September 25, 2006
WOR Tower Demolition? Stay Tuned...
TOWER SITE CALENDAR 2007 - NOW SHIPPING!!!
*SEASIDE, Oregon - NERW's on the other
side of the country this week, attending the International Radio
Club of America convention in this most scenic resort town, and
we bet some of the folks at NEW YORK's WOR (710) might
like to be this far from home at the moment too, after a breakdown
in communications led the heavily-promoted demolition of the
station's old three-tower antenna array to be indefinitely postponed
at the very last minute.
We were there last Wednesday (Sept. 20), having flown down
for the day, and we've never seen so many people so excited to
watch a bunch of towers fall down. WOR threw a party for its
clients at its new transmitter site, about half a mile north
of the old site, and many engineers from the city's other stations
showed up to see the action as well, as did plenty of TV and
newspaper reporters from New York City and north Jersey.
Right up to the scheduled demolition time at 10 AM, excitement
at the site was running high. Cameras were trained on the old
689-foot towers, waiting for the moment when the tower crews
would cut one side of guy wires on each towers, letting the guys
on the other two sides pull the towers down in a matter of seconds.
Then...nothing happened. After about an hour of rumors, word
emerged that the Lyndhurst police department had called a halt
to the demolition - and after another half-hour, Lyndhurst police
chief James O'Connor appeared at the new site (in neighboring
Rutherford, N.J.) to tell the gathered reporters why he'd stopped
O'Connor says he only learned about the demolition at 8:30
that morning, and he was worried about what would happen when
drivers on the New Jersey Turnpike (which runs alongside the
old site, in full view of both the towers and the Manhattan skyline
to the east) suddenly saw the WOR towers come tumbling down.
WOR engineering director Tom Ray, who'd hoped that the demolition
would provide a celebratory cap to the years of work that have
gone into the station's relocation, says the responsibility for
notifying O'Connor and other public safety officials rested with
"another party." (NERW believes that other party would
be the developers behind Encap, the huge golf resort project
that will eventually use the old WOR site.)
Will there be lawyers involved? No doubt - and in fact the
lawyer for WOR's owner, Buckley Radio, was already huddling with
station management when we left the site Wednesday morning. No
date has been set for a second attempt to bring the towers down,
and Chief O'Connor says he's going to make sure all the appropriate
permits are obtained before the demolition can go forward. (O'Connor
says he also wants to meet with other emergency agencies and
the area's news media to make sure that the public is fully informed
and that the demolition doesn't cause any panic on the Turnpike
or in the areas around the site.)
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Over at the New York Post, radio columnist John Mainelli
was abruptly fired late last week, with Howard Stern taking on-air
credit for the action. At issue, apparently, is an article Mainelli
wrote that passed along the rumor that Stern's show might return
to terrestrial radio via syndication on Citadel stations. Mainelli
says (in an appearance on the Opie & Anthony show Friday
morning) that Mainelli also underestimated Stern's subscriber
base on Sirius - and that Stern complained to Post management
that Mainelli was continuing his consulting business while writing
for the paper. (As a well-known former New York PD, Mainelli's
consulting work was hardly a secret to anyone in the city, as
far as we know.)
Mainelli says the Post gave him an ultimatum - stop
consulting or stop writing for the paper. "I guess I'm fired,"
he told Opie & Anthony.
Former WOR morning host Ed Walsh has landed a new job: he's
now the 7-9 PM anchor on WCBS (880).
In Syracuse, the driver who killed WSYR (570) reporter Bill
Leaf in a wrong-way DUI crash in January will spend 12 years
behind bars. Matthew Benedict was sentenced last Tuesday, after
pleading guilty to DUI and vehicular manslaughter for the crash
on I-81 January 8.
Terry O'Donnell moves from assistant OM/APD/MD at "Edge"
WZMR (104.9 Altamont) in Albany to the PD chair at sister station
WFLY (92.3 Troy). O'Donnell will also do middays at WFLY, moving
Christy Taylor into afternoons.
On the TV side of things, Clear Channel-owned Fox affiliate
WXXA (Channel 23) in Albany launches its new morning newscast
today. "Fox 23 News DayBreak" will run from 5-8 AM,
with Mark Baker and Diane Lee at the anchor desk.
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*From the callsign parking lot in PENNSYLVANIA:
Clear Channel is hanging on to the WKAP calls it recently retired
from what's now WYHM (1470 Allentown); those calls have now replaced
WRAW on 1340 in Reading. (The calls have a long history in Allentown,
most of it on what's now WTKZ 1320.)
The new 1590 CP in Kearsarge now has calls: the signal near
Erie will be WCXJ.
Philadelphia's WBEB (101.1) has another trophy to add to the
wall: it received the "Legendary Station of the Year"
Marconi Award at the NAB Radio Show in Dallas last week.
*In southern NEW JERSEY, WDTH (93.1
Wildwood Crest) has changed calls to WEZW; expect it to break
from its "Touch" urban AC simulcast with WTTH (96.1
*In MASSACHUSETTS, "Fish" is out
as morning co-host at Saga's WLZX (99.3 Northampton), leaving
Leslie Hall solo in mornings again. Fish was at Springfield-market
"Lazer" for just over a year, having succeeded "Omelette"
on the morning menu there. (Is there a jock named "Oatmeal,"
or perhaps "Frosted Flake," out there looking for a
And congratulations to WEEI (850 Boston), which took home
the "Major Market Station of the Year" Marconi Award
from the NAB Radio Show last week!
*In CANADA, the CRTC has denied CFVD
(95.5 Degelis QC) a relay transmitter in Riviere-du-Loup, the
larger city to the north. The two existing stations in Riviere-du-Loup
presented evidence that their financial situation was already
"precarious," and that the entry of CFVD to the market
would further fragment local ad revenue in the small market.
The CRTC denied Trust Communications Ministries' application
for a new transmitter way up in Iqaluit, Nunavut. While Trust
promised not to solicit any advertising in Nunavut, the lone
local commercial station in Iqaluit, CKIQ, complained that a
relay of Trust's CJLF (100.3 Barrie) would take listenership
away and make it even harder to survive in that remote market.
The CRTC also denied United Christian Broadcasters' application
for a new 26.5 kW transmitter on 106.5 in Foymount (near Renfrew),
Ontario. Rival religious broadcaster CHRI (99.1 Ottawa) complained
that the relay of CKJJ (102.3 Belleville) would impinge on its
listener base in Pembroke and the Ottawa area. (CHRI also complained
that UCB is based in New Zealand, but the CRTC found that claim
to be without merit.)
And while the CRTC was saying "no," it also rejected
an application from religious station CKOE (100.9 Moncton NB)
to move from 50-watt low-power status to 725 watts/112 m. CKOE's
owner, Houssen Broadcasting, says it initially applied for a
low-power signal because of its "relative inexperience"
with broadcasting, but the CRTC says an application to raise
power beyond 50 watts should have been filed as an application
for a new station, triggering a call for applications.
The CRTC does say
"yes" at times, too - it granted CKSG (93.3 Cobourg)
a power increase. It'll go from 2 kW to 4 kW average ERP, increasing
its antenna height to 226 meters. CKSG ("Star 93.3")
and Rochester's WFKL (93.3 Fairport) are both battling mutual
interference problems across Lake Ontario, and CKSG argued that
the power boost would help it overcome interference on its side
of the lake.
CKDO (1580/107.7) in Oshawa, Ontario is getting ready to celebrate
its 60th anniversary October 5 - we'll have more next week on
the station's plans for a special broadcast and more!
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 LARadio.com
for the idea - and thanks to you, our readers, for the support
that's made all these years of NERW possible!)
September 26, 2005 -
- It was a sad start to the week last Monday in western MASSACHUSETTS,
as WBEC-FM (105.5 Pittsfield) morning host Big Mike Patrick had
to tell his listeners that his co-host, Sharon Steele, had died
during childbirth. Steele, whose real name was Sharon Brophy-Forst,
died September 15 while giving birth to daughter Olivia. Sadly,
Olivia didn't survive, either, and our sympathies go out to Sharon's
husband Kyle. Steele's career began in her native Vermont, at
WZRT (97.1 Rutland), and took her to upstate New York, Delaware
and WHMP-FM (99.3 Northampton) before she settled in at "Live
105" a few years back. She was just 38.
- Across the state in Boston, some happier news to report:
WBUR-FM (90.9 Boston) is now broadcasting with higher power (12
kW, up from 7.2 kW) from a new Shively antenna mounted in the
same spot as its old one, right at the top of the "FM-128"
tower on Chestnut Street in Newton Upper Falls. The station pulled
off the antenna replacement in just one day, using its backup
site atop the BU Law School building in the meantime; we're hearing
that the reports of improved reception are already coming in.
- In NEW HAMPSHIRE, we've been remiss in failing to mention
Bob Vinikoor's application for more power at night at his WNTK
(1010 Newport). He wants to add a second tower for 2000 watts
at night (up from the current 37 watts) - and of course it would
all be aimed northwest, away from WINS in New York.
- We saw Bob at the NAB Radio Show in Philadelphia last week
(more on that in a moment), and with him was Dennis Jackson,
who confirmed reports we'd heard of an impending format shift
at his WMEX (106.5 Farmington). Over the next few weeks, the
oldies there will segue to 80s and 90s pop as "X-106."
- It was a heck of a night Saturday in upstate NEW YORK, as
about 150 veterans of the Binghamton radio and TV scene gathered
at an Endicott restaurant for the largest edition yet of the
"Binghamton Broadcasters Reunion." NERW was delighted
to be able to attend the event, which included a display of some
neat old Binghamton broadcast memorabilia, lots of great stories,
and even some awards. WMRV's Louie G was named "Broadcaster
of the Year" for his outstanding charity work. WLTB's John
and Chris took home a special achievement award. The late Ray
Diorio was honored with the Binghamton Broadcaster Memorial Award.
And veteran WNBF/WNBF-TV/WBNG newsman Bernie Fionte won a standing
ovation when he was named this year's "Living Legend."
September 24, 2001 -
- The AM radio landscape in the Merrimack Valley of MASSACHUSETTS
is about to change again, thanks to Costa-Eagle's $1.5 million
sale of WCCM (800 Lawrence) to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese
of Boston. The sale leaves Eagle-Costa with two of the valley's
five AM stations: the facilities that are now running Spanish-language
programming as WNNW (1110 Salem, N.H.) and WHAV (1490 Haverhill).
The plan, as we understand it, is to combine their programming
under the WNNW calls on the 1490 facility, with the English-language
WCCM programming and calls moving to 1110.
- The move will effectively take the Eagle-Costa stations out
of contention in Lowell, where WCCM had been trying to compete
with Lowell-licensed WCAP (980) with programming that included
Lowell Spinners baseball. As a daytimer, the new WCCM 1110 won't
be able to carry Spinners' night games, and its day signal is
hard to hear in Lowell even under the best of circumstances.
As for the AM 800 signal, with 1000 watts by day and 244 watts
at night, it's not heard well outside the central Merrimack Valley,
which leads us to wonder why the Archdiocese is spending all
this money on a facility its leaders won't even hear at their
suburban Boston headquarters. Could a move south be in the offing?
(This isn't the Archdiocese's first broadcast effort, by the
way; back in the 1960s, it owned WIHS-TV 38, ancestor of today's
WSBK!) The switches are expected to take place sometime around
January 2002. (2006 note: The purchase never happened, and
WNNW eventually moved to 800, with WCCM taking the 1490 spot.)
- MAINE will have a broadcast Fox affiliate after October 7
- at least for viewers in the Bangor area. WCKD-LP (Channel 30),
which has been running as a UPN affiliate under LMA with ABC
affiliate WVII (Channel 7), will switch to the Fox affiliation
when Portland's WPXT (Channel 51) dumps Fox for WB.
- We'll start our NEW YORK news, of course, down in Manhattan,
with the latest on the recovery efforts at the World Trade Center.
On the TV side, WCBS-TV (Channel 2) filed with the FCC on Wednesday
to make its auxiliary site at the Empire State Building its primary
site. From Empire, WCBS runs 45 kilowatts visual ERP at 389 meters
above average terrain. There's not much new to report on the
other stations that used the World Trade Center. We're still
hearing from viewers in outlying areas such as Long Island and
Connecticut that the signals on the other VHF stations from their
hastily-constructed backup sites at Empire and the Armstrong
tower in Alpine, N.J. are proving hard to receive. Of the FM
stations, we're told WNYC-FM (93.9) is running in mono with less
than a kilowatt from Empire, with most of its programming still
being simulcast on the Board of Education's Brooklyn-based WNYE-FM
(91.5), an arrangement that some are speculating will become
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- The ubiquitous Dr. Laura Schlessinger
has added yet another New England outlet. Hartford's WTIC (1080)
has bumped Hartford Courant columnist Colin McEnroe from his
mid-morning slot and dropped in Dr. Laura instead. McEnroe will
be heard doing commentaries on TIC's morning and afternoon drive
shows, as well as on a Sunday night talk show. Across town at
WDRC (1360), Bob Grant has been dropped from the schedule, reportedly
because programmers there don't think his abrasive talk fits
with WDRC's standards format. Phil Callan moves from middays
to PM to fill Grant's timeslot. And at WHCN (105.9), new owner
SFX is moving towards classic rock, both to pull WHCN away from
its new stablemate, modern-rocker WMRQ (104.1), and to go after
ARS's 70s rocker, WZMX (93.7).
- A bit further south in Connecticut,
Quinnipiac College seems to be making big plans for its newly-purchased
AM. The former WXCT (1220) in Hamden is now dark, but will reportedly
resurface sometime in January with the WQUN calls. Quinnipiac
has been advertising in the trades for a GM/PD, a morning host/operations
manager, and two newspeople to work alongside the student staff.
The station's in good hands; NYC radio veteran Lou Adler is apparently
the driving force behind the project.
- Two dark stations that probably won't
return: WLVC (1340) Fort Kent and WSJR (1230) Madawaska, way
up there in northern Maine. It's been two and a half years since
these stations were on the air, and their authority to remain
silent expired a year ago. The FCC is asking owner Lamoille Broadcasting
for a written explanation of why the licenses shouldn't be revoked.
- Back on the air, and with a much-improved
signal, is Holliston High School's WHHB(FM) in Holliston, Mass.
The station has finally made good on its plans to move from 91.5
to 99.9, and from a short tower atop the high school to a taller
cellular-phone stick down the road.
*It's here! Tower Site Calendar
2007 is now shipping, and if you took advantage of our pre-order
offer, your calendar should be arriving in your mailbox any day
This year's edition features what we think are the
finest tower images yet - from the cover image of WCCO Minneapolis
all the way to the back-cover centerfold of WBZ in Boston, and
from KGO San Francisco to KOIL Omaha to Philadelphia's famed
Roxborough tower farm, captured in a dramatic dusk shot with
the lights all aglow.
This sixth annual edition once again contains plenty of historic
dates from radio and television history in the Northeast and
beyond, and as always, it comes to you shrink-wrapped and shipped
first class mail for safe arrival.
You can even get your 2007 calendar free with
your new or renewal subscription
to NERW at the $60 level.
Visit the Fybush.com
Store and place your order today - and be among the first
to get the Tower Site Calendar 2007, just as soon as it rolls
off the presses in a few short weeks!
NorthEast Radio Watch is made possible by the generous
contributions of our regular readers. If you enjoy NERW, please
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learn how you can help make continued publication possible. NERW
2006 by Scott Fybush.