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September 27, 2004

Rhode Islanders Fight WRNI Sale

*Boston University's proposed sale of WRNI (1290 Providence) and WXNI (1230 Westerly) isn't a done deal, at least as far as some RHODE ISLAND state officials are concerned.

Attorney General Patrick Lynch stepped into the fray last week, asserting his concern about the fate of donations made to the WRNI Foundation, the WBUR-controlled entity that handles the station's finances and holds their licenses. In the meantime, the Foundation for Ocean State Public Radio, which says it's raised more than $3 million in donations to WRNI since the station went on the air in 1998, says it will fight to keep the stations on the air with their current public radio format - even as it tries to avert WBUR's effort to sell the licenses.

The WBUR organization, never known for its openness with information, acknowledged to the Boston Globe that WRNI supporters were "shocked" by the sale announcement, even as station managers made the claim that WBUR never intended to operate the Rhode Island stations for more than a few years, a position that WBUR somehow never took publicly at any point before it announced the impending sale a week ago.

What happens next? Lynch is asking the WRNI Foundation for a full accounting of its donations and finances, as well as to hold off on offering the stations for sale. As always, stay tuned...

Meanwhile on the commercial dial, WCTK (98.1 New Bedford MA) is losing afternoon drive jock Amy Ryan - she's headed north to WTHT (99.9 Auburn ME).

*A veteran community DJ in MASSACHUSETTS is hanging up his headphones. After 22 years at WMBR (88.1 Cambridge), most of that time hosting the Thursday afternoon edition of the "Lost and Found" rock oldies show, Eli Polonsky will move on soon. His September 30 show will be his last - but Eli will still be heard several nights a week as the overnight host on WBUR.

And Laura Schlesinger's talk show is back on the air in Boston; she's now on the WTTT (1150 Boston) schedule, weeknights from 9 till midnight.

*The "WMEX" oldies are already history in southern NEW HAMPSHIRE, where WSNH (900 Nashua) ended its brief semi-simulcast of WMEX (106.5 Farmington NH) and flipped to ESPN sports last week.

Over in the Upper Valley, WTSL (1400 Hanover) has a new simulcast - it's being heard now on WXKK (93.5 Springfield VT), which had been simulcasting WTSL's AC sister, WGXL (92.3 Hanover).

*More VERMONT news: WCAX (Channel 3) in Burlington marked its fiftieth anniversary Sunday, and thus the fiftieth anniversary of television in Vermont, inasmuch as channel 3 was the state's first TV station when it signed on (as WMVT) on September 26, 1954. A very happy half-century!

Down in the Bennington market, we hear WZEC (97.5 Hoosick Falls NY) has moved from hot AC "Point" to softer AC "Light Rock 97.5."

*In MAINE, supporters of Air America Radio are fighting to keep the liberal talk network on the air in Portland. They sent e-mails and letters to WLVP (870 Gorham) asking the Nassau-owned station to rethink its proposal to flip to ESPN sports, and it worked - sort of. WLVP now says it will keep Air America on the air through the elections, switching to ESPN November 8.

Up in Bangor, Jeff Solari returns to the market to take the 4-6 PM slot on sports WZON (620 Bangor); he used to work at WLBZ (Channel 2) and had most recently been in management at Oklahoma City's KWTV (Channel 9).

WERU (89.9 Blue Hill) wants to stay on the air in Bangor; it's applying to move translator W275AE from 102.9 to 102.7, where it would run 50 watts.

And WDEA (1370 Ellsworth) is apparently still off the air, now at the one month mark and counting.

TUESDAY UPDATE: WDEA returned to the air Monday afternoon, just hours after the new Harris DAX 5 transmitter arrived at the site. More in next week's NERW...

*A format change in northern NEW JERSEY: Clear Channel pulled the plug on "Bear Country" at WNNJ (1360 Newton) late last week, switching the Sussex County station to oldies as, yup, "Oldies 1360."

And sister station WNNJ-FM (103.7 Newton) has a new morning host with some big-city credentials: Zach Martin keeps his other job at WAXQ (104.3 New York), producing the Scott Muni noontime show (on hiatus while Muni recovers from a stroke) and pulling weekend airshifts on the classic rocker.

*One of NEW YORK's big headline-grabbers of the nineties is making headlines in Long Island radio. "Long Island Lolita" Amy Fisher's been working for the Morey Organization as a columnist for the Long Island Press, and now she's joining the morning team at WBON (98.5 Westhampton), at least according to publicity materials for her new book.

Elmira's getting an over-the-air UPN affiliate: WTTX-LP (Channel 30) will sign on this week as a sister station to Clear Channel's market-dominant NBC affiliate, WETM-TV (Channel 18). Now here's the tricky part: WTTX-LP is the former W30AA, the Elmira translator that Binghamton PBS outlet WSKG-TV (Channel 46) shut down last year. But WSKG's not done with the Elmira market - it holds a CP for a new digital-only station, WSKA-DT, on - yup - channel 30. So WTTX will have to shift channels somewhere down the road.

Speaking of WETM, it's finally in the process of being transferred from Smith Television (which had been LMA'ing it to Clear Channel) to CC subsidiary "Central NY News, Inc," as part of the overall restructuring of the Smith group following last year's death of owner Robert N. Smith. Smith's other holdings, including Utica's WKTV (Channel 2) and WFFF-TV (Channel 44) in Burlington, Vermont, are being transferred to the new "Smith Media LLC," which is being funded by Boston-based venture capitalists Boston Ventures.

The rest of the week's Empire State news is all translator-related: John Katonah's been granted W243BZ (96.5 Ellenville) and W289AX (105.7 Easthampton); Clear Channel's been granted W290BE (105.9 Hudson) - and they've signed on W231BI (94.1 Utica), relaying WUCL (93.5 Remsen).

*A well-known PENNSYLVANIA morning team is moving on: Ken Anderson and Kitty McVay of WCTO-FM (96.1 Easton) are taking their top-rated "Ken and Kitty" show to Cincinnati, where they'll be heard on "Star" country WYGY (96.5 Lebanon OH). WCTO PD Sam Malone and middayer Becca Lynn take over morning drive at "Cat Country."

Down in Philadelphia, rumors are flying about the imminent arrival of former New York wakeup team Star and Buc Wild at Clear Channel's WUSL (98.9 Philadelphia), where they'd be heard in a simulcast with their current morning home, WPHH (104.1 Waterbury-Hartford CT). That's just a prelude to the duo's long-expected return to New York, where a non-compete clause from former employer WQHT (Hot 97.1) is keeping them off the airwaves at Clear Channel's "Power 105.1," WWPR.

On the TV dial, WGTW (Channel 48) will say goodbye to the Philadelphia audience October 1, or so we hear; that's when TBN is expected to put its religious programming on the former indie.

Over in Pittsburgh, John Verilli is the new news director at KDKA-TV (Channel 2), moving over from the managing editor's desk at WCBS-TV in New York.

And as we predicted, WKPL (92.1 Ellwood City) is now oldies "Pickle" for the New Castle market, simulcasting with Keymarket sister WPKL (99.3 Uniontown) on the other side of Pittsburgh.

*All our news from CANADA comes from the Beauce region of southern Quebec, where three stations are competing to get a power increase.

CKRB (103.3 St.-Georges-de-Beauce) hopes to move to 103.5, increasing power from 2.2 kW to 17 kW.

CKYQ (95.7 Plessisville) says the amalgamation of its community of license means it needs a second transmitter in Victoriaville, and so it's applying for 50 watts on 103.5.

And Montreal's Radio Ville-Marie (CIRA 91.3) holds a permit to build a new transmitter on 89.5 in Victoriaville, but it's asking to move that facility to 103.5 as well, with 575 watts. Look for the CRTC to ask one or more of the applicants to find a different frequency, we suspect.

*And now, the moment you've all been waiting for... (well, we've been waiting for it, anyway):

Tower Site Calendar 2005 is back from the printer and sitting in several big boxes in the garage waiting to be distributed to all of you!

Attendees at the recent National Radio Club convention got a sneak preview of it, and it's now on the racks at Universal Radio in Ohio. We'll also have copies available later this week at the Society of Broadcast Engineers' regional conference (the 32nd Annual SBE22 Broadcast & Technology Expo) at the Turning Stone Casino September 23.

This year's calendar begins with WSTW/WDEL in Wilmington, Delaware on the cover, ends with Sutro Tower in San Francisco on the inside back cover - and along the way makes stops at WNBF in Binghamton, CFNB in Fredericton, Poor Mountain in Roanoke, KXNT in Las Vegas, WBBR in New York, Gibraltar Peak above Santa Barbara, WDEV in Waterbury, Vermont, WRIB in Providence, WOOD in Grand Rapids, KFJZ in Fort Worth, KYPA in Los Angeles and the top of Chicago's Hancock Tower.

We're holding the price from last year, notwithstanding increases in printing costs and PayPal fees - just $16 postpaid ($17.32 including sales tax to New York addresses). And as always, it's free with your $60 or higher subscription to NorthEast Radio Watch/ You can use PayPal, below, or send your check or money order, payable to Scott Fybush, to 92 Bonnie Brae Avenue, Rochester NY 14618.

And here's an even better deal - We still have plenty of 2004 calendars left, so how about this? For just $20 postpaid ($21.65 in New York), we'll send you both the 2005 and 2004 editions. It's almost like getting an extra calendar free! (Or, if you just need the 2004 edition, that's still on clearance at $8 - and if you buy two 2004 calendars, your third is free!)

So why wait until the last minute? Why make us wait until the last minute? Why not let me park my car back in the garage where it belongs? Buy your calendars now, won't you?

Order the 2005 Tower Site Calendar for $16...
Order the 2005 and 2004 Tower Site Calendars together for just $20...
...or subscribe to NERW at the $60 level and get a FREE 2005 Tower Site Calendar
...and you can still order the 2004 Tower Site Calendar at our special clearance price of $8! (US and Canada only - e-mail us for overseas ordering information.)

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 (8.25%) 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 by phone.)

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NorthEast Radio Watch is made possible by the generous contributions of our regular readers. If you enjoy NERW, please click here to learn how you can help make continued publication possible. NERW is copyright 2004 by Scott Fybush.