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September 19, 2005
Morey FMs Flip to "Channelcasting"
*It's far too early to say whether it's a
brilliant move or just an interesting dead-end, but the outcome
of last week's speculation about the future of The Morey Organization's
three NEW YORK FM stations on Long Island's East End is
certainly stirring debate within the broadcasting community.
The new formats on the three stations are collectively known
as "FM ChannelCasting," and the idea - according to
TMO - is to bring listeners the same benefits that they'd get
from satellite radio, without the expense of buying new equipment
or paying a subscription fee.
last week, active rock WBON (98.5 Westhampton) became rock "FM
Channel 98: Long Island Rock", dance/top 40 WDRE (105.3
Calverton-Roanoke) became top 40 "FM Channel 105: Party
Hits" and modern rock WLIR (107.1 Hampton Bays) became "FM
Channel 107: Neo-Breeze," an unusual (and interesting-sounding)
melange of standards, soft AC and smooth jazz. What's new about
the stations, though, isn't the music; it's the programming concept:
Morey says "FM ChannelCasting" aims to bring listeners
the same benefits they get from satellite radio - long sets of
music uninterrupted by DJs or commercial breaks - without the
what it amounts to are jockless 15-minute music sweeps, with
just one sponsor for an entire hour of programming and very brief
sponsor announcements (15 to 30 seconds) four times an hour.
Morey says it hopes to lure nontraditional sponsors, even individuals
wishing to honor anniversaries and birthdays and such.
NERW's take: It's certainly a bold move, if nothing
else, but mark us down as more than a bit skeptical about the
long-term future of this "ChannelCasting" business.
There is, for one thing, an intrinsic conflict between the prime
need of any commercial broadcaster - to draw as large a mass
audience as possible, thus ensuring ratings and, hopefully, revenue
- and the appeal of the niche formats that are some of the biggest
draws for satellite radio.
to wonder, too, whether 60 seconds of commercials an hour will
really produce anything even close to the revenue levels needed
to sustain an FM station in a market the size of the East End.
It's true, as some have pointed out in various forums, that the
"ChannelCasting" formats are somewhat reminiscent of
the early, automated days of FM radio, but back then the costs
were much lower, too - licenses were available pretty much for
the asking, instead of for tens of millions of dollars in debt
load, and most of those automated FM stations were carried by
the much larger cash flow of their thriving AM sister stations.
Morey does have its Long Island Press newspaper and concert-hall
business to help pay the bills, but it's not evident to us that
there will be much cross-promotion among them, as there was when
the FM stations were doing more traditional formats. (Several
alert listeners on the East End noticed infomercials running
Sunday morning, so perhaps that's the short-term "solution"
in the works.)
In any event, it's hard for us not to see "ChannelCasting"
as a low-cost solution to keep the stations on the air and garner
some publicity (including big press in both New York tabloids
last week) while the stations are put up for eventual sale. We'll
be interested to see if we're wrong about this one...
*Meanwhile in Manhattan, it's sounding an awful lot like 1990
at WPLJ (95.5), which announced last week that Rocky Allen and
Blain Ensley will return to the air there on Tuesday to resume
the afternoon-drive "Showgram" that they did so successfully
at 'PLJ more than a decade ago. The move shifts afternooner Race
Taylor to middays, displacing Rich Kaminski to weekends.
Also on the move in New York City is "Sunny," who's
off middays at WQHT (97.1); no replacement has been named yet.
Moving upstate, Double O Radio hopes to add to its dominance
in the triangle between Binghamton, Utica and Albany with its
$3.8 million deal to buy WDOS (730 Oneonta) and WSRK (103.9 Oneonta)
from Ultimate Communications. Double O already owns Oneonta's
only other commercial station, WZOZ (103.1), as well as the stations
in nearby Norwich, so this move creates quite the cluster along
Moving way upstate, WKPQ (105.3 Hornell) has reimaged as "Freedom
105," as the station plays up its local ownership.
And we can't neglect to mention the impending Binghamton Radio
Reunion, now less than a week away. We're planning to be there,
and we hope to see a lot of familiar faces. (More info at binghamtonradio.com...)
*From NEW JERSEY - or is it PENNSYLVANIA
- comes word that Nassau has now taken the inevitable next
step in the move of WTHK (97.5) into the Philadelphia market.
The former WPST changed city of license from Trenton to Burlington
a few weeks back, and now it's applied to move its transmitter
from the downtown Trenton site it's called home since the sixties,
all the way into Philadelphia.
The move comes with some very tight spacing requirements,
though: while there's no restriction on spacing to third-adjacent
WOGL (98.1), thanks to pre-1964 grandfathering, the relocated
WTHK can't increase interference to WIXM (97.3 Millville NJ)
or WALK-FM (97.5 Patchogue NY), with which it's also grandfathered,
nor can it move much closer to WRVV (97.3 Harrisburg).
The result? As we'd sort of expected, WTHK is applying to
move its transmitter to the Wyndmoor section of northern Philadelphia,
adjacent to the Mermaid Lane site of WJJZ (106.1). From there,
WTHK will be a full class B signal, 43 kW at 525 feet above average
terrain, but with a deep directional null to the northwest to
protect WRVV and a shallower null to the south and east to protect
What's next? Expect the CP to be granted fairly quickly -
and then the speculation will build about a sale of the station.
Nassau isn't a big-market player, especially not with a single
FM signal, and a full-market FM like this would certainly bring
big bucks. Stay tuned...
We don't often have much to say about DELAWARE, but
there are some interesting moves going on just across the state
line, as veteran WILM (1450) newsman Allan Loudell takes a new
job with his longtime rival, Delmarva Broadcasting's WDEL (1150).
Loudell was the star voice at WILM during its many years of local
ownership, but with the station's recent sale to Clear Channel,
the roles are reversing in Wilmington. Now it's WDEL that's mostly
local, and WILM that's increasingly leaning on satellite talk
(including the Rush Limbaugh show, which moved over from WDEL
with the change of ownership)...and interesting times on the
way in a market where AM radio really still matters.
We can't leave Philadelphia without mentioning that the NAB
Radio Show gets underway Wednesday at the Pennsylvania Convention
Center; we'll be there, and we'll have a full report next week.
Further afield in the Keystone State (and upstate New York,
for that matter), the management structure's changing at the
Route 81 Radio group. Founder Lloyd Roach has been replaced by
former Tele-Media honcho Ira Rosenblatt as the group's CEO. Roach
remains on Route 81's board, but it sounds like changes may be
afoot; we're already hearing that some of the stations in markets
where the company doesn't have large clusters are for sale.
of sales, WBLF (970 Bellefonte) has been doing some interesting
things as it transitions from 2510 Broadcasting to Magnum Broadcasting.
(We're hearing something about a nonstop loop of "Yellow
Submarine.") It looks as though WBLF will end up with a
fairly substantial news presence; help-wanted ads the station
has been placing put State College market veteran Tor Michaels
in the news director's chair.
And WHLM (930 Bloomsburg) is occupying new digs, having moved
from an upper floor of the historic "WHLM Building"
down the street to new storefront studios on East Main Street,
where Bobby Joe Reilly and the gang can look right out at their
listeners. (Community connection and AM radio? Yup, it still
*In MASSACHUSETTS - well, OK,
on Long Island, where he actually does the show most of the time,
"Jay Severin Has Issues." That's the name of the syndicated
afternoon show that the WTKK (96.9 Boston) talker will be doing
for Infinity beginning in January, but it's also a pretty good
description of what the last week was like for him. It seems
Severin told a caller that he'd won a Pulitzer Prize for online
journalism, which raised some questions a few doors down at the
Boston Globe. Columnist Scot Lehigh investigated, and
found that MSNBC.com, for which Severin used to write, had won
a couple of Online Journalism Awards, which were awarded by Columbia
University, which also awards the Pulitzers...and there's now
some frantic "what I meant to say was" backtracking
(We're also waiting to hear what WTKK will do when Severin's
show goes syndicated; we'd expect it to stay in place on 96.9,
where it's become a fixture in the lineup.)
Radio People on the Move: Now that former WQSX (93.7 Lawrence,
now WMKK) PD Jerry McKenna is getting settled in at WBMX (98.5
Boston), he's starting to bring some "Star" talent
with him. "Lady D," who also worked at WXKS-FM and
WJMN before Star, comes on board to do nights at "Mix 98.5."
Over at Greater Media's WBOS (92.9 Brookline), John Laurenti
is the new afternoon jock, moving up I-95 from WHJY in Providence.
*All-news radio, in English anyway, is now history
in one of CANADA's biggest markets, as Corus quietly pulled
the plug on "940 News" at CINW, replacing it with a
news-talk hybrid branded as "AM 940, Montreal Radio."
The new AM 940 retains a news-heavy presence in morning and afternoon
drive and during the noon hour, but it adds more talk elements
outside of drive time, including the syndicated Charles Adler
show from 3-5 PM. (Adler also joins the lineup at sister station
CFMJ, "AM 640 Toronto," where he's heard from 2-4 PM
To the east of Toronto, CKDO (1350 Oshawa) is asking the CRTC
for permission to move up the dial to 1580, where it would run
10 kW fulltime (up from the current 10 kW day/5 kW night). The
1580 frequency was where CHUC (1450 Cobourg) was going to move,
but now CHUC is headed to the FM dial instead.
In Perth, Ontario, Norm Wright and Brian Perkins apply for
a new soft AC outlet on 88.1, where they'd run 1.35 kW/91.5 meters
with a directional antenna.
But the big news at the CRTC is a whole sheaf of applications
for new stations in Montreal and Quebec, which will be discussed
at a public hearing November 14 in Quebec.
In Montreal, there are four applications for new AM signals:
Radio Moyen Orient du Canada for 1 kW on 1450, Radio Chalom for
1 kW on 1650, Concordia Student Broadcasting Corp. for 1 kW on
1690, and, most curiously, Andre Joly for 5800 watts, daytime-only,
on 650. (NERW wonders how that will play against a pending application
at the FCC for 50 kW on 650 in Mooers, New York, just across
On the FM side, la Radio Communautaire de la Salle applies
for 250 watts on 100.1, while International Harvesters for Christ
and Rene Ferron both apply for 106.3, with 1.2 kW DA/209 m and
1.9 kW DA/186m, respectively. Those applications compete with
one from CFEI (106.5 St. Hyacinthe) to up its power from 3 kW
to 48 kW DA/99.6 m, which would cover much of Montreal.
The really big news is in Quebec, though, where a dozen applications
will compete for space on the dial.
There's one AM - an application from Communications Medialex
for 50 kW on 980, for a country station that will be a partial
relay of CJMS (1040 St.-Constant) from Montreal.
On FM, there are three applicants competing for 92.5/92.7
- Corus, for a French FM talker on 92.5 (10 kW DA/373.4 m), Communications
Levis 2001, for a French rocker on 92.7 (250 W DA/177 m) and
J.P. Coallier, for a French classical station on 92.7 (5 kW DA/373.5
Two applicants want 105.7 - Standard, for an English rocker
(10 kW DA/373.4 m) and Yves Sauve, for French country (800 W/120.6
Three applicants want 106.9 - Radio Couleur Jazz, for a French
jazz station (6.9 kW DA/410.1 m) and Genex, for French top 40
(1410 W/429 m), plus an application from community station CIMI
(103.7) to move to 106.9 and boost power to 6.55 kW DA/192 m.
There are apps for French religion on 96.9 (13 watts) and
for French and English travel information (90.3 and 89.7, with
13 watts each).
And CKNU (100.9 Donnacona) wants to boost its power to 3.1
kW/429 m, relocating to Mont Belair to serve much of Montreal.
Site Calendar 2006 is just back from the printer, and we've
got to say, we're especially proud of the way this one turned
Once again, we bring you more than a dozen images from the
fybush.com collection that have never seen print before, including
that nifty nighttime view of New York's WMCA that graces the
cover. You also get to see WSB, KTAR, Mount Wilson, CBV and many,
many more, plus all those fun dates in radio and TV history,
civil and religious holidays, a handy full-page 2007 calendar,
and the always-popular hole for hanging.
And we do it all with no increase in price, for the fourth
The calendars are shipping now, so there's no need to wait
until the holidays to enjoy all that tall steel and all that
broadcast history. Order now and beat the rush!
You can get one free with your 2006 subscription
to NERW at the $60 level, or order the calendar (plus other goodies)
at our brand new fybush.com
Store! We think you'll like this one - and as always,
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2005 by Scott Fybush.