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In this week's issue: 22 broadcasters queue up for 88.1 in Toronto - More new FM in Cottage Country - WNED completes WBFO purchase - Yanks land Worcester County outlet - WLAD/WDAQ set to move

by SCOTT FYBUSH

*Who wants one of the last big-market FM signals to become available in CANADA? Just about everyone, at least judging by the list the CRTC released last week in preparation for a May 7 hearing at which it will decide who inherits the 88.1 frequency that became open in Toronto when community station CKLN lost its license last year.

In all, 22 broadcasters submitted proposals to use 88.1, and they fall broadly into three categories:

Existing stations seeking a better signal: The 88.1 signal's not a great one to begin with - just a few hundred watts from the First Canadian Place tower in downtown Toronto - but it's still better than some of the even more minimal signals that have been crammed on to the Toronto dial in recent years. Evanov's gay-oriented CIRR (103.9 PROUD FM), French community station CHOQ (105.1) and Fitzroy Gordon's new urban station, CKFG (98.7) are all asking to go to 88.1 as an upgrade. Two big AM signals, Radio-Canada's CJBC (860) and MZ Media's CFZM (740), are asking to use 88.1 as a nested relay to overcome AM signal problems in downtown Toronto. (Yes, both stations run huge 50 kW non-directional signals on AM from a site out at Hornby, northwest of Toronto, but they argue that electrical interference from streetcar lines and other sources wipes out those signals downtown. That's the same argument the CBC made back in 1999, when it moved Radio One from 740 to 99.1.)

New commercial signals from big players - and small. Several of the very biggest players in Canadian radio, including Corus and Bell Media, already have the maximum number of stations allowed in Toronto. But even with those giants out of the picture, there are plenty of other commercial groups that would love a new voice in the nation's biggest market. Newcap wants to use 88.1 for a "modern adult music" format, Montreal's Tietolman-Tetrault-Pancholy group wants to do talk, Larche Communications seeks a "rock-based Adult Album Alternative" format, Durham Radio (which owns suburban station CJKX in Ajax) wants "new easy listening music," and Barrie's Rock 95 Broadcasting wants "Indie music." Frank Torres, owner of Ottawa's "DAWG FM" (CIDG 101.9), wants a commercial signal that will play at least 20% jazz and blues, while Michael Wekerle proposes a commercial triple-A format.

New community/ethnic stations. Since CKLN was a community/campus station, one might suspect the CRTC will want to keep the frequency dedicated to that use. (Unlike in the US, there are no channels in Canada permanently set aside for noncommercial or community use.)

With that in mind, ten broadcasters have applied for new signals with specialty formats. Barrie-based Trust Communications Ministries and Toronto-based Family FM Inc. propose religious stations, Stanislaus Anthony wants an "emerging genres music format," Tosan Lee wants a "world-beat" station, and there are plenty of proposals for new multi-ethnic stations, including one that would add an additional signal to CHIN's existing AM 1540 (with an FM relay at 91.9) and CHIN-FM 100.7.

And there's the expected application from Ryerson University's Radio Ryerson Ltd., which proposes returning 88.1 to Ryerson, where CKLN started.

So who wins? We'll get a better sense of the CRTC's thinking at the May 7 hearing - but if we were in a betting mood, we'd speculate that the agency won't look favorably on the CFMZ and CJBC applications, since they won't add a new voice to the Toronto dial. The applications from CIRR, CKFG and CHOQ would open up those stations' existing facilities for new users, but those signals are so small as to be of at best limited value to anyone else. (There would be a certain irony, one supposes, in the CRTC's approving CKFG for a move to 88.1 and then giving 98.7 to CJBC for a nested relay after all the objections the CBC made to the use of 98.7 in Toronto in the first place...)

If the CRTC thinks there's room for another commercial operator in the market, it will be looking for an operator with the resources to fully commit to a battle against the big Corus, Astral and Bell clusters, and we'd think that might mean an edge to either Newcap's deep pockets or Durham's ability to cluster with its Ajax and Hamilton signals.

We'll be following the hearing once it starts, so stay tuned...

*That hearing, by the way, will include several other applications for new signals in and around Toronto, including proposals for two new AMs on frequencies that were vacated long ago.

In Brampton, just north of Toronto, Sarabjeet S. Arora wants to start a new community ethnic station on 1190, where Mississauga's ethnic CJMR used to operate before moving to 1320. Like the old CJMR, this new signal would be a daytimer, running just 500 watts.

Over in Markham, Geethavaani/Toronto Tamil Radio wants a new AM signal to go along with the FM subcarrier operation it's been running for years. The new AM would be a split-frequency facility, with 1000 watts on 1480 during the day and 500 watts on 1490 at night - and it would be the first split-frequency AM in Canada since the days of CHYR 710/730 in Leamington. (1480 was the former home of Newmarket's CKAN, now CKDX 88.5; back then, it was directional day and night.)

On the FM dial, there are three applications for suburban/exurban Toronto signals. My Broadcasting wants two new signals for its "My-FM" programming: 101.5 in Orangeville, with 338 watts (625 watts max DA)/55.1 m, and 92.1 in Alliston, with 1,986 watts (3.75 kW max DA)/30.5 m. In Markham, Bhupinder Bola wants a new signal on 105.9, mixing AAA/AC English music with ethnic programming and running 618 watts (1.6 kW max DA)/21.1 m.

*Further north, the CRTC has approved two new signals at the southern end of Georgian Bay. In Shelburne, Bayshore Broadcasting gets 12.5 kW (50 kW max DA)/82 m on 104.9 for a new country station, the eighth in Bayshore's growing cluster of signals in the area. Three other broadcasters also sought the frequency, and while the CRTC denied applications from Evanov Communications and Frank Torres, it granted MZ Media's bid for a new signal at Collingwood. MZ hopes to use the new facility (with calls CFMO) as a partial relay of classical CFMZ (96.3) from Toronto aimed at the wealthy retirees in the region. But before it can put the new signal on the air, it will have to find a different frequency, and it has 90 days to submit a new proposal.

*Out in Windsor, Neeti P. Ray got caught in that "find yourself a new frequency" dilemma when the CRTC granted him a new multilingual signal back in 2008. Ray had applied for 95.9, but that frequency went to Blackburn Radio for what's now country station CJWF, leaving Ray without an open channel. That situation finally shifted last year when the CBC abandoned plans to build a "nested" FM relay on 102.3 for CBE (1550), instead moving CBE entirely from AM to FM as CBEW (97.5). That opened up 102.3 for Ray's long-delayed station, CJNR, which has finally been granted that frequency, where it will run 1.9 kW (5 kW max DA)/55.5 m.

*South of Ottawa, CKVV (97.5 Kemptville) has been testing its signal for a few weeks now, but it made its official launch last Monday morning (Feb. 27). It's playing AC music as "Star FM," with Drew Hosick and Diana Fisher kicking things off as hosts of the "Big Breakfast Morning Show."

*And we say "au revoir" to CFYX (93.3) in Rimouski, Quebec and its relay CFYX-3 (103.1 Riviere-du-Loup), which left the airwaves at 5:30 PM on Leap Day. Owner Groupe Radio Simard says the station, which had been on the air since 2007, wasn't profitable - and Dan Sys over at Canadian Radio News notes that Simard had been turned down last December when it asked the CRTC for permission to sell ads in the nearby community of Baie-Comeau.

*There's now just one public radio operation in western NEW YORK. The merger of WBFO (88.7 Buffalo) into its erstwhile rival, WNED (970 Buffalo), went off right on schedule Thursday afternoon at 4 with a recorded announcement that aired on both stations as they entered their new simulcast from WNED's studios in downtown Buffalo.

(Just in case the switchover didn't work properly, WBFO's Mark Scott was on hand at the former WBFO studios to run "All Things Considered" from there, we're told!)

Now that the full schedule for the merged operation is out, it's clear that WNED is absorbing more of WBFO's DNA than many observers had expected. The first local voice heard on the merged signal was former WBFO host Mark Wozniak, who'll be hosting "All Things Considered" on WBFO/WNED, and while he opened his first newscast as "Mark Wozniak, WNED News," most of the branding for the rest of the show was "WBFO," the AM section of the website now redirects to WBFO.org, and the daytime programming on 88.7 and 970 is a mix of the old 88.7 and 970 schedules: "On Point" and "Here and Now" from WNED, "Tell Me More" and "Talk of the Nation" from WBFO.

Aside from Wozniak and former WBFO news director Eileen Buckley, most of the news staffers now heard on WBFO come from the WNED side, including news director Jim Ranney and "Morning Edition" host Jay Moran.

(And for all the to-do in the Buffalo News and elsewhere about the "20 shows" lost from the stations' merged schedules, many of those programs were either low-audience weekend shows or TV simulcasts such as "NewsHour," though others were higher-profile daily shows such as "The World.")

Allen Hall, 3:59 PM: Mark Scott signs off WBFO's studios for the last time (photo: JC Patrick/UB)

Horizons Plaza, 4:04 PM: At WNED's studios, Mark Wozniak delivers the first WBFO-WNED newscast (photo: WNED)

While public radio news junkies adjust to a shuffled schedule, perhaps the biggest change from WNED's $4 million purchase of WBFO is, as we've noted, on the weekends: the blues shows that were a signature part of WBFO on Saturday and Sunday afternoons have shifted to Saturday and Sunday nights, and we'll be watching to see how blues fans respond to the new lineup there.

(So will News columnist Jeff Simon, who offered some incisive reflections on WBFO's jazz legacy in an outstanding column that ran Friday.)

*Longtime NERW readers know we've been fascinated over the years, in a sort of a can't-avert-your-eyes-from-a-car-crash way, with the bizarre filings that seem to keep appearing in the FCC database for WJJL (1440 Niagara Falls). Back in 2006, WJJL's real licensee, M.J. Phillips Inc. (M. John Phillips), had to spend some legal time making sure the FCC correctly processed its own renewal application for the station instead of the phony app that was submitted by one "Joann Nicola Lutz Distefano Phillips," who tried to convince the Commission that she was married to WJJL's owner and had somehow come into control of the station.

Then "Joann" filed again in December 2011, attempting (in two separate filings) to transfer control of WJJL - and this time, the station fired back more aggressively. In addition to WJJL's own transfer filing, belatedly taking the station out of "debtor-in-possession" status, Phillips' lawyer sent the FCC a lengthy letter demanding the dismissal of all five filings made so far by "Joann" under her various names.

The letter is well worth reading in its entirety, but here's the gist: there really is a "Joann Nicola Lutz Distefano" who hosted a weekly show on WJJL in late 1997 and was fired fairly quickly - and since 2004, Phillips has been fighting all kinds of aggravation from her. It's not just the FCC filings or the message-board postings that first brought her to our attention; it's also included interference with WJJL's advertisers, and according to the FCC letter, it has now escalated into a criminal complaint against Distefano, who apparently now lives in a mental health shelter in Brooklyn.

"It is time for this vindictive conduct to end," says WJJL's attorney James R. Cooke, and the FCC apparently agreed; it quickly dismissed the outstanding transfer applications, ending at least this chapter of a truly bizarre radio tale.

*Galaxy Broadcasting is getting an FM sports signal in Utica to match its "ESPN Radio" translators in Syracuse. Galaxy filed with the FCC last week to buy translator W256AJ (99.1) from Jon Yinger's Christian Broadcasting System, which had been using the translator to relay WJIV (101.9 Cherry Valley). Yinger gets $40,000, and Galaxy gets an FM home for the programming heard on WTLB (1310 Utica). The 50-watt translator currently operates from the top of the old Hotel Utica, which was the original home of WUFM (107.3), ancestor of today's WKVU; CNYRadio.com reports Galaxy is planning to move the translator up to Smith Hill to improve its signal.

(CNYRadio also checks in with word that WRCK 100.7 in Utica is now running a loop directing "Air 1" listeners to sister station WOKR 93.5, ahead of the impending sale of 100.7 to Roser Communications.)

*Radio People on the Move in Albany: In our midweek update, we told you about Clear Channel's WPYX (106.5) parting ways with longtime morning man Bob Wohlfeld and his "Wake up with the Wolf" morning show - but Wolf wasn't the only voice gone from an Albany station last week. Over at Albany Broadcasting's "Jamz 96.3" (WAJZ Voorheesville), Tanch has left his gig as program director and midday host. While Jamz looks for a replacement, the rumor mill has Tanch headed down the road to the rival Townsquare cluster and "Crush" WQSH (105.7).

*In Hornell, Lee Richey is the new morning co-host at country WKPQ (105.3); he was formerly at WCJW in Warsaw.

*The new country simulcast north of New York City comes with a new set of call letters, too: Cumulus flipped WFAF (106.3 Mount Kisco) to WDVY on Thursday when it began simulcasting "Kicks Country" WDBY (105.5 Patterson).

*It's not just the Cumulus cluster in Danbury, CONNECTICUT (where WDBY is based) that's going through some changes. Over at Berkshire Broadcasting, WLAD (800), WAXB (850 Ridgefield) and WDAQ (98.3) are preparing for a long-awaited move to new studios and offices.

For half a century now, WLAD and its sister stations have made their home at 198 Main Street, the old Hotel Green. But what was a prestigious address when WLAD moved in back in 1962 has become a challenging location now: the ex-Hotel Green is now Ives Manor, a senior housing center.

WLAD-WDAQ at 198 Main Street (photo: MIke Fitzpatrick/NECRAT.us)

That's caused some interesting issues for the stations, which have had to cope with HUD construction requirements when they've made renovations. What's more, the stations have had to deal with a strange layout that puts their offices on the first floor and their studios up on the fourth floor.

No more: as of July, the Berkshire stations will move to new digs at 98 Mill Plain Road, out on the west side of town near the New York state line. (And yes, GM Irv Goldstein is pleased indeed that "98Q" will still be at an address that starts with "98.")

We'll try to make it out to western Connecticut before the stations move so we can get the full tour from longtime chief engineer Tom Osenkowsky to share with you over at Tower Site of the Week...

*The New York Yankees are getting a new radio voice in northern Worcester County, MASSACHUSETTS, but it's not because the folks at WPKZ (1280 Fitchburg, and its 105.3 translator) wanted to end their longtime association with the Boston Red Sox. The station drew some big headlines in the radio world when it announced the switch this week - a Yankees affiliate in deepest central Massachusetts? - and it eventually took a segment of WPKZ's morning show to explain that the decision to drop the Sox from WPKZ came from Entercom's Red Sox radio network, which apparently believes the coverage from WEEI-FM (93.7 Lawrence) and Worcester's WCRN (830) will suffice in the Fitchburg area.

WPKZ's move raised some questions about territorial exclusivity for baseball on the radio, and the answer appears to be that teams are protected only within their home county and immediately adjacent counties - so while there can't be a Yankees affiliate in Boston proper, Worcester County is sufficiently distant for a station to join the Yankees network. (And we'd note that longtime Yanks affiliate WPRV 790 in Providence is actually closer to Fenway than WPKZ is.)

We'll examine the rest of the Major League Baseball on the Radio landscape in our March 24 issue...

*In MAINE, Jim Bleikamp appears to have cleared the last of the hurdles keeping WCME (900 Brunswick) from returning to the airwaves after several years of mostly-silence. Jim's spent the last few years (when he's not busy at his day job anchoring Wall Street Journal radio reports) navigating the shoals of local zoning boards to get approval for a new site for the station, which lost its old home when it was split from former FM partner WCLZ (98.9). After several false starts, Jim and his engineering consultant Mark Humphrey found a site just west of Brunswick on Old Portland Road (US 1) that satisfied the local officials - and as of Leap Day, he's in possession of a construction permit from the FCC to build WCME at that location, about two miles southwest of the old AM/FM site.

From its new home, WCME will run 700 watts day (against 1000 watts from its old licensed location), dropping to 26 watts at night.

*Along the PENNSYLVANIA/NEW JERSEY border, there's a new format at WTSX (96.7 Lehman Township PA). That's the signal that was moved out of Port Jervis and down to the Delaware Water Gap to make room for the new WKLV-FM in the New York market, and after many years simulcasting "Fox" AC WJGK (103.1 Newburgh NY), it's now going its own way with classic hits. (RadioInsight notes that WJGK has picked up a new relay in the meantime - it's being heard on W247AW on 97.3 in Poughkeepsie, by way of the relay on sister station WGNY-FM 98.9's HD3 subchannel.)

As we noted in the midweek update, Clear Channel Philadelphia has found a successor to John Rohm, who was promoted from market manager to a regional VP (in the southeast region) back in January. The new head of the Philadelphia cluster is Dennis Lamme, whose long career with the company has included stints in Albany and most recently as market manager in Pittsburgh. (Lamme also continues his national role as "team captain" for Clear Channel's Total Traffic service.)

Over at CBS Radio, WIP (610) is splitting from its sports-talk simulcast with WIP-FM (94.1) at night to add the new “Nick and Artie Show.” Airing weeknights from 10 PM-1 AM, the show is hosted by comedian Nick DiPaolo and former Howard Stern sidekick Artie Lange. Will this be the start of a more separate identity for the big 610 signal? It will have plenty of non-simulcast airtime this year during Phillies games, which will air on WIP-FM and WPHT (1210) but not on WIP(AM).

And we'll close with some good wishes for Susan Koeppen, the KDKA-TV (Channel 2) anchor (and former WHEC-TV Rochester talent) who's been coping with some pretty serious heart problems since collapsing while out running in November. She's since returned to work, but she'll be out again for a while as she undergoes surgery this week to repair a faulty heart valve.

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: March 7, 2011 -

*It's been a year since Clear Channel launched its new talk station in eastern MASSACHUSETTS- but when WXKS (1200 Newton) marks its first birthday tomorrow, it will do so with a new identity.When the station signed on last year, its "Rush Radio" moniker seemed like a pretty solid idea: Limbaugh was not just the star personality on 1200, he was in many ways the station's entire reason for being. By moving Limbaugh from his longtime home on Entercom's WRKO (680), Clear Channel hoped to put a dent in the veteran talk station's ratings and to keep all of Limbaugh's profits within the family, much as it had done when the Clear Channel-owned Premiere Radio Networks had moved Limbaugh to new "Rush Radio" outlets in New Orleans and North Carolina.

But the "Rush Radio" experiment didn't quite work out the same way in Boston. Unlike the other "Rush Radio" outlets, which boasted full-market FM signals, WXKS was at best comparable to WRKO's AM reach, with a signal significantly inferior to Greater Media's potent WTKK (96.9). And in a market where local politics are an obsession just short of the Red Sox and the Patriots, "Rush Radio" launched with an all-syndicated lineup, only later bringing Jeff Katz back to the market for local mornings.

With ratings still mired down there in the decimal points, Clear Channel has been making changes at 1200: in addition to a new PD, Paula O'Connor, there's a new morning show executive producer, Eric Coldwell (like O'Connor, a veteran of WTKK). And there's a new name: in place of "Rush Radio," WXKS is now simply "Talk 1200."

*Across town at Entercom, changes are coming to "Mike FM." WMKK (93.7 Lawrence) has been one of the Boston market's quietest success stories, combining a low-cost programming approach with respectable ratings to become one of the area's most profitable signals. (And, in the process, frustrating many years' worth of message-board posters wondering why 93.7 has yet to flip to WEEI-FM...)

Now Entercom is looking to kick "Mike" up a notch: after many years of running jockless, the Herald reports that WMKK has told advertisers it's looking to add some live personalities to the adult hits station, in an effort to "help listeners and advertisers greater identify with MIKE's unique music programming."

This won't be Mike's first bout with personality radio - but the last version, a few years ago, depended on recorded liners from John O'Hurley of Seinfeld fame, rather than on local talent.

*Former NEW HAMPSHIRE U.S. Senate candidate Bill Binney is indeed buying a full-power station in the Granite State. Binney's Carlisle One Media will acquire WZMY (Channel 50) from Diane Sutter for an as-yet-undisclosed price, adding the MyNetworkTV affiliate to a station roster that includes several LPTV stations in and around New Hampshire. Binney says he'll change the station's calls to WBIN and add more local programming when he takes over this summer.

*We knew when we wrote the NEW YORK segment of last week's column that a format shift was coming to Cumulus' WCZX (97.7 Hyde Park) - but what we didn't yet know was that there was a familiar voice coming to the station to replace the departed Bob Miller and Suzy Garcia.

"Mix 97.7" relaunched Tuesday (March 3) with a new hot AC direction, and with a new morning man: Mark Bolger, late of Clear Channel's WBWZ (Star 93.3). Bolger has a long history in Hudson Valley radio, having worked at WSPK (104.7 Poughkeepsie) before joining WBWZ in 1997.

As for middays on the new "Mix," they're being filled by Rick Dees' syndicated offering, according to the station's new website.

*In central NEW JERSEY, Greater Media is returning WCTC (1450 New Brunswick) to talk after several years with oldies. Morning man Jack Ellery remains in place, followed at 10 by Laura Ingraham and at 1 PM by PD Bert Baron's "New Jersey Today," followed at 3 by Mancow and later on by Alan Colmes.

Five Years Ago: March 5, 2007 -

*A happy reunion of a central PENNSYLVANIA morning show turned to mourning last week. Less than a month after Jeff "Jammer" Kauffman reunited with his former co-host Ed Coffey and Amy Warner to bring the "Coffey and Jammer" show back on the air at WTPA (93.5 Mechanicsburg), Kauffman took ill, missing much of last week on the air and prompting the station to call police Friday morning. When they arrived at his Berks County home, they found Kauffman had died, apparently of a heart attack - and it was up to Coffey and Warner to break the news on the air Friday morning, before ending the show early and putting the station on automation.After a radio career that started at WKBO (1230 Harrisburg) and WHTF (92.7 Starview), Kauffman had been doing afternoons at WTPA in 1988 when he was paired with Coffey in morning drive. The two hit it off, and their show was one of the Harrisburg market's most popular before Kauffman departed in 1995, eventually to become a copy editor at the Reading Eagle and Reading Times. He returned to WTPA and the "Coffey and Jammer Show" in 2001, and the station drew protests three years later when it replaced the pair with the syndicated Bob and Tom Show. Coffey and Warner ended up at WMHX (106.7 Hershey), but when they returned to WTPA late last year, the station persuaded Kauffman to come back as well.

The latest incarnation of "Coffey and Jammer" debuted the first week of February, and station officials tell the York Daily Record that Kauffman had been ill for much of the time since then, though they say they had no idea it was anything life-threatening. Kauffman was 57 years old.

*Moving along to NEW YORK, WCBS (880) has renewed its contract with the Yankees, to nobody's great surprise - but there's one new piece to the deal: the team's Spanish-language broadcasts, with Beto Villa calling the play-by-play, will move to Univision Radio's WQBU-FM (92.7 Garden City), marking the first time we can think of that a Spanish-language FM has been a baseball flagship in New York. (And, yes, WQBU-FM is indeed now the official callsign on the former WZAA, after some confusion in which those new calls were instead placed on sister station WCAA 105.9.)

In Buffalo, Citadel's WHTT (104.1) has fully implemented its new "Mix" identity, complete with a new logo on its website. What to call the station's format now? "Classic hits" seems pretty close to the mark, though with a randomly-chosen recent hour (the one in which we're writing this column, as it happens) including everything from Carl Carlton to Uncle Kracker, we'd accept "adult hits" as a valid description, too.

*A call-and-format swap in CONNECTICUT has returned a heritage callsign to the frequency it long called home. WNEZ (1480 Windsor) has reclaimed its former calls, WKND, and the urban AC format that went with them. The WNEZ calls, and the Spanish news-talk format that went with them, replace WKND on 1230 in Manchester.

*In MAINE, Light of Life Ministries made its frequency swaps Friday, moving southern gospel "God's Country" from WMDR (1340 Augusta) to WMDR-FM (88.9 Oakland) and its translator network that stretches from Portland to Bangor.

The youth-oriented "Zap" religious format that was on the FM network moved to AM, as "Zap 1340."

Ten Years Ago: March 11, 2002 -

We'll start in MASSACHUSETTS, where the Pax TV folks have come up with what may be an ingenious solution to some vexing DTV issues. WBPX (Channel 68) in Boston is one of several dozen stations around the country that will have to vacate its UHF channel in the next few years, as the FCC prepares to auction off the UHF spectrum above channel 51, in the "non-core" portion of the dial. While the auction will bring in some needed revenue for Pax (which owns many of the stations above channel 51 that will be displaced), it had the potential to leave the fledgling network without an outlet in Boston. Enter WBPX's digital allotment on channel 32. While Pax has yet to build WBPX-DT, it's asking the FCC to allow an unusual substitution: the move of WBPX's analog facilities from channel 68 to 32, to be replaced by a digital signal sometime after 2007. (2007 note - the change was never granted.)

Just one bit of RHODE ISLAND news, and it's just like our Massachusetts lead story: Pax wants to move WPXQ (Channel 69) Block Island to its digital allocation on channel 17. The move would keep WPXQ at its current transmitter site near East Greenwich, roughly in the center of the state; this one would be 4 megawatts, directional, from 220 meters AAT. The FCC must approve some overlap between WPXQ on channel 17 and Schenectady's WMHT-TV, also on 17, to make this one happen.

One big anniversary in NEW HAMPSHIRE: WFEA (1370 Manchester) turned 70 on March 1, still using the same Blaw-Knox diamond tower (one of just four originals remaining in the U.S.) it has had since its sign-on in 1932. Congratulations, and here's to 70 more!

In PENNSYLVANIA, there's a new signal in downtown Pittsburgh, as Keymarket completes its move of WOGI (98.3) from Charleroi to Duquesne, landing the "Froggy" country station on the same North Side tower as competitor WDSY (107.9 Pittsburgh). Matt Allbritton, formerly of yet another Froggy (WOGY Memphis), arrives as PD as the station splits from its simulcast of WOGG (94.9 Oliver).

Fifteen Years Ago: March 5, 1997 -

Boston's "Praise 1260" made its formal debut Monday morning (March 3) at 6 AM. Salem's WPZE was expected to run a contemporary Christian music format, but is instead running a different group of preachers from those who lease time on Salem's WEZE ("Family 590," and the former occupant of the 1260 slot.) Speaking of leased-time AM in Boston, rumor has it the top contender for Greater Media's WNFT (1150), former home of the defunct KidStar network, is competing kids' web Radio Disney.

Also making its official debut on the Boston radio dial this past weekend was Radio Free Allston, the unlicensed operation on 106.1 in Boston's Allston neighborhood. Helped along by some very nice publicity in the Boston Phoenix (including some pithy quotes from Boston Radio Archives co-creator Garrett Wollman), RFA celebrated its start-up with an all-day broadcast from Herrell's Renaissance Cafe in Allston. NERW was in Boston for the weekend, and had a chance to tune in to some of RFA's offerings. Technically, the station needs some work -- a lot of what they were saying was inaudible, and a locally-produced drama called "The Real World Allston" suffered from some of the worst audio I've ever heard. The RFA folks are clearly trying hard, though, and in an age of increasingly monopolistic bottom-line radio, it is nice to see someone actually trying to serve the community.

Some big changes are afoot in upstate New York radio, most notably on the 94.1 spot in Rochester. WAQB Brighton has been running nothing but K-Tel's Instrumental Hits CDs since signing on last year. Now ARS is about to launch WAQB for real...although the station was off the air on Wednesday with technical problems. Expect the new format within a few days; rumor has it they'll go right up against one of the other FMs in town with their as-yet-undisclosed format. AM 990 has taken the next step towards becoming religious WDCZ(AM), with an application to transfer the license from ARS to Donald Crawford's Kimtron. Jacor is getting bigger in Rochester, spending $7 million to pick up Auburn Cablevision's AAA WMAX-FM (106.7 Irondequoit) along with WMAX simulcast WMHX (102.3 Canandaigua) and smooth jazz WRCD (107.3 Honeoye Falls), which are owned by the Kimble family. Jacor is reportedly looking to grab one more FM in town to fill out its portfolio, which is led by WHAM (1180), WHTK (1280), WVOR (100.5), and WNVE (95.1, with a Rochester translator on 95.5). And little WIRQ at Irondequoit High School has been granted a move from 94.3 to 104.7, a move made necessary by WAQB's arrival.

1 COMMENT

  1. The most pleasant change noted in the WBFO transfer from UB to WNED control, was the fact that this past Sunday afternoon, the rebroadcast of ‘A Prairie Home Companion’ was simulcasted on both WNED-AM 970, and WBFO-FM 88.7. I sometimes am not able to listen to both hours on Saturday evening, and where I live I would get the null of the AM 970 transmission when living near the WWKB 1520-WGR 550 tower array off of Big Tree Road. I may be a minority regarding this, but I hope moving the Bluess block to a later time fills those listeners needs also.

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