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In this week's issue: Montreal TVs seek language swap - Decision time for Toronto's 88.1 - "Eagle" lands in Watertown - Santella retires from WBFO - Football on the Radio

*Even as voters in Quebec were giving their nod to the separatist party that wants to pull the province free of English-speaking CANADA, complete with a platform calling for control of broadcasting in Quebec to shift from the CRTC to the provincial level. one Montreal TV broadcaster is asking the CRTC for permission to switch from multilingual television to full-time English-language programming.

When Rogers announced back in May that it planned to buy CJNT (Channel 62, aka "Metro 14") from Channel Zero, the big national broadcaster was clear about its intent to make CJNT the Quebec home for its CityTV service, which currently has a not-quite-national reach stretching from Vancouver to Ontario but no further east. Even before the sale went through, Rogers struck an affiliation deal with Channel Zero to begin branding CJNT as "CityTV" and to carry some of City's programming - but it was stymied by the longstanding restriction on the CJNT license designating it as a multicultural station, with 75% of its prime-time programming required to be in languages other than English or French. Rogers is supplying some of that programming, too, from its Toronto-based "OMNI" multicultural network.

At a hearing on November 7, the CRTC will consider Rogers' request to approve its C$10.3 million purchase of CJNT and to relicense the station as an English-language CityTV outlet. At the same time, the CRTC will also hear a related application from a new group called "ici" (International Channel/Canal International) for a new TV station in Montreal that would be fully multicultural, providing shows in 15 languages aimed at 18 ethnic groups. The new signal would operate on channel 47, with 5.5 kW max DA (2,7 kW average)/196 meters, and it would share a common master control and a news staff with CJNT, though its sales staff would operate autonomously. Rogers says it will provide 10% of the value of the CJNT purchase to ici over five years to help launch the new station, and it tells the CRTC it will make its OMNI programming available to ici, "should ici decide to acquire it."

*Before the CRTC can get to the Rogers/CJNT application, it will sit down beginning today to wrestle with another contentious issue involving Quebec broadcasting and language. Bell's acquisition of Astral, Quebec's dominant radio group, was already a big deal even before Bell proposed converting its existing Montreal station, CKGM (newly moved from 990 to 690), from English to French in order to remain below the ownership cap once it adds the Astral stations.

Set against the backdrop of Quebec's latest political turmoil and the sense of many Anglophones in Quebec that they're being marginalized, the planned transition from English "TSN Radio" to French "Radio RDS" drew so much public input that the CRTC put an unprecedented special link on the front page of its website to direct listeners to information about intervening in the hearing.

If Quebec's winning political party had its way, of course, the CRTC wouldn't be holding that hearing: the Parti Quebecois platform included a proposal to bring control of radio and television under the Quebec government instead of the federal government. It's unlikely the proposal will go anywhere now that the PQ failed to win a majority in Quebec's National Assembly (it will instead lead a minority government), but we haven't heard the last of the idea, either.

As for CKGM, "TSN Radio 690" made its debut Tuesday morning, which brings us to a correction: the 50-kilowatt signal comes from the former CKGM 990 site at Mercier, which explains why 990 was on and off the air in the days leading up to 690's debut; the former CINF 690 site at Kahnawahke will be used by the new Tietolman-Tetreault-Pancholy stations at 600 and 940, but not by CKGM on 690. (The Mercier site, meanwhile, will remain active on 990 - first with a CKGM simulcast for up to 90 days, and then by Evanov's new "Radio Fierte" when it launches in 2013.)

*The other major English-language commercial station in Montreal was also in the news last week. Cogeco's CKBE (92.5 the Beat) applied to boost its power from 44 kW to 100 kW after RF radiation limitations at the Mont-Royal community transmitter site were loosened, but its application came at the same time as Evanov (filing as Dufferin Communications) asked the CRTC for a 300-watt community station on 92.5 in Clarence-Rockland, Ontario, east of Ottawa at the fringe of the Montreal signal. The CRTC says the two applications are mutually exclusive, and has now designated both of them for hearings.

In the Quebec City market, it's the end of the line for CIMI (103.7 Charlesbourg); the community station has been silent since 2008 amidst financial and management struggles, and while it came to the CRTC with a plan to get back on the air, the agency says it's " deeply dissatisfied with the licensee’s future plans" and unsatisfied with CIMI's past record of non-compliance. As a result, it's denying CIMI's application for a license renewal.

*And just when it appeared the CRTC was about as busy as it could get, this week will also bring a decision on the hotly contested battle for a new 88.1 in Toronto, replacing the defunct CKLN. Back in March, we reported on the 22 applicants seeking that last powerful spot on the Toronto FM dial, and by next week's issue, we'll know who gets the nod. (We'll have updates, of course, on our Twitter and Facebook feeds.)

*Just across the border in northern NEW YORK, there are two format flips to tell you about, including one that has more of an effect on Canada than the U.S.

That's Border International Broadcasting's WLYK (102.7 Cape Vincent), which transmits from U.S. soil but aims its programming and sales across the river at Kingston, Ontario. As of Friday night, "The Lake" has segued from oldies to AC as "102.7 Light Hits, the Lake."

A former Watertown-market sister station of WLYK has also flipped, and more dramatically: as of Tuesday, WEFX (100.7 Henderson) has ditched classic rock ("100.7 the Fox") in favor of country as "100.7 the Eagle." It's one of two country signals in Community Broadcasters' portfolio; the other is "Wolf" WLFK (95.3 Gouverneur), up north of Watertown.

*When Jim Santella retires from the Buffalo airwaves after his December 1 blues show on WBFO (88.7), it will be the end of a magnificent era in Buffalo FM history that began in 1969 at the pioneering freeform station in town, WYSL-FM (103.3). After walking off the air in 1972 in a conflict over the station's playlist, Santella went on to work at WWOL (1120/104.1) before returning to 103.3, by then WPHD, then moving on to WGRQ (97 Rock), WZIR (98.5) and WUWU (107.7) before shifting from rock to blues and joining WBFO in 1997.

Santella

Santella was inducted into the Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2005, and he was at the center of efforts to keep blues on the WBFO schedule when the station was sold to rival public broadcaster WNED last year. WBFO says the Saturday blues show, which moved from afternoons to evenings when WNED took over, will continue with a new host after Santella departs - and Santella says his next steps will include writing his autobiography.

There's a format segue in the Albany market: after teasing the Internet domain detectives with registrations suggesting a swap of 90s-hits "Crush" WQSH (105.7) and its HD2/translator hip-hop sister, "Hot 99.1," Townsquare left "Hot" right where it was, but flipped "Crush" in a new direction. At 5 o'clock on Friday afternoon, "Crush" became "Pop Crush," playing straight-ahead top-40 up against Clear Channel's WKKF (Kiss 102.3) and Albany Broadcasting's WFLY (92.3).

TV People on the Move in Syracuse: on the heels of Jackie Robinson's emotional 90-minute farewell from WSTM (Channel 3) Tuesday night came word that reporter Keith Kobland was much more quietly departing from WSYR-TV (Channel 9), where he'd spent the last three years on the heels of two decades reporting for WTVH (Channel 5). Kobland's new job is as a media manager at Syracuse University.

Radio People on the Move: after more than a decade doing media relations at his grad-school alma mater, the Rochester Institute of Technology, Mike Saffran has moved down to SUNY Geneseo, his undergraduate alma mater. Saffran, who worked in Rochester radio at WKLX ,WBBF-FM and WRMM, is Geneseo's new lecturer in communication and faculty director of WGSU (89.3 Geneseo).

The WPXY/WKGS tower

Radio Towers on the Move: Clear Channel's top-40 WKGS (106.7 Irondequoit) has a slightly new nickname - "Kiss 106.7" instead of "106.7 Kiss FM" - and a new transmitter site. The class A signal has completed its relocation from the Seneca Towers apartment building on the north side of the city to the centrally-located Pinnacle Hill tower farm, boosting power a bit from 3.5 kW/266' to 4.4 kW DA/328''. The move, which was made possible when Clear Channel moved what's now WSYR-FM (106.9) closer to Syracuse two years ago, puts Kiss on the very same tower as its archrival, Entercom's WPXY-FM (97.9).

*A quick bit of Football on the Radio: two of the region's NFL teams have new flagships this year, both in the Empire State - the Bills got off to a 0-and-whatever start on their new Entercom home, WGR (550), replacing Townsquare's WGRF (97 Rock), while the Jets remain with New York City's ESPN outlet but migrate from AM to the new WEPN-FM (98.7). Jets football remains on WEPN (1050), too, albeit en espanol after Friday's launch of ESPN Deportes on the AM signal. (The 1050/98.7 simulcast ended at midnight on Wednesday into Thursday, followed by 38 hours of a repeating loop directing English-speaking listeners up the dial to 98.7 and promoting Friday's Deportes launch at 2 PM.) In Philadelphia, the Eagles are in Spanish this year on WTTM (1680 Lindenwold NJ), and everyone else stays right where they were last season - the Patriots on WBZ-FM (Sports Hub 98.5) with Scott Zolak replacing Gino Cappelletti as color analyst; the Giants on WFAN (660); the Eagles on WIP (94.1/610) and the Steelers on WDVE (102.5)/WBGG (970). (And check out our partner site, RadioInsight, for the full national list of flagships...)

*MAINE's "W-Bach" network is splintering. Under Nassau Communications, the "W-Bach" stations held out for many years even as commercial classical stations around the country were falling like flies, but Nassau's bankruptcy sent the three remaining Nassau stations into new hands, setting in motion format changes that will begin as early as this week.

The southern link in the network, WBQW (104.7 Kennebunkport), was the lone Nassau station to go to a new company called Mainestream Media, which takes over Thursday afternoon at 5. There's been no official announcement of a new format for the Portland-rimshot signal, but Mainestream's programmers came from the old rhythmic top-40 WRED (95.9 Saco, now WPEI), and it's widely believed that 104.7 will be flipping to a rhythmic top-40 format.

Down the coast to the northeast, WBQX (106.9 Thomaston) and WBQI (107.7 Bar Harbor) were part of the mass sale of Nassau assets toNEW HAMPSHIREpolitician-broadcaster Bill Binnie, but Binnie is already shedding one of those signals: Blueberry Broadcasting is reportedly paying $100,000 for WBQI, and it has already applied for new calls of WBKA for that signal when it takes over. That, in turn, will leave midcoast WBQX as the last "W-Bach" standing, and at least for now, Binnie says he intends to keep the classical format in place.

*In MASSACHUSETTS, Jack Nash has died. Born John Naszcyniek Jr., Nash was a jock on stations such as WMLO (1570 Beverly), and had more recently been doing sales for WCAP (980 Lowell). He died last Wednesday at his home in Lowell, at age 59.

*Central PENNSYLVANIA is losing an ace engineer: Sam Michaels grew up in the Harrisburg area, got his start at stations including WHYL (960 Carlisle), and went on to join the engineering team at Cumulus in Harrisburg and York. Most recently, Sam's been chief engineer at the York cluster (WSBA/WGLD/WARM-FM) - but now he's heading south to become an engineer at Cumulus' big Dallas/Fort Worth cluster, which includes big gun WBAP (820). Sam was also one of the founders of the original Radio-Info.com, and we wish him well on his new assignment!

*Just over the state line, Pennsylvania-based Keymarket is swapping frequencies in the Wheeling, WEST VIRGINIA market: country "Big FM" WBGI-FM (96.5 Moundsville WV) is sending its calls and format up the dial to the bigger signal that's now "Jack FM" WYJK-FM (100.5 Bellaire OH) last night, with "Jack" moving to the lesser 96.5 signal.

*You can be one of the first readers to own the 2013 Tower Site Calendar!

This is the 12th edition of our annual calendar, which features photos of broadcast towers taken by Scott Fybush on his travels.

The 12-month wall calendar boasts a full-color photo each month of a well-known broadcast transmitter site.

This year’s edition includes sites in Florida, Wisconsin, Kentucky, California, Iowa, Idaho, Las Vegas, Colorado, Boston, Cleveland, Albuquerque, upstate New York and western Massachusetts. We've also redesigned the calendar to make it more colorful (don't worry; the pictures are still pristine) and make the spiral binding our standard binding -- your calendar will hang even better on your wall now! And of course, we still have the convenient hole for hanging.

Order 20 or more for a 10% discount! And while you're at the Fybush.com store, check out the new National Radio Club AM Log and the final stash of FM Atlas editions.

For more information and to order yours, click here!

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: September 12, 2011 -

*From the moment sports talk began spreading to FM a few years back, the rumor mill in MASSACHUSETTS has been churning: when will Entercom migrate WEEI, one of the nation's most consistently successful sports outlets, from 850 on the Boston AM dial to a new home somewhere on FM?

It didn't happen five years ago, when Entercom added another FM signal (now WKAF 97.7) to its Boston cluster. It didn't happen two summers ago, when CBS upped the Boston sports ante by launching its own FM sports entry, "Sports Hub" WBZ-FM (98.5). It didn't happen later that fall, when the collapse of "ESPN Boston" WAMG (890) made the ESPN Radio affiliation available, nor did it happen a year later, when another rumor made the rounds about Entercom buying WFNX (101.7) as part of a deal that would have shifted WEEI to FM.

But at 6:00 this morning, it's happening. As we learned Wednesday evening (and officially on Thursday morning) Entercom is pulling the plug on adult hits "Mike" (WMKK 93.7 Lawrence) today and flipping that FM signal to sports as WEEI-FM. At least for now, WEEI will simulcast on 93.7 and its existing AM 850 spot; around the region, Entercom will shuffle callsigns to make the WEEI-FM move possible, turning the current WEEI-FM (103.7 Westerly RI) into WVEI-FM and the current WVEI-FM (105.5 Easthampton/Springfield) into WWEI.

*Boston's oldest radio station has a big birthday coming up. September 19 marks the 90th anniversary of WBZ's first broadcast in 1921 (it came from the Big E in Springfield, where the station was then located), and the anniversary isn't going unnoticed. Tune in to the Steve LeVeille Broadcast early next Monday morning (September 19, or late night Sunday the 18th, if you prefer) as your editor joins Steve to talk radio history and the future of the medium - and call in to say hello, too! The Broadcast begins at midnight and I'll be on with Steve for at least the first hour or two.

*The week's other massive story, of course, was the monumental flooding that devastated parts of central PENNSYLVANIA and NEW YORK's Southern Tier. For radio and TV stations in the region, the flooding provided an opportunity to demonstrate, in a dramatic way, the importance of broadcasting in keeping the public safe and informed, even as the floodwaters threatened broadcast facilities all along the Susquehanna River and its tributaries.

Several stations in low-lying areas were forced out of their studios as the waters rose: in Owego, west of Binghamton along the banks of the Susquehanna, the storefront studio of WEBO (1330) was inundated - but owner Dave Radigan and his staff quickly regrouped, turning a borrowed RV parked at the transmitter site just south of the river into a makeshift studio running on generator power and providing about the only source of constant information about road closures and power and water outages for hard-hit Tioga County.

South of the state line, some of the worst damage from the flooding was in downtown Wilkes-Barre, where Nexstar's WBRE-TV (Channel 28) was forced to evacuate its studios on Thursday. In good cooperative fashion, Fox affiliate WOLF-TV (Channel 56) offered the use of its studios, and within hours WBRE was back on the air with nonstop flood coverage from the WOLF facility, bumping the NBC coverage of the start of the NFL season over to My Network outlet WQMY (Channel 53).

Outlying parts of the market depended on radio for local information, and stations such as WHLM in Bloomsburg and WKOK in Sunbury rose to the occasion with wall-to-wall coverage, as did stations in the Harrisburg market to the south, where most studios and transmitter sites are more safely elevated out of harm's way.

Perhaps the most unexpected consequence of the flooding was the outage it caused in the fiber connectiom between Newport Television's Syracuse master control hub and its Elmira NBC affiliate, WETM (Channel 18). That fiber feed was the only way WETM could get NBC programming, or to send its newscasts to Binghamton sister station WIVT (Channel 34), which simulcasts WETM in the morning and at noon, and Newport engineers scrambled to get a temporary replacement in place, eventually using an internet connection to feed standard-definition video from the hub to Elmira.

*Another big piece of news from the Keystone State came from the Cumulus cluster in York, where WARM-FM (103.3) abruptly dropped its long-running adult contemporary format on Wednesday, flipping to hot AC as "Wink 103."

That's a nickname and format already heard in the region on another Cumulus station, WNNK-FM (104.1 Harrisburg). The new "Wink 103" follows closely in the mold of "Wink 104," simulcasting its morning show and the syndicated Billy Bush at night and closely paralleling the Harrisburg playlist the rest of the day, albeit with York/Lancaster-focused jocks and news.

Why duplicate "Wink" so close to Harrisburg? While the two signals have plenty of overlapping coverage, and while York and Harrisburg are part of a common television market, the two cities make up separate radio markets, and Cumulus seems to believe it can appeal to a new audience with a York-Lancaster "Wink" that might not be listening to its Harrisburg sister.

Cumulus' Harrisburg cluster was in the news for something else last week, too: the Justice Department filed suit to stop Cumulus from acquiring Citadel, but quickly reached a settlement allowing the deal to move forward. Under the agreement, which keeps the companies under the 40% radio revenue cap the antitrust division sought to enforce, Cumulus will still sell the two signals it had planned to spin off, the class A facilities of WWKL 92.1 Palmyra and WCAT-FM 102.3 Carlisle. But to satisfy the antitrust enforcers, Cumulus also agreed to unload the intellectual property of its classic rock WTPA, now on Mechanicsburg-licensed 93.5. So WTPA will move to 92.1 to be spun off fairly quickly along with 102.3, leaving Cumulus with the rhythmic top 40 "Hot" format (now on 92.1) on the 93.5 signal it's keeping.

*Radio One completed its format swap in Philadelphia last week: with adult R&B WRNB now installed on the cluster's biggest signal, the Media-licensed class B facility at 100.3, the former home of WRNB has picked up the hip-hop format that used to be on 100.3. WPHI-FM is now at 107.9, the Pennsauken, N.J.-licensed class A signal that transmits from the One Liberty skyscraper in Center City Philadelphia, and as of Friday it's now "Hot 107.9," with Sarah O'Conner as PD and the syndicated Ricky Smiley show in morning drive.

*In Pittsburgh, Essential Public Media has picked "WESA" as the new callsign to replace WDUQ on 90.5 once the transfer of the station's license from Duquesne University is complete. The WESA calls have some history just south of Pittsburgh in Charleroi, where they lived on 940 (now WFGI) and 98.3 (now WPKV).

*In addition to its big FM move in Boston, WEEI made another expansion to its radio network last week in MAINE, where Atlantic Coast Radio's WLOB-FM (95.5 Topsham) returned to the WEEI network after spending the last few years simulcasting talker WLOB (1310 Portland). Atlantic Coast was already carrying the WEEI network to the south of Portland on WPEI (95.9 Saco); 95.5 changes calls to WPPI as it rejoins the network after just over two years. (95.5 used the calls WGEI in its last turn as a WEEI affiliate in 2008-2009.)

*Over on the AM dial, our Labor Day update already brought you the news of Cogeco's decision not to wait for the CRTC to decide whether it can relaunch the old CINF (690) as a French-language all-traffic station.

With the powerful lure of $1.5 million a year in provincial transportation ministry funding dangling in front of it, Cogeco pulled the plug on French-language sports CKAC (730) last Tuesday, replacing it with traffic as "Radio Circulation" and moving some of CKAC's sports hosts to talker CHMP (98.5), now the only commercial mainstream spoken-word signal broadcasting in French in Montreal.

With Cogeco's application for 690 now withdrawn, the CRTC is moving forward on a planned October 17 hearing to decide who will get the 50,000-watt clear-channel signal. The remaining applicants are Toronto-based Evanov, which wants to use the channel for a French-language version of its "Pride Radio" gay-and-lesbian programming; the Tietolman-Tetreault partnership, which wants to do French news and talk (the Tietolman family founded the old CKVL 850, once a dominant bilingual voice in Montreal); and Bell, which wants to move English-language sports talk "Team 990" CKGM down the dial to 690 to better reach its target audience on Montreal's West Island.

The CRTC will also consider applications for 940 (the former CINW) at the October hearing: those include Tietolman and Tetrault, for English-language news-talk, and Cogeco, which is pushing hard to make 940 an English-language traffic station (and thus to reap an additional $1.5 million a year in provincial subsidies.)

Five Years Ago: September 10, 2007 -

**Some sad news from MASSACHUSETTS just as we go to press early this Monday morning: Paul Sullivan, the former WBZ (1030) evening talk host, lost his battle with brain cancer Sunday night.

Sullivan's fight took a turn for the worse last week, when WBZ released a statement from his family saying that Sullivan was taken off medical treatment and was receiving hospice care at Saints Memorial Medical Center in Lowell.

"Paul is surrounded by his family and friends and would like everyone to know how important all the thoughts and prayers have been to him," said the statement.

That was Thursday, and now comes the word that Sullivan died with his beloved family by his side on Sunday evening, just ten weeks after he said farewell to his listeners in an emotional final show from the WBZ studios June 28.

Sullivan, 50, was a true Bay State original, a newspaper guy who came late to the radio medium, adding WLLH (1400 Lowell) to his career at the Lowell Sun in the late eighties. Sullivan began filling in for the late David Brudnoy on WBZ in the late nineties, and took over the evening shift after Brudnoy's death in 2004, replacing Brudnoy's nightly academic seminars with an earthier (and distinctively Merrimack Valley-accented) approach to talk radio.

It wasn't long afterward that Sullivan's brain cancer was diagnosed, and once again the WBZ family is mourning a good friend and talented broadcaster, lost far too young.

We here at NERW send our sympathies to Sullivan's family and his colleagues. We'll update this week's column with any information about memorial services and special WBZ programming as it becomes available. (As we write this early Monday morning, Dan Pierce is on the air filling in for Steve LeVeille, and he's talking about other topics.)

*As the soap opera that is the rest of Boston talk radio rolls on, Entercom Boston has averted one crisis, even as it's knee-deep in legal action over another.

First, the success: over the weekend, Entercom's WEEI sports network came to terms with morning talkers John Dennis and Gerry Callahan, clearing the way for them to return to the air from a month-long lockout as early as this morning, and with a five-year contract that will keep them in place at WEEI for a while to come.

We'll defer to David Scott's Scott's Shots column over at Boston Sports Media Watch for all the details on the negotiations, which he says went all the way up to Entercom CEO David Field and lasted well into the weekend. But we'll also note that Dennis and Callahan ended up in a much weaker negotiating position when their "Plan B" - a possible Nassau-run sports network hubbed at WCRB - suddenly turned into a Nassau/Entercom joint venture to put WEEI content on many Nassau stations in New England. We'd also note that WEEI was struggling to find adequate replacements for its morning team, just at a point where the station is heading into a critical programming season, what with the Patriots season underway and the Red Sox deep in the last weeks of a tight race to the playoffs.

But even if Field (and local honchos Julie Kahn and Jason Wolfe) can now relax a bit about their lineup on WEEI, the picture remains cloudy just down the hall at WRKO (680 Boston), where there's just over a week remaining until the end of Howie Carr's contract and plenty of legal action afoot to figure out where the Herald columnist and syndicated afternoon talker will land.

The rumor mill on Carr's attempt to jump to rival talker WTKK (96.9 Boston) went eerily quiet just before Labor Day, right after a couple of columns (carefully planted, perhaps, by WRKO's master PR practitioner, George Regan?) noted that Carr stood to make as much as $7 million from WTKK. And since then...radio silence, as it were, except on Carr's own show, where he's not discussing the contract issue at all.

So will Carr show up on WTKK's morning drive in a few weeks? Stay tuned...

*Elsewhere on the FM dial, WXKS-FM (107.9 Medford) said farewell to its longtime home at 99 Revere Beach Parkway. Boston Radio Watch reports that "Kiss 108" signed on from its new digs across the street at 10 Cabot Road, shared with sister station WJMN (94.5 Boston), on Monday, August 27. WXKS (1430 Everett) will move its studios over to the new facility soon as well - but not with PD and morning man Raffy Contigo, who's moved on to Houston's KLOL (101.1). Afternoon jock Jose Miguel Espinal takes the PD chair at "Mega 1200/1430," reports BRW.

*We knew the newly-freed Buddy Cianci was returning to the RHODE ISLAND airwaves on Citadel's WPRO (630 Providence) - but we didn't know, until now, how many changes Cianci's return would bring to the schedule, not only at WPRO but across town at Clear Channel's WHJJ (920 Providence).

Clear Channel, which syndicates Rush Limbaugh through its Premiere Radio Networks division, is bringing the Rush show in-house in Providence, moving him from WPRO to the noon-3 slot on WHJJ, effective next Monday. It's still not clear whether Limbaugh's move to WHJJ means the end of the local Helen Glover show, which has been occupying that slot as WHJJ's only local entry - but it is clear that some big shuffles are in the works on the WPRO lineup.

Mornings on WPRO will be the province of John DePetro, who'll yield his mid-morning slot to Cianci and former morning man Ron St. Pierre. They'll be on the air from 10 AM until 2 PM, followed by an expanded Dan Yorke show from 2-6.

Can the local Cianci/St. Pierre show outdraw the syndicated Rush in the famously self-absorbed Providence market? We'd take that bet...

*It was a busy couple of weeks in PENNSYLVANIA, and especially in Philadelphia, where a closely-watched experiment to see if modern rock could work with HD Radio on a flea-powered AM signal has ended in - well, c'mon, what did you really expect it to do in eight months?

Tom Kelly's Marconi Radio will continue its "Skin Radio" format online, but the terrestrial signal of WHAT (1340 Philadelphia) flipped on Aug. 31 to "Martini Lounge Radio," a standards format. (We hear the digital signal's been turned off there, too.)

*Just over the state line in NEW YORK, the FCC is opening the promised special application window for a new signal on 1700 in Rockland County.

The window will run from Oct. 1-5, and it opens at the behest of WRCR (1300 Spring Valley), which has been struggling for years with a night signal that doesn't cover most of the fast-growing parts of the county. WRCR lobbied successfully on the public-safety angle, arguing that Rockland County residents in the evacuation zone of the Indian Point nuclear plant lacked a local source for emergency information.

Any applicant for the new 1700 facility must show that it will cover (with a 2 mV/m day signal and an interference-free night signal) at least 50% of the Indian Point evacuation district in Rockland County - but that still offers enough leeway to create a persuasive rimshot day signal into New York City, 30 miles or so to the south.

Who will apply in addition to WRCR? And what will happen when the competing applications go to auction? We'll be watching. (Five years later, there's been no action taken at all, in keeping with what appears to be an informal FCC policy of ignoring the expanded AM band in hopes that it will soon go away.)

Ten Years Ago: September 10, 2002 -

In MASSACHUSETTS, Costa-Eagle made the swaps on its Merrimack Valley AMs last weekend. The English-language talk that had been on WCCM (800 Lawrence) moved to the former WHAV (1490 Haverhill), with WHAV changing calls to WCCM. (What happens to listeners in Lowell who tuned into WCCM for Spinners baseball and other programming? They can't hear 1490 there -- in fact, it doesn't even serve Lawrence well -- and it's likely the Spinners will change stations next year.)
WHAV's "Radio Impacto" Spanish-language news-talk moves down the dial to daytimer WNNW (1110 Salem NH), which changes calls to WCEC ("Costa Eagle Communications"), while WNNW's Spanish tropical format and call letters move to Lawrence and the AM 800 signal.

A big change in the Boston TV market, even if the station in question is across the line in New Hampshire: NBC is buying WPXB (Channel 60) in Merrimack, N.H. from Lowell Paxson for a reported $26 million. The station, which now carries ShopNBC, will switch to NBC-owned Telemundo eventually, joining WTMU-LP (Channel 32) in Boston with the network feed. (Paxson's son Devon owns WWDP, channel 46 in Norwell, which had been carrying Telemundo until switching to home shopping earlier this year.)

A surprise station sale in CONNECTICUT, as John Fuller adds WKCD (107.7 Pawcatuck) to his WBMW (106.5 Ledyard) and WJJF (1180 Hope Valley RI) in the Groton-New London area; no word on how much Fuller is paying to buy the CHR station from AAA Entertainment.

Just across from Buffalo, there's some noise being stirred up in CANADA over the new format at CKEY-FM (101.1 Fort Erie). "Wild 101," programmed in Buffalo at Citadel, made its debut last Friday afternoon -- and quickly drew complaints about its playing of unedited rap songs. The CRTC (and presumably the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council) are investigating; meantime, Wild is reaping a publicity bonanza in Buffalo.

We were in Niagara Falls last Friday morning to hear travelers information CFLZ (105.1) move its programming down the dial to CJRN (710), while CFLZ became the new home of the modern AC "River" format that had been on 101.1. As "105.1 the River," CFLZ is running stereo for the first time, albeit with a signal that doesn't really go south into Buffalo; the travelers information on 710 now reaches most of western New York and southern Ontario, meanwhile!

Fifteen Years Ago: September 11, 1997 -

This week's news begins in NEW YORK, where a small Hudson Valley radio station burned to the ground early Wednesday morning. The fire at WVIP (1310) in Mount Kisco began sometime before 1:30 in the morning, but was not reported immediately because nobody was at the daytime-only station. It took firefighters more than three hours to put out the flames, and by then WVIP's famous round studio building was a total loss. WVIP's 82 year old founder, Martin Stone, was taken to a local hospital for observation for high blood pressure after watching the station burn down.

Amazingly, WVIP was back on the air later Wednesday morning, operating from makeshift studios in the nearby transmitter building. It's a tribute to the local broadcasting community that engineers and managers from other local stations have been pitching in almost nonstop since the fire to help get WVIP back on the its feet with a temporary studio and automation system. We'll keep you posted over the next few weeks as WVIP recovers. Next month marks the 40th anniversary of this pioneering suburban station.

Up to NEW HAMPSHIRE, where Manchester listeners have a new station to add to their dials. WLMW (90.7) made its debut this week after years as a construction permit. The station is calling itself "Manchester's new family radio station," and it's programming Donald Wildmon's Mississippi-based American Family Radio network. Even though it's just 15 watts, WLMW broadcasts from high up on Mt. Uncanoonuc in Goffstown, the same site as Manchester's other FMs, and it's been heard almost as far south as Nashua.

There's yet another new format at little WVAY (100.7) in Wilmington, VERMONT. Another proposed sale of the station has fallen through, and so WVAY has dropped its simulcast of WSSH (101.5 Marlboro) and is back to doing its own programming, with jocks Debra Lee, Todd Phillips, and Joel Garofalo back behind the mike as of last Wednesday. WVAY is also reportedly back on its old 99.7 translator in Marlboro, W259AB. This was one of the translators that allegedly was under the control of Brian Dodge.

And just hours after we wrote that Philadelphia's WFLN (95.7) was still classical, Greater Media proved us wrong. Last Friday at 6 pm, 48 years of classics came to a close, replaced by Sheryl Crow and the modern AC sounds of WXXM, "the Max." The end of classical on WFLN was probably inevitable; the station had changed hands several times in the last year, each time for a bit more money, increasing the debt load on each successive owner. NERW is very sorry to see WFLN go; your editors visited the station back in 1994, and found the people who worked there to be among the friendliest and most professional radio folks anywhere. WFLN was a cultural institution in Philadelphia, and while Temple University's WRTI (90.1) and its relays are stepping to the plate by adding classical music, that will in turn dilute WRTI's legacy as the jazz station in Philadelphia.