June 18, 2007
Barnicle Out at Boston's WTKK
TOWER SITE CALENDAR 2007 - SOLD OUT!!!
*No sooner did Grace Blazer move from WPHT
(1210 Philadelphia) to MASSACHUSETTS to take the PD chair
at WTKK (96.9 Boston) than the wheels began to spin at the Greater
Media FM talker, in a way that will give Blazer plenty of challenges
as she starts her Boston tenure.
not as though there weren't already challenges at "FM Talk
96.9," beginning with the morning slot that's been officially
vacant since the cancellation of the Don Imus show earlier this
spring. As of late last week, though, the top contender to replace
Imus on WTKK's morning shift says not only doesn't he want the
job - but he's leaving the station entirely.
That contender, of course, would be Mike Barnicle, the venerable
Boston newspaper columnist and local media icon who's been a
star personality on WTKK since its debut. Most recently, Barnicle
had been doing the 9-10 AM weekday show, and had added the 6-9
AM Imus shift most days since Imus' ouster.
Barnicle says he's busy enough with his work on MSNBC and in
print, especially with the 2008 elections looming, that he can't
keep doing even his daily hour at WTKK, much less the entire
morning shift - and that means some big decisions for Blazer
and her bosses. While Barnicle says he'll keep doing the morning
show on a fill-in basis for the moment, WTKK is already trying
other talent. Tomorrow morning, middayer Michael Graham will
fill in, and we wouldn't be surprised to hear other WTKK personalities,
such as early-afternoon hosts Marjorie Eagan and Jim Braude and
maybe even PM drive talker Jay Severin, trying out for the shift.
If there's any bright side to WTKK's current morning troubles,
it's that they come at a time when rival talker WRKO (680 Boston)
is in equally dire straits during the daypart, as its Tom Finneran
morning show struggles to find a rhythm and ratings.
Is it any wonder we're hearing growing rumblings - not just
from Boston, but from his former home market as well - that an
Imus return to the airwaves this fall might be a possibility?
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There's more bad news for Christopher Lydon's "Open Source"
radio show: it's losing its Boston public radio outlet. Even
though the program picked up enough funding (through an appeal
to listeners) to keep it in production at least through the summer,
its ongoing financial uncertainties finally proved too much for
WGBH (89.7 Boston), which is dropping "Open Source"
from its prime 7 PM Monday-Thursday slot.
In its place, WGBH (which had also been the home base for
"Open Source", through rental of its studios) will
expand its evening jazz offerings by another hour, and we'd suspect
that means the end of the 7 PM Friday slot for "On the Media,"
which is at least also heard on WBUR over the weekend.
The loss of WGBH, along with last week's loss of network carriage
by Public Radio International, may not be a death blow to "Open
Source," which draws many of its listeners through its podcast,
but it's not good news, either. Public radio programmers are
as susceptible to peer pressure as anyone else, and WGBH is one
of the most influential stations in the system.
(And with that said, it's also not at all out of the question
that "Open Source" can still survive and even thrive
outside the usual public radio system, leaning even more heavily
on its podcast as a main distribution mechanism.)
In Worcester, WNEB (1230) makes a break from its usual religious
format to add Sean Hannity's syndicated afternoon show.
And down in New
Bedford, there's a new listening choice on the dial, via translator.
W243BG (96.5) has just signed on, relaying the eclectic music
format of WERS (88.9 Boston) to an area that had been on the
deep fringe of the Emerson College station's signal. (Rick Levy's
Broadcast Signal Lab did the engineering for the 55-watt translator,
which broadcasts from the WFHN tower on Pope's Island.)
BEAT THE PASSWORD RUSH! We've been holding out against the inevitable
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*Albany's WAMC has lost its signal in central
CONNECTICUT. The ever-expanding public broadcaster (which
recently put new translators on the air in Oneonta at 99.3 and
in Warwick at 107.1) had been transmitting from West Peak in
Meriden over W220CE (91.9 Southington), a translator owned by
WMNR (88.1 Monroe). As of June 1, that relay is over, and W220CE
is again rebroadcasting WMNR's own signal. (We're guessing that
Connecticut Public Broadcasting's WPKT 90.5 Meriden, which operates
from West Peak with many of the same programs that WAMC carries,
is glad to see the competition go away; we also strongly suspect
that WAMC is far from finished in its attempt to expand its reach
to the Nutmeg State.)
*Another major PENNSYLVANIA TV station
is moving, and apparently not a moment too soon. Last Thursday,
ABC's WPVI (Channel 6) held groundbreaking ceremonies for a new
studio facility to be built next door to its 1964-vintage landmark
building on City Line Avenue in Philadelphia. The new 110,000-square
foot building will go up on land purchased from the Philadelphia
College of Osteopathic Medicine. When it opens in 2009, the old
building will be used for parking and for expansion space.
But no sooner had
WPVI broadcast the groundbreaking event for the new building
than a storm front moving through knocked the station completely
off the air - and while it soon returned, the station faced an
even bigger crisis on Friday, when a construction crew opened
a hole in a 6-inch water main, sending a stream of water flooding
into the first floor of the old building and forcing the entire
staff to evacuate to a field next door, where the station's early-evening
"Action News" broadcasts were assembled under a tent.
The water was shut off after about three hours, but the station's
still cleaning up. (And after another flood a couple of weeks
ago at Hartford's WFSB, and the recent fire at New York's WABC,
we understand the folks in Baltimore are looking north and getting
a little nervous about what might be coming next...)
Greater Media has completed its move of WJJZ (97.5 Burlington)
into the Philadelphia market. Over the weekend, the station turned
off its longtime transmitter site in downtown Trenton, signing
on a new facility at the Wyndmoor tower it now shares with Clear
Channel's WISX (106.1 Philadelphia). We're already hearing reports
of a much stronger signal over most of the Philly market - and
we're wondering if the next transmitter move will involve WMMR
(93.3) and WRNB (107.9), whose Center City site atop the One
Liberty tower is now shadowed by the taller Comcast Center skyscraper
that just topped off practically next door.
Over at Radio One, Chester Schofield has departed as VP/GM
of the cluster, with no replacement named so far.
In Scranton, they're looking for a new midday jock and imaging
director after last week's departure of Joe Wowk, aka "Skeeter."
He's now being heard, at least part-time, on WCTO (96.1 Easton).
Remember the big move we told you about last week just west
of the state line, the one that would have moved WREO (97.1 Ashtabula)
from an Erie rimshotter to a Youngstown class A signal? No sooner
did we report it than the plan was pulled from FCC consideration.
What happened? It sounds to us like some combination of internal
politics at Clear Channel, which owns WREO, and possibly the
pending deal to sell WREO and its Ashtabula sister stations to
a new group called "Sweet Home Ashtabula."
Up on the New York state line, our friends at PBRTV.com report
that Bill Dorrion's out as morning host at WQFX (103.1 Russell)
and Saturday night oldies jock at WWSE (93.3 Jamestown NY); the
syndicated Bob and Tom Show is now being heard in mornings on
of NEW YORK, there's a change of plans for one Long Island
AM station that's been looking to move. Multicultural Broadcasting's
WNYG (1440 Babylon) had a pending application to move to Elizabeth,
New Jersey and to operate on 1530, effectively replacing Multicultural's
WJDM (1530 Elizabeth), which was to have gone silent as part
of the FCC's "five-year rule" now that expanded-band
sister WWRU (1660 Jersey City) is on the air.
But a change in FCC policy now allows WJDM to stay on the
air, and in the meantime Multicultural needs WNYG off its current
facilities so it can keep a more lucrative signal, WNSW (1430
Newark NJ) on the air. WNSW faces the impending end to its transmitter-site
lease in Union, N.J., and so it has only until the end of July
to build out its construction permit for operation from the Clifton,
N.J. facilities of sister station WPAT (930 Paterson) - and that
CP can only be built out if WNYG moves.
So the latest application calls for WNYG to stay on 1440,
but to move out east, to a new city of license of Medford. It
would diplex from the two towers of WLIM (1580 Patchogue), running
1000 watts by day and 190 watts at night, a significant increase
from its present 38-watt night authorization.
Multicultural is asking for expedited processing of this application;
stay tuned to see whether the FCC grants it all in time for these
moves to be pulled off.
Where are they now? Former WCBS-FM (101.1 New York) PD Dave
Logan has resurfaced on the opposite coast a year after the demise
of CBS-FM. He's the new PD at Entercom's "don't-call-it-oldies-anymore"
KBSG (97.3 Tacoma).
*VERMONT Public Radio took a big step
toward its plans for a two-network future last week when it announced
it's buying WAVX (90.9 Schuyler Falls NY) from Essex-based Christian
Ministries, Inc. The $1.1 million purchase will give VPR a signal
for its new VPR Classical service that will serve the state's
largest city, Burlington, as well as the Plattsburgh, N.Y. area
across Lake Champlain. (WAVX is a 2.7 kW/1074' DA C2 signal broadcasting
from just west of Peru, N.Y.)
VPR started the classical
service a couple of years ago on WNCH (88.1 Norwich), and recently
added WJAN (95.1 Sunderland) to the network. It's also making
VPR Classical available as a subchannel on the HD Radio signals
of its main-channel stations. We'd expect those stations to eventually
transition from a mixture of news and classical to all-news and
talk as the classical network increases its distribution across
Christian Ministries will keep its network of "The Light"
religious stations across Vermont, based at WGLY (91.5 Bolton);
we wouldn't be surprised to see the "Wave" Christian
top 40 format that's been on WAVX resurface on an HD2 signal
over that network eventually, too.
*MAINE Public Broadcasting Network
is facing protests over its cancellation of Robert Skoglund's
"Humble Farmer" program. MPBN dropped the show, which
had been on the air for 28 years, in a dispute with Skoglund
over political commentaries he made during the broadcast. Now
a group of state lawmakers has signed a non-binding resolution
calling on MPBN to restore the show to its airwaves - while Augusta's
Kennebec Journal is calling on Skoglund to drop the commentaries
and go back on the air playing music.
*It didn't take long for the TV ownership
picture in CANADA to shift yet again after the CRTC denied
CTVglobemedia's application to buy the CityTV group of stations
(including Toronto's CITY-TV 57) as part of its acquisition of
Rogers, which already had a deal with CTVglobemedia to buy
the A-Channel stations (including CKVR Barrie and CFPL-TV London)
that were to have been spun off from the CHUM purchase, quickly
reworked its deal - and now CTVglobemedia will keep the A-Channel
stations and Rogers will end up with the CityTV signals.
For Rogers in Toronto,
CITY will pair up with the "Omni" multicultural TV
stations the company already owns ("Omni.1" CFMT 47
and "Omni.2" CJMT 44, along with relays in London and
Ottawa, where CITY also has relay transmitters), as well as with
the Rogers radio cluster that includes CFTR (680 News), CJCL
(Fan 590), CJAQ (92.5 Jack FM) and CHFI (98.1).
Perhaps the most visible change will come at street level,
where CTV will keep the "ChumCity Building" at 299
Queen Street West, the high-profile home to CityTV (which will
move its operations elsewhere within three years) and to the
CHUM cable networks (most prominently MuchMusic) that CTV is
The deal, which also includes the CityTV stations in Winnipeg,
Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver, is worth C$375 million.
In other Toronto news, the CRTC has granted new ethnic station
CHTO (1690) a transmitter-site move. The station, owned by Canadian
Hellenic Toronto Radio, had hoped to build a tower at a site
in Scarborough, but was unable to get a building permit there,
so it's moved west to a different site in North York.
In Windsor, the CRTC is putting out a call for applicants
for a new radio station. Applications are due August 7. The CRTC
is also putting out a call for applicants for new HDTV services
in most of Canada's big markets, after receiving an application
from HDTV Networks Inc. for new services in Toronto, Montreal,
Ottawa, Halifax and other large cities.
In Quebec City, there's a new development in the long-running
saga of Genex's CHOI (98.1), which lost its license over the
antics of outspoken ex-morning man Jeff Fillion. Last week, Canada's
Supreme Court refused to review Genex's appeal of the license
revocation. The station remains on the air under new owners,
Radio Nord, which purchased CHOI's non-license assets from Genex
Over in Sherbrooke, Quebec, CJMQ (88.9) gets a power increase,
going from 500 watts to 1670 watts to better cover the Eastern
Townships. With the demise of CKTS (900 Sherbrooke), CJMQ also
gets recategorized as a "Type A" community radio station,
since it's now the only local English-language station in the
*It's time to wrap up our 2007 baseball previews, now that
the short-season class A New York-Penn League is ready to celebrate
Opening Day later this week. Here's where you'll find those eager
young players on the radio as they try to make "The Show":
The Jamestown Jammers pick up a little bit of radio
coverage this year, as local LPFM WRFA-LP (107.9) cooperates
with students at Jamestown High School to broadcast four games
(and to train the kids at the same time, a noble task indeed!)
Our almost-hometown Batavia Muckdogs continue to broadcast
their away games on WBSU (89.1 Brockport), with SUNY Brockport
students at the mike. The Auburn Doubledays have signed
with WAUB (1590 Auburn) to carry their full 76-game schedule
this season. Over in the Albany area, the Tri-City Valley
Cats will broadcast their full season on WVCR (88.3 Loudonville).
The Hudson Valley Renegades continue their full-season
coverage on WLNA (1420 Peekskill) and WBNR (1260 Beacon). The
Brooklyn Cyclones continue their coverage on WKRB (90.3
Brooklyn), and there's no radio that we can find for the Oneonta
Tigers or the Staten Island Yankees.
Crossing the border into Pennsylvania, we find the State
College Spikes on WWZW (95.3 Bellefonte) and the Williamsport
Crosscutters doing home games on WRLC (91.7).
In New England, the Vermont Lake Monsters are in their
second season on WXZO (96.7 Willsboro NY)/WEAV (960 Plattsburgh
NY), while the Lowell Spinners begin their first season
with WLLH (1400 Lowell and Lawrence). The Spinners have a new
play-by-play guy this year, too, as the "Dream Job"
contest they held produces Siena College sports guy Mike Demos
to call the games. (Last year, WCAP's Ryan Johnston did the honors,
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!)
June 19, 2006 -
- In 43 years on the air, the 100.5 dial spot in Rochester,
NEW YORK has seen a few formats come and go - automated beautiful
music, "Heart of Gold" full-service AC, "Variety
100.5" AC and "Mix 100.5" hot AC. In all that
time, one thing has remained constant, though: the WVOR calls
that first appeared on the frequency way back in 1963. As of
this past Thursday (June 16) at noon, WVOR's long run on the
air is pretty much over. After stunting for a day as all-Dave
Matthews "Dave FM," Clear Channel pulled the plug on
"Mix," ran one liner jokingly introducing the station
as "Country 100.5," announced "just kidding"
- and relaunched the station as "100.5 the Drive."
- While Clear Channel's initial press release described "Drive"
as being a AAA (adult album alternative) format, the station
appears to be running more of an adult hits format, not all that
different from the old "Mix" format with a few more
currents added here and there - and remarkably reminiscent of
the very earliest days of "Mix," when the format debuted
with a rather unusual variety rock approach that, in retrospect,
was something of a precursor of the full-on "Jack"-type
variety hits stations that came along a few years later. "Mix"
was already running with a fairly light airstaff, after the departure
of morning man Chuck Kelly earlier this year, and it's now running
jockless as "Drive." If the initial positioning holds,
the plan seems to be to market "Drive" as a low- to
no-personality alternative to Entercom's adult hits "Fickle"
(WFKL 93.3) and classic hits "Buzz" (WBZA 98.9). And
about those calls - "WVOR" will give way, we're told,
to WDVI as soon as the paperwork clears the FCC (and, presumably,
the WVOR calls are parked somewhere else in the Clear Channel
empire so they can't be grabbed by a competitor.)
- The word from NEW JERSEY is that WKOE (106.3 Ocean City)
has begun testing its new signal on 106.5, licensed to Bass River
Township, north of Atlantic City. Are format shuffles on the
way among Press Communications' "Breeze" and "G
Rock" simulcasts up and down the Shore?
- In the Scranton market, the standards simulcast between WNAK
(730 Nanticoke) and WNAK-FM (94.3 Carbondale) has ended. The
FM side flipped last Monday to "Lite 94.3," with the
ubiquitous John Tesh in mornings. Standards remain in place on
the AM side.
June 17, 2002 -
- Despite a slew of rumors floating around western MASSACHUSETTS,
one of Pittsfield's oldest stations isn't changing hands - at
least not yet. Last week, rival station WUPE (95.9) reported
that Tele-Media had sold WBEC (1420) and WBEC-FM (105.5) to Vox,
the fast-growing group that already has big holdings up in Glens
Falls, Vermont and New Hampshire. But a Vox official tells NERW
there's no deal to buy WBEC in place.
- If Tele-Media is selling WBEC, it would be a further exit
from a region that it began leaving last year, when it sold its
Albany holdings to Pamal and Ed Levine's Galaxy group. That move
left the Pennsylvania-based company with the Pittsfield stations,
WZEC (97.5 Hoosick Falls NY) serving Bennington, Vermont, and
WKBE (100.3 Warrensburg NY) up in the Glens Falls market, where
Vox is already a strong player.
- We'll shoot up to MAINE for our next big story this week:
after a couple of years doing mornings at Citadel's WCLZ (98.9
Brunswick), Lori Voornas is moving down the hall to a format
that might fit her high-energy style better than the laid-back
AAA that's played on "98.9 the Point." Voornas, who
made a high-profile move from Saga's WMGX to join WCLZ (then
WTPN) in 1999, is joining Meredith Manning and Jeff Parsons on
the morning show at CHR WJBQ (97.9 Portland), leaving Pete Dubuc
alone on wakeup duty at WCLZ for now.
- Down in CONNECTICUT, a translator may soon leave the air.
We hear Southington-licensed W220CE (91.9), which transmits from
West Peak in Meriden, will likely be turned off by its owner
(the Monroe Board of Education's WMNR 88.1 network), which hasn't
had the listenership it expected when it leased space up on the
hilltop last year. Another WMNR translator, W220CH (91.9) in
West Hartford, has finally made the flip from relaying nearby
WWUH (91.3) to WMNR itself, we're told.
- NEW YORK has a new radio owner, thanks to the $3.5 billion
purchase of Hispanic Broadcasting by Univision. The deal means
that WCAA (105.9 Newark) and WADO (1280 New York) join forces
with Univision's WXTV (Channel 41) and WFUT (Channel 68) to create
a high-powered marketing machine for the Big Apple's Spanish-speaking
audience (and that's nothing, compared to the combos created
in markets like Miami, L.A., and the big Hispanic Texas cities...)
- The big news out of NEW JERSEY may actually be big news in
Philadelphia, at least if you're not the FCC. When WSNJ-FM (107.7
Bridgeton) was sold last year, speculation immediately began
building about where the big signal could be moved. WSNJ filed
an application to move its city of license to tiny Elmer, N.J.,
which made very little sense to us - but now it's all clear.
- By "moving" from Bridgeton to Elmer, WSNJ positioned
its next move to look even better to the FCC. The station now
wants to relocate from Elmer to Pennsauken and change channels
to 107.9, downgrading from a full class B facility to a class
A. From the FCC's point of view, it's a move from tiny little
Elmer to much larger (35,000 instead of 1,571) Pennsauken, neither
of which have their own "local" broadcast facility
- and thus looks better than a move straight to Pennsauken from
larger Bridgeton (which keeps WSNJ's AM sister on 1240 to pacify
the FCC.) But from the point of view of WSNJ's new owners, the
station will now throw a city-grade signal over 1.5 million more
listeners, since (even though Pennsauken is, as WSNJ goes to
great lengths to demonstrate, an independent community) the new
site would be just across the river from Philadelphia. The move
does eliminate short-spacings between WSNJ and WPUR (107.3 Atlantic
City), WBYN (107.5 Boyertown), WGTY (107.7 Gettysburg) and WFSI
(107.9 Annapolis); it would also force high school station WHHS
(107.9 Havertown) and translators W300AD (107.9 Philadelphia,
relaying WWFM Trenton) and W300AA (107.9 Levittown, relaying
WRDV Warminster) to find new spots on the dial.
June 19, 1997-
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- Brian Dodge is no stranger to FCC controversy, and now he's
in for much more. The New Hampshire religious broadcaster is
already the subject of a complaint from the New Hampshire attorney
general's office of charities, and now he's also the target of
a lengthy complaint just filed with the FCC by Carter Broadcasting,
with the assistance of several other New England broadcasters.
The complaint was just filed yesterday, and NERW's copy has yet
to arrive, but stay tuned for a special edition of NERW over
the weekend with all the details; and, we hope, a response from
Brian Dodge. (2007 update: Ten years later, the FCC has still
never acted on the complaint, the full text of which can be read
- In MAINE, hit radio has returned to the Bangor market after
a half-year absence. WBZN (107.3 Old Town) flipped from 70s rock
to CHR Wednesday morning, under the consultancy of Clarke Ingram
of WPXY in Rochester. The new "Z107" is being run under
an LMA by the folks at country WQCB (106.5 Brewer), but will
stay in its existing studios in Old Town. The last attempt at
hit radio in Bangor came from WWFX (104.7 Belfast), which underwent
a species transformation from "the Fox" to "the
Bear," WBFB, last fall.
- One of NEW HAMPSHIRE's oldest radio stations is getting a
new owner. WKBR (1250) in Manchester is being sold to Northeast
Broadcasting, the company that owns AAA WXRV (92.5) and Spanish
WHAV (1490; leased to Costa Communications) in Haverhill MA,
along with AAA WNCS (104.7 Montpelier VT) and satellite stations
WRJT (103.1 Royalton VT) and WSHX (95.7 Danville VT). No word
on how much Northeast (operating under the Devon Broadcasting
corporate name) is paying for the 5 kW fulltimer, which is now
owned by ethnic broadcaster George Ketrelakis, who bought the
station from Bob Bittner a few years ago.
*If you were waiting for Tower Site
Calendar 2007 to go on clearance sale - sorry! As of June 1,
the shipping department (which would be Mrs. Fybush, with an
occasional assist from Ariel) informs us that the 2007 edition
is now SOLD OUT.
Many thanks to all of you who've supported the calendar over
the past six years, and stay tuned for details on the even better
Tower Site Calendar 2008, for which ordering will begin
later this summer. (You can be first on the list for the new
edition, which will be back from the printer in early August,
by subscribing or
renewing at the $60 professional level!) And in the meantime,
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2007 by Scott Fybush.