Recent Issues:

January 14, 2008

January 7, 2008

2007 In Review

December 24, 2007

December 17, 2007 - The New Place to Talk Radio

Your message here - contact to reach thousands of NERW readers every week!

January 21, 2008

NY Talker's Award un-Grant-ed


*It's been a while since Bob Grant was making headlines in NEW YORK - but the WABC (770) night talker was back in the news last week after Radio & Records cancelled its plans to give him a Lifetime Achievement Award at its upcoming convention.

The about-face apparently followed a barrage of e-mails to the magazine and its parent company from Scott Pellegrino, a former producer for rival talk host Jay Diamond, and it revived the controversies that got Grant ousted from WABC back in 1996. This time, though, most of Grant's fellow talk hosts closed rank around him, with Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and others using their shows to speak out in Grant's defense, with some of them vowing to boycott the R&R award ceremony.

At week's end, one of R&R's rivals, Talkers magazine, seized the opportunity to announce that it would give Grant an award of its own in conjunction with WABC, to be presented at its own convention in June.

*After 23 years at the helm of WXRK (92.3 New York), VP/general manager Tom Chiusano is stepping down. Chiusano was there when Infinity flipped the station from WKTU to "K-Rock" in 1985, riding both the successful Howard Stern years and the turbulent "Free FM" period that followed. Chiusano says he'll stay with WXRK as a consultant through mid-year; no replacement has been named yet.

Disney's WEPN (1050 New York) continues to expand the reach of its ESPN programming beyond its own directional signal. In addition to the impending simulcast on WCHR (1040 Flemington NJ), WEPN announced last week that beginning today, it will be heard on The Morey Organization's WLIR (107.1 Hampton Bays), bringing its sports programming to the east end of Long Island. WLIR has been temporarily simulcasting sister station "Party 105" (WDRE 105.3 Calverton-Roanoke) since dropping the last incarnation of the modern rock for which WLIR was known at its old Nassau County home, now WQBU (92.7 Garden City).

WQBU's sister station, WCAA (La Kalle 105.9), made big headlines last week with the return of a New York Spanish-language radio legend. Luis Jimenez's morning show helped WSKQ (La Mega 97.9) shoot to dominance during his 14-year run there.

When he left SBS for Univision Radio last year, Jimenez went into national syndication, but he disappeared from the New York dial while sitting out a non-compete.

That ended Thursday, as Jimenez returned with an "on-air press conference" to reacquaint New York listeners with his show and to introduce new cast members. Meanwhile, WSKQ has brought back Jimenez' former sidekick, Moonshadow, to return to his old "El Vacilon de la Manana" morning show. Can Jimenez help WCAA overcome its signal deficiencies to overtake WSKQ? Stay tuned...

Speaking of signals, our visit to New York last week found lots of work in progress on two of the city's AM sites. Construction is now in full swing on the daytime 50 kW power increase at Salem's WWDJ (970 Hackensack NJ), where a new Nautel transmitter and phasor are in place in a trailer at the transmitter site the station shares with WWRV (1330 New York). The new daytime signal is expected to be on the air by late March. Meanwhile, a few miles to the south, there are now eight towers up at the shared site of WKDM (1380 New York) and WWRU (1660 Jersey City NJ), where WKDM has boosted its night power from 5 kW to 13 kW, using its original three towers and a new tower that's been added to its array. (Lots of pictures coming soon over at Tower Site of the Week!)

And one more Long Island note: the new 89.3 CP in Lindenhurst now has the WRMR calls.


Still haven't ordered your 2008 Tower Site Calendar? You do realize that it's, don't you? We're already down to the last 130 or so calendars, and they're going fast. The 2006 and 2007 editions of the calendar sold out, and this one will do so as well, possibly as soon as this month.

This year's edition is a particularly fine one, if we do say so ourselves. From the cover photo of KAST in Astoria, Oregon to the back cover shot of the Blaw-Knox diamond tower at WBNS in Columbus, this year's calendar features 14 all-new full-color shots of famous broadcast sites far and wide. There's KROQ in Los Angeles, KFBK in Sacramento, WESX in Salem, WGAN in Portland, Black Mountain in Vegas, Mount Spokane in Spokane, and many (ok, several) more.

The calendar is just $18 with shipping and handling included - or better yet, beat our move to mandatory subscriptions later this year and get a free calendar with your $60 subscription to NERW for 2008. (Remember, the proceeds from both the calendar and the subscriptions help keep NERW right here on the web, as we head into our fourteenth year of news and analysis.)

So click right here and you can be sure to have your very own Tower Site Calendar 2008! (And thank you!)

The 2008 Tower Site Calendar is dedicated to the memory of Robert Eiselen (1934-2007), whose digital imaging skills made even a bunch of pictures of radio towers look almost like art. His contributions were essential to the calendar's evolution from 2003 to the current edition, and he will be missed dearly.

*Heading upstate, Craig Fox's Cram Communications got some bad news from the FCC last week about its long-running CP for WVOA (720 DeWitt). The Syracuse-market AM has been hung up for years in zoning disputes over both of its proposed transmitter sites, one in Lafayette, south of Syracuse, and the other at Fox's WOLF (1490 Syracuse) site just south of Onondaga Lake.

Cram filed suit against the city of Syracuse over the zoning issues that are keeping WVOA from being built at the WOLF site, and the construction permit for WVOA was "tolled" when the lawsuit was filed, stopping the clock on Cram's three-year construction period for the station. Cram had asked the FCC to extend the tolling period back to cover the 26 months during which it said a new zoning moratorium prevented construction - but the Commission ruled last week that Cram hadn't been diligent enough in seeking a waiver of the moratorium. So whenever the lawsuit is resolved, the clock will start running again on WVOA's construction period with just 131 days to get the signal built and on the air.

Will WVOA ever get built? We wouldn't bet against Fox, though we would bet against the lawsuit being resolved any time soon.

Here in Rochester, the week passed without any apparent forward motion of any kind in the contract dispute between Entercom's WCMF (96.5) and morning host Brother Wease. For now, the rest of Wease's morning crew continues to hold down the fort in morning drive, and the WCMF website displays only a logo and "Under Construction."

Over in Buffalo, public radio WBFO (88.7) is pushing ahead with plans to build a new tower at its current tower site near the University of Buffalo north campus in Amherst. The new 443' tower will allow WBFO to raise its antenna from the present 256' above average terrain to 356' above average terrain, still with 50 kW DA. WBFO holds a $223,500 federal grant for the new tower, but it needs to raise an additional $575,000 to complete the project.

Entercom Buffalo is looking for a new chief engineer, as Tom Karvelis returns to his native Pittsburgh after several years in that post. (Interested? Drop us a line here at NERW and we'll put you in touch with the right people.)

Over in the Albany market, the FCC has pulled the plug on the WCKL (560 Catskill) license after several years of silence, interrupted by brief returns to the air to keep the license alive. Here at NERW, we last heard WCKL on the air last June - did someone forget to let the FCC know about its latest "keep-alive" broadcast?

On the TV side of the dial, WRGB (Channel 6) has reportedly filed oppositions to nearly three dozen applications for new noncommercial FM signals in the region. WRGB is one of the few channel 6 broadcasters planning to remain on the channel for digital use, and it says the new signals would cause interference. A check by NERW of several nearby applications finds that, as required by the filing rules, they're compliant with the relevant FCC rules for channel 6 protection, so we're not quite sure what WRGB is hoping to accomplish with its complaints.

And we're sorry to note the death of Susan Veach Cantrell, who served as editorial director for New York's WCBS (880) and sister station WBBM in Chicago. She died Jan. 16, at 63, in Crawfordsville, Indiana.

 Read NERW's comprehensive 2007 Year in Review

Miss our complete look back at the year that just ended? Have you caught (and responded to) our Year-End Rant yet? We'll be printing some of your responses in this space next week - and in the meantime Click here for NERW's comprehensive recap of 2007.

Sponsored by:

*While MASSACHUSETTS waits to see whether the Patriots can make it 19-0, there's a change of voices coming in another Boston sports broadcast booth. After several years heading the Red Sox PR office, and one year as a part-time color commentator in the Sox radio booth, Glenn Geffner is heading south to join the Florida Marlins radio team. Geffner (who was also a broadcaster for the Rochester Red Wings a few seasons back) had been handling color for games when Dave O'Brien was working for ESPN; O'Brien's committment to ESPN has ended, and he'll now join Joe Castiglione for the full 2008 season.

Out on Cape Cod, Qantum's WRZE (96.3) is asking the FCC for emergency help to stay on the air. WRZE has a construction permit to move from Nantucket to Dennis, downgrading slightly from its current class B (50 kW/430') to B1 (25 kW/297'). But the WCOD (106.1 Hyannis) tower that WRZE plans to move to is in need of replacement, and Qantum says it can't support a new WRZE antenna.

That wasn't an immediate problem - until WRZE was served with an eviction notice at its current Nantucket tower site. Faced with the prospect of taking WRZE silent until the WCOD tower can be replaced (April at the very earliest), Qantum is asking the FCC to license WRZE to Dennis as a class A signal, with 3.6 kW/282', using a lightweight single-bay antenna that can be installed on the old WCOD tower in the meantime. It says it still intends to build out WRZE at full class B1 power as soon as the new stick can be built.

*There's a new PD in PENNSYLVANIA's biggest market, as Don Gosselin replaces Mike Sommers in the PD chair at Greater Media's WBEN-FM (95.7 Philadelphia). Gosselin comes to Ben-FM from WNIC in Detroit.

In Homer City, just outside Indiana, Renda's WCCS (1160) flipped from adult contemporary to news/talk last Monday, with a lineup that includes syndicated talker Clark Howard and Fox Sports Radio evenings and weekends.

There's a new station on the air near Warren, in northwestern Pennsylvania. WNAE-FM (102.7 Clarendon) has signed on with a simulcast of "Kinzua Country" WKNB (104.3 Clarendon); expect a new permanent format there soon.

We've been remiss, incidentally, in noting the death of the founder of WKNB and its sister stations WNAE (1310 Warren) and WRRN (92.3 Warren). LeRoy Schneck died January 3 after a short hospitalization following a fall. Schneck began his broadcast career in 1941 in Du Bois and put WNAE on the air in 1946. He ran Kinzua Broadcasting until the stations were sold in 2005 to present owner Frank Iorio. Even then, he made occasional on-air appearances on the stations he founded, where he was perhaps best known as host of the "Just Stuff" talk show. Schneck had been named "Man of the Century" by the Warren County Chamber of Commerce, among other honors. He was 88.

In Erie, reports that Johnny Marx is out as midday host at WTWF (93.9 Fairview) after budget cuts at "The Wolf."

And in Gap, there's yet another call change to report at that mysterious 92.9 LPFM. After just under two weeks as WOPR-LP, it's reverted to its previous WLRI-LP calls, making for 18 call changes in just over four years. (On paper, anyway; we're told by a listener in the vicinity that he's yet to hear 92.9 on the air during multiple visits to the area.)

*Some LPFM news from NEW JERSEY: WUPC-LP (102.3 Arrowhead Village) took a lightning hit last week, and it was an ugly one that destroyed most of the station's equipment. Chief engineer Neal Newman has replaced some of it already, but he's looking for donations of an audio processor, a console, CD players and a modulation monitor. If you can help his station, let us know here at NERW and we'll put you in touch...

You can have your ad here! Click here for information on the most economical way to reach tens of thousands of Northeast radio and TV people each week.

*On the MAINE-NEW HAMPSHIRE line, Clear Channel indeed flipped the format on WUBB (95.3 York Center ME) to top-40 "Kiss" last Monday, and for the moment it's a complete simulcast (except for spots) of Boston's WXKS-FM (107.9 Medford), including the "Matty in the Morning" show.

In Nashua, WSMN (1590) afternoon talk host Jennifer Horn is jumping into the political arena. She's challenging first-term Congressman Paul Hodes in New Hampshire's second district this fall; no word yet from WSMN about what will happen to her airshift while she's campaigning.

*CANADA's biggest market is one radio station smaller this week. CFBN (1280 Toronto) turned its license in to the CRTC, after the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, which owned the station, discontinued its operation.

1280 was originally CFYZ, programmed with live reports about airport traffic and travel-related features, but changed calls and format last April, switching to business news and information. The business programming continues online, at least for now, or so CFBN's website claims; we weren't able to connect to the CFBN stream on Sunday night.

There won't be a new radio station in Parry Sound, much to Rogers' dismay. The company applied for a new 100 kW rock outlet on 94.7, but the existing station in town, Haliburton's CKLP (103.3), objected to the new station, saying the market isn't big enough for two FMs. The CRTC agreed, and last week it denied Rogers' application.

There's a new religious station coming to Apsley, Ontario, north of Peterborough. The Apsley Community Chapel will operate the 50-watt signal on 92.9 with a Christian music format. Meanwhile in Kingston, UCB Canada is applying to put up a 50-watt relay of its religious CKJJ (102.3 Belleville), which would operate on 100.5.

Turning to Atlantic Canada, there are two more AM signal on the verge of going dark. CHVO (560 Carbonear NL) signed on its new FM signal, CHVO-FM (103.9), on January 7. The new FM is running as "Kixx Country," and the AM will be off the air by April. An even bigger signal, the CBC's CBA (1070 Moncton NB), signed on its new FM signal at 106.1 last week, meaning the big 50 kW 1070 signal will be silent in April as well.

Over at CHUM's Halifax stations (CJCH and C100), Milkman Unlimited reports that Terry Williams is out as PD and Earle Mader is in.

And in New Brunswick, Astral Media has lost a veteran manager. John Eddy's family bought CFNB in Fredericton in 1989, and in 1993 Eddy took sole control of the station's owner Radio Atlantic, which he later sold to Astral Media. Eddy had been serving as Atlantic region vice president of Astral. He died in Florida, where he was battling cancer. Eddy was 56.

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!)

January 22, 2007 -

  • Nearly three years after his Vox group sold most of its stations in NEW HAMPSHIRE and VERMONT to Nassau Broadcasting, Jeff Shapiro is coming back to the Upper Valley as owner of the "other" cluster in the market. Shapiro's Great Eastern Radio LLC is buying Clear Channel's signals, including news-talk WTSL (1400 Hanover NH) and WTSM (93.5 Springfield VT), AC WGXL (92.3 Lebanon NH), rock WMXR (93.9 Woodstock VT)/WVRR (101.7 Newport NH) and country WXXK (100.5 Lebanon NH), for an as-yet-undisclosed price.
  • "We are thrilled to be returning to the broadcasting community in the Upper Valley," says Shapiro, who owned WHDQ in Claremont for almost 20 years before selling to Nassau in 2004. The Upper Valley stations will join Concord-market WTPL (107.7 Hillsboro) under the Great Eastern umbrella.
  • In PENNSYLVANIA, Marconi Broadcasting's WHAT (1340 Philadelphia) relaunched late last week with a rather daring new format. In place of the urban talk that former owner Inner City Broadcasting offered, Marconi CEO Tom Kelly is turning the little AM signal (for which he paid $5 million) into "Skin Radio," which will mix modern rock and hip-hop. Alvin Clay is the PD of the new station, which will feature what Kelly describes as "young non-radio folks" on the air. We're big fans, here at NERW, of any sign of fresh thinking on the air, especially on the AM dial, but if you believe, as we do, that "Skin Radio" will end up drawing most of whatever audience it gets from its webcast, you've got to wonder what Kelly was thinking by spending as much as he did on the broadcast signal. And since Kelly's an experienced radio player (he's keeping his music-research business going even as he launches "Skin Radio"), we're particularly eager to find out. Stay tuned...
  • Two NEW JERSEY stations are making power increases. At the southern end of the state, WBZC (88.9 Pemberton) has completed its power increase, going from 7.5 kW vertical/350 watts horizontal to 10 kW vertical/470 watts horizontal, with a vertical directional antenna. (The new WBZC antenna ends up 15 meters lower than the old one.)
  • Up north in the New York market, Salem's WWDJ (970 Hackensack) has been granted a daytime power boost from 5 kW to 50 kW, using its existing three-tower array. Salem will move and downgrade WAMD (970 Aberdeen MD) to make the WWDJ power increase possible.
  • Will the operators of the "Touch 106.1" pirate FM station in Roxbury regret the publicity they got in Saturday's Boston Globe? A lengthy feature on the front page of the Living/Arts section praised the station's focus on Boston's black community - and acknowledged that "WTCH" is operating without a license. Its operators claim they can operate legally without one, since they run less than 100 watts. How long until the FCC proves them wrong? (2008 note: We're still waiting...)

January 20, 2003 -

  • Buffalo's WWKB (1520) will ditch its business talk format next Monday morning (Jan. 27) to become "a thing of the past," with legendary 'KB morning man Danny Neaverth at the helm. Stay tuned for much more in next week's issue...
  • Alex Langer is selling his original MASSACHUSETTS radio station, but it won't lead to much change for listeners. WBIX (1060 Natick) is being transferred to Perspectives Broadcasting, controlled by Brad and Bonnie Bleidt, the same folks who have been programming a business-news format on the station under an LMA with Langer. The deal values the station at $10 million; it's a nice payoff for Langer, who bought then-silent WBIV for just $50,000 back in 1995 and put it back on the air from the WKOX (1200) site in Framingham. Today, WBIX runs 40 kilowatts by day and 22 kW during critical hours with a format that includes news updates from the Boston Business Journal. Langer, who also recently sold his 1470 signal in Marlborough (ex-WSRO, now WAZN), keeps WSRO (650 Ashland); he'll also take a seat on the board of Perspectives.
  • Meanwhile out in Winchendon, WINQ (97.7) is getting a new owner as well, as Saga makes the station its latest acquisition in a region that stretches from Springfield north through the Pioneer Valley and into southern Vermont and New Hampshire. Saga pays Joseph Gallagher's Aritaur group $400,000 for the station, which programs hot AC for the area west of Fitchburg; we expect it will end up combined somehow with Saga's Keene operations (WKBK, WZBK, WOQL, WKNE-FM).
  • The rumors are flying hot and heavy in VERMONT about a format flip at WCVR (102.1 Randolph), and we hear they're true: the station will soon drop its country format for a simulcast of the classic rock on "Champ" WCPV (101.3 Essex) from the Burlington market.
  • While the rumors keep swirling around NEW YORK's WNEW (102.7), with the tabloids picking up on message-board chatter about a flip to AAA that didn't happen last week, there is one bit of actual news from the Empire State this week: Binghamton public broadcaster WSKG was granted a construction permit to move off the Ingraham Hill tower it's long shared with WICZ (Channel 40). WSKG-FM (89.3), WSKG-TV (Channel 46) and WSKG-DT (Channel 42) will be the tenants on a new 288-meter tower being built nearby. (WSKG-FM is operating under an STA at a temporary site for the moment, having been kicked off the WICZ tower last November.)
  • It was delayed more than two weeks, but the format change at WKMB (1070) in Stirling, NEW JERSEY finally took place over the weekend. Country came to an end on WKMB with sign-off on Saturday (Jan. 18); black gospel, as "Harvest Radio," took over Sunday morning, with the same WKMB airstaff, at least for now.

January 19 & 22, 1998-

  • On both sides of the border, the cleanup continues from the Ice Storm of '98. Power has been restored to all but a few small corners of Ontario, New York, and northern New England, while it may be another week or more before the "Dark Triangle" south of Monreal finally gets its power back. For broadcasters across the region, it's also been a slow return to normal. NERW visited some of the communities in Ontario and New York hit by the ice storm, and here's what we found:
  • ONTARIO: In much of the province, the only way you'd know there was a storm was to look at the news. Headlines on radio, TV, and in the newspaper continue to track the cleanup. Even CPAC, the Canadian equivalent of C-SPAN, got into the act, offering an unedited video view of the newsroom of CFRA (580 Ottawa) as its reporters, anchors, and editors covered the storm's aftermath.
  • As we drove east on Highway 401, the scope of the damage became more apparent. Many of the trees in the Kingston area are missing limbs, and there are still crews along many roads repairing power lines. On the air, the most obvious sign of storm damage is on the FM dial, where both CFMK (96.3) and CFLY (98.3) are operating with extremely low power, barely enough to reach the city limits. CFMK's tower on Wolfe Island, shared with CKWS (Channel 11), was toppled by the ice, while CFLY's transmitter building in Harrowsmith was hit by ice falling from that tower. CFLY and AM sister station CKLC (1380) are running a daily program every afternoon at 1 with a roundup of storm news, including community-by-community updates from local officials and the power companies. CFMK's sister station, CFFX (960), has returned to its usual oldies format. The sign outside its studio on Counter Street tells the story -- "Riders on the Storm."
  • NERW rode the ferry to Wolfe Island to see the CKWS site firsthand. Late on a Sunday afternoon, the property was swarming with workers. The twisted wreckage of the old 840-foot tower has been stacked in several neat piles, and tower segments for a replacement are on hand. CKWS is on the air with a very low power signal, not strong enough to make it to the cable headend serving Trenton, some 60 miles to the west. Wolfe Island remains without power, and it was a sobering site to see the darkness cover the island at sunset as we rode back to the mainland on the ferry.
  • Further up the St. Lawrence River, generators continue to power the main Ottawa transmitter sites, both the Camp Fortune site where most of the big FM and TVs are located and the Rogers site where several newer TV stations are located.
  • On the NEW YORK side of the river, several Watertown stations remain off the air or at low power. Right now, all three Watertown AMs are either simulcasting their FMs or being simulcast on them. Here's how the lineup looks:
  • WTNY (790) lost a tower to the storm and is operating non-directional from one of its remaining towers in the meantime. Its programming, mixing storm updates and adult contemporary music, is being simulcast on WCIZ (93.5), which is operating with a flea-powered temporary transmitter that covers only the city of Watertown. WATN (1240) and WTOJ (103.1) are simulcasting as well, with daytime programming that's still dominated by storm information. Sister station WWLF (106.7 Copenhagen) has returned to its usual CHR format as "The Border." The other half of the Border's usual simulcast, WBDR (102.7 Cape Vincent), remains silent due to serious power problems in that area. Cape Vincent's other station, WMHI (94.7), is also dark. WUZZ (1410) also lost a tower and is operating non-directional for now, simulcasting country sister station WFRY (97.5). NERW wonders why the storm information heard on WATN/WTOJ wasn't put on WFRY's big signal, the only class B FM in Watertown...
  • Up in QUEBEC, the CBC sprung a surprise this weekend while returning CBM (940) to the air. In the process, they've also jumped the gun on the startup of CBC Radio One's new FM signal into Montreal. CBM (88.5) signed on today, a few months ahead of schedule. There's scheduled to be a six-month transition period, after which CBM will leave 940. CJAD remains on 1410 for now, although even that interim frequency has been experiencing occasional power failures. NERW wonders whether CJAD might try to persuade the CRTC to let it move straight from 1410 to 940, eliminating the need to rebuild the destroyed CJAD facilities on 800? Just a hunch...
  • CBC Radio Two programs returned to CBM-FM (93.5) today as well, after an eleven-day absence as CBM-FM was used for storm coverage.
  • La Société Radio-Canada (that's the CBC to Anglophones) has sprung another FM surprise. The 95.1 Montreal facility that will soon be the home of SRC's AM service (now heard on CBF 690) took to the airwaves early, signing on as "Radio-Services Monteregie," a French-language service aimed at the inhabitants of the devastated "Dark Triangle" south of Montreal, where power has yet to be restored to thousands of homes.

You can sponsor this weekly feature! Click here for information!

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 2008 by Scott Fybush.