NERW 6/18/2012: WKAJ St. Johnsville is Still Dead

In this week”s issue: WKAJ, still deleted – Reilly buys Anastos” Albany stations – Shapiro re-spins Nassau/Binnie spinoffs – Limbaugh loses VT affiliate, prepares for Philly FM move – Langer buys in Brockton – Baseball on the Radio: New York-Penn League

by SCOTT FYBUSH

*Drive through the Mohawk Valley of upstate NEW YORK on scenic Route 5 and you”ll spot something odd as you pass through the pretty little village of St. Johnsville, an hour or so west of Albany: tucked in next to an abandoned industrial building just off the highway, there”s a four-tower AM directional array for a station that doesn”t exist – and apparently never will.

The WKAJ site, June 2012

This was supposed to have been WKAJ, a 10,000-watt day/400-watt night signal on 1120, and in recent months licensee Cranesville Block Company has waged a battle to get the station on the air, enlisting the assistance of local elected officials and even the area”s U.S. congressmen, Paul Tonko and Richard Hanna, who took part in a conference call with FCC officials last month to plead for the station”s continued existence.

Unfortunately for Cranesville, and for WKAJ, there”s a big obstacle to their quest: as NERW readers know, WKAJ”s construction permit expired (after two extensions) last December 15 – and at that point, as best anyone can tell, that plot of land next to the old warehouse in St. Johnsville was still an empty piece of land. From all accounts, the towers and transmitter building went up in January 2012, at a cost of $336,000.

Does the FCC look kindly on stations that commence construction after the expiration of their permits? As any competent communications attorney (or even your humble editor/consultant) could tell you: no, it does not, and never has. That”s a lesson Cranesville has been learning the hard way after exchanging its local law firm for a Washington lawyer, but no matter how well-connected the counsel, there are some precedents the FCC simply doesn”t want to alter.

And that”s where WKAJ sits, midway through what could have been its first year on the air: last week, the FCC once again tossed out the station”s latest procedural attempt to get its permit reinstated. This time around, the Commission didn”t even need to get to the substance of the “Petition for Waiver and Reinstatement”: procedurally, a waiver request had to be filed within 30 days of the February 23 FCC letter denying WKAJ a license to cover, but the petition wasn”t filed until April 23, a month after the deadline had expired. (Audio Division chief Peter Doyle strongly hints in the latest ruling that WKAJ wouldn”t have been reinstated even if its petition had been timely.)

It”s a sad story, to be sure; we”ve heard good arguments from some other small-town broadcasters that a reinstated WKAJ construction permit would indeed serve the “public interest, convenience and necessity” by allowing this already-built signal to sign on as the first local station in St. Johnsville. There”s an equally strong argument, though, to suggest that Cranesville had plenty of chances to build the station according to the rules; given the flood damage to the Mohawk Valley in 2011, WKAJ could almost certainly have won additional extensions to its construction permit had it asked before the CP expired.

Instead, those four towers and unfinished transmitter building sit mute on the outskirts of town, a monument to what might have been.

(What do you think should happen with WKAJ? Weigh in down below in our comments section…)

*Anyone who had the pleasure of working with Joe Reilly during his long run at the helm of the New York State Broadcasters Association (NYSBA) knew that Reilly”s retirement a year ago couldn”t possibly keep him away from broadcasting for very long. Reilly came to NYSBA in 1979 from the world of broadcast ownership and management (including WERA in Plainfield, New Jersey and most notably WWOM in Albany), and now he”s returning to that world with the purchase of Ernie Anastos” four Albany-area stations.

Joe Reilly, 2011

Reilly”s new Empire Broadcasting Corporation is paying $1.2 million for the signals, which include AC “Star” WQAR (101.3 Stillwater) and standards “Moon” WABY (1160 Mechanicville) in the Saratoga Springs area, oldies WVKZ (1240 Schenectady) and WUAM (900 Watervliet), which simulcasts the audio of Time Warner Cable”s YNN news channel and is also heard on translator W291BY (106.1 Albany). There”s no word yet on what Reilly and his partners have in store for their new acquisitions – but in the meantime, we welcome him back to the fray…even as it means the exit of veteran New York City TV anchor Anastos from radio ownership after several decades.

*Speaking of New York City TV anchors, Friday was the last day on the air for WNBC (Channel 4) icon Sue Simmons, and the station sent off the 32-year veteran with a full day of tributes during its newscasts, culminating with a six-minute “best of” montage at the end of its 11 PM show. Don”t call it “retirement” just yet; Simmons is hinting that she”d like to get back on the air somewhere in town before long.

Radio People on the Move: Sandi Klein has departed CBS Radio”s WINS (1010 New York), signing off her midday shift on Friday and closing out 19 years with the station. (Before that, Klein was at WPLJ, WQHT and WYNY, among others.) Susan Richards takes over the 10 AM-3 PM anchor shift from Klein.

In Oswego, Fred Vigeant is getting ready to say goodbye to WRVO (89.9) after a dozen years at the station, most recently as program director. He”ll leave WRVO on Friday and make a quick trip south to start next Monday as program director of WITF (89.5) in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he gets to kick off the new all-news/information format there. No replacement has been named yet back in Oswego.

Here in Rochester, it”s a return to the airwaves for veteran jazz jock Jim McGrath: the former WXXI (1370) all-night guy back in the 1980s has joined WGMC (90.1 Greece) to host “The Blues Spectrum” on Sunday nights from 7-9. (Usual disclaimer: your editor toils for WXXI, from time to time…and in fact will be on the air there this Friday afternoon.)

*It”s been an almost ridiculously busy few weeks for the radio and TV newsrooms in Buffalo, including a high-profile trial in a hit-and-run murder case, a shooting at a local hospital followed by the apparent suicide of the doctor who shot and killed his ex-girlfriend, and then the big Nik Wallenda high-wire walk over Niagara Falls on Friday night. All that attention to Buffalo and vicinity gave the local stations a chance to shine, and we can”t let the week go by without a tip of the editorial hat to the two local radio outlets that had live news coverage going well into the night on Friday, Entercom”s WBEN (930)/WLKK (107.7) and public station WBFO (88.7)/WNED (970).

Congratulations go out as well to Rochester radio veteran Nick Nickson, Senior, who received an on-air shoutout during the final minutes of the Los Angeles Kings” Stanley Cup victory last week. NBC announcer Doc Emrick is a former colleague of Nick Nickson, Junior, who was calling the game on radio, just as he”s been doing for decades for the Kings, and it was most classy of Emrick to mention both Nicks as the game wound down. (Extra points go to Nickson, Senior: the “Ol” Professor” of WBBF fame, now 90, tells the local paper that no matter how successful Junior has been in all those years with the Kings, he”s still rooting for the Sabres to win the Cup.)

*They”re mourning Pat Evans in San Francisco, where she was an executive at public broadcaster KQED and a programmer at stations such as KOME, KYA and KFOG – and she”s being remembered in New York, too, for her time as the first PD of WXRK (92.3) back in 1985. In addition to Howard Stern in the morning, Evans assembled an airstaff that included Tony Pigg, Marc Coppola and Jimmy Fink for the debut of “K-Rock.” Evans died of cancer last Wednesday (June 13) at just 55.

*One bit of NEW JERSEY news: Trenton-based WWFM (89.1) has upgraded its Cape May County relay signal, moving WWCJ (89.1 Cape May) from its original home just south of Cape May Court House to the WMGM-TV/WZXL (100.7) tower six miles north. With 13.5 kW/385″ DA, the new WWCJ signal fully covers Cape May County and has some fringe coverage toward Atlantic City as well.  (WWCJ has been operating at low power from the WMGM-TV tower since last September after losing its original site and suffering vandalism damage at its first temporary site.)

*The big news from southeast PENNSYLVANIA is still a week away: next Monday marks the long-expected launch of Rush Limbaugh on Merlin Media”s WWIQ (106.9 Camden NJ), which means this Friday will be the end of Limbaugh”s long run on CBS Radio”s WPHT (1210).

To nobody”s great surprise, WPHT will fill Limbaugh”s midday slot with a live clearance of hometown talent Michael Smerconish, who”d been heard in delay (with one live local hour) in WPHT”s afternoon drive. That daypart, in turn, will stay local at WPHT: former WIP (610) talker Steve Martorano will partner with “Friday Night Lights” author Buzz Bissinger to fill the 3-7 PM slot starting next Monday. Counting Smerconish”s Philadelphia-based national show as “local,” the move means WPHT will be live and local from 6 AM until 7 PM on weekdays.

Over at the other end of the state, we send our congratulations to Eric O”Brien on his relaunch of PBRTV.com, now sporting a new design and some nifty new features. As we approach the one-year mark on our own redesign, we can testify it”s a complicated ongoing process, and we wish Eric the best of luck on his own relaunch!

*Back in the days when this column was still “New England Radio Watch,” a lot of our MASSACHUSETTS news came from Alex Langer, who made headline after headline as he bought, upgraded and sold a series of Bay State signals (and a few in Pennsylvania, too.)

Alex has been keeping a lower profile of late, but he”s back in the news this week in two different spots on the dial.

In Brockton, Langer is adding to his holdings with the $100,000 acquisition of WMSX (1410), ending four years of ownership by Kingdom Church, which paid $540,000 for the signal in 2008. WMSX runs 1000 watts by day and 160 watts at night – and if you”re wondering (as we were) if Langer has any upgrade tricks up his sleeve for this south-of-Boston signal, the answer for now is no; WMSX simply “happened to be a good local signal at the right price,” he tells NERW.

But Langer does have another upgrade in the pipeline: on June 28, he”s flipping the switch to boost WSRO (650 Ashland) from 250 watts, non-directional, to 1500 watts, directional. The daytime upgrade for the Portuguese-language station became possible after the original occupants of WSRO”s Mount Wayte Avenue property, WKOX (1200) and later WBIX (1060), moved off the two-tower array. (WKOX became Clear Channel talker WXKS 1200 Newton, while WBIX is now Catholic WQOM, operating from the five-tower array in Ashland that was the original WGTR 1060 site.)

*On TV, it”s about to be an even earlier morning for the news team at Fox”s WFXT (Channel 25): starting July 9, “Fox 25 Morning News” will sign on at 4 AM, beating most of the other morning TV shows in town by half an hour, at least for now. WFXT is also adding a 6 PM news on Saturdays and Sundays, beginning July 7.

*There”s a new signal on the air on Cape Ann: Light of Life Ministries” WWRN (91.5 Rockport) signed on at 4 PM on June 10, simulcasting the Christian hot AC format of WWWA (95.3) from Winslow, Maine.

Where are they now? Jay Beau Jones, well known in New England for his on-air and programming work at WODS, WBMX and WXLO, among others, has landed at Sirius XM satellite radio, where he”s now the noon-6 PM jock on the “70s on 7″ channel.

*We can now shed some more light on the details of the transactions that will transfer 30 signals in VERMONT, NEW HAMPSHIRE and MAINE from the bankrupt Nassau to Bill Binnie”s Carlisle Capital and Jeff Shapiro”s Vertical Capital Partners.

As we”d reported a few weeks back, Carlisle will pay $12.5 million for the stations, and he”ll keep all of Nassau”s Maine operations (save for two signals in Portland and Kennebunkport that weren”t part of this deal) and eight stations serving New Hampshire: WNHW (93.3 Belmont), WNNH (99.1 Henniker) and WJYY (105.5 Concord) in the Concord market; WEMJ (1490 Laconia) and WLNH (98.3 Laconia) in the Lakes Region; WFNQ (106.3 Nashua) serving the Manchester/Nashua area and the “Wolf” country duo of WXLF (95.3 Hartford)/WZLF (107.1 Bellows Falls) in the Connecticut River Valley.

We now know how much Shapiro”s Vertical group will pay for the remaining 13 stations: it”s paying Carlisle $4.4 million for WIKE (1490 Newport)/WMOO (92.1 Derby Line) up in northern Vermont; WSNO (1450 Barre)/WORK (107.1 Barre)/WWFY (100.9 Berlin) in Barre/Montpelier; WTSV (1230 Claremont)/WHDQ (106.1 Claremont) and WWOD (104.3 Hartford)/WFYX (96.3 Walpole) to go with his existing Upper Valley holdings; WEXP (101.5 Brandon)/WTHK (100.7 Wilmington) serving Rutland and southern Vermont; and WWHQ (101.5 Meredith)/WLKZ (104.9 Wolfeboro) in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire.

But because Shapiro”s Vox group already owns an Upper Valley cluster that includes talker WTSL (1400 Hanover), AC WGXL (92.3 Hanover), classic rock WMXR (93.9 Woodstock) and country WXXK (100.5 Lebanon), he”ll have to spin two of the signals he”s acquiring, and he already has a buyer. Gail and William Goddard”s Electromagnetic Company LLC will pick up WWOD and WEXP, allowing Shapiro to stay under the FCC”s ownership caps for the Lebanon-Rutland-White River Junction market. That will split up two simulcasts: WWOD”s oldies format is currently simulcast on WFYX to the south, which stays with Shapiro, and WEXP”s “Fox” classic rock format is simulcast on WTHK to its south.

(Two more notes on this deal: Goddard, now an attorney in Connecticut, is the former general manager of Saga”s cluster of stations in Ithaca, New York – and in Montpelier, the venerable “WORK” callsign on 107.1 doesn”t come along with the station; Nassau is retaining the right to move those calls to another station before the sale closes.)

*Premiere”s Rush Limbaugh Show has quietly lost a Vermont affiliate: in Rutland, Pamal”s WSYB (1380) replaced Limbaugh”s show with sports, handing over its noon-3 PM slot to Jim Rome. The change took place on Thursday, and a statement from WSYB general manager Debbie Grembowicz says, “Any business trying to remain vital must grow and change. Some changes are more noticeable than others. There are many considerations with every one . This is an instance where a challenging decision needed to be made with WSYB.”

Over at Vermont Public Radio, George Thomas has announced he”s retiring sometime around the end of this month, ending an 11-year run as the network”s evening jazz host. VPR says jazz will continue to be a presence on the network, but hasn”t yet named a replacement for Thomas.

*Radio People on the Move: Talk host Rich Girard is moving from AM to FM in Manchester, N.H. Beginning today, “Girard at Large” moves from mornings at WGAM (1250) to the 6-9 AM slot at religious WLMW (90.7). Meanwhile in Maine, Bangor”s WHMX (105.7 Lincoln) is losing morning man Joe Polek. Polek, who also handled assistant PD/music director duties for WHMX and sister station WHCF (88.5) and hosted Sunday nights on WHCF, is headed to WMHK (89.7) in Columbia, South Carolina.

*Another quiet week in CANADA, save for an application by one of Montreal”s ethnic stations to improve its signal. CKIN (106.3) wants to boost its power from 300 watts (max DA/102 watts average) to 1.2 kW (max DA/394 watts average). The station, owned by Canadian Hellenic Cable Radio Ltd., tells the CRTC that the power boost would provide much more complete coverage of the island of Montreal, as well as additional coverage of ethnic communities on the South Shore.

Meanwhile in Windsor, there”s word that the CBC has already fired up the old CBE (1550) transmitter with French-language programming – are tests underway to see how well 1550 will work as the proposed new home of Radio-Canada”s CBEF (540)?

*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.

Our hometown(-ish) Batavia Muckdogs are back on WBTA (1490) for what may well be their final season in western New York (though we”ve been to  enough “final seasons” there to believe there just might be a next year once again.) It”s not clear if the Auburn Doubledays” road games will return to Cayuga Community College”s WDWN (89.1). The Hudson Valley Renegades are apparently returning to WBNR (1260 Beacon)/WLNA (1420 Peekskill) for another season. In Vermont, the Lake Monsters will have a 52-game schedule on WCPV (101.3 ESPN Radio), including all 38 home games. In Norwich, it appears the Connecticut Tigers will be back on WICH (1310) for their third 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 this year, as best we can tell, for the Jamestown Jammers, the Tri-City Valley Cats of Troy or the Staten Island Yankees.

And that leaves just one other New York-Penn League team in NERW-land, the Brooklyn Cyclones, where Warner Fusselle has been the team”s voice since it started up back in 2001. Fusselle was getting ready for the Cyclones” 12th season on the air when he died last Sunday of a heart attack.

The Cyclones were just one of Fusselle”s many jobs in the world of sports broadcasting: he also did TV (hosting “This Week in Baseball” in syndication and calling St. John”s University baseball for the CBS Sports Network), and he was the longtime radio voice of Seton Hall University basketball. Fusselle was 68; the team says it”s still trying to figure out who will announce its games this season.

With Fusselle”s sudden passing, the Cyclones have a new broadcast team: David Rind, Vincent Coughlin and Chris Paizis will take over the team”s radio duties. They”ve been the voices of Seton Hall University baseball, and they”re calling the Cyclones this year because the team has moved to a new flagship: after many years with Brooklyn”s WKRB (90.3), the Cyclones are now being heard on Seton Hall”s WSOU (89.5 South Orange NJ), which will carry Opening Day and all 38 road games over the air, while producing the remaining home games for streaming on the team”s website. (As for WKRB, it”s off the air until sometime in July while its studios are being renovated.)

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: June 20, 2011 -

*Some radio markets are easy to define: it”s not hard to come up with a coherent set of borders for “Boston” or “Philadelphia” or “Syracuse.”But the swath of NEW YORK that stretches from just north of New York City to just south of Albany has proved a bit more difficult for Arbitron to delineate, and now the ratings agency is taking a new stab at creating market lines there. Starting this fall, it will replace the current “Newburgh-Middletown” market, which covers only Orange County, with a new “Hudson Valley” market encompassing Orange, Rockland, Westchester and Putnam counties.

The new market is much larger than the old one – with 1,471,000 people 12 , it”s expected to rank at or about #38 on Arbitron”s list, a hundred markets or so larger than the present Newburgh-Middletown – but it will also be something of an ungainly amalgam of two areas that receive different combinations of signals. The new part of the market, Westchester, Rockland and Putnam, is already included in the New York City market, though most city-based FM signals struggle to be heard in the northernmost reaches of Westchester and Rockland and in most of Putnam County. The Orange County-based signals that were at the core of the old Newburgh-Middletown market can”t be heard at all in most of Westchester or Rockland – and that”s before we even get to the simulcasts that exist between several Orange County signals and stations in the neighboring Poughkeepsie market, which consists only of Dutchess County, never mind that most of the Poughkeepsie transmitter sites are across the river in unrated Ulster County.

Confused yet? Arbitron is hoping media buyers and station groups aren”t – and it”s evidently hoping to bring Cumulus back into its fold, since the company owns several signals that should rank well in this new top-50 market. (Pamal also stands to do well, especially since its powerful WHUD 100.7 in Peekskill is one of the few signals that”s actually audible in most corners of Arbitron”s “Hudson Valley.”)

Unlike most top-50 markets, Arbitron has no plans to bring its PPM metering technology to the new market; instead, it will be surveyed by diary twice a year.

*In western PENNSYLVANIA, staffers at Duquesne University”s WDUQ (90.5 Pittsburgh) have received their official termination notices as the university prepares for the July 1 transfer of the public station to the new Essential Public Media partnership between WYEP (91.3) and Public Radio Capital.

Of more than 20 employees now working at WDUQ, only two will remain on board with Duquesne during the transition period, when the station will be managed by Essential under an LMA that will run until the sale closes.

It”s still not clear how many of them might end up working for the new incarnation of 90.5; Essential has posted a page of job listings but has not yet begun hiring a staff to operate the station less than two weeks from now.

*On TV, ion Media has begun programming on its new Pittsburgh acquisition, WINP (Channel 16, formerly WQEX). Prior contractual committments mean that ShopNBC remains in place on WINP”s 16.1 channel (and thus on cable), pushing the main ion service to 16.2, Qubo to 16.3 and ion Life to 16.4. Meanwhile, Cox”s WPXI has shifted its 11.2 subchannel from Retro TV to the Chicago-based MeTV network.

*A station sale, of sorts, in MAINE: Gary Fogg”s Wireless Fidelity of North America transfers unbuilt WGUY (1230) to Innovative Advertising Consultants (majority-owned by Dan Priestley”s Waterfront Communications) for $44,000. WGUY has a pending application to shift its construction permit from Ellsworth to the Bangor suburb of Veazie, where Priestley owns WNZS (1340) and WWNZ (1400).

*It was a quiet week in CANADA (at least in the area we cover, far from Vancouver), but it could get busier on the radio dial in two Maritimes cities. Newcap has filed applications for new FM facilities in Fredericton and Miramichi, New Brunswick – and that triggers a CRTC call for competing applications, which can be filed through September 12. A search of Industry Canada records shows a vacant class B allocation on 93.1 in Fredericton (and one on 107.9 in nearby Oromocto); Miramichi has no vacant allocations of its own, but there are vacant channels in nearby Bathurst and Allardville.

Five Years Ago: June 18, 2007 -

*No sooner did Grace Blazer move from WPHT (1210 Philadelphia) to MASSACHUSETTS to take the PD chair at WTKK (96.9 Boston) than the wheels began to spin at the Greater Media FM talker, in a way that will give Blazer plenty of challenges as she starts her Boston tenure.It”s not as though there weren”t already challenges at “FM Talk 96.9,” beginning with the morning slot that”s been officially vacant since the cancellation of the Don Imus show earlier this spring. As of late last week, though, the top contender to replace Imus on WTKK”s morning shift says not only doesn”t he want the job – but he”s leaving the station entirely.

That contender, of course, would be Mike Barnicle, the venerable Boston newspaper columnist and local media icon who”s been a star personality on WTKK since its debut. Most recently, Barnicle had been doing the 9-10 AM weekday show, and had added the 6-9 AM Imus shift most days since Imus” ouster.

Now Barnicle says he”s busy enough with his work on MSNBC and in print, especially with the 2008 elections looming, that he can”t keep doing even his daily hour at WTKK, much less the entire morning shift – and that means some big decisions for Blazer and her bosses. While Barnicle says he”ll keep doing the morning show on a fill-in basis for the moment, WTKK is already trying other talent. Tomorrow morning, middayer Michael Graham will fill in, and we wouldn”t be surprised to hear other WTKK personalities, such as early-afternoon hosts Marjorie Eagan and Jim Braude and maybe even PM drive talker Jay Severin, trying out for the shift.

If there”s any bright side to WTKK”s current morning troubles, it”s that they come at a time when rival talker WRKO (680 Boston) is in equally dire straits during the daypart, as its Tom Finneran morning show struggles to find a rhythm and ratings.

Is it any wonder we”re hearing growing rumblings – not just from Boston, but from his former home market as well – that an Imus return to the airwaves this fall might be a possibility?

*Another major PENNSYLVANIA TV station is moving, and apparently not a moment too soon. Last Thursday, ABC”s WPVI (Channel 6) held groundbreaking ceremonies for a new studio facility to be built next door to its 1964-vintage landmark building on City Line Avenue in Philadelphia. The new 110,000-square foot building will go up on land purchased from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. When it opens in 2009, the old building will be used for parking and for expansion space.But no sooner had WPVI broadcast the groundbreaking event for the new building than a storm front moving through knocked the station completely off the air – and while it soon returned, the station faced an even bigger crisis on Friday, when a construction crew opened a hole in a 6-inch water main, sending a stream of water flooding into the first floor of the old building and forcing the entire staff to evacuate to a field next door, where the station”s early-evening “Action News” broadcasts were assembled under a tent.

The water was shut off after about three hours, but the station”s still cleaning up. (And after another flood a couple of weeks ago at Hartford”s WFSB, and the recent fire at New York”s WABC, we understand the folks in Baltimore are looking north and getting a little nervous about what might be coming next…)

Greater Media has completed its move of WJJZ (97.5 Burlington) into the Philadelphia market. Over the weekend, the station turned off its longtime transmitter site in downtown Trenton, signing on a new facility at the Wyndmoor tower it now shares with Clear Channel”s WISX (106.1 Philadelphia). We”re already hearing reports of a much stronger signal over most of the Philly market – and we”re wondering if the next transmitter move will involve WMMR (93.3) and WRNB (107.9), whose Center City site atop the One Liberty tower is now shadowed by the taller Comcast Center skyscraper that just topped off practically next door.

*Speaking of NEW YORK, there”s a change of plans for one Long Island AM station that”s been looking to move. Multicultural Broadcasting”s WNYG (1440 Babylon) had a pending application to move to Elizabeth, New Jersey and to operate on 1530, effectively replacing Multicultural”s WJDM (1530 Elizabeth), which was to have gone silent as part of the FCC”s “five-year rule” now that expanded-band sister WWRU (1660 Jersey City) is on the air.

But a change in FCC policy now allows WJDM to stay on the air, and in the meantime Multicultural needs WNYG off its current facilities so it can keep a more lucrative signal, WNSW (1430 Newark NJ) on the air. WNSW faces the impending end to its transmitter-site lease in Union, N.J., and so it has only until the end of July to build out its construction permit for operation from the Clifton, N.J. facilities of sister station WPAT (930 Paterson) – and that CP can only be built out if WNYG moves.

So the latest application calls for WNYG to stay on 1440, but to move out east, to a new city of license of Medford. It would diplex from the two towers of WLIM (1580 Patchogue), running 1000 watts by day and 190 watts at night, a significant increase from its present 38-watt night authorization.

Multicultural is asking for expedited processing of this application; stay tuned to see whether the FCC grants it all in time for these moves to be pulled off.

*VERMONT Public Radio took a big step toward its plans for a two-network future last week when it announced it”s buying WAVX (90.9 Schuyler Falls NY) from Essex-based Christian Ministries, Inc. The $1.1 million purchase will give VPR a signal for its new VPR Classical service that will serve the state”s largest city, Burlington, as well as the Plattsburgh, N.Y. area across Lake Champlain. (WAVX is a 2.7 kW/1074″ DA C2 signal broadcasting from just west of Peru, N.Y.)

VPR started the classical service a couple of years ago on WNCH (88.1 Norwich), and recently added WJAN (95.1 Sunderland) to the network. It”s also making VPR Classical available as a subchannel on the HD Radio signals of its main-channel stations. We”d expect those stations to eventually transition from a mixture of news and classical to all-news and talk as the classical network increases its distribution across the state.

Christian Ministries will keep its network of “The Light” religious stations across Vermont, based at WGLY (91.5 Bolton); we wouldn”t be surprised to see the “Wave” Christian top 40 format that”s been on WAVX resurface on an HD2 signal over that network eventually, too.

*It didn”t take long for the TV ownership picture in CANADA to shift yet again after the CRTC denied CTVglobemedia”s application to buy the CityTV group of stations (including Toronto”s CITY-TV 57) as part of its acquisition of CHUM Ltd.

Rogers, which already had a deal with CTVglobemedia to buy the A-Channel stations (including CKVR Barrie and CFPL-TV London) that were to have been spun off from the CHUM purchase, quickly reworked its deal – and now CTVglobemedia will keep the A-Channel stations and Rogers will end up with the CityTV signals.

For Rogers in Toronto, CITY will pair up with the “Omni” multicultural TV stations the company already owns (“Omni.1″ CFMT 47 and “Omni.2″ CJMT 44, along with relays in London and Ottawa, where CITY also has relay transmitters), as well as with the Rogers radio cluster that includes CFTR (680 News), CJCL (Fan 590), CJAQ (92.5 Jack FM) and CHFI (98.1).

Perhaps the most visible change will come at street level, where CTV will keep the “ChumCity Building” at 299 Queen Street West, the high-profile home to CityTV (which will move its operations elsewhere within three years) and to the CHUM cable networks (most prominently MuchMusic) that CTV is retaining.

The deal, which also includes the CityTV stations in Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver, is worth C$375 million.

Ten Years Ago: June 17, 2002 -

Despite a slew of rumors floating around western MASSACHUSETTS, one of Pittsfield”s oldest stations isn”t changing hands – at least not yet. Last week, rival station WUPE (95.9) reported that Tele-Media had sold WBEC (1420) and WBEC-FM (105.5) to Vox, the fast-growing group that already has big holdings up in Glens Falls, Vermont and New Hampshire. But a Vox official tells NERW there”s no deal to buy WBEC in place.

If Tele-Media is selling WBEC, it would be a further exit from a region that it began leaving last year, when it sold its Albany holdings to Pamal and Ed Levine”s Galaxy group. That move left the Pennsylvania-based company with the Pittsfield stations, WZEC (97.5 Hoosick Falls NY) serving Bennington, Vermont, and WKBE (100.3 Warrensburg NY) up in the Glens Falls market, where Vox is already a strong player.

We”ll shoot up to MAINE for our next big story this week: after a couple of years doing mornings at Citadel”s WCLZ (98.9 Brunswick), Lori Voornas is moving down the hall to a format that might fit her high-energy style better than the laid-back AAA that”s played on “98.9 the Point.” Voornas, who made a high-profile move from Saga”s WMGX to join WCLZ (then WTPN) in 1999, is joining Meredith Manning and Jeff Parsons on the morning show at CHR WJBQ (97.9 Portland), leaving Pete Dubuc alone on wakeup duty at WCLZ for now.

Down in CONNECTICUT, a translator may soon leave the air. We hear Southington-licensed W220CE (91.9), which transmits from West Peak in Meriden, will likely be turned off by its owner (the Monroe Board of Education”s WMNR 88.1 network), which hasn”t had the listenership it expected when it leased space up on the hilltop last year. Another WMNR translator, W220CH (91.9) in West Hartford, has finally made the flip from relaying nearby WWUH (91.3) to WMNR itself, we”re told.

NEW YORK has a new radio owner, thanks to the $3.5 billion purchase of Hispanic Broadcasting by Univision. The deal means that WCAA (105.9 Newark) and WADO (1280 New York) join forces with Univision”s WXTV (Channel 41) and WFUT (Channel 68) to create a high-powered marketing machine for the Big Apple”s Spanish-speaking audience (and that”s nothing, compared to the combos created in markets like Miami, L.A., and the big Hispanic Texas cities…)

The big news out of NEW JERSEY may actually be big news in Philadelphia, at least if you”re not the FCC. When WSNJ-FM (107.7 Bridgeton) was sold last year, speculation immediately began building about where the big signal could be moved. WSNJ filed an application to move its city of license to tiny Elmer, N.J., which made very little sense to us – but now it”s all clear.

By “moving” from Bridgeton to Elmer, WSNJ positioned its next move to look even better to the FCC. The station now wants to relocate from Elmer to Pennsauken and change channels to 107.9, downgrading from a full class B facility to a class A. From the FCC”s point of view, it”s a move from tiny little Elmer to much larger (35,000 instead of 1,571) Pennsauken, neither of which have their own “local” broadcast facility – and thus looks better than a move straight to Pennsauken from larger Bridgeton (which keeps WSNJ”s AM sister on 1240 to pacify the FCC.) But from the point of view of WSNJ”s new owners, the station will now throw a city-grade signal over 1.5 million more listeners, since (even though Pennsauken is, as WSNJ goes to great lengths to demonstrate, an independent community) the new site would be just across the river from Philadelphia. The move does eliminate short-spacings between WSNJ and WPUR (107.3 Atlantic City), WBYN (107.5 Boyertown), WGTY (107.7 Gettysburg) and WFSI (107.9 Annapolis); it would also force high school station WHHS (107.9 Havertown) and translators W300AD (107.9 Philadelphia, relaying WWFM Trenton) and W300AA (107.9 Levittown, relaying WRDV Warminster) to find new spots on the dial.

Fifteen Years Ago: June 19, 1997 -

Brian Dodge is no stranger to FCC controversy, and now he”s in for much more. The New Hampshire religious broadcaster is already the subject of a complaint from the New Hampshire attorney general”s office of charities, and now he”s also the target of a lengthy complaint just filed with the FCC by Carter Broadcasting, with the assistance of several other New England broadcasters. The complaint was just filed yesterday, and NERW”s copy has yet to arrive, but stay tuned for a special edition of NERW over the weekend with all the details; and, we hope, a response from Brian Dodge. (2012 update: 15 years later, the FCC has still never acted on the complaint, the full text of which can be read here.)

In MAINE, hit radio has returned to the Bangor market after a half-year absence. WBZN (107.3 Old Town) flipped from 70s rock to CHR Wednesday morning, under the consultancy of Clarke Ingram of WPXY in Rochester. The new “Z107″ is being run under an LMA by the folks at country WQCB (106.5 Brewer), but will stay in its existing studios in Old Town. The last attempt at hit radio in Bangor came from WWFX (104.7 Belfast), which underwent a species transformation from “the Fox” to “the Bear,” WBFB, last fall.

One of NEW HAMPSHIRE”s oldest radio stations is getting a new owner. WKBR (1250) in Manchester is being sold to Northeast Broadcasting, the company that owns AAA WXRV (92.5) and Spanish WHAV (1490; leased to Costa Communications) in Haverhill MA, along with AAA WNCS (104.7 Montpelier VT) and satellite stations WRJT (103.1 Royalton VT) and WSHX (95.7 Danville VT). No word on how much Northeast (operating under the Devon Broadcasting corporate name) is paying for the 5 kW fulltimer, which is now owned by ethnic broadcaster George Ketrelakis, who bought the station from Bob Bittner a few years ago.

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Comments

  1. says

    My take on WKAJ is this. The law is the law, and the FCC needs to be consistent on sloppy filings and the rules as they are. WKAJ had several opportunities to make this situation right, and failed to do so. It’s a shame they spent so much money on building such a nice facility that remains dark, however they only got themselves to blame for it. If the FCC lets this one slide for whatever reason, then everyone else will start piping in with reasons why they should be given a break.

  2. chrishall says

    A s Howie Carr would say WKAJ just wants the same treatment accorded to illegal alien pirates The FCC treats pirates better than a real American owned radio station that would employ American citizens. The next time I hear the administration say its all about
    American jobs I may just hurl.

  3. larryfox says

    While there is no excuse for “sloppy filings,” the fact is St. Johnsville, to my knowledge, has no local radio. Here’s a station, with towers up and ready– an AM start up no less, on a band that’s fading into the ether. The public would be better served with WKAJ broadcasting than be, well, non-existent. I’d slap them with a fine, allow them to sign on. As for Ms./Mr. Hall’s comments–I don’t see this as an appropriate forum to express political views. Scott has done a superb job in keeping this forum free of personal prejudice. Perhaps Ms./Mr. Hall can hurl elsewhere.

    • says

      I would indeed prefer to keep this forum as politics-free as possible; there are plenty of other places on the web for that.

      Had WKAJ been in better contact with the FCC as it was getting ready to build, it probably could have escaped with a fine and been on the air. One thing the Commission really, really doesn’t like is lack of communication from a licensee, and it appears from a distance that WKAJ got some very bad advice on that front.

      I can’t imagine building an AM directional facility without having a Washington communications lawyer in the loop – it’s money well spent.

  4. says

    Clearly they made a big mistake by not keeping the FCC informed of the situation. It seems to be that the right thing to do would be to open a filing window for new applications for that or any mx’ed facility. Give them a chance to either apply for it again, or sell the facility they’ve already built to a different applicant. That would serve PICON much better than simply leaving the facility sitting there fallow.

    • says

      To clarify a bit more: I don’t think the FCC should treat this as any different from an applicant for a new station proposing to use the physical plant of a defunct station they bought after the original license expired. The only issue is timeliness, and my view is that the FCC’s system of filing windows is not justified, but given that it exists, they should be able to have a new window that would specifically allow this facility to be licensed to someone (perhaps not the original permittee).

      • says

        There’s some precedent for a special window…and not too far down the Thruway, either. Congressional intervention created a new 1700 AM facility in Rockland County, though it hasn’t actually gone to auction yet. It’s not out of the question that the congressmen who already intervened once could get the FCC to open a similar window in St. Johnsville.

  5. rbwny says

    I can totally see the FCC’s decision here. I understand the process of “extensions” well, since the company I work for deals with medicaid payments. We grant extensions to providers whom we’ve audited. If they fail to provide the information requested, and the extension expires……… Their medicaid payments are then retracted and NO further extensions are granted. Same deal with Cranesville. Even though it IS a great shame, wasn’t the purpose of 1120 to be a repeater of WCSS 1490? (which has a pretty good signal as is) I can’t see however that rebroadcasting their satellite AC mix would be a particular “boon” to St. Johnsville.