In this week"s issue... WWOR dumps newscast - Rogers sells two - AM launch in Pittsburgh - "Nash" brand spreads nationally - Remembering Don Latulippe
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*Local news quietly faded away from NEW JERSEY"s WWOR-TV (Channel 9) last Tuesday night at 10:30, concluding - at least for now - a chapter of regional TV history dating back three decades. It was back in 1983 when RKO"s struggle to keep the license of what was then WOR-TV prompted it to move the station from New York City across the Hudson to Secaucus, N.J., and ever since then, channel 9"s owners have struggled to balance the business reality of serving the greater New York market against the legal pressure to make good on RKO"s long-ago commitment to servicing the Garden State.
That pressure grew considerably back in 2000, when WWOR"s then-owner, Chris-Craft Communications, was sold to Fox Television Stations, putting channel 9 in a duopoly with the unequivocally New York-based WNYW-TV (Channel 5). Under Fox ownership, much of the WWOR operation, including business offices and master control, moved across the Hudson to WNYW"s Upper East Side studios. It"s likely the entire Channel 9 operation would have followed the lead of other Fox/Chris-Craft duopolies such as KTTV/KCOP in Los Angeles and KFTC/KMSP in Minneapolis and combined completely under one roof, but for that 1980s-era promise to retain a New Jersey base for WWOR. New Jersey senator Frank Lautenberg stepped in back in 2004 to compel Fox to keep a separate Secaucus-based newsroom for WWOR, using the leverage of WWOR"s license renewal in the 2007 cycle and the ongoing waiver that allowed News Corp. to own both the Fox stations and the New York Post.
In the years since 2004, WWOR"s news commitment had wavered but not disappeared. Its lone newscast moved from an hour at 10 PM to a half-hour at 11 PM in 2009, taking it out of competition with WNYW"s flagship 10 PM show, and while WWOR"s newscast moved back to 10 PM in 2011, it remained mired at a half-hour in length. It wasn"t until last September when WWOR belatedly joined the rest of its New York-market competitors in producing its news in high definition, and even then the Channel 9 news has lingered far back in the ratings, behind WNYW and Tribune"s WPIX.
The WWOR newscast did, at least, become more heavily New Jersey-focused in recent years, no doubt at least partially to pacify Lautenberg and other New Jersey politicians who had continued to hold up its license renewal and to threaten the Post cross-ownership waiver. But that pressure has diminished considerably in recent weeks with Lautenberg"s death and News Corp"s move to spin off the Post and its other print holdings into a separate company that would no longer require a cross-ownership waiver. (There"s also the impending launch of a second commercial station also nominally licensed to New Jersey, KVNV-TV channel 3, which is being moved across the country from Nevada to Middletown Township.)
WWOR, of course, is spinning its decision to drop a locally-produced newscast as a good thing for the Garden State. That"s because the 10 PM slot on channel 9 will be filled, starting tonight, with a new show called "Chasing New Jersey." The new magazine show, produced in Trenton and hosted by "ringleader" (and former Republican congressional candidate) Bill Spadea, will be outsourced to a company called Fairfax Productions. It"s run by Dennis Bianchi, the VP/general manager of Fox-owned WTXF (Channel 29) in Philadelphia, which will itself also carry "Chasing New Jersey," albeit buried at 4 AM as the lead-in to WTXF"s early-morning newscast.
Fox says there will be a handful of layoffs from WWOR"s news department. Anchor Brenda Blackmon will remain with the station to anchor news specials, while her co-anchor Harry Martin will move to WNYW as a reporter. Meteorologist Audrey Puente and sports anchor Russ Salzberg were already doing most of their work from WNYW, where they"ll remain on the staff.
(One more bit of history here: as with most independent stations in the early years of local TV, there was no history of real local news on WOR-TV until 1971. When a fully-produced newscast, as opposed to headlines read over a slide, finally did launch on channel 9 it was in the odd form of a daily noon newscast. The prime-time show didn"t start until 1983, and at the time it was an 8 PM broadcast. As best your editor can tell, channel 9 has always trailed in the ratings behind the more established news offerings at channels 5 and 11; in a sense, then, it may be that news on channel 9 has been endangered for many years now.)
*Up in the northwestern corner of the state, WTOC (1360 Newton) is changing hands again. The former WNNJ(AM) was spun off by Clear Channel in 2011 as part of a group of small stations donated to the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, which took it silent and then sold it to Paterson-based Radio Vision Cristiana for $46,000. RVC has been operating the station as a simulcast of its Spanish religious WWRV (1330 New York), but not for much longer: last week, it filed to sell the little station (which runs 2000 watts by day and 320 watts at night) to the Morristown-based Centro Biblico of New Jersey, for $235,000. Centro Biblico will take the station noncommercial, and will continue to run it with a Spanish-language religious format.
*On the shore, TJ Lubinsky is returning to the airwaves at Greater Media"s WJRZ (100.1 Manahawkin). The Pittsburgh-based oldies host is best known these days for the music specials he produces, which have become a pledge drive staple at PBS stations nationwide - but he also hosted a Sunday-night request show on WJRZ from 2005 until 2009. As of last night, Lubinsky, a New Jersey native, is back on WJRZ, hosting a new version of the "Sunday Night Request Show" from 7 PM until midnight.
Over at Greater"s flagship cluster in New Brunswick, Jack Ellery is stepping down - sort of - after a half-century on morning drive, most of it at his current home at WCTC (1450). Ellery told NTS MediaOnline"s Al Peterson that he"s leaving the morning shift on WCTC, but he"ll keep doing a 1-3 PM show from a home studio.
*Back in NEW YORK, Crawford Broadcasting is returning to the Albany market after a brief absence. Crawford sold WDCD (1540) and then-WPTR (96.7 Clifton Park) to DJRA Broadcasting, owned by Don Crawford Jr., in 2007. Last year, DJRA took 1540 silent after moving its religious format to what"s now WDCD-FM on 96.7,. Earlier this year, DJRA returned 1540 to the air with a simulcast of the FM, promising a new format on the AM, and now Crawford Broadcasting has re-entered the picture with an LMA of the 1540 signal, where it plans to run a "God and Country" talk format beginning later this month.
In Syracuse, we"re sorry to note a hiatus for our friend Peter Naughton at his CNYRadio/CNYTVNews site, where he"s been closely observing the goings-on in Syracuse, Utica and Ithaca media for almost six years now. He"s got a good excuse - two jobs, an impending move and the impending arrival of his first child - and he"s promising to continue to report breaking news while he"s on his "summer vacation." We"ll look forward to letting you know when the site is back in full swing, which Naughton says should happen in October, if all goes well. (And in the meantime, we look forward to welcoming CNYRadio readers; we"ll try to do the best we can to be as detailed here as Peter"s been over there.)
There"s a new bit of scenery on the Rochester skyline: if you recall the last page of your 2012 Tower Site Calendar (or the corresponding Tower Site of the Week installment last December), you"ll know that the old analog antennas for WXXI-TV (Channel 21) and WUHF (Channel 31) were removed, along with the crossbar that held them, back in December 2010. Since then, the WXXI tower has looked a little bare up top - but not anymore: as of late June, there"s a new ERI TV antenna top-mounted on the tower, and it will soon be carrying an upgraded signal for WXXI-TV"s digital signal on RF 16, which has been using a side-mounted antenna on the tower.
(In the fresh new image of Pinnacle at left, that"s the new WXXI antenna second from the right, between the WHAM-TV 13 tower at center left and the WROC-TV/WHEC-TV tower at far right.)
*We join our radio friends in New York City in remembering Alan Berman. The Manhattan man never actually worked in radio, but he was one of its biggest fans, avidly taking part in the gatherings that began when WCBS-FM (101.1) flipped from oldies to "Jack" in 2005 and in events such as the annual Long Island Radio Day. Berman, who was also known for his love of the Mets, held down a day job in his family"s insurance business until retiring a few years ago. He was killed in a car crash in Westchester County on June 17, at age 62.
*In MASSACHUSETTS, they"re mourning Don Latulippe, the versatile radio man whose career spanned more than six decades, beginning with a childhood appearance on WHDH back in 1937. In the 1940s, Latulippe had his first paying radio job at Quincy"s WJDA, and in the years that followed he established himself with a long run in mornings at WEZE (1260) and then as public affairs director at WROR (98.5) beginning in the late 1970s. Latulippe"s work also included booth announcing at WGBH-TV (Channel 2) and WNAC-TV (Channel 7) and Red Sox production at WPLM in Plymouth.
Latulippe retired in 1995 but continued to do some part-time radio work in the years that followed. He was inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2009. Latulippe"s son, Dale, a drummer, was among the victims in Rhode Island"s Station nightclub fire in 2003. Don Latulippe died June 25, at age 82.
*What a long, strange trip it"s been for Jimmy Myers. The veteran Boston sportscaster has worked at WBZ radio and TV, WEEI, ESPN, WILD (1090), the former WILD-FM (97.7) and most recently at WTKK (96.9, now "Hot" WBQT). His new gig takes him to the unlicensed side of the dial, where he"s the new morning man at "Touch 106.1," the high-powered Roxbury-based pirate that"s already been in the headlines in recent weeks as proprietor (and previous morning host) Charles Clemons launches a run for Boston mayor.
*We"re pretty sure the ultimate fate of southern NEW HAMPSHIRE"s low-power WYCN-LP (Channel 13) was sealed when Bill Binnie"s Binnie Media sold the license to spectrum speculator OTA Broadcasting earlier this year. But even if OTA"s long-term plan for the signal is to sell its spectrum for broadband use, it"s making some investments - and sparring with Comcast cable - in the meantime. The Union Leader reports OTA hired Gordon Jackson and Carolyn Choate to manage the station, which has added new local programming under the husband-and-wife team. But that"s not enough to keep it on the Comcast lineup; the cable giant reportedly cited WYCN"s "outdated analog signal" when it notified the station it would be dropped from the lineup effective August 15th. WYCN is now rallying local residents and political leaders in a bid to keep its cable spot; it"s also pushing ahead with plans to go digital on RF channel 36 soon. (It"s that UHF dial position, of course, that will be the eventual prize when and if OTA cashes in on its $4 million investment by putting WYCN"s spectrum in the FCC auction.)
*In RHODE ISLAND, the apparent demise of music-video network TheCoolTV meant a change of subchannel content on one of the last outlets still carrying that network. TheCoolTV lost most of its NERW-land carriage when Sinclair Broadcasting dropped it (reportedly over lack of payment) last year, but it was still being seen on WPRI 12.2 in Providence until just recently, when the LIN station replaced it with Bounce TV. (It"s reportedly still being seen in CONNECTICUT on sister station WCTX 59.2, not, as we"d reported, on WTNH 8.2, which carries Bounce.)
And while we"re talking subchannels, we note that while the official launch of Sony"s new "Get TV" movie network is still a few months away, a preview of the network has already appeared in the Boston market on the 66.3 subchannel of Univision"s WUTF-DT; "Get" is also slated for a fall launch on subchannels of sister UniMas affiliates WFUT/WFTY in the New York market and Univision affiliate WUVP in Philadelphia.
*It"s not often that a tower site gets some positive mention in the local newspaper, so we were pleased to see the Sun Journal in Lewiston, MAINE paying some nice attention to the Litchfield tower site of Maine Public Broadcasting Network in its "Sights Unseen" feature. Photographer Amber Waterman paid more attention to the site"s role as a microwave relay point for MPBN"s statewide network than to its use as the WCBB (Channel 10) transmitter site, but she still got some nice pictures of the inside of the "Roland A. Desjardins Technical Center," and it"s well worth checking out.
*When Cumulus launched its "Nash FM" brand earlier this spring on New York-market WNSH (94.7 Newark NJ), it was a given that the brand would spread to more of Cumulus" country stations around the U.S.
Memorial Day weekend brought a "Nash" relaunch for five Cumulus country outlets in markets as far-flung as Boise, Des Moines, Green Bay and Lexington, Kentucky - and on Wednesday afternoon at 3, another wave of flips brought a second "Nash" outlet to NERW-land.
This time it"s in northeastern PENNSYLVANIA, where Cumulus (and before that, Citadel) has struggled to make WSJR (93.7 Dallas) a contender against long-established, big-signal Entercom country giant WGGY (Froggy 101.3). While Froggy enjoyed big ratings (and a near-weekly cameo bumper-sticker appearance amidst the filing cabinets on "The Office"), Citadel dumped local staff on what was then "JR 93.7" back in 2010, and in 2012 it flipped the station to "Great Country 93.7," an earlier attempt at a national country brand.
Now it"s "Nash," and so far it"s jockless, save for the syndicated "CMT Live" in evening drive. While Cumulus has made a big investment in a high-profile morning show for New York"s "Nash," so far it has yet to announce any national on-air talent for the new satellite "Nash" outlets; that may change when WNSH morning man Blair Garner"s contract expires for his national overnight gig at "After MidNite," distributed by Cumulus competitor Premiere.
*In Harrisburg, WHP-TV (Channel 21) news director David Baer is out after just over two months on the job. Baer, who came to WHP-TV after his old job at Albany"s WXXA (Channel 23) was consolidated out from under him, resigned after being caught in a prostitution sting a week earlier. No replacement has been named yet.
*At the other end of the Keystone State, July 4 marked the launch of a new incarnation of WZUM. Those calls long graced the AM 1590 signal in Carnegie, which went silent after losing its transmitter site - but now they"re back in place on the former WLFP (1550 Braddock).
New owners "AM Guys LLC" have replaced the former business-talk format on 1550 with the kind of R&B oldies that have been missing from the market for a few years now - and that happens to be a format the old WZUM ran for a few years in the mid-1960s.
Enter veteran Pittsburgh "AM guy" Clarke Ingram, who"s consulting the new WZUM...and who just happened to have the old jingle package, now lovingly re-edited to include the new frequency. Clarke"s been supplying music for the new station, too, and he tells NERW he"s excited to be helping to bring back a little life to a forgotten corner of the AM dial.
*Just over the state line, there"s a new signal on the air in northeast Ohio. Listeners heading west of Erie might hear the new WQGR (93.7 Madison) with its "Cougar 93.7" adult CHR format, though it"s competing with first-adjacent WTWF (93.9 Fairview) on the Pennsylvania side of the border.
And as long as we"re over in Ohio Media Watch territory, we"ll also note that the legal problems afflicting WMMS (100.7 Cleveland) morning man Shane "Rover" French have a NERW-land connection. French spent the holiday weekend in jail after being charged with felonious assault after allegedly getting drunk, shooting off fireworks in the direction of an off-duty Cleveland police officer, and then trying to escape when he attempted to arrest him and a co-worker. The NERW-land connection is here in Rochester, where Stephens Media"s WZNE (94.1 the Zone) is the lone out-of-market affiliate of the "Rover"s Morning Glory" show; it"s not clear yet what will become of the show this week, but we"ll keep you posted.
*In CANADA, the big news following the Canada Day holiday came from the Maritimes, where Rogers is unloading two of the three all-news outlets it launched with great fanfare back in 2005. While CJNI (95.7 Halifax NS) has done well, the much smaller New Brunswick markets of Moncton and Saint John have been challenging ones for the expensive all-news format at CKNI (91.9) and CHNI (88.9), respectively. Rogers had already won CRTC permission to cut back on the news content at both stations, and now it"s selling them.
In Moncton, "News 91.9" will go to Acadia Broadcasting, which runs CHSJ (94.1) and CHWV (97.3) in Saint John and CHTD (98.1) in St. Stephen as well as several Nova Scotia and western Ontario stations; in Saint John, Newcap will enter the market with its purchase of "News 88.9." No prices have been announced yet for the sales.
Don"t expect either station to keep its current format; both companies have already said they"ll ask the CRTC for permission to flip their new acquisitions to music formats when the sales close.
*Meanwhile in Ontario, Rogers has almost completed its rebranding of its country stations. That means "Country 101.1" has replaced "Y101" at CKBY in Smiths Falls, south of Ottawa; "Country 93.5" replaces "Kix" at CKXC in Kingston; and "Country 104.3" replaces "Q104" out in Sault Ste. Marie at CJQM. The lone outlier is CKAT (600 North Bay), where our partners at RadioInsight report Rogers has registered, but not yet begun using, the "Country600.com" domain.
It"s July - do you know where your Tower Site Calendar is? If you don"t, why not? If you haven"t bought it yet, what are you waiting for? They"re 50% off the regular price and will be for the rest of this year, so get yours today! The months may have passed, but the pictures are timeless! (They make great posters, too.)
And watch this space in the next few weeks as we begin pre-orders of the all-new Tower Site Calendar 2014, which is now in production!
Who"ll be featured in the next edition of the world"s most popular radio tower calendar? Stay tuned...
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: July 9, 2012
*When struggling noncommercial station WUCI (91.5) finally went dark for good back in 1991, Binghamton, NEW YORK lost its only station focusing on the city”s black community. But two decades later, urban radio has returned to Binghamton in the form of a brand-new signal.
*WJOB-FM (93.3 Susquehanna PA) quietly signed on last week, complete with a website and a live stream of what sounds like a test format that runs the gamut from uncensored hard-core rap to classic R&B to Spanish-language pop, without much in the way of station IDs.
The new noncommercial class A signal is licensed to the Broome County Urban League, transmits from the Hickory Knob tower in Great Bend, PA that was the original home of WKGB (92.5), and claims a studio location at 122 State Street in downtown Binghamton. If that address rings a bell, it”s because it was the longtime home of WAAL (99.1) and WKOP/WRSG (1360) until those stations moved to their current downtown home in the 1990s.
*Speaking of quiet launches, CBS used the sleepy holiday week to debut its new local programming on recently-acquired WLNY-TV (Channel 55). The independent station is still licensed to Smithtown and transmits from the east end of Long Island, but it”s operating from the CBS Broadcast Center on W. 57th Street in Manhattan, and it”s now carrying “Live from the Couch” on weekday mornings from 7 to 9 (with a cast that includes former WHTZ morning co-host Carolina Bermudez) and a 9-10 PM newscast on weekday evenings.
*Another upstart independent station at the other end of the state made a big hire last week: Phil Arno”s WBBZ-TV (Channel 67) in Buffalo is bringing John DiSciullo on board as executive director of production and promotion. DiSciullo comes to “Buffalo”s Buzz” from a much bigger operation, WKBW-TV (Channel 7), where he”s been working for 30 years, most recently as “Director of Strategic Content, News Operations, and Community Affairs” (effectively, the ABC affiliate”s news director). DiSciullo also hosted “Off Beat Cinema” on channel 7, and that show will make the move to WBBZ-TV once he comes on board there.
*Radio People on the Move: Robby Bridges is now the PD at Cumulus Media”s WFAS-FM (103.9 Bronxville), a quick move upward for the station”s afternoon jock and (until now) assistant PD. Bridges also does some weekend shifts on sister station WPLJ (95.5 New York) and is an on-air host at the Cumulus-run “True Oldies Channel” satellite service. And speaking of WPLJ, today”s the day incoming PD John Foxx starts his new duties, including a midday airshift; the previous middayer, Jeff Miles, has landed in middays at Cumulus sister station WWWQ (99.7 Atlanta).
*And we can”t leave the Empire State without wishing a hearty “Happy 40th Birthday” to New York”s WCBS-FM (101.1), which marked four decades of oldies-and/or-classic-hits (give or take a couple of years of “Jack” that nobody wants to remember now) with a big on-air celebration over the weekend that included some airshifts from veteran CBS-FM voices such as Cousin Brucie and Don K. Reed. The station has posted lots of pictures and memories on a special anniversary page, here.
*Al Terzi is changing stations in CONNECTICUT. Back at the end of February, Terzi departed WFSB (Channel 3) after failing to come to terms with the CBS affiliate on a contract renewal, but the 69-year-old anchor wasn”t done doing TV, and now he”s moving to Tribune”s Fox affiliate, WTIC-TV (Channel 61). Terzi will co-host the Sunday “Real Story” panel show, co-anchor Friday newscasts and fill in on the station”s other weekday shows, as well as contributing to sister outlets including the Hartford Courant.
*While we wait to find out what Clear Channel has in store for its new eastern MASSACHUSETTS signal (the soon-to-be-former WFNX 101.7, which changes hands July 22) and who CBS Radio will hire to staff up its new “AMP 103.3″ (WODS), today is launch day for the complete new schedule at WGBH (89.7).
The station”s new daytime lineup debuted last week, taking away live clearances of the “Takeaway” morning show (a co-production of WGBH and New York’s WNYC) at 6 and 9 AM and replacing them with two more hours of NPR’s “Morning Edition.” Diane Rehm’s Washington-based show was cut back to a one-hour clearance from 10-11 AM, with an hour of “The Takeaway” running on delay at 11. “Tell Me More” replaced “Fresh Air” at 2 PM, eliminating a bit of duplication with WBUR (which carries the show at 1 PM), and the replay of “The World” (a WGBH/BBC co-production that airs live at 3 PM) shifted from 6-7 PM to 8-9 PM, replaced by an additional hour of “All Things Considered.”
The big change effective today happens in the evening and overnight hours: Eric Jackson”s nightly jazz block gives way to that “World” replay at 8 and a 9-11 PM rebroadcast of “Boston Public Radio,” the noon-2 PM talk block hosted by Callie Crossley and Emily Rooney. And following that, the syndicated JazzWorks programming will be replaced by an overnight clearance for “PRX Remix,” the relatively new spoken-word service that”s an outgrowth of PRX.org, the independent program distribution service for public-media producers. WGBH is by far the largest public broadcaster to pick up “Remix” for its air; until now, it”s been heard mainly on HD Radio subchannels and on secondary services like North Country Public Radio”s WREM (88.7 Canton) in northern New York.
The end of weeknight jazz prompted a protest last Thursday (during Jackson”s final weeknight show) in which local musicians played outside WGBH”s studio windows in Allston; as for Jackson, he”ll now be heard on Friday evenings as well as Saturdays and Sundays, where Steve Schwartz”s jazz shows used to air.
*What will happen first – the restoration of full-power DTV service from the damaged antenna in Needham, or the mathematical elimination of the woeful Red Sox from playoff contention? At this point, it appears the Sox could be out of the running before the antenna that normally serves WCVB (Channel 5/RF 20), WBZ-TV (Channel 4/RF 30), WSBK (Channel 38/RF 39) and WGBX (Channel 44/RF 43) is back in place 1200 feet up the tower on Cedar Street.Those four signals are running at full power from the identical master antenna just below the damaged one, but because that antenna is usually home to WGBH (Channel 2/RF 19), WGBH has been operating at reduced power and antenna height from the much lower standby antenna that”s normally used by WCVB. And it appears that WGBH will have to stay there until the end of the summer: WGBH engineers say the damage to the upper main antenna proved to be so extensive once it was removed from the tower and shipped back up to Dielectric in Maine that it will likely be late August before the antenna is rebuilt and returned to Needham. The complicated, dangerous work of returning the huge antenna to its perch at the top of the tower could take several more weeks, taking viewers into September before WBZ, WCVB, WSBK and WGBX are back on the upper antenna and WGBH can resume full-power operation from the lower antenna.
(2013 update: The antenna returned to service August 24. The Sox hung on - mathematically, anyway - until September 16. So far, 2013 has been a better year for both the antenna and the team.)
Five Years Ago: June 30 & July 7, 2008
*It didn"t take long for KYW-TV (Channel 3) in Philadelphia to cut its ties with anchor Larry Mendte after he was accused of snooping in former co-anchor Alycia Lane"s e-mail. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Mendte installed a keystroke logger on Lane"s office computer. Mendte has not been charged with any crimes, and his agent tells the paper he expects to be back on the air soon.
*A longtime classical music host at public radio WITF (89.5 Harrisburg) is out after his job was eliminated. Dick Strawser had spent 18 years at WITF, most of them as music director and evening host.
*It"s been fifty years since Buffalo"s WKBW (1520) flipped to top 40, inaugurating a quarter-century of some of the most legendary radio our region has ever heard, and that anniversary will be honored on Thursday night (July 3) at the old 1430 Main St. studio location. That building is now vacant, and its parking lot was being used to store moving trucks when last we drove by, but for a few hours it will be the scene of a sock hop sponsored by ForgottenBuffalo.com. There will be a display of vintage cars and even appearances by a few of KB"s air talent...and yes, we sure do plan to be there ourselves.
*Here in Rochester, a delayed format change finally took place a few minutes after midnight this morning, as Crawford Broadcasting flipped WRCI (990 Rochester) to religion, replacing the simulcast of oldies WLGZ (Legends 102.7).
*Up north, Randy Michaels" RadioActive LLC is selling Watertown-market WBLH (92.5 Black River), which quietly started stunting a few weeks ago. Intrepid Broadcasting will pay RadioActive $210,000; Intrepid president Michael Stapleford is also president of Pennsylvania"s Magnum Broadcasting.
*A call change in NEW HAMPSHIRE: when EMF Broadcasting bought the former WMEX (106.5 Farmington) from Dennis Jackson, it evidently intended to put its "K-Love" format on the signal, which it renamed WKHL. But the station ended up on EMF"s "Air 1" network, instead, and now it has calls that go with that network - WNHI. (Those calls used to be on 93.3 over in Belmont, now WNHW.)
*CANADA"s regulators have ruled on the controversial proposal by Remstar Diffusion Inc. to acquire the TQS television network in Quebec. Citing TQS" economic difficulties, Remstar asked the CRTC to allow it to essentially drop local news from the local stations in Montreal, Quebec, Trois-Rivieres, Sherbrooke and Saguenay. That provoked intense reaction at four public hearings the CRTC held earlier this month, and now the commission has approved a modified version of Remstar"s proposal. While the local newsrooms will still be largely shuttered, TQS will be required to provide several hours a week of local informational programming in Montreal and Quebec and one hour weekly in the other markets, and the CRTC will revisit its approval in 2011, when it will hold a new set of hearings on TQS" performance.
*Over in the Halifax market, Wayne Harrett has found a new frequency for his "Seaside FM," CFEP (94.7 Eastern Passage). CFEP"s plans to boost power on its existing frequency were thwarted when adjacent-channel CKWM (94.9 Kentville) complained; now Harrett has applied for 1360 watts on 105.9, instead.
Ten Years Ago: July 7 & 14, 2003
*Clear Channel flipped two of its VERMONT properties last week, just in time for Independence Day. In Rutland, WZRT (97.1) kept its top 40 format under a new name, taking on Clear Channel"s national "Kiss" branding (and the blue ball logo that"s already been phased out in some other Kiss markets); up US 7 in Burlington, the arrival of "Kiss" was a bit more of a surprise, with the 4 PM change last Thursday (7/3) installing "Kiss 92.1" on WJVT (92.1 Port Henry NY), the rimshotter that had been doing smooth jazz for the last year and change. Under its (pending) new calls of WVTK, Kiss will pose at least something of a threat to established top 40 WXXX (95.5 South Burlington), though the two stations" signals have little overlap except over Burlington itself. Through the miracle of voicetracking, the stations share an airstaff that consists of Dave Ryerson, Judy Anderson, AJ and Mike Cruz, though we hear the programming is separate at each frequency. (And wouldn"t it figure that the switch would come not 48 hours after we drove out of the market...)
*Just in to NERW at press time is word that one of the best-known voices in MASSACHUSETTS has been silenced. Ernie Boch never had an airshift, but his trademark "Come on DOWN!" beckoned listeners to his auto dealerships over decades of high-intensity radio and TV advertising. In 1991, Boch became a broadcast owner with the $825,000 purchase of WOCB (1240/94.9 West Yarmouth), and in the years that followed he expanded his Cape Cod holdings into one of the market"s most important clusters. With his 1996 purchase of three more FMs and his 2001 donation of the former WOCB(AM) to Boston University, Boch"s cluster now consists of news-talk WXTK (95.1 West Yarmouth), AC WCOD (106.1 Hyannis) and oldies simulcast WDVT (93.5 Harwich Port) and WTWV (101.1 Mashpee) - and with Boch"s death Sunday at age 77, the rumors are already flying about potential purchasers interested in the stations.
*Up in CANADA, CHUM officially launched its new FM signal in Brockville, Ontario, transforming CFJR (830) into CFJR-FM (104.9), aka "JRfm." The FM signal has been on the air testing for several weeks, but the official launch today sets the clock running to the signoff later this year of the AM signal. (Oddly, CFJR"s website makes no mention of the FM yet!) But in the midst of launching "JRfm," CHUM also flipped its older Brockville FM signal. CJPT (103.7) has been doing top 40 as "the Point," but as of today it"s a clone of CHUM"s CKKL (93.9 Ottawa), running classic hits and hot AC currents as "103.7 Bob FM."
Fifteen Years Ago: July 3 & 9, 1998
*Another billion-dollar deal is making news in CONNECTICUT. New Haven"s WTNH (Channel 8) is one of the stations Chancellor Broadcasting is buying from LIN for a total of $1.72 billion. Investment firm Hicks, Muse, Tate, and Furst has significant interests in both LIN and Chancellor -- and in Capstar, which owns WPLR (99.1) and LMAs WYBC (94.3) in New Haven, as well as owning four FMs and an AM in Hartford. The trades are already buzzing about a combined Capstar-Chancellor, which would create a massive media conglomerate in the Nutmeg State.
*In NEW YORK, it"s tower-shifting time in the Watertown market. WUZZ (1410) has applied to move from its current 5000/1000-watt DA-N three-tower array to a single tower of the array at sister station WTNY (790). As a non-directional station, WUZZ would use 3500 watts by day, and just 58 watts at night. Meantime, WCIZ (93.5, moving to 93.3) and WFRY (97.5) are building a new tower next to the current WFRY stick in the town of Rutland.
*Big Apple news anchor Ernie Anastos is becoming a station owner. The WWOR (Channel 9) anchor is one of the partners buying WJKE (101.3 Stillwater) in the Saratoga Springs market. Peter Coughlin"s Fair Way Communications gets $900,000 for the adult contemporary station. He"s using the money to buy two stations in Florida.
*Dedham-licensed WBPS (890) is one of several stations being transferred to Z Spanish Radio from current owner TSG Associates (which holds the stock of John Douglas" Achievement Radio Holdings). NERW expects WBPS to begin running Z"s nationwide Spanish programming, which would mark the first time a national Spanish-language broadcaster has operated an O&O in the Boston market. This also explains why WBPS cancelled the proposed sale to Salem last month. The full deal, which includes stations in Chicago, Houston, and San Jose, is valued at $27 million.
*An upstate NEW YORK station has changed cities of license; Johnstown"s WSRD (104.9) is now Altamont"s WSRD (104.9), which NERW suspects opens the way to a transmitter-site move that would make it more of a player in Schenectady and Albany. NERW notes also that the initial FCC information about this move misspelled the town name as "Altamount," although it seems to be correct in the database.