April 30, 2007
WJIB's Bittner Hits the Goal
TOWER SITE CALENDAR 2007 - SELLING OUT FAST!!!
*An unusual radio fundraising campaign in
MASSACHUSETTS has wrapped up with an early declaration
we've amply chronicled over the years, WJIB (740 Cambridge) is
a most unusual commercial station, operated as a one-man venture
by owner Bob Bittner, who's run the station for the last decade
and a half with no commercial spots at all, just some leased-time
programming and a lot of standards, soft AC, oldies and good
old-fashioned "beautiful music."
Two financial blows to WJIB almost put that operation in jeopardy
this spring: first, the loss of Radio France International's
contract to lease two hours of morning drive, and second, WJIB's
ratings spike that put it in danger of owing a much larger ASCAP/BMI
bill than it's enjoyed over the years with ratings below 1.0.
So Bob decided to ask his audience for their support. Six
weeks ago, he began airing occasional messages gently asking
for voluntary donations to keep WJIB going past his self-imposed
June 30 deadline.
It turns out, as Bob put it in his on-air announcements last
Wednesday, that June 30th came early - and that he's already
made his $88,000 goal after just six weeks of occasional on-air
"I am impressed with your generosity, and your deep commitment
to keep WJIB playing this great music that we're known for,"
Bittner said in his announcement. "And I feel really good
too; that all of my work over the years selecting and putting
this music together has been validated."
Bittner says the over 2,400 contributions he received - not
tax-deductible, by the way - ranged from $5 to two $1,000 checks,
and that not a single check bounced. (Two, however, sent in checks
made out to "WGBH"!)
And he says his experience proves that "a smaller commercially-licensed
station has another alternative than to scratch for limited advertising
dollars," providing another possible path for niche music
formats like his to succeed.
You can have
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for information on the most economical way to reach tens of thousands
of Northeast radio and TV people each week.
*In Worcester, WTAG (580) morning host Hank Stolz left the
Clear Channel station last week, just after celebrating his tenth
anniversary there on Monday, but he's not disappearing from central
Massachusetts morning radio.
competing talker WCRN (830) announced that it's hired Stolz as
its new mid-morning talk host. He'll debut there today with "The
Hank Stolz Experience," to be heard weekdays from 9 AM-noon,
immediately following WCRN's Peter Blute morning show. Stolz's
show replaces the leased-time "Money Matters" show
in that slot, and it gives WCRN a live-and-local lineup all morning
Meanwhile at WTAG, Stolz's co-host Sherman Whitman continues
in morning drive.
In Springfield, the Falcons AHL hockey team is moving next
season from Clear Channel's WNNZ (640 Westfield), which is now
leased out to public broadcaster WFCR (88.5 Amherst), to sister
station WHYN (560 Springfield). All 80 of the team's games will
air on WHYN.
VERMONT commercial station is helping Plattsburgh's WCFE-TV
(Channel 57) get a signal back on the air after the collapse
of its tower on Lyon Mountain April 18. WCAX-TV (Channel 3) in
Burlington announced Tuesday that it's allowing "Mountain
Lake PBS" to broadcast over one of the subchannels of WCAX-DT
(Channel 53) until WCFE can rebuild its own tower later this
summer. The WCFE subchannel will apparently appear as "57.1"
on DTV tuners, and more importantly, will resume the feed of
WCFE's signal to cable companies in Vermont, Quebec and northeastern
New York. WCAX quickly rounded up some loaned microwave equipment
to get the WCFE signal across the lake to its transmitter on
Mount Mansfield. (And when you look up the definition of "broadcasting
in the public interest," that should be a WCAX logo you
WCFE is also getting some help from its Plattsburgh neighbor,
Hearst-Argyle's WPTZ (Channel 5), which donated video streaming
to help WCFE get its big "Arts Auction" out to as many
viewers as possible.
Congratulations to WCAX news director/evening anchor Marselis
Parsons, by the way, for marking his 40th anniversary at the
station last week. How many other 40-year veterans of a single
TV station are there on the air across NERW-land today? Don Alhart
at WHAM-TV in Rochester will hit that mark later this year...anyone
Congratulations, also, to Equity Broadcasting's W61CE in Rutland,
which became the stuff of message-board legend over the winter
when it lost its satellite feed from the Equity mothership in
Arkansas. After broadcasting an "ALARM MODE" screen
since at least early November, we're told it finally got My Network
programming (from WGMU-CA in Burlington) back on the air last
*In NEW HAMPSHIRE's capital city,
35-year veteran WKXL (1450 Concord) talk host Gardner Hill has
departed the station, where he hosted "Coffee Chat"
and "Your Health Matters." Hill was the last of the
station's on-air staff remaining from the days of previous owner
Warren Bailey, who sold WKXL to Gordon Humphrey in 2004.
*Two RHODE ISLAND college radio DJs
are off the air after staging what they called a "discussion"
of the Don Imus controversy. Roger Williams University officials
say all that Dana Peloso and Jon Porter were doing on their WQRI
(88.3 Bristol) show was repeating Imus' unfortunate phrase over
and over for shock value. PD Mike Martelli tells Providence's
WJAR-TV that he'd warned all the station's jocks to steer clear
of using the phrase on the air. Peloso and Porter are now off
the air at WQRI, where they'd hosted a Tuesday-morning talk show,
and are (unsurprisingly) milking the incident for maximum publicity
value, making lots of noise about censorship in what appears
to be more of a typical management-"talent" dispute
about following rules.
Meanwhile in the world of commercial radio, WHJJ (920 Providence)
has tapped the Pittsburgh-based syndicated "Quinn and Rose"
as its replacement for Don Imus; they'd been airing in the 9-noon
slot, which will now be filled by Glenn Beck.
MANDATORY SUBSCRIPTION FEES?
They've become a fact
of life for many of the most popular radio and TV websites out
there. Just a few weeks ago, our pal Dave Hughes put part of
his excellent DCRTV.com site
behind a pay wall, and mandatory subscriptions are an established
way of life at LARadio.com
and reelradio.com, too,
just to name a few.
Here at fybush.com/North East
RadioWatch, we've managed to hold off from imposing a password
and mandatory subscription fee, but we depend on your support
- and that of our advertisers - to keep it that way.
If you still haven't subscribed
yet for 2007, 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!
*This week's NEW YORK entry in the
"Don Imus Replacement" contest? It's NFL star Boomer
Esiason, who'll fill morning drive on WFAN (660 New York) all
week this week, allowing Mike and the Mad Dog to begin to go
back to focusing on their regular afternoon slot. (Though not
entirely - Chris "Mad Dog" Russo will be co-hosting
mornings with Esiason for at least today, as well as afternoons
with Mike Francesa.)
Meanwhile, sister station WFNY-FM (92.3 Free FM) is dealing
with a controversy of its own: mid-morning jocks JV and Elvis
are suspended after the Organization of Chinese Americans took
offense to a segment in which they called Chinese restaurants
and...well, suffice it to say the Organization of Chinese Americans
took offense, and there's no word yet on when JV and Elvis will
be back on the air. The OCA also had words last week with Clear
Channel's WWPR (Power 105.1) over a contest called "Are
You Smarter Than An Asian?"
The "other" WFNY - the AM station on 1440 in Gloversville,
west of Albany - is celebrating its power increase. The oldies
station cranked up its power from 800 watts (directional) to
3.6 kW non-directional last week, and is reportedly now being
heard as far east as the Capital District.
institution in New York City has retired. Nimet Habachy hosted
"New York at Night" during the overnight hours from
1980 until last Friday, when she retired from WQXR (96.3 New
York). No replacement has been named yet.
New York's WNYC-FM (93.9) signed on a new Long Island translator
late last week. The construction permit for W228BI (93.5 Smithtown)
was to have expired Saturday, just a day after the translator
turned on from a cell tower just east of Smithtown, in western
Suffolk County. The 55-watt translator was off the air again
over the weekend, but we hear it did a number on Long Island
reception of WVIP (93.5 New Rochelle) while it was on the air.
There's a new music director/afternoon jock on the way to
WBWZ (93.3 New Paltz): Chris Chase is headed east from WMDH (102.5
New Castle/Muncie IN), where he was doing afternoons.
*A central PENNSYLVANIA morning team
is taking on a challenging assignment in northern California.
"The Morning Mess" crew - Jason Barsky, Kelly and Gavin
- will leave WHKF (99.3 Harrisburg) for a new gig at KDND (107.9
Sacramento) beginning May 14. That's the station that achieved
national infamy for its "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" promotion
a few months back, in which a contestant died, and it's been
without a full-time morning show since firing its "Morning
Rave" staff in the wake of that contest. Mike Miller returns
to WHKF as host of "The New Morning Mess"; he'd been
at KKRZ (100.3 Portland OR) as PM jock/APD.
Up the road in Gap (near Lancaster), that LPFM on 92.9 that
keeps changing calls has done it again. The former WOMB-LP, WGCP-LP,
WOMB-LP, WLDW-LP, WOBS-LP, WGPQ-LP, WLBX-LP, WOBS-LP, WLRI-LP,
WLIZ-LP, WTPP-LP, WOMB-LP, WPAG-LP and WLIZ-LP is now...WLAL-LP,
making fifteen call changes in less than four years. Anyone know
what the story is here? (We found a web
site for the WLIZ-LP incarnation, which was apparently "92.9
Liz FM" for the brief period it held those calls...)
Speaking of call
changes, WBXQ (94.7 Cresson/Altoona) and WBRX (94.3 Patton) briefly
filed to swap calls, which would have restored the WBXQ calls
to the original 94.3 dial position they had, and puts WBRX back
on 94.7 - but back then, 94.3 was the Cresson frequency and 94.7
was the Patton frequency. The call swap was apparently filed
in error, as it disappeared the next day from the FCC database,
leaving WBXQ on 94.7 and WBRX on 94.3.
In the Pittsburgh market, WKHB (620 Irwin) has shifted formats
on the music it plays when it's not in leased-time mode, segueing
from 60s-70s oldies to a "variety hits"-type format.
OM/PD Clarke Ingram continues with his Saturday afternoon oldies
show, and the station's other weekend oldies and polka shows
continue as well.
In Erie, Fred Horton exits as PD/morning man at WXTA (97.9
Edinboro) - and yes, that's the same "Uncle Fred" we
remember from his days at WBEE-FM (92.5) here in Rochester.
And in Gettysburg, WGTY (107.7) PD Brad Austin departed Friday;
he's headed to Madison, Wisconsin to become PD at WWQM (106.3).
*In NEW JERSEY, we're sorry to report
the death last Sunday (Apr. 22) of Bernard Spigner, whose career
included talk hosting at WCTC (1450 New Brunswick), as well as
stints with Shadow Traffic, the New Jersey Nets, the Meadowlands
Sports Complex and a run as GM of WALK (1370 Patchogue). Spigner
had been battling cancer; he was just 51, and leaves behind wife
Deborah and a two year old son, Robbie.
David Sarnoff Library in Princeton took a pounding from the nor'easter
that hit the region April 15. The storm deposited 20 inches of
water in the building's sub-basement, soaking 600 cubic feet
of boxes that contained records from the RCA Labs dating from
World War II to 1960, including notebooks documenting the development
of the company's early television cameras and satellite communications.
The library's insurance doesn't cover the estimated $60,000
cost of drying and restoring the documents, work that's now underway
at Document Reprocessors in Middlesex, New York (just down the
road from NERW's Rochester headquarters), and the library is
looking for donations to help pay for the restoration work. NERW
has already made a contribution toward the effort, and you can
Contributions can be made with PayPal at www.davidsarnoff.org
or by mail to the David Sarnoff Library, 201 Washington Road,
CN 5300, Princeton NJ 08543-5300. (And do mention that you read
about it in NERW...)
*In CANADA, the CRTC has granted
another new ethnic expanded-band AM in the Toronto market. Neeti
P. Ray gets 1000 watts on 1650 in Mississauga, for a station
aimed at audiences from the Indian subcontinent, with programming
primarily in the Urdu and Hindustani languages. A competing application
from S.S. TV Inc. was denied.
the TV side of things, CanWest Global is getting ready once again
to rebrand its "CH" network of local stations - and
it's picking up a brand from a US-based cable network. Starting
September 1, those stations, including CHCH (Channel 11) in Hamilton
and CJNT (Channel 62) in Montreal, will be rebranded as "E!"
The stations will keep their current prime-time lineups of
(mostly US) network programming, adding E! content during the
day and later at night, and they'll go back to using their call
letters for local news, except for CJNT, which doesn't do news.
On the radio side
of things, it's not an all-out AM-to-FM move (and can't be, since
Blackburn Radio already has two FMs in the market), but CHOK
(1070 Sarnia) is asking the CRTC for permission to add a low-power
FM simulcast to better reach listeners in Sarnia. CHOK initially
asked the CRTC for 875 watts/54 meters on 103.3, saying that
the "metal and steel" of Sarnia's big petrochemical
plants, along with interference from "computer monitors
and electrical equipment" all but obliterate its AM signal.
CHOK reworked the request last week to avoid a conflict with
Points Eagle Broadcasting's application for a native station
in Sarnia; it's now asking for 615 watts/143 meters on 100.9,
In Tillsonburg, construction is now underway on a new taller
tower for CKOT-FM (101.3) and its new sister station on 107.3.
CKOT-FM has a pending application to go from 50 kW to 26 kW and
to raise its antenna to 205.6 meters above average terrain from
the new tower.
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!)
May 1, 2006 -
- Greater Media has just announced that it's out of the running
for the Red Sox rights in 2007. "The deal didnt make
economic sense for the company," says Greater Media president/CEO
- Today's the day new programming launches at WESX (1230 Salem),
as the station's new owners-to-be take control from the Asher
family, which has owned the station since the fifties. Last Friday,
fans of the little local station honored longtime personalities
Al Needham and Betty Stavis at a ceremony at Salem City Hall
that drew about 150 people. Under its new ownership, WESX will
replace local programming with a format that's expected to be
primarily foreign-language religious programming. That format
will arrive at sister station WJDA (1300 Quincy) soon, too, though
it appears the local programming on WJDA will be around for at
least a few more weeks.
- On the FM dial, WBCN (104.1 Boston) has named a new afternoon
team. "Toucher and Rich" come to Boston from Atlanta
(where Fred Toucher was on modern rocker WNNX) and Dallas (where
Rich Shertenlieb was a producer of the syndicated "Kidd
Kraddick" morning show), and their arrival moves Hardy from
afternoons to evenings and Mark Hamilton from evenings to overnights.
- One of VERMONT's locally-owned radio voices is being sold,
but all within the station family. Tri-State Broadcasters, which
has owned WTSA (1450 Brattleboro) and WTSA-FM (96.7 Brattleboro)
since 1985, is selling the stations to William and Kelli Corbeil.
William Corbeil began his broadcast career as an intern at WTSA
and later worked at WIZN in Burlington before returning to his
family's auto dealerships. Corbeil says WTSA's staff (including
WTSA-FM morning host John "Clarke" Kilduff, one of
the station's current owners) will remain unchanged, and that
no changes are planned to the AM's sports programming or the
FM's adult contemporary format.
- The battle over that controversial WFUV (90.7 New York) tower
in the Bronx ended with a whimper early last week. Now that WFUV
is on the air from its new site at Montefiore Hospital, Fordham
University officials acted without any publicity at all to take
down the never-completed tower that stood on the edge of the
Fordham campus, overlooking the New York Botanical Garden. It's
always nice when these things end happily, and all sides are
now satisfied - the Garden has its view back (not that we ever
found the tower all that ugly!), and WFUV has a better signal
from the Montefiore site than it ever would have had from the
Fordham tower, had it been completed.
April 22, 2002 -
- A posting on Allan Sniffen's NY Radio Message Board reports
WVIP (1310 Mount Kisco) has begun simulcasting the Spanish-language
religion of WWRV (1330 New York); we've also heard that WVIP
sister station WGCH (1490 Greenwich CT) has been off the air,
but it's not clear whether that's related to WGCH's tower dispute
- Heading up towards Albany, the state capital's newest radio
station made its debut late last week in stunt mode. Newly moved
up the dial (from 93.5) and down I-87 (from Corinth/Glens Falls),
WHTR (93.7 Scotia) started out with a loop of "Anarchy in
the U.K.," followed by a weekend of simulcasting owner Ed
Levine's "K-Rock" (WKLL 94.9 Frankfort-Utica), before
launching into a hot talk format Monday afternoon. As rumored,
former WPYX (106.5) morning guy Bob Mulrooney is doing mornings
on 93.7; other additions to the schedule include Opie and Anthony
in afternoons, Tom Leykis in the evening and Lovelines at night.
Much more on this new signal when we return in mid-May...
- PENNSYLVANIA has a new radio station this week; WVIA (89.9
Scranton) applied for a license to cover for its new relay in
Williamsport. WVYA (89.7) replaces the old WVIA translator there,
which had been on 89.3.
- Harrisburg's "Cat" finally has calls to match;
WRKZ (106.7 Hershey) changed its calls to WCAT-FM late last week
(though simulcast WHYL-FM 102.3 in Carlisle stays the same).
The calls, helpfully enough, already belonged to owner Citadel;
they'd been on 99.9 FM in Athol, Mass. for more than a decade.
That station, which runs oldies, became WAHL(FM).
May 1, 1997-
can sponsor this new weekly feature! Click here for information!
- We'll begin in NEW HAMPSHIRE this time around, where there's
much more to report about religious broadcaster Brian Dodge and
his media empire of sorts. Last week we told you that his WWNH
(1340 Madbury NH) is operating without benefit of valid FCC license,
and now it seems New Hampshire's Attorney General's office is
looking into the finances of his "We Trust in Jesus Broadcasting."
State officials tell the Nashua Telegraph that the charity made
a loan to Dodge last year, in violation of a new state law which
bars charities from making loans to their directors or officers.
Dodge has also reportedly failed to file annual reports for 1995
or 1996, and he's due to appear at a closed-door hearing of the
Division of Charitable Trusts on May 20. Dodge is claiming his
charity is actually a church, which would exempt it from the
reporting requirements. State officials disagree. Stay tuned...
- More from VERMONT: The rumors are flying around WVMX (101.7
Stowe) this week. Late word is that the classic rocker may soon
be reborn as a classical music outlet under the calls WCVT. The
101.7 signal comes from the top of Mount Mansfield, overlooking
the Burlington area as well as the Stowe area.
- A minor format change to tell you about in MASSACHUSETTS
this week, as American Radio Systems tweaks the format on WEGQ
(93.7 Lawrence-Boston), the former 70s rocker. The "Eagle"
is adding music of the early 1980s, and touting itself as the
"Greatest Hits of the 70s and 80s." Sister station
WZMX (93.7) Hartford is still playing 70s rock, but now calling
itself "Classic Hits 93.7".
- There's a new signal on the air in upstate NEW YORK. Just
hours after the last NERW went online, WCGR in Canandaigua turned
on its new 1310 kHz fulltime signal. The directional signal blasts
in towards Rochester, especially by day. WCGR is still simulcasting
on the old daytime-only 1550 facility, but that's expected to
be turned off shortly. Just down the road in Geneva, WEOS (89.7)
has turned on its new transmitter, providing much-improved coverage
to the areas east of Geneva.
- Downstate, the FCC is cracking down on WJUX (99.7 Monticello),
which has spent its entire broadcast career as the nominal primary
for translator W276AQ Fort Lee NJ. The FCC has ordered a hearing
into whether W276AQ's owner, Gerry Turro, also exercised control
over WJUX and whether the licenses of WJUX, W276AQ, and Turro's
translator W232AL Pomona NY (the relay point between WJUX and
W276AQ) should be pulled. In listening to WJUX over the last
few years, it's quite obvious that the programming is targeted
to W276AQ's Bergen County NJ listeners and not to WJUX's audience
in the Catskills. This should be another good one to watch.
*It's here! As seen in the St.
Paul Pioneer Press, the Chicago
Sun-Times, and soon on WCVB's "Chronicle,"
Tower Site Calendar 2007 is not only now shipping - it's
close to a sellout! If you're waiting for the 2007 edition to
go on clearance sale, don't keep waiting - the word from the
shipping department is that only about 40 copies remain,
and we expect to sell them all in the next few weeks.
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!
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
2007 by Scott Fybush.