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February 6-13, 2003

Hamilton! (and beyond): Cincinnati, Part II

We've spent the last few weeks showing you pictures taken during a November 1998 visit to Cincinnati - but we didn't see everything that time, and we've been lucky enough in the years since to have a few more excuses to visit the Queen City, most recently in February 2002.

Alas, the skies were just as gray that time as during every other visit we've made to Porkopolis, but that never stops us from checking out the broadcast scene, does it?

We'll start with a bit of downtown Cincinnati: Crosley Square, the majestic building at Ninth and Elm Streets that was home to Powel Crosley's WLW (700) and WLWT (Channel 5) from 1942 (when he bought the former Elks Temple and converted it into studios for WLW and WSAI radio) until June, 1999 (when WLWT - the radio stations had long since been sold off - finally moved out).

Today, the old building downtown is a school, if I remember right; the folks at WLWT, now owned by Hearst-Argyle, do their thing from a big new building overlooking downtown at 1700 Young Street, in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood just a few blocks from WKRC-TV (Channel 12).

And with the exception of a few studio buildings (the big concrete pile on Central Ave. that's home to WCPO-TV, channel 9, and the big brick pile on Central Parkway that's home to public TV WCET, channel 48, and public radio WGUC, 90.9) and one missing AM transmitter site (WCIN 1480, which lost its old site north of downtown a few years back and is apparently operating under special temporary authority from a site near the Ronald Reagan Cross-County Parkway, where the FCC just nailed it with a $5000 fine for using more power than the STA is supposed to allow), we're done with Cincinnati - but not with the surrounding area.

Just north of Cincinnati is Hamilton, a pleasant enough suburb that's home to a nice little AM station, WMOH (1450). When we tuned in, WMOH was the archetypal full-service community AM, operating from that nice little brick building in front of the tower on Fairgrove Avenue.

It's in the process of being sold to the Vernon Baldwin Stations, though, which likely means the local programming will give way to leased-time religion sooner or later, leaving Butler County without a local radio voice, and more's the pity.

(Hamilton had an identity crisis a few years back, when the local civic leaders there were too many "Hamilton"s around the country without enough to distinguish the Ohio version. Their solution? Change the city's name to "Hamilton!", exclamation point and all. They appear to have gotten over the exuberance by now...)

Head north of Hamilton on Route 4 and you come to a neat grocery store called "Jungle Jim's," which appears to be an Ohio analog of Connecticut's famed "Stew Leonard's." Lots of gourmet food to eat - but the true tower buff will be more interested in the parking lot, which offers a superb view of WCNW, AM 1560 in Fairfield. WCNW signed on in 1964 under the calls WFOL, and broadcast a country format before switching to religion in 1979 or thereabouts.

WCNW's five towers send out 5000 watts - daytime only - of paid religion; this is one of the Vernon Baldwin stations mentioned above, along with Cincinnati rimshotter WNLT 104.3.

A more interesting mix of programming can be found up in Middletown, halfway between Cincinnati and Dayton.

That's where we find WPFB, 910 AM and 105.9 FM, operating from a big piece of land tucked into a residential subdivision off Central Avenue in Middletown.

The AM side is a former daytimer, running 1000 watts by day and just 100 watts at night from a folded dipole strung up along the tower; the FM side is a full class B that puts a respectable signal over both Dayton and Cincinnati and has long tried to compete in both, having been the region's first all-country station way back when.

Of late, WPFB-FM ("The Rebel") has been aiming its country sounds more towards Dayton, it seems, perhaps because Cincinnati already has two big and fairly successful country stations. The AM side did standards, and was completely satellite-delivered when we listened. (It has apparently since flipped to talk, still 100% off the bird...)

And with a look at WPFB's nice little studio building, we'll leave southwestern Ohio behind for now. We'll make it back eventually...and maybe we'll even get a blue sky!

Want to see more neat sticks all year round? Nashville's WSM (at right) is one of the more than a dozen Tower Site images featured in the 2003 Tower Site Calendar, coming this fall from Tower Site of the Week and

If you liked last year's edition, you'll love this one: higher-quality images (in addition to WSM, this year's edition includes Providence's WHJJ; Mount Mansfield, Vermont; Buffalo's WBEN; KOMA in Oklahoma City; WTIC, Hartford; Brookmans Park, England; WPAT, Paterson; Four Times Square, New York; WIBC in Indianapolis; WWVA in Wheeling, W.V.; WGN Chicago and more), more dates in radio history, a convenient hole for hanging - and we'll even make sure all the dates fall on the right days!

This year's edition is back from the printer, and shipping is underway. Orders placed now will be shipped within 24 hours! And this year, you can order with your Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express by using the handy link below!

Better yet, here's an incentive to make your 2003 NERW/Site of the Week subscription pledge a little early: support NERW/ at the $60 level or higher, and you'll get this lovely calendar for free! How can you go wrong? (Click here to visit our Support page, where you can make your NERW contribution with a major credit card...)

 Click here to order your 2003 Tower Site Calendar by credit card!

You can also order by mail; just send a check for $16 per calendar (NYS residents add 8% sales tax), shipping included, to Scott Fybush, 92 Bonnie Brae Ave., Rochester NY 14618.

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