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June 26, 2006

G-Rock Moves on Jersey Shore

MONDAY PM UPDATE: It was originally slated to go to Pamal, but the Albany move-in signal of WNYQ (105.7 Malta) will instead go to Regent Communications, which announced Monday that it's buying the station from Vox. No purchase price has been announced yet for the deal, which will put now-silent WNYQ in a cluster with sports WTMM (1300 Rensselaer), rock simulcast WQBJ (103.5 Cobleskill)/WQBK (103.9 Albany), hot AC WABT (104.5 Mechanicville) and country WGNA (107.7 Albany).

And in Boston, Nassau has confirmed that it's negotiating with Greater Media to acquire the signal of WKLB (99.5 Lowell) and the intellectual property of WCRB (102.5 Waltham). The company tells the Globe that it intends to keep the classical music going on 99.5 once the deal is completed. Stay tuned...

*If you go looking for the most crowded FM dial in the country, the odds are you'll end up in NEW JERSEY. So it's always pretty big news when a station in the Garden State manages to make a significant signal upgrade, as Press Communications did last week when it turned on the new 106.5 Bass River Township signal for WKOE, the station that was formerly at 106.3 in Ocean City.

The new 106.5 signal, broadcasting with 1450 watts at 683' above average terrain from the WWSI (Channel 62) tower in Tuckerton, covers a good chunk of the Jersey Shore from southern Ocean County well into Cape May County, and it's on a clear enough channel to get west almost to Philadelphia on a good car radio, too.

In place of the "Breeze" soft AC simulcast that had been on WKOE at 106.3, Press is using 106.5 to simulcast "G Rock Radio" from WHTG-FM (106.3 Eatontown), creating a two-signal adjacent-channel simulcast that blankets nearly the entire shore. G Rock had been heard on WBBO (98.5 Ocean Acres) in Ocean County, and the WBBO calls will soon be swapped with WKOE.

What next for 98.5, once it gets the WKOE calls? It's unlikely to become "Breeze," since that format's already heard in the area on WBHX (99.7 Tuckerton) - so stay tuned for another new format in the market in the weeks to come.

(And one more note: Press engineer George Kowal reports that it took just 30 days from the arrival of the empty equipment shed at the WWSI tower until 106.5 was ready to go on the air - and it would have been even quicker, but for some delays in utility hookups and Press' desire to wait for the end of a ratings period before making the frequency and format swaps.)

STILL HERE - BUT NOT FOR FREE: If you're a fan of the national radio message-board sites, you're probably feeling a little disoriented lately by all the changes they're going through.

Here at NERW, we're now in our twelfth year of regular, uninterrupted service to our readers, and we're not going anywhere. Same address, same weekly columns, same old design. (OK, perhaps a few things could use some freshening this year.)

And if we've learned anything after all those years in the radio website business, it's this: good things don't come for free. Or at least when they do, they don't last forever. But thanks to our loyal subscribers and our growing fleet of advertisers, we've built a solid community here. We were here in 1994, we're here in 2006, and assuming there's still a radio dial to cover, we have every intention - with your support - of still being here in 2018. (I wish I could say the same about my hairline.)

If you still haven't subscribed yet for this year, do it right now at our Support page - and enjoy another exciting year of NERW, guilt- (and password-) free. And if you have become one of our many subscribers, thank you!

*The report in AllAccess that the format swap between classical WCRB (102.5 Waltham) and country WKLB (99.5 Lowell) "Will Happen!" - and that Nassau will be the buyer of the new classical 99.5 - would lead our entire column this week, not just our MASSACHUSETTS segment, if only we could offer some sort of independent confirmation of those swirling rumors.

We're also hearing a lot of buzz out of other Nassau outposts that a deal is in the works to bring the company closer to the Boston market with a purchase of 99.5 from Greater Media. (At the moment, Nassau's closest stations are "Frank" WFNQ in Nashua, N.H. and its cluster on Cape Cod.) Before anything can happen with Nassau, though, Greater Media has to reach a definitive agreement with Charles River Broadcasting to buy WCRB, and as we get ready to put out the column Sunday night, that still hasn't happened.

Remember the "done deal" that was going to put the Red Sox on Greater Media's WBOS? This column didn't jump the gun on that one, and we're not going to jump the gun this time, either. When there's something definite to report about the future of WCRB, we'll have it for you.

(There's a Monday afternoon update, of sorts, at the top of the page...)

Over at Salem's WEZE (590), creative services/public service director Matt Hillas has left the station - and the state - after almost dozen years.

And while there are lots and lots of awards decorating the walls of Ed Perry's WATD (95.9 Marshfield), the community station on the South Shore just won a particularly prominent honor: it's been honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence from the RTNDA. Congratulations to Ed and his staff!

*The Albany, NEW YORK TV market is about to get its first formal duopoly, as Tribune exits the market and sells its WB (soon to be CW) affiliate, WCWN (Channel 45, formerly WEWB), to Freedom Communications. Freedom owns CBS affiliate WRGB (Channel 6), and for the last few years it's provided some programming, promotions and sales services to UPN (soon to be My Network TV) affiliate WNYA (Channel 51), which is owned by Venture Technologies.

Freedom will pay $17 million for Channel 45, which is actually $1.5 million less than Tribune paid for the signal in 1999, when it purchased what was then noncommercial WMHQ. The station began as a commercial operation, under the calls WUSV, before becoming a secondary public TV outlet in the late eighties. Under Freedom, it's likely to add a 10 PM newscast this fall - and we wouldn't be at all surprised if it picks up the WRGB-produced 7 AM newscast that now airs on WNYA. (In fact, we won't be a bit surprised if management of WNYA ends up passing to another Capital District broadcaster to avoid market-concentration issues.)

Speaking of Channel 45's former owner, WMHT Educational Telecommunications, it's being sued by four former employees who say they suffered age discrimination when the station cut 16 jobs in 2003. WMHT-FM (89.1 Schenectady) announcers Lawrence Boylan, Larry Nuckolls, Mary Fairchild and Eric Willette all took buyouts during WMHT's cutbacks, but they now say they were misled. The Albany Times Union reports their suit alleges that WMHT actually wanted to replace them with younger announcers.

And speaking of TV, David Friend has been named news director at New York's WCBS-TV (Channel 2), where he replaces the departed Diane Doctor. In Albany, WNYT (Channel 13) has hired Paul Lewis as its new news director. Lewis, formerly ND at WTIC-TV in Hartford, replaces Paul Conti in Albany.

Guy Black is the new midday jock at Inner City's WBLS (107.5 New York), moving north from KMEZ in New Orleans to replace Mark Jordan. Over at WWRL (1600 New York), Karen Hunter is out of the afternoon talk chair, with Ron Daniels handling those duties for the moment. Out on Long Island, John Olsen is departing WBAB (102.3 Babylon), where he's been program director. No replacement has been named so far.

We told you last week that "Cousin Bruce" Morrow was being inducted into the New York State Broadcasters Hall of Fame - and to the Cuz, we can now add the rest of this year's inductees, who received their honors last night in Lake George. WKBW news icon Irv Weinstein, WRGB news anchor Ernie Tetrault, veteran WNBC reporter Gabe Pressman and WBLS' Hal Jackson round out the class of 2006.

A Hudson Valley FM station has moved its antenna, on very short notice. Cumulus' WFAF (106.3 Mount Kisco) has been on the "Darlington Castle" in Mount Kisco since its days as WVIP-FM. With that site lease near expiration at the end of this month, Cumulus moved quickly to find a new site - and last week it turned on a new 680-watt signal for WFAF from a tower site owned by the Bedford school district, about two miles southeast of the old site. The new signal, which is operating under special temporary authority, was on the air just eight days after the Bedford school board approved the tower lease.

Here in Rochester, WXXI (1370) reporter/afternoon host Deanna Garcia departed the public radio station last week. After two years in upstate New York, she's headed back west to become All Things Considered host at KUNC (91.5) in Greeley, Colorado. Until a permanent replacement is named, your editor - who's also a part-time newsperson at WXXI - will be filling in, rotating shifts with WXXI announcers Brenda Tremblay and Lee Strong.

And down in Salamanca, deep in the Southern Tier, Robert Pfuntner's Pembrook Pines group has taken over operations at WGGO (1590) and WQRT (98.3), bringing format changes with it. On the AM side, standards are out, replaced by ESPN Radio - and on FM, "98 Rocks" is now "98.3 Q-Rock," with little change to the music and a subtle change to the calls: it's now WQRS, the calls last heard on Detroit's classical FM almost a decade ago.

*In RHODE ISLAND, that was Sally Jessy Raphael filling in for Arlene Violet last week on WHJJ (920 Providence). Raphael was also doing some demo shows at the studios of WLIS (1420 Old Saybrook)/WMRD (1150 Middletown) in CONNECTICUT earlier this month as she prepares to return to the world of syndicated radio talk.

Over at the other end of the Nutmeg State, Bob Bayne adds the operations manager title at WFOX (95.9 Norwalk)/WCTZ (96.7 Stamford) to his PD/midday duties at WFOX.

And back in the Ocean State, public radio WRNI (1290 Providence)/WXNI (1230 Westerly) has a new general manager. Joseph O'Connor arrives from NPR's "On Point," produced at parent station WBUR in Boston, and his background includes many years as a producer at ABC News.

*How many radio stations can say they were the answer to a Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle question? There it was yesterday, 37 Down: "MAINE radio station whose call letters spell a pronoun." Granted, WHOM (94.9 Mount Washington) is actually licensed to - and transmits from - NEW HAMPSHIRE - but nitpicking aside, when was the last time a radio station made the Times crossword?

While we're talking about Portland, there's an opening for a new news director at Sinclair's WGME (Channel 13), where Dave Kaplar is out after four years in the ND chair. NERW hears that the latest ratings landed WGME in third place, behind longtime ratings laggard WMTW (Channel 8), and that tensions in the WGME newsroom have been running high as a result.

*At Killington, VERMONT's WEBK (105.3), Mitch Terricciano has departed as APD/MD and morning man.

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*In PENNSYLVANIA, Ed Long is the new morning man at Radio One's WPPZ (103.9 Jenkintown), moving across town from Clear Channel's WDAS (1480 Philadelphia).

Across the state, Alan Cox has departed modern rock WXDX (105.9 Pittsburgh) after seven years there, most recently in the morning slot.

On the TV dial, Ron Krisulevicz moves up from executive producer to news director at WBRE-TV (Channel 28) and WYOU (Channel 22) in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The stations had previously had separate news directors - Paul Steuber at WBRE and Frank Andrews at WYOU. Are more consolidations in the works at this Nexstar duopoly?

*In CANADA, television visionary Moses Znaimer now has his eye on Toronto's classical radio station. Moses Znaimer, who founded CITY-TV, MuchMusic and several other TV networks, is applying to the CRTC to buy CFMX from Martin Rosenthal's Trumar Communications for C$12 million. "Classical 96.3" operates on 103.1 in Cobourg (its original frequency, which Rosenthal bought out of bankruptcy in 1983) and on 96.3 in Toronto, where the station's studios are now located. Znaimer tells the CRTC he intends to keep the classical format. He'll make his case at an August 1 hearing.

The CRTC has denied Corus' CJDV (Dave 107.5) in Cambridge, Ontario permission to boost power from 2.5 kW to 6.8 kW. Corus had argued that CJDV suffered ducting interference from co-channel CKMB in Barrie. The CRTC says CJDV's coverage of Cambridge was already improved when it moved up from 92.9 (then CIZN) a few years back, and it says the current signal strength is sufficient to cover the market. Down the road in Brantford, meanwhile, Telephone City Broadcast's CKPC-FM (92.1) applies to boost its power from 50 kW to 80 kW.

Out on Prince Edward Island, Newcap has announced its programming plans for its two future FM stations. CHTN (720 Charlottetown) will drop its oldies format next month, when its new FM counterpart signs on as adult contemporary "Ocean 100.3." (The AM signal will stay on the air for a few months as an Ocean simulcast.) Meanwhile, a new sister station at 105.5 will sign on as "K-Rock" at the same time.

*And it's time to wrap up our coverage of baseball on the radio in NERW-land for the 2006 season, with a quick look at the independent leagues that dot the region.

The Frontier League is mostly west of NERW-land, but there's one team in the region. The Washington (PA) Wild Things are heard on WJPA-FM (95.3 Washington), while its sister AM on 1450 carries the big-league Pirates up the road in Pittsburgh.

The Can-Am League, on the other hand, is entirely within NERW-land. In New Hampshire, the Nashua Pride are heard on WSMN (1590). Massachusetts' Brockton Rox are on WBET (1460), while the North Shore Spirit out of Lynn are on the big signal of Boston's WWZN (1510). The Worcester Tornadoes have an extensive radio network, with partial schedules on WTAG (580) and WCUW (91.3) in Worcester replacing last year's coverage on WCRN (830), and the team's full schedule on WESO (970 Southbridge), WGAW (1340 Gardner) and WBNW (1120 Concord). The New Jersey Jackals are on college station WPSC (88.7 Wayne), and Les Capitales de Quebec are heard on CHRC (800).

Connecticut's New Haven County Cutters and the new Sussex (NJ) Skyhawks don't appear to have any broadcast radio this season.

Moving on to the Atlantic League, the Atlantic City Surf are heard on WLFR (91.7 Pomona), while the Somerset Patriots are heard on WCTC (1450 New Brunswick). The state's other teams - the Newark Bears and Camden Riversharks - run their own webcasts. In Pennsylvania, the Lancaster Barnstormers play on WLPA (1490).The Long Island Ducks play weekend games on WLIE (540 Islip). And the Bridgeport Bluefish are heard on college station WVOF (88.5 Fairfield).

From the NERW Archives

(Yup, we've been doing this a long time now, and so we're digging back into the vaults for a look at what NERW was covering one, five and ten years ago this week, or thereabouts - the column appeared on an erratic schedule in its earliest years as "New England Radio Watch," and didn't go to a regular weekly schedule until 1997. Thanks to for the idea - and thanks to you, our readers, for the support that's made all these years of NERW possible!)

June 27, 2005 -

  • The latest chapter in the ongoing saga of one of New England's longest-running unlicensed stations unfolded early last Wednesday morning in Brattleboro, VERMONT, when federal agents entered the unoccupied Main Street studios of Radio Free Brattleboro (or, as they prefer, "rfb") and seized much of the station's equipment, silencing the station's signal at 107.9 and its web stream. The move came amidst what amounts to a turf war among federal officials in the Green Mountain State. In Brattleboro, Judge J. Garvan Murtha has been slowly working through a civil case filed against the station by the FCC, and it appears that the Commission grew tired of waiting for action there. The FCC filed a motion for summary judgment in that case last month, but in the meantime, the assistant U.S. attorney handling the case obtained a warrant Tuesday from a federal magistrate in Burlington to enter the station's offices.
  • A small NEW HAMPSHIRE AM station is changing hands again, as Bill Sheehan's Balance View LLC files to sell WSNH (900 Nashua) to Absolute Broadcasting LLC, headed by Tom Monaghan, for $925,000. Absolute has been programming the "ESPN 900" sports format on WSNH since last year.
  • As the construction permit for a Down East MAINE FM station approaches expiration, owner Lyle Evans is trying to salvage his WRMO (93.7 Milbridge) in at least a reduced form. WRMO's construction permit was granted July 17, 2002, calling for a class B facility with 50 kW/64 meters. But with the CP set to expire July 17, 2005, Evans is asking the FCC to approve a much smaller WRMO, just to get the station on the air. As a minimum class A facility, WRMO would sign on with 130 watts at 2 meters from the center of Milbridge, just to get on the air before the deadline and to buy some time to build out a more powerful facility.
  • In the Catskill Mountains of NEW YORK, a venerable pair of community stations is changing hands, as the Blabey family sells WVOS (1240 Liberty) and WVOS-FM (95.9 Liberty) to Scott Kaniewski's Watermark Broadcasting for $1.7 million. The sale will put the WVOS stations under the same roof as longtime competitor WSUL (98.3 Monticello), which Watermark bought last year; the three are the only commercial stations originating programming in Sullivan County.

June 25, 2001 -

  • We know a bit more about those AM applications in MASSACHUSETTS we mentioned last week: an FCC typo put WSRO (1470 Marlborough)'s new site in the wrong spot. In reality, the station would move to the Lexington site of WAMG (1150 Boston) when it changes its COL to Watertown.
  • Talker WRKO (680 Boston) has a new PD. Jay Clark is heading to the Entercom station to replace the departed Al Mayers; Clark had been VP/GM of the now-defunct Comedy World network.
  • Radio Disney is back to a single signal in RHODE ISLAND; Hall Communications flipped WWRI (1450 West Warwick) away from the Mouse on Wednesday night (6/20), changing to a simulcast of the urban oldies it's programming on WNBH (1340 New Bedford).
  • The new Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League will have plenty of radio coverage when they begin play this fall. WGIR (610 Manchester) will be the team's flagship, with outlying areas hearing the games via WGIR relays WGIN (930 Rochester) and WGIP (1540 Exeter), as well as WTSL (1400 Lebanon), all part of Clear Channel's New Hampshire group. We'll still be rooting for the Rochester Amerks, thanks...

New England Radio Watch, June 28, 1996

  • There's a new radio station on the air in New Hampshire's largest market. WAEF, 96.5 FM, took to the airwaves at 5pm on Thursday, June 27, after a day of recorded heartbeat noises. "96.5 the Fox" is promoting itself as "Rock without the hard edge," and what it appears to be is a broad- based mixture of rock...everything from the Beatles to Crosby, Stills, and Nash, all the way to the Dave Matthews Band. WAEF is one of that shrinking breed, a singly-owned station. Donna MacNeil fought tooth and nail for this CP against some much bigger competition, and now she's up against two well-established AM-FM combos, Saga's WFEA/WZID and Knight's WGIR AM-FM (along with another standalone, Bob Bittner's easy-listening WKBR 1250).
  • A small Connecticut AM signal has been sold. WXCT 1220 in Hamden, a suburb of New Haven, is being sold by Milstar Broadcasting to Quinnipiac College in Hamden. Reported price, according to Broadcasting and Cable, is $500,000. WXCT has a long and colorful history, including stints as WDEE, WCDQ, WOMN (targeted at WOMeN!), WSCR, and WNNR...and just about every format in the book, including multiple tries at top 40, country, and oldies. Most recently, WXCT has been a Spanish-language broadcaster.
  • Up in Vermont, Pathfinder Broadcasting is building a two FM-one AM combo, with the purchase of WFAD 1490 Middlebury VT, WMNM 92.1 Port Henry NY, and separately, WGTK 100.9 Middlebury VT. WMNM (Oldies 92) and WGTK (K-101 Classic Rock) both serve the Burlington area; WFAD is a local class IV for Middlebury. WMNM, by the way, is the latest incarnation of what began as WHRC, Peter Hunn's one-man station that he documented in a book some years back. NERW contributing editor Garrett Wollman passed through the Burlington area earlier this week; he reports that WWGT 96.7 Vergennes-Burlington was not heard, although they had been testing earlier in the week. Also not on yet was WRJT 103.1 Royalton VT.
  • A snag for WKOX 1200 Framingham-Boston in its plans to increase power: The Boston Globe reports that selectmen (that's the town council to you non-New England types) in the town of Sudbury have rejected WKOX's plans to build three 199-foot towers on 8 acres of town-owned land. The reason (what else) was that the towers might alter Sudbury's "rural character." The "rural" site on which the towers were to have been built? A former Unisys plant on a busy highway...go figure! The Sudbury site was a backup plan for WKOX, which has been stalled in its attempts to go to a dual-site operation, with nights at the current site in Framingham and days as 50kw ND from the WNTN(AM) tower in Newton. Framingham officials approved WKOX's request to tear down its two 400-foot towers and replace them with three 199-footers...but the daytime side of the plan is reportedly on hold. I believe, but am not certain, that the Sudbury site would be used for daytime directional operation with a strong lobe towards Boston.

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*Didn't find a Tower Site Calendar 2006 under the tree/menorah/Blaw-Knox diamond tower model of your choice over the holidays? Our supply is running low, but we have a few still available at special clearance prices!

We've got to say, we're especially proud of the way this year's calendar turned out. Once again, we bring you more than a dozen images from the 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 year running!

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 Store! We think you'll like this one - and as always, we thank you for your support.

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 2006 by Scott Fybush.