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April 21, 2008

A Big Move for WBZ?


*The oldest broadcast studio site in continuous use in MASSACHUSETTS could have another occupant soon. WBZ (1030) began building its broadcast center at 1170 Soldiers Field Road in 1947, and along with sister station WBZ-TV (Channel 4), it's called the site home ever since. Through multiple renovations and expansions over the years, the building has also been home to WBOS shortwave, WBZ-FM (100.7/92.9/106.7), WODS (103.3) and today to WSBK (Channel 38).

But more than a decade after its last major expansion, the building's prominent site near the Charles River is being targeted by Harvard University, which has itself been growing by leaps and bounds on the Allston side of the Charles. Just last year, Harvard relocated WGBH from its longtime studios on Harvard-owned land along Western Avenue to a new facility on Market Street. Last week, the Globe and the Harvard Crimson both reported that Harvard is in talks with CBS to acquire WBZ's nine-acre site.

Any deal would have to be "a good, sound business decision," WBZ general manager Ed Piette tells the Globe.

NERW notes that CBS has relocated several of its prominent properties recently - in Philadelphia, KYW radio and TV left their Independence Mall studios last year after almost 40 years when their lease expired, while in New York the company is slowly moving most of its radio stations into a consolidated studio in the Hudson Square neighborhood of lower Manhattan.

Moving WBZ would give the stations a chance to start fresh in a new building designed for 21st-century needs, rather than dealing with the quirks of a facility whose core is more than sixty years old, but it might also mean the end of some unique aspects of the Soldiers Field Road site, including the on-site backup tower for WBZ(AM), the helipad and the convenient highway access and parking.

*Longtime WHDH (850 Boston) morning man Jess Cain was never able to win induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame during his lifetime, despite strong support from his New England fans. Now he's been named one of three posthumous inductees to the Hall this year. Cain will join WGN's Bob Collins and Dick Whittinghill of KMPC Los Angeles in being inducted at a ceremony in Chicago November 8.

Several other NERW-land talents are among the finalists for induction to the hall this year as well - WRKO's Howie Carr is a nominee in the "local and regional - active" category, as is WABC's Bob Grant; former New York host Barry Farber is among the nominees in the "national - pioneer" category. On-line voting begins May 1 at

It looks like the FCC is starting to crack down on several of the high-powered pirates that have been making waves on the Boston FM dial. The Commission recently issued a $10,000 Notice of Apparent Liability against Richard Clouden for operating "Big City FM" on 101.3 from 616 Blue Hill Avenue. A high-powered pirate at 96.5 operating from Montello Avenue in Brockton received an FCC warning earlier this month as well. Will the visits from the Commission have any effect on the increased levels of pirate activity in town?

In the Pioneer Valley, they're mourning veteran morning man and comedian "Buddy Rubbish," whose real name was Lou Roscher. He spent much of his career on WRSI (95.3 Greenfield), later working at WRNX (100.9 Amherst) and at WPVQ (93.9 Turners Falls). Roscher died April 11, at 56.

Where are they now? Boston Radio Watch reports former WAAF/WRKO personality John "Ozone" Osterlind has settled in New Orleans, where he spent some time running a bar but has now returned to radio, holding down the 5-8 PM (CT) shift on Clear Channel's FM talker, WRNO (99.5).


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 40 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.

*Almost a quarter of a century after it signed on from studios on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, Z100 is now broadcasting from NEW YORK City itself.

WHTZ (100.3 Newark) became the latest Clear Channel station to move into the company's new cluster studios at 32 Avenue of the Americas last Friday, when it said farewell to the Jersey City studios (and amazing view of lower Manhattan) that the station has called home for most of the last decade.

With WKTU (103.5 Lake Success) having moved to Sixth Avenue from its own Jersey City home at the end of March, that leaves only WLTW (106.7 New York) yet to move downtown; it's still at 1133 Avenue of the Americas, for the moment.

The last occupant of the old WWPR (105.1) studios at 1120 Avenue of the Americas went silent on April 11, by the way; the "Wake up with Whoopi" morning show had continued to feed a small group of affiliates in places such as Las Vegas, Utica and Binghamton long after it disappeared from Clear Channel's big outlets in New York (WKTU), Philadelphia (WISX) and elsewhere. Word is that Whoopi signed off with what amounted to a three-hour complaint about how she hadn't enjoyed doing radio. It's not clear who's filling her former shifts at WMXW (103.3 Vestal) in Binghamton or WUMX (102.5 Rome) in Utica.

Bob Shannon was back in place on WCBS-FM (101.1) on Wednesday afternoon, after an absence of several days that was explained only by a comment that Shannon was "playing tourist." He's continuing to provide best-of shows to his other radio home, WLNG-FM (92.1 Sag Harbor) for the moment.

On the noncommercial side of things, Rich McLaughlin moves over from Sirius (where he programmed the "Alt Nation" and "Left of Center" channels) to WFUV (90.7 New York), where he takes the title of "content director."

Out on Long Island, PD Andre Ferro has departed WDRE (105.3 Calverton-Roanoke) after six years at the helm of the dance station. No replacement has been named yet. Meanwhile, Lisa G is headed to WBLI (106.1 Patchogue) for middays, beginning May 12; she moves to the Island from Elmira, where she was doing middays at WNKI (106.1 Corning).

Heading upstate, Entercom is further distancing itself from the three-station "Rochester Radio Group" that it's been trying to sell for almost two years now. WRMM (101.3 Rochester) and WZNE (94.1 Brighton) were part of the CBS Radio cluster that Entercom purchased; WFKL (93.3 Fairport) was an Entercom station that had to be divested as part of that purchase. Those stations have been operating under Entercom ownership, but under separate management from the rest of the company's local stations, since the FCC approved the CBS/Entercom deal last fall.

With the stations having gone unsold since then, they're now going into a trust headed by Pearlman Advisors' David Pearlman. He'll operate the stations as the "Rochester Trust" until a buyer can be located, whenever that might be.

In Syracuse, Skip Clark is the new PD and morning man at the "Movin'" simulcast of WWLF-FM (100.3 Sylvan Beach)/WOLF-FM (96.7 Oswego), filling the chair last occupied by Nick Caplan. Part-timer Jessica Rolince gets promoted to morning co-host alongside Clark, who'd been filling in on morning drive at "Movin."

Where are they now? Former Rochester jock Dave (Rosati) Mason has been settled in San Diego for a few years now - and he's just moved from the San Diego Union-Tribune's "Sign On Radio" to new oldies station XHBCE (105.7 the Walrus), where he starts in morning drive May 5.

*In VERMONT, Doug Daniels exits WEQX (102.7 Manchester), where he'd been doing morning drive.

*In RHODE ISLAND, WPRV (790 Providence) has picked up the first local talent for its "True Oldies" format.

Bruce Palmer will voicetrack the 3-7 PM shift, adding to the station's morning run of Don Imus, its evening Yankees games and its carriage of Scott Shannon's syndicated oldies format. Down the hall, WPRO (630 Providence)/WEAN (99.7 Wakefield-Peace Dale) puts Matt Allen in the 6-9 PM shift, sending Michael Savage to 9-11 PM and Jerry Doyle to 11 PM-1 AM.

*A NEW JERSEY station was honored with the NAB's Crystal Award during the convention last week in Las Vegas. WAWZ (99.1 Zarephath) was one of ten nationwide winners of the award, which recognizes stations for their community service.

*We start our PENNSYLVANIA news this week by noting the passing of a UHF TV pioneer. John Powley put WHGM (103.9) on the air from Wopsononock Mountain high above Altoona in 1970, following that up four years later by signing on WOPC-TV (Channel 38), an ABC affiliate that took its calls from the mountain's nickname ("Wopsy") and maintained an abbreviated schedule for most of its 14 years on the air.

Powley sold the stations in 1986; WHGM became oldies WALY, while WOPC moved down the dial to channel 23 and became today's WATM-TV. In later years, Powley worked with his daughter Caroline and son-in-law Bill Smith to apply for and build new TV signals around the country, including WNGS (Channel 67) in Springville, south of Buffalo, N.Y.

Powley died April 6 in Altoona; he was 72.

Congratulations to WDUQ (90.5 Pittsburgh) director of engineering Chuck Leavens - he's the latest recipient of the annual "Engineering Achievement Award" from the Association of Public Radio Engineers. Leavens was honored at the Public Radio Engineering Conference that preceded the NAB show in Las Vegas; he's been with WDUQ for almost 20 years and has been in the business for 35.

In Harrisburg, Clear Channel has found a replacement for departed market manager Rob Roy. Richard Lewis, who's already market manager for Clear Channel's Allentown cluster, will add the Harrisburg stations to his duties.

There are now call letters attached to the new station on 1450 in Milford: it takes the WQCD calls that were last heard on 101.9 in New York, now WRXP.

*Western New York's loss this week is CANADA's gain: Jimmy T is leaving the afternoon-drive chair at WKSE (98.5 Niagara Falls) to take the same shift just up the dial at CKFM (Mix 99.9) in Toronto.

Up in Sudbury, Milkman UnLimited reports Dave Mayes is retiring after 27 years on the air, most recently at CHNO-FM (Big Daddy 103.9).

Along the way up the 400 highway, the CRTC has received an application for a new station to serve Orillia, Ontario. That triggers a call for competing applications, which are due June 9.

And in Gatineau, Quebec, CJRC-FM (104.7) is still trying to match the coverage of its yet-to-be-silenced AM signal on 1150. It's now applying to boost power to 100 kW DA (36 kW average) from its present 11 kW from a downtown Ottawa rooftop; antenna height would be lowered to 41.5 meters from a new site just north of Autoroute 50 on the Quebec side of the river.

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!)

April 23, 2007 -

  • It was a rough weather week all over the region, but no broadcast facility was hit worse than the 445-foot tower of WCFE-TV (Channel 57)/WCFE-DT (Channel 38) in NEW YORK's Adirondacks, on Lyon Mountain about 10 miles west of WCFE's city of license, Plattsburgh. The tower, built in 1976, collapsed shortly after 7 on Wednesday morning (April 18), taking WCFE (known on-air as "Mountain Lake PBS") off the air just as the station was about to launch into its Art Auction, its biggest fundraiser of the year.
  • Early reports suggest that a combination of heavy icing and high winds brought the tower crashing down, damaging the transmitter building at the base of the tower as well. WCFE had recently spent about $1.5 million to reinforce the tower and to build out its DTV signal, and the station says insurance won't cover the full amount of the rebuilding effort, particularly because of the remote Lyon Mountain location, more than 3600' above sea level and unreachable by car or truck.
  • To make matters worse, unlike many TV stations that are now connected by fiber or microwave to most of the cable and satellite companies in their viewing area, WCFE depended on its on-air signal to reach the bulk of its viewership across Lake Champlain in northern Vermont and across the border in Quebec. At press time Sunday night, WCFE was being seen only on the Charter Cable system in Plattsburgh, which gets a direct feed from the station's studio; it's working on ways to restore the feed to the other systems while it works on rebuilding. And NERW wonders - with just 22 months remaining for analog television, will WCFE even bother to rebuild the Channel 57 signal that will go dark for good in February 2009, or will this be the cue for Mountain Lake to go DTV-only on 38?
  • In other NEW YORK news, Don Imus vanished quickly from the headlines last week as the tragic news from Virginia Tech took over the nation's attention, but behind the scenes, things kept percolating at his former home base of WFAN (660 New York). Imus' producer Bernard McGuirk, who instigated the series of remarks that doomed the show, has now also lost his job with WFAN, but newsman Charles McCord, who was with 660 (then WNBC) before Imus ever arrived, has also outlasted his former boss; he's still being heard as part of the morning version of "Mike and the Mad Dog." The duo are being heard on at least some of the former Imus stations, but not all of them - WXUR (92.7 Herkimer), for instance, is taking ESPN's "Mike and Mike in the Morning" for now, but says if Imus ever returns to the air, it'll gladly put him back on the air in the Mohawk Valley. And we neglected to mention WHEN (620 Syracuse) as part of the network - it's now taking Fox Sports Radio in morning drive.
  • In Albany, Buzz Brindle has exited the Regent Broadcasting cluster after more than a decade as PD of WGNA (107.7). Tom "Jake" Jacobsen, who comes from Regent's WFRG in Utica (and before that, WFRY in Watertown) takes the PD chair and the afternoon shift at WGNA, and Brindle's looking for a new gig as well. Also out at WGNA is music director/middayer Bill Early.
  • Out on Cape Cod, the format/call swap between WKPE-FM (104.7 Orleans) and WOCN-FM (103.9 South Yarmouth) happened on schedule last Tuesday, with "Ocean 104" becoming "Ocean 104.7" on its more powerful new signal and "Rocket 104.7" becoming simply "Cape Cod's Classic Rock, WKPE 103-point-9" on its new frequency. WKPE morning man/PD Nick Strassel didn't make the move; he exited the station after 10 years, replaced by Steve Binder.

April 21, 2003 -

  • Radio listeners in Toronto, who already have more choices on the dial than any other city in CANADA, are about to get still more listening options. The CRTC last week granted four new licenses in the nation's largest city, though only three of them will be available to listeners using analog radios.
  • On the AM dial, the San Lorenzo Latin American Community Centre gets 1000 watts day and night on 1610 for a non-commercial service that will broadcast primarily in Spanish, with some additional programming in Italian, Portuguese and Tagalog. The grant displaces dormant CHEV, a mobile station that broadcast community hockey games and other events in and around Etobicoke; it hasn't been heard in several years, and if it does return it will have to find a new frequency.
  • On the FM side, Canadian Multicultural Radio gets 440 watts on 101.3 to broadcast programs in 22 languages, most of them South Asian. This grant also displaces an existing transmitter - the Etobicoke relay of CHIN (1540), a low-power fill-in signal meant to reach areas west of downtown Toronto that lose the directional AM signal at night. That transmitter (CHIN-1-FM) will move down the dial to 91.9 - and boost power to 99 watts - once CMR is ready to sign on at 101.3.
  • La cooperative radiophonique de Toronto had applied for 91.7 for its French-language programming, but an objection from CHOW-FM (91.7 Welland) down on the Niagara Peninsula resulted in a change of proposed frequency. The new French service, the first in Toronto not operated by Radio Canada, will instead operate on 105.1 when it signs on.
  • And Sur Sagar Radio, which broadcasts to Toronto's South Asian communities over FM subcarriers, was granted a new broadcast license - but only in the digital domain. Sur Sagar thus becomes the first digital-only broadcaster in Canada, operating on the "channel 2" multiplex of Toronto's Eureka digital radio system; perhaps this will spur sales of digital radios, which are slowly becoming available in Canada at prices comparable to the subcarrier-equipped radios already widely available in Toronto's multilingual communities.
  • We'll head up to MAINE next, where Citadel is selling a station that's certainly on the periphery of its holdings. WCRQ (102.9 Dennysville) came along for the ride when Citadel bought out Pilot a few years back, but there's no strategic plan that includes the Calais area way Down East, which CRQ serves with a big 100,000 watt signal. So Citadel's spinning the station to Bill McVicar, who already owns nifty little local stations WQDY (92.7/1230) in Calais and WALZ (95.3) in Machias. And since McVicar's $190,000 purchase of WCRQ would give him pretty much the entire US side of the Calais market, he's putting WQDY(AM) up for sale. Hmm..."Radio Disney - We're Down East"??
  • It's not just Down East where Citadel is spinning off tangential properties; it's also central MASSACHUSETTS. Inside Radio reports that Citadel will sell WAHL (99.9 Athol) and WCAT (700 Orange) to Steve Silberberg for $875,000. WAHL, which does oldies (and which used to be WCAT-FM until Citadel moved those calls to the former WRKZ 106.7 in Hershey, Pennsylvania) and WCAT, which is leased out to a Spanish-language religious broadcaster, are the first stations in the area for Silberberg, who's best known for his string of AAA stations that includes WXRV (92.5 Haverhill-Boston) and Vermont's "Point" network.
  • PENNSYLVANIA will soon be home to two new Catholic stations: today's the day Starboard Broadcasting is due to sign on its new format at WZUM (1590 Carnegie) near Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, WAAT (750 Olyphant) will return to the air in a few weeks with new calls of WQOR ("Queen of the Rosary") and a new tower under new owners Holy Family, we're told.

April 23, 1998-

  • There will soon be a new commercial TV station in MAINE. A company called "Winstar" has settled with the other applicants for channel 23 in Waterville. The new station will broadcast from Danford Hill in Litchfield. NERW wonders: "WB23"?
  • Elswehere in the Pine Tree State, Portland talker WGAN (560) has found a replacement for the soon-to-be-defunct Mary Matalin show in afternoons. John McDonald, who hosts the Saturday and Sunday morning shows on WGAN, will take the 3-6PM weekday slot, while giving up his Sunday morning program. McDonald has done weekends at WGAN since 1991; he's also a storyteller, newspaper columnist, and former correspondent for WMTW-TV -- which, by the way, has started broadcasting from a new set. And in Topsham, "Galaxy 95.5," WXGL, is being transferred from Liz and Stan Arno to Chris Outwin.
  • In RHODE ISLAND, we hear WBUR's new public radio outlet, WRNI (1290) will debut on May 1. The Boston Globe reports that Robert Ames (late of WBZ and the old WEEI) and Deborah Becker will be local hosts on 1290.
  • Finally this week, NERW salutes the folks at Toronto's CBC Broadcast Centre for an incredible open house last Sunday. The occasion was the move of CBC Radio One from CBL (740) to CBLA (99.1) -- but the CBC went far beyond the call of duty, with all-day live broadcasts from the atrium, an hour-long special at noon, and every staff member on hand to welcome visitors to all three radio floors of the Broadcast Centre building. We had a great time...and now we're really going to miss the programming when CBL leaves 740 kHz for good come October.

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