then - but anyone familiar with his signal-upgrade work knew better, especially given WMSX's lack of a viable Brockton transmitter site.
Working with consulting engineer Charles Hecht, Langer filed for his move on Monday. He's proposing to transfer WMSX from Brockton to a new community of license of Dedham, abandoning the old Linwood Street site in Brockton in favor of a new 75-foot Valcom fiberglass whip antenna to be located in an industrial section of Readville, right at the southern tip of Boston's city limits. (It will, in fact, become the only AM station transmitting from within the city of Boston.)
From that new site on Sprague Street, the new WMSX would run 610 watts by day and just 25 watts at night. At least on paper, that day facility will put about 600,000 people within its 2 mV/m contour, including most of Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan as well as a ring of south suburban Boston including Dedham, Milton and parts of Quincy and Brookline.
Assuming the move is granted (and there's no reason to expect it won't), it's likely the new WMSX will follow in the path of another Langer move-in. What's now WSRO (650 Ashland) was moved into the Framingham area from southern New Hampshire, and Langer has slowly grown that small facility into an important voice for the fast-growing Portuguese-speaking community in MetroWest that had lacked its own radio outlet. Will the new WMSX find a similar ethnic niche in the diverse neighborhoods it will serve? There are certainly openings, as the slew of unlicensed Haitian Creole signals in the area attests every day.
As for Brockton, the legal brief submitted with the application asserts that it will "continue to receive local service," and that's sort of true. WXBR (1460) is still licensed there, and new owner Azure Media has been working to complete new studios and return the station to some sort of local programming. And its former FM sister from its WBET days, WKAF (97.7, ex-WCAV), is still licensed to Brockton as well, even though it transmits from Great Blue Hill in Milton and is programmed from Entercom's WAAF studios in Brighton.
*Former WFNX programmer Paul Driscoll just got a promotion at the Globe's RadioBDC.com. After just under a year programming the surviving alternative rock webcast, Driscoll has now been named director of operations and program development.
*There's another all-star cast of inductees on tap for the next class of the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame. The 2013 inductees, announced on Tuesday, include WROR (and before that, WVBF) 105.7 morning hosts Loren Owens and Wally Brine, station owner Ken (Carter) Carberry, WHDH-TV (Channel 7) reporter Garry Armstrong, his former boss, David Mugar, longtime WGBH voice Ron Della Chiesa, WCVB consumer reporter Susan Wornick, and longtime WCVB/NECN anchor Chet Curtis.
This year's class of posthumous inductees includes longtime WBZ-TV (Channel 4) reporter Walt Sanders, former Red Sox announcer Jim Britt, WBZ/WHDH radio host Alan Dary, pioneering female radio sales executive Claire Crawford, and Richard L. Kaye, who founded WHRB at Harvard and then went on to run WCRB.
The induction ceremony will be held September 12 at the Quincy-Boston Marriott, with Jordan Rich once again emceeing. (There's more information at the MBHOF website.)
*In the Springfield market, "Shaggy" is back in morning drive at WRNX (100.9 Amherst); he did a decade on the air there before WRNX dropped rock and picked up the "KIX" country format from former sister station WPKX (97.9), and now he's back on the morning show at "KIX 100.9" along with Mike Tyler and Kera.
*Where are they now? The Reverend Earl Jackson made a name for himself as the general manager of WLVG (740 Cambridge) during that station's days as a black gospel/religious outlet in the 1980s, including several encounters with bankruptcy. After exiting WLVG (which eventually ended up in the hands of Bob Bittner as WWEA and then WJIB), Jackson decamped for Virginia - and it wasn't until late last week (with an assist from Universal Hub, by way of the now-defunct Washington Examiner) that we made the connection between WLVG's Earl Jackson and the Rev. E. W. Jackson who's making headlines as the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in Virginia.
(If you're keeping score at home, Jackson is at least the second former Boston radio operator to make headlines at the rightward end of national politics: as we've noted here on several occasions, former WDLW 1330 owner Anthony Martin-Trigona has become a perennial candidate and political gadfly under the name "Andy Martin.")
*It's been many years since it was a Massachusetts station, but Family Radio's WYFR shortwave outlet in Okeechobee, Florida has deep roots in New England, where it operated from Boston and then Scituate as W1XAL and WRUL as far back as the late 1920s. In the 1960s, the station's studios moved to New York City under Bonneville ownership as WNYW, "Radio New York Worldwide," but the transmitter remained at Scituate into the first few years of Family's ownership in the 1970s. It wasn't until 1979 that the last of the WYFR transmitters left the Hatherly Beach site for the Florida swamps. Now, 34 years later, Family's financial problems appear to be sounding the death knell for this venerable shortwave outlet, which has been reducing its operating hours for months now and which will reportedly fall silent for good at the end of the month.
*Here's your final reminder about two (count 'em!) chances to catch up with your itinerant editor as NERW's summer travel season gets into gear. On Monday, we'll be in the NEW YORK metro area, attending the 1 PM dedication of a long-awaited plaque honoring Major Edwin Howard Armstrong at the Hudson-Fulton Park on Warburton Avenue in Yonkers, adjacent to the site of his longtime family home and with a view right across the Hudson River to the Major's famous tower in Alpine, NEW JERSEY. The site is also adjacent to the Greystone Metro-North train station.
>Hear the audio of the ceremony right here!<
And then on Wednesday, editor Scott Fybush will be the moderator at the Haverhill screening of "Corporate FM: The Killing of Local Commercial Radio." In addition to the New England premiere of the documentary, Haverhill's WHAV.net is hosting a panel discussion featuring well-known Boston-area radio names including Donna Halper, Dan Kennedy, WPKZ Fitchburg owner Bill Macek, WHAV's Marc Lemay and the film's director, Kevin McKinney. Tickets for the event (which includes dinner and is a benefit for WHAV.net) are still available at last check...
*It was probably the worst-kept secret in NEW YORK radio in years: nobody was much surprised when Cumulus officially announced its new "America's Morning Show" for WNSH (94.7 Newark) on Monday. Set to debut later this month, the show will originate from Nashville, where its host, Blair Garner, will continue to also host his syndicated "After MidNight" overnight country show. The rest of the cast will include country stars Terri Clark, Sunny Sweeney, Chuck Wicks and Lee Ann Womack, with news updates coming from Robin Meade at CNN/HLN in Atlanta. Does that sound like a future nationally-syndicated offering? It sure does to us...
For the last few years, WHTZ (100.3 Newark) overnight jock Shelley Wade has had a California presence as a voicetracked jock at Clear Channel Los Angeles sister station KBIG (104.3), and now the Z100 veteran is packing up to move west this summer. Wade is taking the midday shift at KSSX (95.7 Kiss FM) in the San Diego market, via voicetracking at first and then in the flesh when she departs Z100 after a dozen years on the air. Wade, who made her name on the evening shift before being bumped to overnights by the Ryan Seacrest juggernaut, has also been heard in Boston over the years as a tracked jock on WXKS-FM (Kiss 108).
*A stealth format change in Binghamton: Equinox Broadcasting appears to have quietly killed off AC WRRQ (106.7 Port Dickinson), instead using that frequency to simulcast its oldies WCDW (100.5 Susquehanna PA). At least for now, that puts "Cool 100" on the Ingraham Hill 106.7 signal, the east-side rimshot 100.5 and a string of translators around the valley; will any of those translators instead end up with some of Equinox's other HD-subchannel feeds? (The company also runs rock "Z93," soft AC "Sunny 107" and AAA "104.5 the Drive" on translators fed by WRRQ's HD subs.)
*A format change in the Rochester market: Brian McGlynn's Genesee Media took control of WRSB (1310 Canandaigua) and WASB (1590 Brockport) on June 7, and June 8 brought the soft launch of a new business-talk format on the pair of AM signals. The new format, which replaces a hodgepodge of fringe talk and religion, uses Bloomberg Radio for most of its weekday programming, augmented by some syndicated evening and overnight talk (including KMOX-based Overnight America with Jon Grayson). On weekends, WRSB/WASB will be carrying a mix of lifestyle and technology talk, including Leo Laporte's computer show. McGlynn's also been busy with technical upgrades, cleaning up the long-neglected plants at both AM facilities, which he purchased for $450,000 from Marilyn Wolfe.
There's a missing voice at Clear Channel's WHAM (1180) and WHTK (1280) in Rochester. After 16 years with the cluster as a producer and sports host, Craig Schaller was abruptly dismissed last week after putting up a post on his station blog criticizing (in a rather impolitic way) the large number of Asian golfers in the LPGA tournament that just wrapped up in town. Schaller tells WHEC-TV (Channel 10) that he was trying to be tongue-in-cheek and that while he "had an inkling it might be a little controversial," he "didn't think (the post) was over the top."
Speaking of WHEC, there's word of more talent moves on the way at the NBC affiliate: veteran reporter Ray Levato is on vacation for the next few weeks, but we're told that before he left, he sent an e-mail to colleagues at the station saying he's retiring, effective at the end of June. Levato is by far the dean of WHEC's reporting staff, having joined the station back in the mid-1970s; only WHAM-TV (Channel 13) anchor Don Alhart has been on TV longer in Rochester. In addition to Levato's departure, WHEC evening anchor Don Hudson and sports director Robin DeWind are reportedly leaving channel 10 later in the year.
In Buffalo, the Buffalo News' Alan Pergament reports Rene LaSpina is inbound as the new general manager at WIVB (Channel 4)/WNLO (Channel 23), replacing the recently-retired Chris Musial. LaSpina ran WTEN in Albany and WNEP in Scranton before taking on her most recent role at the helm of WPTY (now WATN-TV) in Memphis, where she's been for four years.
In Utica, CNYTVNews.com reports news director/anchor Joe Parker is out at Nexstar's WUTR (Channel 20)/WFXV (Channel 33) after just under two years on the job. Parker was the last remaining anchor left from the original on-air team from the relaunch of news at WUTR/WFXV back in 2011; Elsa Gillis is anchoring the evening newscasts solo for now.
*When it comes to AM radio in the Ithaca market, WPIE (1160 Trumansburg) has long been the odd man out: it's by far the newest AM signal in the area, having signed on only in 1989, and for the moment, the ESPN Radio outlet is the only AM in town without an FM translator. That, however, is about to change: as we'd suspected, WPIE owner Taughannock Media (Todd Mallinson) is buying new translator W297BI (107.3 Danby) from Calvary Chapel of the Finger Lakes for $50,000. W297BI has a pending application to go to 250 watts, directional and aimed mostly north from a site on Mecklenburg Road west of Ithaca. (This is the third recently-granted translator the Calvary folks have sold in the Ithaca area; they sold translators at 96.7 and 97.7 to Saga for $60,000 each in the last few months.)
Amherst-based Holy Family Communications continues to expand the reach of its Catholic programming. In addition to flagship WLOF (101.7 Elma), its other upstate signals and Boston-market WQOM (1060 Natick), Holy Family is now pushing westward into Ohio by acquiring the construction permit for WMIH (89.5 Geneva) from the Servants of Mary. Once the $1,000 purchase is complete, Holy Family will have until February 2, 2014 to complete construction of WMIH itself; it's also acquiring the rights to purchase a translator in Erie, Pennsylvania from Family Life Ministries that will extend WMIH's programming back over the state line. (That would appear to be W254BQ on 98.7.)
Radio People on the Move: former Entercom Rochester chief engineer Joe Fleming is settling in south of the Mason-Dixon Line as the new chief at Main Line Broadcasting's cluster in Richmond, Virginia.
*What's even less of a surprise than the news about the Nash FM morning show? The official word from Rutland, VERMONT that Kwame Dankwa is returning to WZRT (97.1) as program director. Dankwa had departed for Memphis and Clear Channel's KWNW last year, but family considerations brought him home to New England and back to Z97, where he takes his old job back from Amber Huyghe.
*Our friends at Pittsburgh Public Media are two big steps closer to putting their jazz format on the air to serve parts of western PENNSYLVANIA and adjoining West Virginia. The $150,000 purchase of WVBC (88.1 Bethany WV) from Bethany College won FCC approval at the end of May, and PPM now has a new callsign for the station, which will become WYZR when it starts carrying PPM's Pittsburgh Jazz Channel. PPM says studio construction in McMurry, southwest of Pittsburgh, should be completed within a month or so, after which the new WYZR can launch. At first, the former WYBC signal won't quite reach most of Pittsburgh, but PPM says it's still working on signal expansion to better cover the market.
With the possible exception of Milwaukee, there's no town in America that does polka on the radio better than Pittsburgh, but the ranks of polka radio hosts thinned this week with the passing of Sam Pugliano. Pugliano played with polka greats such as Frankie Yankovic, and he played the music of the polka greats for 50 years on Pittsburgh-area radio, most recently at WKHB (620 Irwin). He died June 13, at age 80.
At the other end of the state, Hope Christian Church of Marlton has put WZWG (91.7 West Grove) on the air to serve part of Chester County, and it's hoping to expand the signal to serve more of the area. After dropping down from 315 to 160 watts and reducing elevation to get a signal built before the construction permit was about to expire, WZWG is now applying to go back to higher power, 400 watts/472' DA, from the tower site it's presently using near Lincoln University.
In the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre market, there's a new president/CEO for public broadcaster WVIA. Tom Currá was picked by WVIA's board to succeed Bill Kelly in the top job. Currá has been working at WVIA for nine years, and if he needs advice from his predecessor, he won't have to look far - Kelly is sticking around WVIA for now to lead the station's endowment campaign.
*The AM-to-FM migration continues in CANADA, and this time it's a CBC low-power AM relay transmitter that's about to fall silent. The CBC is asking the CRTC for permission to shut down 40-watt CBAO (990 St. Stephen NB), replacing the little AM signal near the Maine border with an FM outlet on 88.1, running 233 watts at 34 meters below average terrain. CBAO is one of a handful of remaining AM relays from back in the day; most, like the St. Stephen outlet, were located at railyards. Like CBAO, the new FM signal will relay Radio One from CBD (91.3) in Saint John, erroneously identified as "St. John's" in the CBC's application letter.
In Sackville, New Brunswick, the CBC already migrated from AM to FM a few years back when it silenced big-coverage CBA (1070 Moncton) and turned on replacement Moncton signal CBAM (106.1) plus several boosters to fill in areas that didn't get a good enough FM signal from the new Moncton outlet. At the time, the CBC had an easy location at which to mount its Sackville booster: CBAM-1 (105.7) has operated since 2008 from the Radio Canada International shortwave site, which is where CBA itself operated from 1939 until 1968. But with RCI now silent and no buyer in sight for the shortwave complex, the CBC had to locate a new site for the 50-watt FM relay. If the CRTC grants the move, CBAM-1 will end up on a water tower to the west of the former RCI site, still with 50 watts but now at 43 meters above average terrain, down from 62 meters at the RCI site.
Some TV news from Montreal (by way of the indispensable Steve Faguy): CTV outlet CFCF-TV (Channel 12), the largest remaining North American local TV station still producing its news in SD, finally made the flip to high definition beginning last Monday (June 10). Despite still being in 4:3 SD, CFCF has continued to dominate local news ratings in Montreal, though there's also some news from one upstart competitor: CityTV's CJNT (Channel 62) named former CBC personality Joanne Vrakas and champion diver Alexandre Despatie as the hosts of its new "Breakfast Television" morning show, due to launch in August.
A belated obituary from the Toronto area: there's late word of the death of veteran consultant Wayne Plunkett. A good friend to this column over the years, Plunkett was instrumental in helping many new signals get on the air in southern Ontario and beyond over the last few decades, and he was always a fount of good information about what was happening on the Canadian broadcast scene. Plunkett died May 23, at age 72, and he will be very much missed.
*And that brings us to the final installment of this year’s Baseball on the Radio listings, as we run down the roster for the short-season single-A New York-Penn League, which begins play tonight.
It's yet another "maybe final season" for our hometown(-ish) Batavia Muckdogs, who are back on WBTA (1490) once more, while continuing to look for a buyer who'll likely move the team elsewhere. The Auburn Doubledays quietly moved their road games to WAUB (1590, plus an FM translator at 98.1) last season, and they're back there again this year. The Hudson Valley Renegades started out their 2012 campaign as webcast-only, but added WKIP (1450 Poughkeepsie) midway through last season. This year, it appears it's back to webcast-only for the Renegades, though. In Vermont, the Lake Monsters move from WCPV (101.3 ESPN Radio) to sister station WEAV (960 Plattsburgh NY), which will carry a 50-game schedule that includes all 38 home games. The bigger news from Centennial Stadium, though, is in the broadcast booth, where veteran Burlington sportscaster George Commo is returning to call the full schedule games, his first full season in the booth since the Vermont Expos days back in 2004. In Norwich, it appears the Connecticut Tigers will be back on WICH (1310) for their fourth season, and in Massachusetts, the Lowell Spinners appear to be back on WCAP (980).
In Pennsylvania, it’s once again WLYC (1050, plus a translator at 104.1) for the Williamsport Crosscutters and WZWW (95.3 Bellefonte) for the State College Spikes.
There’s no radio once again this year, as best we can tell, for the Jamestown Jammers, the Tri-City Valley Cats of Troy or the Staten Island Yankees - nor, it appears, for the Brooklyn Cyclones, who had been heard on WSOU (89.5 South Orange NJ) last season.
*A few other stray baseball notes from around the region: we've been remiss in failing to note a new New York Yankees outlet here in the Rochester market. After years of sporadic coverage on Clear Channel's WHAM (1180) and WHTK (1280), which carried mainly weekend and some night games, the Yankees now have their full schedule on sister station WODX (107.3 South Bristol Township). And how about the small Can-Am League? Down to just five teams in New Jersey, New York and Quebec, there's radio for only two of them - the Rockland Boulders have the studios of WRCR (1300 Spring Valley) right there in their stadium, and their games air not only there but also on WLNA (1420 Peekskille), WBNR (1260 Beacon) and WGHQ (920 Kingston), at least on a limited schedule. Up in Quebec City, les Capitales de Quebec are heard on CHEQ (101.3 Sainte-Marie) this summer. (How do you keep a league going with just five teams? You also schedule interleague games against the teams of another independent league, the American Association in the upper midwest...)
*In NERW-land at least, summer weather is taking its time getting here. At least we can all comfort ourselves by looking at the sunny pictures in the summer months of our 2013 calendar -- and the sunny months from spring, too. Aren't you glad you have your calendar to look at?
What? You haven't ordered it yet? What are you waiting for? Even if June isn't bustin' out all over outside, it is in our Tower Site Calendar 2013, now on sale at half price!
The 12-month wall calendar boasts a full-color photo each month of a well-known broadcast transmitter site.
This edition includes sites in Florida, Wisconsin, Kentucky, California, Iowa, Idaho, Las Vegas, Colorado, Boston, Cleveland, Albuquerque, upstate New York and western Massachusetts. We've redesigned the calendar to add more color (don't worry; the pictures are still pristine) and made the spiral binding standard -- it hangs even better on your wall now! Of course, we still have the convenient hole for hanging. When you order the calendar, be sure to check out our other merchandise, including a scale model of the KSAN-AM radio tower.