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July 19, 2004
CRTC Silences Quebec's CHOI-FM
*While the FCC and Congress pursue a strategy
of regulating broadcast content through driving station owners
into bankruptcy, broadcast regulators in CANADA pulled
out the big gun last week, declining to renew the license of
Genex's CHOI-FM (98.1 Quebec City) when it expires at the end
As you may recall, the modern rock station had been operating
on a short-term (two years instead of seven) renewal after initially
running afoul with the CRTC over the usual Canadian issues of
missing logger tapes and too much English-language musical content.
More recently, as we've been reporting here in NERW, the CRTC
put the station under tough scrutiny over the comments of its
top-rated morning host, Jeff Fillion.
Fillion is a sort of Quebecois Howard Stern (though the Quebecois
might prefer to think of Stern as an Anglo Fillion), taking on
pretty much any target that pleases him in a take-no-prisoners
fashion. Most notably, at least where the CRTC is concerned,
he'd been feuding on the air with Robert Gillet, former morning
host of rival CJMF (93.3 Quebec City), attacking Gillet for his
role in a widely-publicized teen prostitution scandal that's
been the talk of tout Quebec for a while now.
The Gillet incident prompted several dozen complaints to the
CRTC - and while Fillion's fans (egged on by Fillion himself)
responded with more than 9,000 interventions in support of the
station, the CRTC doesn't go by public opinion on such matters.
Indeed, its chairman said the agency felt it had "no other
option" but to pull CHOI's license, forcing the station
to go silent on August 31.
Genex owner Patrice Demers - who also owns CKNU (100.9) in
the small town of Donnacona, west of Quebec City, says the move
will leave 35 people jobless and cost him C$25 million (the estimated
value of the station he bought in 1996 for C$2 million, when
it was at the bottom of the ratings), and he's getting ready
to go to court - and to Parliament - to fight the CRTC's move.
Meanwhile, the CRTC has already posted a call for applications
for what it now considers a vacant 98.1 facility in Quebec City.
This promises to be one of the more interesting media battles
North America has seen in a while; we'll be following it closely.
*Elsewhere in Canada, Milkman UnLimited reports that
Kevin McGowan has resigned as morning drive host at CKKL (Bob
93.9) in Ottawa.
*Meanwhile in MASSACHUSETTS, we have
a fascinating example of just how different broadcasting regulators
really are across the US/Canadian border. While Canadian regulators
barely blush at sexual content, they come down hard on anything
that they find demeaning to an individual or an ethnic group.
But even as the FCC works itself up over the slightest hint of
sexual content that might be offensive to some community, somewhere,
it's letting WTKK (96.9 Boston) off the hook for the comments
made by Jay Severin back in April.
According to the complaints the FCC received, Severin told
listeners, "I believe that Muslims in this country are a
fifth column...You believe that we should befriend them. I think
we should kill them."
The FCC declined to act on the complaints, saying that no
court had ruled that Severin's comments posed a "clear and
present danger" to public safety - and that they're thus
covered under the First Amendment.
town at rival talker WRKO (680 Boston), a new voice is coming
to the daytime schedule, as John DePetro moves north from his
longtime perch at WHJJ (920 Providence) to replace Pat Whitley
in the weekday 9-noon slot. Whitley will keep his weekend shows,
including his long-running restaurant show, but he's edging towards
retirement - so in comes one of Rhode Island's most popular talkers.
And both WTKK and WRKO will be spared some new competition,
at least for now, thanks to the Newton Board of Aldermen and
the rather politically active neighbors in the Oak Hill neighborhood.
The aldermen unanimously denied the application of WUNR (1600
Brookline) to take down its two (painted and lit) 350-foot towers
and replace them with five (unpainted, unlit) 199-foot towers
- and, oh yes, to up its own power from 5 kW to 20 kW and add
50 kW of WKOX (1200 Framingham, moving to Newton) and 25 kW of
WRCA (1330 Waltham, moving to Watertown) to the mix.
Wealthy neighbors being wealthy neighbors, the opposition
to the plan was predictably both fierce and paranoid - and, so
help us, the aldermen bought the argument that 95 kW of RF beaming
forth from the proposed triplexed site would somehow damage the
"mental health" of the neighborhood, notwithstanding
a really well-done report by David Maxson's Broadcast Signal
Lab that concluded, to nobody's great surprise, that the proposed
facility would be well within RFR guidelines.
So - at least for now - WRCA will remain at its Waltham location
with 5 kW and WKOX will stay in Framingham with 10 kW (thwarting
Clear Channel's plans to make 1200 into a Boston-market talk
outlet), while all parties concerned get ready to take the matter
(And NERW wonders - what if WUNR had applied just to do the
tower work, without adding the additional stations or upping
power, and WKOX and WRCA had simply moved in later, once the
towers were up and there wasn't much Newton could have done about
Meanwhile, over at WEEI (850 Boston), Jason Wolfe gets promoted
from PD to director of programming and operations.
And anyone who's ever worked at the 1570 in Beverly, whether
it was WMLO or WBVD or WNSH at the time, is invited to a reunion
that's being planned by Doug Mascott, a current WNSH'er. Contact
him at firstname.lastname@example.org if you qualify...
couple of RHODE ISLAND call changes escaped our attention
in last week's issue: WADK-FM (99.3 Block Island) is now WJZS,
in keeping with its jazzy "Swing FM" image - and WJJF
(1180 Hope Valley) is now WCNX, since station namesake John J.
Fuller no longer owns the place. (And yes, we're aware that WCNX
is the old call for 1150 Middletown CT, now WMRD...)
Over at WSNE (93.3 Taunton MA), middayer Courtney Young is
heading south - she's joining the airstaff at WBGG-FM (105.9
*VERMONT Public Radio officially
launches its new service on Tuesday morning. "VPR Classical"
is on WNCH (88.1 Norwich), with plans to expand across the rest
of the state in the years to come; most programming will come
by satellite at first, though VPR music host Walter Parker will
be heard mid-morning and VPR head honcho Mark Vogelzang will
be heard on Sundays with "Sunday Bach."
*In NEW HAMPSHIRE, Valerie Knight
is moving on from her job as PD of WGIR-FM (101.1 Manchester),
heading west to the Saga cluster in Springfield, Illinois to
be operations manager. Jason Russell takes over as interim PD.
And Edgewater Broadcasting gets a CP for W233AY (94.5 Plymouth),
which will supposedly relay WMSJ (89.3 Freeport ME) over the
air, quite a feat of DXing indeed. (We're really eager to hear
from readers about whether some of these dubious translators
are actually on the air, and if they're relaying the stations
they claim to be relaying; it's no great secret that many of
these applications were filed in hopes that the FCC will allow
translators in the commercial band to be fed by satellite, something
it hasn't yet approved.)
*In CONNECTICUT, there's a new morning man
on WWYZ (92.5 Waterbury), as Jim Bosh replaces the departing
Dave Mester alongside Cory Myers. Bosh comes from WCEN (94.5
Hemlock/Saginaw MI); he's a veteran of the old "W4 Country"
(WWWW 106.7 Detroit), KWJJ (99.5 Portland OR), WBEN-FM/WMJQ (102.5
Buffalo NY) and, yeah, WJDM (1530 Elizabeth NJ) too.
*In NEW JERSEY, WPST (97.5 Trenton)
ops manager Dave McKay gets promoted to Nassau's corporate associate
director of programming; he'll still be responsible for WPST's
*A format change in NEW YORK's Capital
District: Crawford Broadcasting pulled the plug on oldies at
WPTR (96.7 Clifton Park) on Friday, replacing it with contemporary
Christian "Pulse 96.7."
Down I-88 in that netherworld just outside Binghamton and
Oneonta, BanJo Communications is selling its eight-station group
to Double O Radio, whose owners include MTV founder Bob Pittman,
Bob Sherman and Terry Bond. For $9.75 million, Double O gets
AC powerhouse WKXZ (93.9 Norwich), "Big Kat Country"
WBKT (95.3 Norwich)/WDLA-FM (92.1 Walton), standards WCHN (970
Norwich) and WDLA (1270 Walton), oldies WDHI (100.3 Delhi) and
WIYN (94.7 Deposit) and classic hits WZOZ (103.1 Oneonta).
been a while since the FCC has red-flagged a station sale, but
those inscrutable folks at the Portal saw something they didn't
like in the proposed sale of Nassau's WXPK (107.1 Briarcliff
Manor) to Pamal, and so it's been flagged for a market-concentration
Pamal owns a pretty big cluster to the north of WXPK, but
its only other Westchester County outlets are WHUD (100.7) and
WLNA (1420) in Peekskill, and WXPK itself overlaps much of the
big, wild New York City media market and its many ownership voices,
so we'd expect the sale to go through sooner or later.
In New York itself, WBBR (1130 New York) has signed up for
a season of Islanders hockey, bringing play-by-play man John
Wiedeman and color commentator Chris King back for another season
- assuming, of course, that there is a season...
Erin Bristol has departed as PD of WWDG (105.1 DeRuyter); no
word on a replacement yet.
And the folks behind wolf1490.net,
the tribute site to one of America's great little top 40 voices
(WOLF 1490 Syracuse, of course), are working on an August 7 reunion
of the jocks who made that little 250-watt (directional!) teapot
sing through the fifties, sixties and seventies. The event will
include a three-hour on-air reunion on WOLF, now a Radio Disney
affiliate, as well as a full-fledged get-together. (Get in touch
with Bob Mitchell at the site if you're a "lost alum"
of the Big 15!)
In the Southern Tier, WXXI is shuffling the programming on
satellite outlet WJSL (90.3 Houghton) at the beginning of August.
Instead of being a full-time simulcast of classical WXXI-FM (91.5
Rochester), WJSL will begin breaking away from 6-8 AM and 4-6
PM on weekdays to carry NPR news programming from WXXI (1370
Rochester). It'll also carry Weekend Edition from 8-10 AM Saturdays.
(Why break the simulcast now? Because WJSL can now be fed over
a subcarrier of WXXI-DT 16 instead of over-the-air from 91.5...)
And our friends at WYSL (1040 Avon), the all-news outlet just
south of Rochester, are looking to ramp up their news operation
(even as they're hoping to boost their power to 20 kW by day);
they're eager to hear from talented news people (with some experience)
at 585-346-3000 or wysl1040.com. (Tell 'em NERW sent you!)
*Our PENNSYLVANIA news this week is
all about Pittsburgh: Eddie Crow and Jim Junker are the new midday
(10-1) hosts on WEAE (1250 Pittsburgh), displacing Tim Benz to
night duty on ESPN 1250.
Another former 'Burgh sports host, Thor Tolo of KDKA (1020
Pittsburgh), has resurfaced on the other side of the country:
he's the new host of "Live from Seattle" on religious
talker KGNW (820 Burien WA).
And just a few months after signing on, WCIX (660 Wilkinsburg)
already has new calls: WPYT.
*Finally, we know it's now July - but
perhaps a bargain price will convince you that you still need
a 2004 calendar. After all, the 2004 Tower Site Calendar is
more than just a bunch of boxes with dates in them - it's also
a collection of some of the niftiest broadcast transmission facilities
in North America.
on the way for later this year are WMT Cedar Rapids IA, WPTF
Raleigh NC, WAJR Morgantown WV, the mighty 12-tower night site
of 1190 in Dallas (KFXR, at least this week), Lookout Mountain
in Denver (shown at left), CKLW in Windsor and WBT in Charlotte,
not to mention lots of fun anniversary dates for stations large
(Channel 9 in New York) and small (WFAR Farrell PA).
And as we get ready to put the 2005 edition of the calendar
into production, we're offering a special deal to clear out our
stock of 2004 calendars. For just $8 postpaid (New York
orders add 66 cents sales tax for a total of $8.66), you can
still own a 2004 Tower Site Calendar.
Maybe you need an extra for the office, or you've marked up
your copy and you'd like a pristine one to stash away, or perhaps
you've been meaning to get one as a gift for that special someone.
Or perhaps you're just cheap (hey, this is radio, after
all!) Doesn't matter; the point is, this is your best chance
to get a 2004 Tower Site Calendar at a bargain price.
Order this week, and we'll even throw in a third calendar,
free, if you order two. (That's $16 postpaid, $17.32 in
New York State!)
We'll also throw in an extra calendar, free, for anyone
who subscribes to NERW at the $60 level. Remember, your support
is what keeps NERW coming to you week after week.
Now what more could you want? Perhaps a 2005 calendar, chock-full
of pretty pictures of stations like WBBR, KXNT, WDEL and WDEV?
Just hang tight for a few weeks - next year's edition will be
available for ordering soon, and we'll be shipping by early September
Don't want to order by credit card? You know the drill by
now - make those checks payable to "Scott Fybush,"
be sure to include sales tax ($0.66 per calendar) for New York
state calendar orders only, and send them along to 92 Bonnie
Brae Avenue, Rochester NY 14618. (Sorry - we can't take orders
Thanks for your support!
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2004 by Scott Fybush.