October 16, 2006
Smooth Jazz Returns to Philadelphia
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*Fans of smooth jazz in
southeast PENNSYLVANIA and southern NEW JERSEY are
about to get their format back.
Greater Media, which is acquiring WTHK (97.5 Burlington
NJ) in a trade with Nassau, announced last week that it will
flip the station from classic rock ("The Hawk") to
smooth jazz on November 15, bringing back the format and the
WJJZ calls that disappeared from the market when Clear Channel
flipped the previous WJJZ (106.1 Philadelphia) to rhythmic AC
"Philly's 106.1" as WISX in August.
The new WJJZ will launch from the longtime 97.5 transmitter
site in Trenton, since Greater Media has not yet finished (or,
as far as we know, even started) construction of the station's
new transmitter facility at the Wyndmoor tower site just outside
Assuming nothing changes between now and November - it's always
at least slightly risky, after all, to announce a format flip
this far in advance - the flip to smooth jazz will broaden the
demographic range of Greater's Philadelphia cluster, which currently
leans heavily male and rock-oriented with sports WPEN (950),
rock WMMR (93.3), adult hits WBEN-FM (95.7) and classic rock
Greater Media says it will have the new signal from Wyndmoor
on the air by January 2007...as always, stay tuned!
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*In other Philadelphia news, Janita Jones is out in middays
at Beasley's WRDW (Wired 96.5), with Casey moving from the morning
show to replace her. Over at WXPN (88.5)'s "YRockon XPN.org"
service, former WPLY morning host Marilyn Russell comes on board
for Friday afternoons.
In Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, WBSX (97.9 Hazleton) music director/midday
jock James McKay moves up to the PD slot vacated by Chris Lloyd
when he moved to WBAB on Long Island. McKay will shift to the
afternoon air chair, with Zoey moving from nights to middays
and weekender Cayden taking over nights.
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*Some sad news out of eastern MASSACHUSETTS
this week - WBZ (1030 Boston) nighttime talk host Paul Sullivan
isn't out of the woods yet as he continues his fight against
brain cancer. Sullivan underwent two operations in 2004, but
recent tests turned up more signs of cancer, so he was back at
Mass General last week for a third surgery. The good news? Word
is he's already recuperating, and planning to be back on the
air in time for election night next month.
College's WERS (88.9 Boston) is hearing the feedback from its
recent schedule changes, which dropped the midday "Jazz
Oasis" show, the "Gyroscope" world-music show
and the late-night dance show "Revolutions." WERS moved
the reggae show "Rockers" later into the evening (7-10
PM instead of 4-8 PM), filling the remainder of its daytime hours
with a new AAA-ish format it calls "Music for the Independent
Mind," which combines the former morning show, "Coffeehouse,"
with some of the world music and dance music that was heard in
other parts of the day.
The station says the move will make its sound more consistent,
as well as solving the problem of finding hosts to play jazz
in the middle of the day - but we're hearing from at least some
listeners who aren't thrilled by the changes. (WERS' weekend
schedule, by the way, remains largely unchanged.)
*NEW HAMPSHIRE Public Radio went,
er, "public" last week with the details of its expansion
plans. The statewide network says it's outgrown its home on North
Main Street in Concord, and it's looking forward to a mid-2007
move into new quarters in the former Blue Cross building. NHPR
has already raised $2.6 million of the $6.5 million it's seeking
- $5.5 million for the new facilities, which will include a 60-seat
live performance studio and $1 million for conversion to HD Radio,
enabling it to multicast three program streams around the Granite
In Nashua, the old WSMN (1590) towers are gone, but they're
still causing headaches. The station's former licensee, "WSMN
Broadcasting LLC," appealed a $7,000 FCC fine stemming from
a 2004 inspection that found the bases of the towers were overgrown
and the fences were missing. The FCC says even though WSMN Broadcasting
didn't own the towers, it's still responsible for the fine. (WSMN
is now operating under special temporary authority from the site
of sister station WGAM 900.)
*When is "late news" not necessarily
late news? When it's taped several hours before airtime, as Bangor's
WVII-TV (Channel 7) plans to do with its 11 PM newscast, and
the 10 PM news it airs on sister station WFVX-LP (Channel 22).
"Not a whole lot happens in Bangor, Maine late at night,"
says GM Mike Palmer to the Bangor Daily News - and
while that's probably true, we've got to imagine that when something
does happen at night in Bangor, viewers there will be tuning
to crosstown WABI-TV and WLBZ rather than to WVII/WFVX. (Of course,
the ratings suggest that most of them are doing that already,
WVII says it will continue to offer live sports on Friday
nights, and Palmer took a slap at WLBZ as well, saying "its
not like were putting on the news from Portland and masquerading
ourselves as a Bangor TV station." (Much of WLBZ's news
comes from sister station WCSH in Portland.)
And speaking of budget-cutting TV news operations,
we're at least slightly bemused by the "Preserve
Local TV" campaign being run by Nexstar's stations around
the country, including WROC/WUHF in Rochester, WUTR/WFXV in Utica,
WBRE/WYOU in Scranton and WJET/WFXP in Erie. Claiming "local
TV is threatened by Congress," the campaign is running frequent
on-air announcements asking viewers to contact lawmakers and
"save local TV." What's it really all about? Expanding
TV duopoly and preserving the LMA-style arrangements under which
Nexstar operates more than one signal in each of those markets
- and in which it axed local news completely in Utica and cut
back staff and news budgets in other markets.
*The towers are finally up on Mount Mansfield,
and the DTV signals are lighting up the airwaves in northern
VERMONT. WCAX-DT (Channel 53) will be on the air within
the next week or two from its new tower on Mansfield, to be followed
in short order by WPTZ-DT (Channel 14), WVNY-DT (Channel 13)
and WFFF-DT (Channel 43). Once analog TV goes away in 2009, the
older towers on the mountain - including the WVNY analog antenna,
on a separate tower not shown here - will come down, leaving
only the new WCAX and WVNY towers standing. (Thanks to Vermont
Public Radio for the photo!)
Across the lake in Plattsburgh, NEW YORK, we hear the
sale of WWBI-LP (Channel 27) to the "Word of God Religious
Fellowship" has fallen through, and the station has reverted
from Daystar religion to the i (formerly PAX) programming it
was carrying until 2005. The station is on the market again,
and we hear a new buyer could be announced soon.
In Glens Falls, WQYQ (101.7 Hudson Falls) changes calls to
WNYQ, returning those calls to the market where they were formerly
heard on 105.7 (now silent, as it prepares to move into Albany.)
Radio People on the Move: Jim Kerr has renewed his contract
with Clear Channel's WAXQ (104.3 New York), which will keep him
in morning drive through at least 2009. CBS Radio's "Free
FM" WFNY-FM (92.3 New York) is looking for a new PD, as
Mark Chernoff focuses on his other PD chair, at sports WFAN (660).
Over at Salem's WMCA (570)/WWDJ (970 Hackensack NJ), Susan Lucchesi
arrives from Cumulus in Lake Charles, Louisiana to replace Dave
Armstrong as general manager. (Armstrong's heading for Salem's
San Diego cluster.) And Joan Gerberding, who spent much of her
career at Nassau, has departed her job as director of radio operations
for Access.1 Communications, which owns WWRL (1600), the city's
Air America outlet. (No, we're not ignoring the bankruptcy announcement
from the progressive talk network - but it's been well covered
in the national trades, and until it looks like it will have
any effect on programming at WWRL or the region's other Air America
affiliates, there's not much we can add.)
In Albany, Mick Lee moves back from Washington DC (where he
was briefly at "Hot 99.5" WIHT after leaving Clear
Channel's WKKF), joining WFLY (92.3 Troy) to do afternoons with
Christy Taylor. PD Terry O'Donnell moves into Taylor's former
At SUNY Oneonta, the construction permit for WUOW-LP (104.7)
has been returned to the FCC; the school also has noncom WONY
(90.9), which continues to operate.
In Buffalo, several stations were knocked off the air by the
surprise early blizzard that whipped through the area Thursday
night and Friday; we hear Entercom's news/talk WBEN (930) was
being simulcast on sister station WWKB (1520) at the height of
the storm. (And, no, we didn't have any significant snowfall
at all here in Rochester, 70 miles to the east.)
Congratulations to John Lyons, the veteran New York engineer
who's spent the last few years developing and managing the Four
Times Square transmitter facility that's been such a crucial
part of the 9/11 recovery for so many of the city's radio and
TV stations - he's just been named "Engineer of the Year"
by Radio World (for which your editor is a columnist and
contributing writer, too.)
*In CANADA, Blackburn Radio's CIBU
(94.5 Wingham) has been granted a relay transmitter in Bluewater,
near Sarnia. The new signal will operate on 91.7 with 2.3 kW,
covering an area where CIBU suffers co-channel interference from
WCEN-FM (94.5 Mount Pleasant MI). Bayshore Broadcasting opposed
the grant, saying it planned to use 91.7 in an application for
a new signal in Goderich, Ontario, but the CRTC says it can find
an alternate frequency for the Goderich station, if granted.
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!)
October 17, 2005 -
- One of RHODE ISLAND's most experienced and talented TV reporters
died unexpectedly early Wednesday morning (Oct. 12) at his Cape
Cod home. Jack White's journalism career began at the Newport
Daily News in 1969 and soon took him to the Providence Journal,
where he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1974 for his reporting that
discovered President Nixon had cheated on his taxes. (It was
that story, published in October 1973, that led Nixon to make
his "I am not a crook" speech.)
- White moved to television in 1979, working on the "I-Team"
at Boston's WBZ-TV (Channel 4). He returned to newspapers at
the Cape Cod Times two years later, then joined WPRI (Channel
12) in 1985 as the station's chief investigative reporter, a
position he would hold for two decades. White's tenure at WPRI
included two Emmys, one for a 1992 report on fugitive banker
Joseph Mollicone and one just this year for his reporting on
Providence city officials who violated the city's residency requirement.
- What's up with Jay Severin's timeslot on WTKK (96.9 Boston)?
The Greater Media talk station now says Severin won't return
to its airwaves in the afternoon until (and unless) 'TKK reaches
a deal to carry the Long Island-based host's new syndicated show,
which debuts in January. In the meantime, Sean Hannity continues
to air from 3-6 PM on WTKK, followed - this week, anyway - by
former WMAL Washington talk host Michael Graham.
- It's farewell time for one of NEW HAMPSHIRE's best-known
broadcasters. After a decade and a half transforming New Hampshire
Public Radio from a sleepy, small-town station into a nationally
respected statewide network, Mark Handley has departed his post
at the helm of the network. Sometime in the next few days, Mark
and his wife Judy will head out of Boston Harbor in their 42-foot
sailboat, "Windbird," to spend the next two years circumnavigating
the globe. (You can follow their progress at www.handleysail.com.)
- "They took the crosstown bus." Confused by that?
So were radio listeners across the state, who heard that cryptic
message one afternoon last week during an Amber Alert EAS activation
from the state's emergency management office. The message was
apparently part of a test that was transmitted by mistake, and
it aired on numerous stations across the state.
October 15, 2001 -
- NEW YORK is where we start this week's report, with word
that the latest round of anthrax scares disrupted things at Clear
Channel/Albany Saturday morning. Two envelopes containing a whitish,
sticky substance showed up in the station's mail, sending WGY
(810 Schenectady) talk host Joe Gallagher to the hospital for
a check-up after opening them. Gallagher wasn't hurt, and police
think the whole thing was a hoax. (Sign of the times, though:
we're seeing job listings that specify e-mail applications only
because of delays processing paper mail!)
- New York City's WKTU (103.5 Lake Success) is moving again.
One of the four FMs displaced in the World Trade Center collapse,
the Clear Channel station was the most fortunate, since it had
a fully-functioning auxiliary facility at Four Times Square that
was back on the air within moments. But that site is significantly
lower than the rest of the market's FMs, and so Clear Channel
is looking elsewhere for long-term use. An application filed
last week will move WKTU to the ERI master antenna on the Empire
State Building, joining more than a dozen other FMs (including
fellow WTC refugees WPAT-FM and WNYC-FM) on the city's tallest
remaining structure. The engineering study (dated September 12
- they weren't wasting any time!) notes that WKTU will suffer
slight additional interference from WBZO (103.1 Bay Shore) and
WNNJ-FM (103.7 Newton NJ) as a result of the move, an inevitable
result of the area's overstuffed FM spectrum.
- WNYC-FM, meanwhile, says it will cost $4 million to get back
up to full power from Empire. It's looking to fellow public radio
stations to help, and indeed Minnesota Public Radio has already
received special permission from the FCC to do on-air fundraising
to benefit WNYC, with other stations expected to follow suit.
- The TV DX types down that way tell NERW that the city's VHF
signals are slowly getting back up to viewable power, with decent
pictures being reported on channels 4, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13 from
- We'll take care of PENNSYLVANIA next, beginning in Erie,
where the new Fairview-licensed 93.9 signal is reported on the
air as of today (noon on Monday, 10/15, to be exact), running
active rock as WRPL, "the Planet."
- While Nextmedia turns on that new signal, it's transferred
its 102.3 license (currently WLKK) to Regent, which began stunting
this afternoon with a rotating roster of 24 different formats.
The real format will premiere on 10/23 (get it?), with new calls
reportedly on the way as well. WLKK PD Tim Stephens is out as
well with the demise of "the Point" there.
New England Radio Watch, October 16, 1996
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- After more than two years of promises,
the Kidstar children's radio format makes its debut in Boston
on Thursday, October 17, on WROR (1150 AM). The leased-time ethnic
programming on WROR ended sometime Monday, and 1150 was mostly
silent for much of Monday night and Tuesday, allowing Bostonians
a rare chance to listen to the surprisingly good big-band format
on WVNJ (1160) from Bergen County, NJ. As I write this, 1150
has returned to the air with a ticking-clock sound effect and
a promotional loop that runs roughly every 20 minutes advertising
Kidstar (and, unsurprisingly, no legal ID). The official kickoff
of Kidstar in Boston will take place at 11:50 am on Thursday,
with a celebration at Boston's Computer Museum downtown. The
on-air promos on 1150 are urging kids to attend, which seems
odd, given that Thursday is a school day.
- Picking up the leased-time ethnic slack
is Douglas Broadcasting's WBPS (890 Dedham-Boston), which has
lost most of the sports shows that were leasing the daytime hours,
and which is now running Spanish-language programming from 9
am until 3 pm, and a variety of other languages in the evening.
- Skowhegan, Maine's WHQO (107.9 FM)
has shed its smooth-jazz/AC format ("The Light at the End
of the Dial") in favor of a simulcast of all-sports WSKW
(1160 AM, "The Score"). The format change accompanies
an LMA of WHQO from Harvey Broadcasting to Mountain Wireless,
which owns WSKW, album-rock WTOS (105.1), and AC WCTB (93.5 Fairfield
ME). It gets the Score a much better signal in the Augusta-Waterville
area, especially at night, when the 1160 signal is nearly inaudible
with only 730 watts (as opposed to 10kw daytime).
*It's here! As seen in the St.
Paul Pioneer Press, Tower Site Calendar
2007 is now shipping!
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!
NorthEast Radio Watch is made possible by the generous
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learn how you can help make continued publication possible. NERW
2006 by Scott Fybush.