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November 8, 2004

Salty Brine, 1918-2004

*There's probably never been any other broadcaster so closely identified with a state as Salty Brine was with RHODE ISLAND. Host of the morning show on WPRO (630 Providence) from 1942 until 1993, and of "Salty Brine's Shack" on WPRO-TV/WPRI (Channel 12) from 1958 until 1968, the legendary host was a part of the morning ritual in Ocean State homes for several generations - and they're all in mourning this week, with the news of Brine's death last Tuesday (Nov. 2) at age 86.

Born Walter L. Brine, "Salty" started his broadcast career at WESX (1230) in Salem, Mass., then moved on to WHDH in Boston before arriving at WPRO, where his gentle humor and his trademark wintertime line "No school in Foster-Glocester" quickly became an institution. After Brine's retirement, WPRO named its studio complex in East Providence in his honor - and Rhode Island even named a state beach for him.

Brine's legacy lives on in the airwaves of New England - his son Wally is a Boston morning institution himself, as half of the "Loren and Wally" morning show on WROR (105.7 Framingham).

*Elsewhere on the Rhode Island dial, former WBOS (92.9 Brookline MA) morning guy David O'Leary comes to WSNE (93.3 Taunton MA) for middays.

Boston's WBUR has apparently put its plans to sell WRNI (1290 Providence) and WXNI (1230 Westerly) on hold for now; the Providence Journal is renewing its call for WBUR parent Boston University to donate the stations to the Foundation for Ocean State Public Radio, which raised several million dollars to help WBUR acquire the stations.

And supporters of journalism everywhere are keeping an eye on the case of WJAR (Channel 10) reporter Jim Taricani, who faces the prospect of six months in jail if he's found in contempt of a federal judge's order to reveal the source of the videotapes that helped him uncover the "Plunder Dome" scandal at Providence's City Hall. Taricani has already been paying a $1000/day fine (reimbursed by WJAR) for refusing to disclose the source of the tapes.

*In MASSACHUSETTS, the "Fox" is history at WWFX (100.1 Southbridge). The Worcester-market rocker stunted as "100.1 the Sox" during the Red Sox' run at baseball immortality a few weeks back - and last week, it flipped to classic hits as "The Pike," grabbing the nickname of the toll road that runs just south of Worcester. WWFX will be running jockless through early February, we're told.

More Worcester news: WORC (1310 Worcester) jettisons its talk format in favor of Spanish tropical music, with local jocks playing salsa, merengue, bachata, baladas and other genres that would have been unknown on the central Massachusetts radio dial a couple of decades ago. The station's still being run by Chowder Broadcast Group, with the sale to Gois Broadcasting not yet completed. And Mike Roberts is still OM of WORC - even as he, Frank Foley and Mike Roberts pack up their morning show and move it across town to WCRN (830 Worcester).

WROL (950 Boston) has revised its pending application to change city of license to Revere and add night power: instead of using 1000 watts at night from a new three-tower array northwest of WROL's current single-tower site in Revere, Salem now proposes adding two new towers at the current WROL site and operating with 5000 watts at night from there. The catch? In order to protect Philadelphia's WPEN and the many other stations on the crowded channel, the WROL night signal will be aimed pretty much out to sea, with only Nahant, Winthrop, part of East Boston and the very edges of the South Shore getting an interference-free WROL signal after dark.

More from the latest batch of FCC AM filings later in this week's issue: "Radio Westfield" has had its application for a new 200-watt fulltimer in Westfield accepted for filing by the FCC. It's a neat application, too - principals Dennis Jackson (of WQQQ, WMEX, etc.) and Marshall Sanft (of WARE in Ware) would reuse the old WDEW/WLDW 1570 tower on the west side of town for their new signal on 1340.

(Still more AM news from the FCC later on in this week's action-packed NERW...)

On the FM front, the chance to put a new class A signal on the air from Brewster, on Cape Cod, has been one of the biggest attractions in the FCC's latest auction of new FM allocations. The 94.3 Brewster auction stands at $2,032,000 at press time, with Bayview Capital in the lead and several more rounds of bidding likely to be in the offing. Stay tuned...

*Ken Squier is selling one of his VERMONT AM outlets, transferring classic country WVAA (1390 Burlington) to White Park Broadcasting for $400,000. Who's White Park? None other than Steven Silberberg, whose other interests in the Burlington area include progressive talk WTWK (1070 Plattsburgh NY) and "Alice" WXAL (93.7 Addison)/WLKC (103.3 Waterbury), not to mention AAA "Point" WNCS (104.7 Montpelier) nearby. Will the progressive talk move across the lake from 1070 to 1390? (NERW notes that the two frequencies have had a lot of crossover over the years, with the WKDR calls moving to 1390 from 1070 some years back; we also note that the deal between Squier and Silberberg includes a cut in Squier's rent payments for the transmitter of his WCVT 101.7 Stowe.)

More AM action this week? You betcha - consultant Charles A. Hecht and Mega Broadcasting head honcho Alfredo Alonso have their application for a new 670 in Essex Junction accepted for filing. The new signal would run a whopping 35 kW by day, 20 kW critical hours and 350 watts at night from a three-tower array along a bend in the Winooski River just west of Essex Junction.

*NEW HAMPSHIRE's WBYY (98.7 Somersworth) was "number one with a bullet" last week, for all the wrong reasons: the Seacoast station spent most of Friday off the air because of damage to its transmission line from a wayward .22 bullet that ended up lodged in the line 290 feet above the ground. To make matters worse, the trouble occurred while the station was in the midst of a canned food drive, which had to be extended as a result. Still no word on who fired the bullet that pierced the line, either...

Over in Concord, we reported last week on WTPL (107.7 Hillsborough)'s new format - and we should mention what's become of WKXL (1450 Concord), which had been operating WTPL under an LMA. Arnie Arnesen's talk show has moved from WKXL to WTPL, and now WKXL news director Gardner Hill is back to doing a noontime news hour on 1450.

On the translator beat, the Idaho-based folks at Edgewater Broadcasting and Radio Assist Ministry have a couple of new construction permits: Edgewater's W237CR (95.3 Littleton) and Radio Assist's W294AZ (106.7 Berlin) will both relay WMSJ (89.3 Freeport ME) via over-the-air pickup, or so their applications claim. "Impossible" seems to us to be the overly polite way to describe that sort of reception (which would have to take place over something like a 140-mile path across the highest mountain range in the Northeast); what these two firms are clearly up to is speculating that either the FCC will approve satellite feeds to commercial-band translators, or that someone will be interested in buying all these new translators. (NERW wonders: wouldn't it be, er, interesting if the FCC did to translators what it's done with LPFMs and banned any transfer of licenses or construction permits?)

*A couple of new AM signals are on the FCC's list of accepted applications this week in MAINE: Daniel Priestly's Waterfront Communications is in the running for 1240 in Ellsworth and 1230 in Newport.

*Clear Channel launched a new progressive talker in CONNECTICUT just as we were going to press last Monday, installing more or less the same lineup on WAVZ (1300 New Haven) that's been running on Boston's WKOX/WXKS for the last few weeks - Air America's "Morning Sedition," Al Franken and (on delay) Randi Rhodes, plus syndicated offerings from Lionel, Stephanie Miller and Ed Schultz.

A fight could be brewing over the future of Wesleyan University's WESU (88.1 Middletown), where Wesleyan president Doug Bennet says he wants the station to begin simulcasting NPR news and talk programming from WSHU (91.1 Fairfield/1260 Westport) from 6 AM until 5 PM weekdays. The programming would complement the classical music that Connecticut Public Broadcasting's WPKT (90.5 Meriden) offers the area during the day - but the station's student leaders say WESU would better serve the community with the more eclectic blend of programming it currently offers. Did we mention that Bennet is a former president of NPR? This battle's far from over, we suspect...

Another eBay station auction is underway at press time: Fair Communication Community is offering the construction permit for WKKK (1590 Oakville) for a starting bid of $99,999 or an outright purchase price of $150,000. The CP for the Waterbury-area facility, which would be a 500-watt daytimer, expires next March, but the sale comes with a guarantee of a transmitter site (leased from the city of Waterbury) and a tower crew at the ready to get the two towers up and the station built. (Maybe the new owners could do something about those calls, too, while they're at it.)

*A format change in NEW JERSEY: the smooth jazz of WOJZ (104.9 Egg Harbor City) gave way last week to hot AC "SoJo 104.9" under new calls WSJO. Millennium Broadcasting's running this one out of its Trenton facility, with WKXW-FM (New Jersey 101.5) PD Eric Johnson handling PD duties for SoJo as well. And the arrival of SoJo sets up a domino effect on a few other stations in Millennium's group - hot AC "Mix" WIXM (97.3 Millville) becomes a thing of the past this week, after a few days of cross-promoting SoJo. 97.3 will return to its prior simulcast of WKXW-FM's talk format.

So what becomes, then, of WKOE (106.3 Ocean City), which is the current South Jersey home of the WKXW-FM simulcast? NERW hears that Millennium will begin LMA'ing WKOE to Press Communications later this week, with Press (the former owner of WKXW-FM and WIXM, incidentally) eventually acquiring WKOE outright. Right now, Press' only property in the Atlantic City market is "Breeze" WBHX (99.7 Beach Haven), which serves only the northern part of the market; could WKOE become "Breeze" for Cape May County, extending the format's reach all the way down the Jersey Shore? As always, stay tuned...

More translators on the crowded Garden State dial? Much to the dismay of the New Jersey Broadcasters Association, the answer is "yes"; the FCC issued CPs last week to W238BL (95.5 Wildwood), which will relay WXXY (88.7 Port Republic); W249BY (97.7 Bridgeton), to relay still-unbuilt WVBV (90.5 Medford Lakes); and to W264BT (100.7 Edison) and W276BW (103.1 Manahawkin), both to relay WCNJ (89.3 Hazlet).

And how about a new full-power FM allocation at the extreme southern tip of the state? Dana Puopolo is asking the FCC to allot 107.7A in Port Norris, filling part of the gap left behind by WSNJ-FM (107.7 Bridgeton)'s impending move to the Philly suburbs.

*Given that the new transmitter site for the former WSNJ-FM will actually be right in Center City Philadelphia, we'll put this in the PENNSYLVANIA section: mark down new calls of WPPZ for the future Pennsauken, N.J.-licensed 107.9 signal. Tongues are already wagging about a black gospel ("Praise") format for the Radio One station; we'll wait and see what shows up, thanks...

New Pennsylvania translators? Yup - W237CS (95.3 Bradford) is another one from Edgewater, relaying (or so they say) WAWN 89.5 Franklin; W287BD (105.3 West Hazleton) will relay WKAB (103.5 Berwick).

Greg Valentine has departed morning drive at WLAN-FM (96.9 Lancaster); Dave Hughes' DCRTV reports that he's headed to Baltimore's WWMX (106.5) for middays.

And there's a new AM in the works in the extreme northeastern corner of the Keystone State: Bud Williamson's application for 1000 watts on 1450 in Milford was approved for filing by the FCC last week.

*We'll start our NEW YORK news on Long Island, where WBEA (101.7 Southold) is readying a Monday-morning flip from top 40 to rhythmic top 40 as "Blaze 101-7." The new Blaze will keep the syndicated Bob & Sheri show in morning drive.

Not far away, Jarad's WLIR-FM (107.1 Hampton Bays) applies to move its transmitter slightly, going from 6 kW/279' to 4.1 kw/397' from a Verizon tower on Moriches Road in Riverhead.

Sunrise Broadcasting is trying yet again to get a signal on 1200 in the central Hudson Valley. This has been one long-running story - you may recall that Sunrise's WGNY (1220 Newburgh) spent some time in the eighties and nineties operating on 1200 under Special Temporary Authority, only to be forced back to 1220 to avoid interference with New York's WLIB (1190). Sunrise then won a CP to put 1200 on the air in Kingston, under the calls WJGK. But that facility was never built, and now Sunrise hopes to get that CP cancelled and a new one issued for Highland, right across the river from Poughkeepsie. The new Highland 1200 would run 4700 watts day, 1000 watts night from a new five-tower site just off US 9W.

A frequency change in the Finger Lakes: WFLR-FM (95.9 Dundee) has been granted a move to 95.5, where it would run 880 watts/856' from a new tower site south of Dundee and north of Watkins Glen.

WFLR's new sister station, WNYR (98.5 Waterloo), was granted a new translator: W251BB (98.1 Penn Yan). Also on the translator list this week is another one for Calvary Chapel of the Finger Lakes, whose WZXV (99.7 Palmyra) will be heard on W230BE (93.9 Byron).

Howard Simon's back in the big time in Buffalo: the former WNSA/Empire Sports Network talker has been leasing time on WLVL (1340 Lockport), but no more - he's joining WGR (550 Buffalo) for morning drive, displacing Kevin Sylvester, Bob Gaughan and Gary Pufpaff from that gig.

On the TV dial, Lisa Lovell departs the news director's chair at Binghamton's WIVT (Channel 34); she's headed to Memphis to be executive producer at Clear Channel sister stations WPTY (Channel 24) and WLMT (Channel 30).

Two Southern Tier obituaries: Dom Milone's career in and around Elmira included stints as PD at WNGZ, WPHD and over in Binghamton at WMTT/WCDW. Milone had most recently been working at Corning's WYDC (Channel 48); he died November 1, far too young at 42. In Binghamton, Norm Gerber's remembered as "Sherwood" on WENE (1430 Endicott) back in the sixties. Gerber also worked at WNBF (1290), as well as at WPTR in Albany and WFMJ in Youngstown. He spent the last quarter-century in the insurance business before his death October 28 at age 77.

*In CANADA, CHUC (1450 Cobourg ON) is apparently abandoning its plan to move to 1580 with 10 kW; it's now asking the CRTC to allow it to go to FM instead, running 1450 watts/203 meters with a directional antenna.

Up in Pembroke, Ottawa's CHRI (99.1) wants a 22-watt relay transmitter on 100.7.

In the continued absence of NHL hockey, Toronto's CFMJ (640) has signed up the National Lacrosse League's Toronto Rock for play-by-play action this fall. (We'd note that the Rock are the perpetual rivals of NERW's hometown Rochester Knighthawks, though the rivalry's never quite hit Sox-Yankees levels, in part because the Knighthawks do even worse in Toronto than the Sox used to - and we emphasize, used to - in Yankee Stadium...)

In Quebec, Radio-Canada's CBGA-7 (1340 Ste. Anne des Monts) wants to move to FM; it's applied for 49.8 kw/381 m on 101.1. Meanwhile, Radio Communautaire Missisquoi has been granted 496 watts on 99.1 in Lac Brome for an English-language community station.

And out in Nova Scotia, Halifax's CIEZ (96.5) has a new identity: it's now playing classic hits as "Kool 96-dot-5," complete with new calls of CKUL and a new Web address, at the domain that was once used by CKKL (93.9, now Bob FM) in Ottawa.

*You're now just two months away from 2005 - so why haven't you ordered your Tower Site Calendar 2005 yet?

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.