In this week's issue... Ads on the way to CBC R2, Espace Musique - WRKO shuffles morning schedule - More downsizing at Family Stations - Rogers shutters CityNews, adds Montreal programming
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*CANADA's public broadcaster has long had a challenging relationship with commercials. What we now know as the CBC grew out of openly commercial predecessors, the old Canadian National Railways network and the subsequent CRBC - and even after becoming a government service in the 1930s, CBC continued to carry commercial programming on its French and English radio services right up until 1974, when those networks finally went fully non-commercial. CBC Television and its French-language counterpart, Radio-Canada, have continued to carry commercials ever since. And now CBC's Radio 2 network and Radio Canada's Espace Musique service will once again be carrying their own commercial load, thanks to a decision in last week's CRTC renewal of the CBC's licenses.
To say the proposal has been controversial would be an understatement: while CBC makes the case that federal budget cutbacks have forced the networks' hand, Canada's commercial stations don't want the extra competition and listener groups are worried (not without reason) that limited commercial interruptions on Radio 2 and Espace Musique will eventually lead to commercials, probably in even larger doses, on the flagship Radio 1 and Premiere Chaine networks, which remain commercial free for the moment.
The CRTC is playing its decision as an experiment: it's giving the CBC three years to see how a limited advertising load on Radio 2 and Espace Musique will work, with some tight restrictions. Each network will be allowed to run no more than four minutes of national advertising each hour, with no more than two minutes of spots at a time; no local ads will be allowed - and in 2016, the CRTC will revisit the issue to see how it's worked and decide whether the CBC can continue running ads.
The CBC's license renewal process also included a bone thrown to French-speaking listeners in the Windsor, Ontario area: CBEF (1550) nearly lost all its local programming a few years back, but a passionate effort by the small local Francophone community not only restored the 10 hours of weekly local programming on CBEF, it has also resulted in a new license requirement: for the next five-year renewal cycle, CBEF will have to produce 15 hours of weekly local shows. It's not clear yet whether that will mean an extra hour each morning for what's now a 90-minute local morning show, or whether that extra daily hour might show up later in the day.
*While the CBC deals with its budget struggles, commercial behemoth Rogers has its own budget issues to deal with. After less than two years on the air, Rogers has folded its "CityNews" cable channel in Toronto, cutting 23 jobs along the way. CityNews launched in 2011 as a replacement for CP24, the original 24-hour news offshoot of Toronto's CityTV. When CityTV and CP24 changed hands from CHUM to CTV/Bell in 2006, the CRTC forced Bell to spin CityTV itself to Rogers - but CP24 stayed behind with Bell, leading Rogers to try to launch its own competitor.
Now Rogers appears to be cutting its losses by shutting down the service. CityNews is still on the air for another month, but just with weather and traffic cameras and the audio from Rogers's surviving news operation, CFTR (680 News).
In addition to shuttering CityNews, Rogers is also cutting back at its OMNI ethnic TV service, eliminating English-language newscasts aimed at the South Asian audience and closing down local production at the OMNI outlets in Alberta. Those moves put an additional 39 people out of work.
In the meantime, though, at the CRTC's behest, Rogers is ramping up local production at its new Montreal-based CityTV outlet, CJNT (Channel 62). As part of the deal allowing Rogers to buy the former ethnic independent, CJNT has committed to starting a local morning show in August, and it's just debuted its first local production, a weekly local sports show called "Montreal Connected." As always, media guru Steve Faguy is right on top of the story, and he's written a comprehensive profile of the new show and its production team.
*In Kitchener, it was probably only a matter of time before Rogers dropped the "KIX Country" branding it inherited with its purchase back in 2008 of CIKZ (106.7) from Larche Communications. (Larche had actually branded it as "KICX," matching its stations up north in Cottage Country.) In any event, what was "Kix Country" in Kitchener is now just "Country 106.7" - and over at RadioInsight.com, Lance Venta reports that Rogers has registered a few matching domains, including "Country600.com" for CKAT up in North Bay and "Country1011.com" for CKBY in Smiths Falls/Ottawa.
My Broadcasting has hired a new general manager for its Alliston signal at 92.1, due to debut sometime later this summer. The new hire is veteran broadcaster Brian DePoe, whose experience includes PD stints in Toronto (CJEZ 97.3) and Montreal (CFQR 92.5), and he'll also serve as general sales manager for the new Alliston station.
*In NEW YORK's Hudson Valley, there's another proposed change coming to translator W232AL (94.3 Pomona). As we've been reporting, the Bridgelight-owned translator has been attempting to cross the river, relocating from its current Rockland County site to the WFAS (1230) tower in Westchester. But now Bridgelight has filed another amendment that would, at least for now, keep the translator at its present site up near Harriman - but with a power increase from 3 watts to 150 watts and a change of primary station from WJUX (99.7 Monticello) to Cumulus' WPLJ (95.5 New York). Will this be an interim step before Bridgelight and Cumulus file again to move the translator to Westchester? Stay tuned...
*We stirred up some attention last week with our report that California-based Family Stations appears to be close to selling some of its smaller signals in an attempt to shore up the network's fast-disintegrating finances. This week, we can supply at least a little evidence, based on FCC filings, that there's definitely something happening with at least some of Family's NERW-land signals.
Three of Family's stations in New York and Pennsylvania - WFRS (88.9 Smithtown), WFRJ (88.9 Johnstown) and WEFR (88.1 Erie) - are among a pile of Family signals around the country asking to further diminish their minimal local presence in their communities by removing their local public files and becoming full satellites of Family's San Francisco flagship, KEAR (610). Until now, WFRS was listed as a satellite of Family's former New York-area outlet, WFME (94.7 Newark NJ, now WNSH), while WFRJ and WEFR (like many other Family signals in the east) have been listed on the FCC's books as satellites of Family's Chicago-area signal, WJCH (91.9 Joliet IL), but WJCH is itself asking to close its local office and become a satellite of KEAR, with their public files maintained at Family's Oakland headquarters and no local presence other than a quarterly survey.
What does it all mean? One could speculate that Family isn't bothering to file these applications for smaller signals that it's close to selling, and if that's in fact the case, it could mean that some of the Family signals not included in last week's filing (in places like State College, Buffalo, Kingston and Webster/Rochester) are soon to be on the way to new owners. Or it could mean that the filings for those stations are still yet to come...and we'll be watching closely to see what's happening here.
*It's been a rough year for YMF Broadcasting's WLIB (1190 New York). Its transmitter site in the New Jersey Meadowlands was severely damaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy last fall when floodwaters destroyed the station's transmitters and much of its phasing and tuning system. And while there's now a new Nautel transmitter powering WLIB's signal, a fire "of unknown origin" on May 12 damaged the tuning house at the base of tower 4. For now, WLIB is running its 10 kW day signal, which doesn't use that tower, full-time; YMF tells the FCC it's working to repair the damaged tuning house and return the 30 kW night signal to the air.
*Buffalo's WKBW-TV (Channel 7) has named a replacement for departing president/general manager Bill Ransom, moving Michael Nurse up from the station manager/VP of sales post he's held for the past 11 years.
Radio People on the Move: Brian Bushner's had a long radio career (often as "Darwin") in and around Albany, on the air and behind the scenes at stations such as WEQX (102.7), WZMR (104.9) and most recently as production and social media guru (aka "digital managing editor") at the Townsquare Media cluster. Now he's over in the print world, having just signed on as social media specialist with Albany's Business Review.
*We'd suspected that Saga Communications was about to add another translator to its burgeoning cluster in Ithaca, and now it's official: Saga is paying Calvary Chapel of the Finger Lakes $60,000 for W244CZ (96.7). The 250-watt signal, which will be transmitting from the site of Saga's WNYY (1470) on Ithaca's South Hill, is currently listed as a translator of Saga's WQNY (103.7) - but we'd expect it to add a new format from a WQNY HD subchannel, joining Saga's existing HD-fed AAA "Vine" (W254BF 98.7) and top-40 "Hits" (W277BS 103.3), as well as Saga's two AM-on-FM translators at that site. (One of them, the WNYY relay on 97.7, was also recently purchased from Calvary, also for $60,000.)
We reported last week that translator W286AE (105.1 Fairport) in the Rochester suburbs was applying for a power increase and a change of primary stations, to WRSB (1310 Canandaigua) - and now it wants a frequency change, too, sliding up the dial to 105.5.
*It's rare to see a creative services director get promoted to the top job at any broadcaster, but that's just what's happening at Erie, PENNSYLVANIA's WQLN public radio and TV, where Tom New is now president and CEO. New has been a WQLN volunteer since the 1980s and has been working full-time at the station for 15 years. New fills the void created when Dwight Miller left WQLN in March to work with the State College-based Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research. (It's been a busy few weeks at WQLN; on the TV side, they just completed an antenna-replacement project that had the station off the air for a few days.)
Along the US 6 corridor in north central Pennsylvania, it's the end of an era in the small town of Kane, which is now without a local commercial radio station for the first time in almost 60 years. WADP (960) signed on in Kane in 1954, back when the borough's population topped 6,000, and while the AM station (later WKZA and WQLE) left the air two decades ago, it was succeeded by an FM competitor on 103.9 known at first in the 1980s as WRXZ and then WIFI, and later on as WLMI. Former Boston broadcaster Chuck Crouse owned the station through much of the 1990s, selling it in 2006 to Olean-based Colonial Radio Group - and after going through several formats and calls over several years, Kane's 103.9, now known as WBYB, went silent for the last time last week, with a Colonial memo citing "the continuing dismal economic conditions" in the Kane area, which now has barely half the population it did in the 1950s.
Unlike the old AM 960 facility, which simply went dark, the 103.9 license will stay alive at a new home. It's moving to a new city of license of Eldred, with a new 1.2 kW/737' class A signal on the same tower east of Smethport that's home to Colonial's WXMT (106.3 Smethport) and competitor WHKS (94.9 Port Allegany). It appears that once the 103.9 Eldred signal signs on in a few weeks, it will be carrying Colonial's "Big Bob Country," which had been on 103.9 in Kane before it began simulcasting news-talk WVTT (96.7) from Olean and which has lived on through HD-subchannel-fed translators.
(Ironically, that 96.7 signal, now licensed to Portville, N.Y., was another Colonial move-in from a smaller Pennsylvania town, having moved from Coudersport a few years back.)
*Philadelphia's WPVI (Channel 6) is one of those newsrooms where veterans stick around for decades, but one of those veterans will retire soon. Rob Jennings came to WPVI from Mobile, Alabama in 1977, and 36 years later he's still there, known for a long stint as the "Crimefighters" producer/reporter and an even longer run as weekend anchor. Jennings, who was inducted into the Philadelphia Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame in 2003, will leave WPVI at the end of July.
*There's a new program director coming to Allentown's WAEB-FM (104.1), taking some of the load off Jeff Hurley now that he's been promoted to a much bigger regional role with Clear Channel. Kyle Due, known on-air as "Jojo," is heading north from Clear Channel's WMKS (105.7) in the Greensboro, N.C. market - and coming back home, too, since he's a native of eastern Pennsylvania and has previously worked at WSBG (93.5) in Stroudsburg and WIOQ (102.1) in Philadelphia.
A station sale along the Mason-Dixon line: 9-watt WWCF (88.7 McConnellsburg) is being transferred from Morris Broadcasting & Communications to the Maryland-based Cove Mountain Educational Trust for $20,000. The station is currently listed as silent.
*In MASSACHUSETTS, WRKO (680 Boston) morning talk host Jeff Kuhner has been working an odd shift for a while now, broadcasting his "Kuhner Report" from 6-9 AM and then taking a two-hour break before returning in the 11 AM-noon hour. Starting today, that will change: the Entercom talker is moving Barry Armstrong's "Financial Exchange" from 9-11 AM to 10-noon, giving Kuhner a straight four-hour airshift from 6-10 AM weekdays.
There may still be a transmitter move in the future for CBS Radio's WODS (103.3 AMP FM) in Boston. Back in 2010, WODS was granted a construction permit to relocate from the "FM128" tower site in Newton to the Prudential Tower master antenna, which it would have shared with sister stations WZLX (100.7) and WBMX (104.1), along with Greater Media's WMJX (106.7) and Clear Channel's WXKS-FM (107.9). But that CP expired last week unbuilt, with CBS telling the FCC it was "unable to complete construction within the timeframe" - and now WODS is asking for a new CP with the same parameters, increasing power (to 21.5 kW from 16 kW) and decreasing antenna height (from 886' to 771').
Newspeople on the Move: after more than a decade at the Boston Globe, Richard Chacon is the latest big-name hire in the newsroom at WBUR-FM (90.9 Boston), where he's been hired as the executive director of news content, overseeing all local news on the big public station. Chacon's return to WBUR, where he'd worked as a Boston University student years ago, comes as Tom Melville moves up from executive editor of content to news director.
*And while it will probably go almost unnoticed when the date rolls around next weekend, we can't let the 65th anniversary of television in New England pass without some comment. WBZ-TV (Channel 4) made its first official broadcast on June 8, 1948, operating from makeshift TV studios at the WBZ radio facility in the Hotel Bradford, but it didn't take long for the permanent studios at 1170 Soldiers Field Road to be completed, and the station's still there all these years later. WBZ touched off something of a television boom in the region: one week later, CONNECTICUT got TV with the launch on June 15, 1948 of WNHC-TV (Channel 6) in New Haven, now WTNH channel 8 - and a week after that, WBZ's fleeting television monopoly ended with the debut of competitor WNAC-TV (Channel 7, now WHDH-TV). Happy anniversary, observed or not, to all of New England's TV pioneers...
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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 4, 2012 -
*Entercom’s big talker, WRKO (680 Boston), is losing its morning man of five years.
Tom Finneran came to WRKO in 2007 in hopes of rebuilding a public image that had been tarnished when he left his position as speaker of the state House of Representatives amidst a controversy over legislative redistricting that ended with a federal indictment and a plea-bargain. Disbarred and out of a lucrative job with a nonprofit group, Finneran launched his radio career to reviews that were at best mediocre – but he settled in alongside co-host Todd Feinburg to make the “Tom and Todd Show” a moderately successful fixture on a station that’s been trying to find a stable niche in a very crowded talk radio market.
But one of the drawbacks of hiring someone who’s not a talk radio host to be a talk radio host is the possibility that your host may want to go do something else that doesn’t involve a 3 AM alarm clock – and that appears to be the case at WRKO, where Finneran abruptly announced last Monday that he’d do his last show on Thursday (May 31). In a statement, Finneran said he’d been offered “other opportunities” at WRKO, but that “those opportunities are of interest to me, but not compatible with the hours I keep in the effort I make to prepare for, and to execute, a well-informed show every morning.”
For now, it’s not yet clear where Finneran is going (though presumably somewhere outside of radio), nor is it clear what WRKO’s long-term plans for morning drive look like. Feinburg is hosting morning drive solo, at least for now, though the rumor mill is also churning about an imminent “big announcement” from former WRKO midday host (and WCVB-TV contributor) Michele McPhee that might involve a return to talk radio.
And then there’s Howie Carr: the perpetually disgruntled WRKO afternoon host is once again making noises about moving on, saying in an interview on one of his affiliates (WGAN in Portland) that he’s not a candidate to replace Finneran – “N-O…no mornings; it would be suicidal for me to go to AM drive” – and repeating his long-held desire to move to the FM dial – “the AM band is great for old-timers like us…but it’s on its way out and I’ve got to get to an FM station.” Carr’s current WRKO contract expires this fall, and he’s made no secret of his strong desire not to see it renewed.
*While the message boards churned and roiled with speculation about the future of talk radio in Boston, market veterans remembered one of the classiest acts ever to occupy a prominent place in Boston talk radio history.
Lovell Dyett’s death on Tuesday (May 29) at age 77 closed the books on a career that began in Washington, D.C. in the 1960s, when he was part of the first wave of black broadcasters to break down the color barrier on mainstream radio and TV. Dyett won an Emmy Award for his daily show on Washington’s WTOP-TV (Channel 9, now WUSA-TV) before moving to Boston to work on the Senate campaign of Edward Brooke. Remaining active in media, Dyett worked at WGBH-TV (Channel 2), WNAC-TV (Channel 7) and WBZ-TV (Channel 4, where he hosted “Black News”) before joining the airstaff at WBZ (1030) in December 1971 as host of the Sunday night “Lovell Dyett Program.”
It was the first time WBZ had a regular program talking about the issues affecting New England’s black communities, and it became a weekend evening staple on the station, eventually settling in to a long run on Saturday nights, where Dyett’s deep voice and distinctive sign-off (“I love you. I love you madly”) brought a special flavor to the WBZ lineup.
CBS Radio budget cuts in 2009 took Dyett off the air briefly, but pressure from listeners and community groups brought the show back in reduced form, running for just half an hour at 4:30 on Sunday mornings. (Dyett’s former Saturday night slot is now occupied by infomercials.)
In recent months, Dyett had been suffering from kidney failure, and he was living in a long-term care facility in Melrose at the time of his death.
*For years now, the trend in public radio has been away from “split formats” – news and talk in drivetime, classical or jazz in middays and evenings – and toward full-time news and talk.
That’s what’s happening in central PENNSYLVANIA, where the board of directors at WITF (89.5 Harrisburg)/WYPM (93.3 Chambersburg) last week approved a format change that will remove classical programming from a schedule where it had been heard weekdays from 10 AM-3 PM and in the overnight hours. “Classical Air” hosts Cary Burkett and Joe Ulrich will stay with WITF to produce local arts and culture features; their airtime will be replaced by a new lineup of network shows that will include Diane Rehm, “Here and Now,” “Talk of the Nation” and “On Point.”
WITF will continue to provide classical music via a 24-hour webstream at its witf.org website once the schedule changes take effect June 25.
Five Years Ago: June 2, 2008 -
*It was just five years ago this summer that Access.1 Communications spent $22 million to buy the former Howard Green stations in the Atlantic City, NEW JERSEY market - NBC affiliate WMGM-TV (Channel 40 Wildwood), plus two FM and three AM stations. Two years later, Access.1 added another FM to the cluster, paying $5 million for modern rock WJSE (102.7 Petersburg). And now Access.1 is selling most of its Atlantic City radio cluster, putting the signals - WJSE, classic rock WMGM (103.7 Atlantic City), oldies WTKU (98.3 Ocean City), news/talk WOND (1400 Pleasantville) and progressive talk WTAA (1490 Pleasantville) - in the hands of a new group called "Atlantic Broadcasting."
The new owners are local, led by president Brett DeNafo, programmer Paul Kelly (currently at WAYV, though today will be his last day there), engineer Michael Ferriola and promotions director Joseph Borsello, and they say they have a "well thought out and innovative game plan to bring the stations back to the high ratings and revenue level they once achieved." The cluster's current GM, Dick Irland, and sales director, Mike Kazala, will stay on board.
The purchase price hasn't been announced, but we hear that Atlantic is getting the stations, plus the studio building in Linwood and two transmitter sites, for considerably less than Access.1 paid for the stations back in 2003.
*We'd heard the rumors a few weeks back, and now it's official - Blake Lawrence, the last holdover from the old WQCD, has resigned as PD of Emmis' WRXP (101.9 New York). No replacement has been named so far.
Up in Westchester, there are some staffing changes at WXPK (107.1 Briarcliff Manor): Mike Batiste moves from nights at "The Peak" to a new post as interactive new media director for owner Pamal Broadcasting. Caroline Corley takes over at night on WXPK (she'd been doing weekends there), while Kat Suda assumes Batiste's former promotions responsibilities.
It's not yet on the air, but Long Island's new WRMR (89.3 Lindenhurst) has been sold. JCM Radio of NY, Inc. is selling the unbuilt construction permit to Calvary Chapel of Hope for $57,000.
Here in Rochester, we're thinking Brother Wease is one happy man this week, now that he's going home to the very same studio he occupied as morning host on WCMF (96.5 Rochester). That's because Wease's new employer, Clear Channel Radio, is taking over the former CBS Radio studio space in the HSBC Building, a block away from the current Clear Channel studios at Midtown Plaza.
Clear Channel has to vacate Midtown within a few months, now that the city of Rochester is buying the failed shopping/office complex and demolishing it.
Meanwhile, across town at the Crawford Broadcasting stations, there's a call and format change coming today. Now that oldies/standards "Legends" WLGZ is firmly established on its new FM home, WLGZ-FM (102.7 Webster), Crawford is flipping WLGZ (990 Rochester) from a "Legends" simulcast (with breakaways for some leased-time programming) to full-time religion. The new calls on 990, WRCI, are the former calls from 102.7 - and the format is similar to the religious format formerly heard on 990 and 102.7 in their WDCZ days, a decade or so ago.
There's a new AM-on-FM translator in western New York: WCJW (1140 Warsaw) has turned on W279BO (103.7), operating with 110 watts from the AM transmitter site in the hills east of Warsaw. As with all such AM-on-FM translators, it's operating under Special Temporary Authority for now, though there's ample reason to believe the FCC will soon make such operation permanent.
*In western PENNSYLVANIA, it didn't take long for ESPN management to pull the plug on WEAE (1250 Pittsburgh) afternoon host Mark Madden, once the headlines about his controversial Ted Kennedy comments started spreading. Madden was off the air last Monday, and by Tuesday the word came down from Bristol that ESPN was exercising its "contractual rights" to remove Madden from the air. The move comes at perhaps the worst possible time for the station, what with the hometown Penguins in the Stanley Cup finals and all, and WEAE is trying to make the best of it with a rotating cast of fill-in hosts until a permanent replacement for the high-profile Madden can be named.
*One of Atlantic CANADA's oldest AM stations made an abrupt disappearance from the dial late last week, as CTV wasted no time moving CJCH (920 Halifax) to its new home on the FM band.
After less than a week of testing, CJCH-FM (101.3 Halifax) signed on for real Friday morning (May 30) at 10 AM, with none of the usual FM/AM transitional simulcasting that's common in Canadian FM-to-AM moves. Instead, the 25 kW AM signal went to a "move to FM" loop for a few hours, then went silent for good.
The new FM signal isn't picking up the AM station's oldies format, either. Instead, it's doing top 40 as "101.3 the Bounce." Out as part of the transition is 30-year station veteran Rick Howe, who'd hosted the "Hotline" talk show that was heard in middays on CJCH(AM).
Meanwhile, there's a station sale across the Halifax market, as Newcap pays C$8.5 million for half of Metro Radio Group, the parent company of CKUL (96.5). Newcap already owns CFRQ (104.3) in Halifax, as well as CFDR (780 Dartmouth), and therein lies an interesting issue: last year, Newcap won permission from the CRTC to move CFDR to the FM dial, with 21 kW on 88.9. But that permission was contingent on Newcap selling its half-interest in CKUL; otherwise, the company would run afoul of the CRTC rule limiting owners to two stations on each band in a market.
*It's the end of the line for NEW HAMPSHIRE's WMEX (106.5 Farmington); with the sale of the station to EMF Broadcasting, its current oldies format goes away at 10:00 this morning, to be replaced right away by satellite-fed "K-Love" contemporary Christian. Program director/morning man Gary James is taking WMEX out with a bang, filling the last weekend with deep-cut oldies and original PAMS jingles; the station also held a free "Last Dance" party for listeners on Saturday night. The new calls on 106.5 once K-Love takes over will be WKHL, an ID last heard down in Stamford, Connecticut on what's now WCTZ. (Useless trivia, NERW-style: that Stamford station was once WQQQ, a set of calls now in the hands of Dennis Jackson, who's selling WMEX to EMF.)
Ten Years Ago: June 3, 2003 -
The radio scene in western MASSACHUSETTS took another step toward consolidation late last week, when Vox Media, which bought WBEC (1420/105.5 Pittsfield) last year for $4.3 million, turned that pair into a cluster.
Vox will pay about $3 million to buy WUHN (1110) and WUPE (95.9) from Philip Weiner, who has owned a piece of the stations since 1977 and has owned them outright for the last 15 years.
The "Party"'s over on 890 in Boston; Mega pulled the plug on Air Time Media's LMA of WBPS (890 Dedham) last Thursday night (5/29) at 6, flipping the calls to WAMG and the format to Spanish tropical "Mega." Sound familiar? The calls and format move down from 1150 Boston, which Mega is selling to Salem. 1150 picks up the WBPS calls for now, as it continues to simulcast "Mega" until the sale closes - but expect yet another call change there soon, cementing 1150's hold on the "most callsigns in Boston radio history" title. (NERW counts nine different ones: WCOP, WACQ, WHUE, WSNY, WMEX, WROR, WNFT, WAMG and now WBPS!)
Plenty doing in CANADA this past week (after all, it wasn't a holiday there) - and most of the action was in the nation's capital, where CHUM Group pulled the plug on CHR "Kool 93-dot-9" CKKL (93.9 Ottawa) at 9:39 AM on Friday. In its place, starting at noon, is "Bob," a classic hits/hot AC mix that describes itself as "80s, 90s and Whatever," with a format and nickname borrowed from CHUM's CFWM (99.9) out in Winnipeg. The station is running jockless for a week, but most of the Kool airstaff is expected to be back when the station goes live again later in June.
In NEW YORK, the Metropolitan TV Association (MTVA) has signed a deal to locate all of the city's major TV transmitters on the new skyscraper that will rise on the World Trade Center site. The pact will put 11 analog and 11 digital signals on the air from the new tower - both the stations that were on WTC (2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 31 and 47) and two that never were (41 and 68) - thus easing the load on the Empire State Building once the new site is ready. The target date is 2008, but this is New York, after all... (2008 update: This is New York, after all...and construction is just getting underway on the Freedom Tower.) (2013 update: The "Freedom Tower" is now once again "1 World Trade Center," and construction is only now nearing an end; the 1776-foot spire was just topped off a few weeks back, and no firm deals are currently in place to put TV or FM there.)
Fifteen Years Ago: June 4, 1998 -
The tornadoes that ripped across upstate NEW YORK on Sunday claimed two broadcast towers in Binghamton. The 500-foot guyed tower of WIVT-TV (Channel 34) came down in the storm while the ABC affiliate's two master-control operators hid under the board for safety. When they came out, they found the station's studio/transmitter facility in shambles (it was later condemned), and their cars in the parking lot destroyed. WIVT has not been on the air since the tower fell, as best NERW can determine.
Just up Ingraham Hill Road, one of the self-supporting towers of WNBF (1290) was toppled as well. WNBF is operating on the rest of its night array under special temporary authority.
Elsewhere in the region, the storm silenced several Rochester and Albany area stations briefly, including WDCZ (990) in Rochester and WPYX (106.5), among others, in Albany.
The long saga of New Haven's WNHC (1340) is over for now, and the Yale Broadcasting Company's WYBC (94.3) is the winner. On Wednesday, YBC and Buckley Broadcasting, the owner of WDRC in Hartford, faced off in federal bankruptcy court over WNHC's assets. When it was all over, YBC raised its initial bid by more than $100,000, to pay $775,000 for the 1000-watt station. The bankruptcy judge ordered WNHC owner Edie Rozier to sign the station's current urban fornat off the air, which she did at 10:20 Thursday morning, saying closing the station was "like losing two families" - one at the station, and the other in New Haven's black community. WYBC isn't saying much about its plans for 1340, except that when it returns to the air, it will be from YBC's 165 Elm Street facility instead of WNHC's old Whalley Street studios. We'll keep you posted as YBC gets its AM facility up and running.
We'll start the rest of this week's news in VERMONT, as Bruce James begins making changes at his new Northeast Kingdom properties. WNKV (105.5 St. Johnsbury) has a new hot-country identity as "Kix 105.5," with the WKXH calls expected to arrive soon. Brendan Lynch is the new morning-drive personality at "Kix," as well as handling PD duties there and at sister stations WSTJ (1340 St. Johnsbury) and WMTK (106.3 Littleton NH). WMTK is now calling itself "the Notch," with morning-driver Chris Keach moving to afternoons and Mike Edwards taking mornings. Mike McCoy moves from weekends at James' WGMT (97.7 Lyndonville) to mornings at WSTJ, and Tom Field is now news director for all the stations.