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October 18, 2004

WHJJ Adds Air America

*Add RHODE ISLAND to the list of states with Air America Radio affiliates - and on one of the market's best signals, no less. If you were wondering (as we were) just how long it was going to take WHJJ (920 Providence) to replace the departed John DePetro in the midday slot, the answer came last week when WHJJ revamped its entire schedule. Don Imus stays in place in morning drive, and local host Arlene Violet in afternoons - but the formerly conservative talk station is now running Air America's "Morning Sedition" on tape delay from 10 till noon, followed by a live clearance for Air America's Al Franken. After Violet, WHJJ now has Air America's Randi Rhodes on delay from 6-8 PM, followed by Geoff Charles (doing double duty after his shift on WHJJ's sister station, rocker WHJY 94.1) from 8-10.

(NERW notes that DePetro, now at Boston's WRKO, slams WHJJ on his own personal website this week for its change in viewpoint - but we're also amused to see that DePetro's site still contains a whole bunch of links to his old Providence home.)

And we were remiss last week in failing to note the imminent return of a Providence TV icon. Walter Cryan was channel 12 during his 35-year tenure at WPRO-TV/WPRI, and after four years of retirement, he's headed back to the airwaves. Starting next Monday (October 25), Cryan will anchor the 6 PM newscast on WLNE (Channel 6) in the ABC affiliate's latest attempt to pull itself out of third place. Current WLNE anchors Wendy Cicchetti and John DeLuca will stay put at 11 PM.

*In MASSACHUSETTS, Boston University has named an interim general manager for WBUR following the departure of Jane Christo. Peter Fiedler, son of legendary Boston Pops conductor Arthur Fielder, comes from within - he's an assistant vice president at BU, responsible for sports broadcasting, media services and publications.

On TV, WFXT (Channel 25) hires Kim Carrigan to replace Jodi Applegate on the "Fox 25 Morning News." Applegate's headed to New York to host WNYW (Channel 5)'s "Good Day New York"; for Carrigan, it's the third stop on the Boston media tour, after stints at WHDH-TV (Channel 7) and WBZ-TV (Channel 4). And speaking of 'BZ, this year's Children's Hospital Telethon won't be seen on its longtime home. It's being shifted to sister station WSBK (Channel 38) to avoid disrupting CBS network programming, and WBZ/WSBK officials say the wider cable reach of channel 38 will actually give the telethon more visibility. (We'll see...)

Saga's WLZX (99.3 Northampton) is in some trouble with the FCC, thanks to DJ Christopher Laursen. He broadcast a conversation with Dave Sears of competitor WRNX (100.9 Amherst) without telling Sears - and that's a no-no where the FCC is concerned. WLZX was fined $4,000 for the offense.

Out west, there's a rare sighting of common sense taking place in Great Barrington. That's where the folks who live near Fairview Hospital have decided it would be "neighborly" not to challenge WBCR-LP (97.7)'s application for zoning permission to put its antenna there. The community station hopes to be on the air, at least with automated programming, within a few weeks.

*A call change nobody will notice in MAINE: WEZW (1400 Augusta) is flipping to WJZN, saving those calls for corporate owner Citadel after their retirement in the Memphis market (the former WJZN, 98.9 Munford TN, is now WMPW, "Power 99.") Whatever its calls, 1400 is still simulcasting standards with WTVL (1490 Waterville).

*Speaking of low power FM, in VERMONT "Rootswork, Inc." applies for a license to cover for WMRW-LP (95.1 Warren).

*In both Vermont and NEW YORK, Capital Media Corporation is on the hook to the FCC for $4,000 for failing to keep records of EAS tests for several months in 2002 and 2003 at WHAZ (1330 Troy), WBAR-FM (94.7 Lake Luzerne), WMYY (97.3 Schoharie) and WMNV (104.1 Rupert VT).

Looking to buy a transmitter with some history behind it? WABC (770 New York) chief engineer Kevin Plumb is selling the station's old Harris MW50A - and on eBay, of all places.

No, it doesn't work - and you have to haul it out of the transmitter site in Lodi, New Jersey yourself - but the listing notes that the transmitter cabinet will be signed by some of the Musicradio 77 airstaff who were heard through the Harris in its heyday. (And no, Mrs. NERW won't let us put it in our garage...)

Down the dial at WOR (710), there's a replacement for Arthur Schwartz on the daily food show: Rocco DiSpirito, the restaurateur perhaps best known now as the star of the reality show The Restaurant, takes over there as host.

WNYE-FM (91.5) and WNYE-TV (Channel 25) in New York are being transferred from the New York City Board of Education to the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. The paperwork hasn't shown up on the FCC database yet, so there's not much more we can tell you about this one right now...but stay tuned.

Sinclair Broadcast Group has been making headlines all over the country, of course, because of its plan to air that John Kerry documentary, and we thought we'd run down the list of when it would be running on each of Sinclair's stations in NERW-land. Well, guess what? Despite Sinclair's statement that the special would run on each of the 62 stations it owns or programs, it's not exactly going out of its way to promote the upcoming run of "Stolen Honor." In fact, it's still not shown on the advance schedules of WGME (Channel 13) in Portland, Maine or WGGB (Channel 40) in Springfield, Mass. (Newspaper reports in Portland say WGME will run the special on Saturday, October 23 at 9 PM, not exactly a high-visibility timeslot.)

Rochester's WUHF (Channel 31) will show the special Friday (Oct. 22) at 8, while the Sinclair duopolies in Syracuse, Buffalo and Pittsburgh will push the broadcast off to their lesser-viewed WB affiliates rather than disrupt the baseball-heavy Fox schedule. It'll air in Buffalo (on WNYO-TV 49) and Syracuse (WNYS-TV 43) on Thursday (Oct. 21) at 9, while Pittsburgh, the lone Sinclair market in the critical swing state of Pennsylvania, will find the special buried on Wednesday night (Oct. 20) at 11 on WCWB (Channel 22). (And it bears particular note here that in Syracuse, the program isn't even running on the station Sinclair owns, Fox affiliate WSYT-TV 68, but only on the one it operates under an LMA.)

So could it be that Sinclair's more interested in the national publicity the show will generate than in the audience it will actually draw in each of the company's markets? Stay tuned...

Some good news upstate: WWKB (1520 Buffalo) is running promos for the impending return of Jackson Armstrong in the evenings - and with sunset now falling right around the start of his airshift and the Bisons' season long over, "your leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeader" will be heard widely throughout NERW-land this fall.

And we say goodbye to Jason Crane; the station manager at WGMC (90.1 Greece) is leaving radio to study for his doctorate. During Crane's three years at WGMC, Rochester's jazz station boosted power from 2050 watts to 15 kW (and it's soon moving its studios as well), and we wish him just as many successes in his studies.

*A format change in NEW JERSEY: WCMC (1230 Wildwood) and WMID (1340 Atlantic City) drop standards for 50s and 60s oldies.

The FCC has opened a comment period on the New Jersey Broadcasters Association's petition to provide more protection from translators to FM broadcasters in the Garden State. The petition (you can read it here) makes the case that New Jersey is severely underserved by FM radio when compared with other states in the region, and calls on the FCC to rule out 10-watt LPFMs and any translator with less than 100 watts in the Garden State, as well as to make any other new translators protect full-power FM signals all the way out to the 44 dBu (50,50) contour, a sharp change from current FCC policies.

NERW's view: The NJBA petition is a daring move, and it's well worth taking the time to read their arguments about how New Jersey is a special case where the FM dial is concerned. But it's our hope that the FCC comes away with another impression when it's done reviewing the NJBA's arguments - that the explosion of translators over the last few years has caused damage to the FM dial on a nationwide level and ought to be restricted.

Comments on the NJBA petition are due in to the FCC November 8.

*Speaking of translators - in PENNSYLVANIA, WEZX (106.9 Scranton) has its new Wilkes-Barre translator, W297AR (107.3) on the air, and we hear it's dramatically improved the reception of Rock 107 in the southern half of the market.

Sorry to report the death last Wednesday (Oct. 13) of Robert H. Sauber, who owned WTIV (1230 Titusville) and put WFRA (1450 Franklin) and WVEN (99.3 Franklin, now WOXX) on the air. Sauber sold the stations and retired in 2000; he was 72 when he died.

*With no NHL hockey in CANADA (or in the U.S., for that matter), radio stations are scrambling to replace the programming that big-league hockey would have provided. Toronto's CFMJ (640) is carrying the Leafs anyway, broadcasting "classic" Leafs games on Saturday nights at 7.

And over in the Lindsay area, the CRTC denies Andy McNabb's application for a religious station on 96.7, which would have been licensed to Kawartha Lakes (the megacity that now includes Lindsay.)

*And how about a Tower Site Calendar 2005 update?

It's now for sale, among other outlets, at the NAB Store - yup, that was the 2005 edition on the counter in San Diego - as well as being on the racks at Universal Radio in Ohio.

And we're pretty sure the cover of the Tower Site Calendar 2006 has now been photographed - but we won't spoil the surprise just yet, will we?

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.