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July 14, 2008

Local Yields to Satellite at WCTC, WMTR


*Central NEW JERSEY is a tough place to operate a local AM station these days, up against a dial full of FM signals from within the state and neighboring New York and Philadelphia, not to mention a plethora of other entertainment and information choices.

So it was probably only a matter of time before Greater Media pulled the plug on most of the local programming at news-talker WCTC (1450 New Brunswick) and oldies WMTR (1250 Morristown). That day arrived July 2, as both stations flipped to satellite "Good Time Oldies," with only separate local morning shows remaining to provide some sort of local identity.

At WCTC, the format flip kept veteran jock Jack Ellery in the morning chair, once again playing the music that was a station trademark before it switched to talk, but it ousted afternoon talker Alan David Stein, middayer Lauren Pressley and a mid-morning block of financial and food talk.

At WMTR, the move to satellite oldies knocked out local jocks MK Dombrowski and the "Golden Gup," Robert Gascoigne, who minced no words when he told the Star-Ledger, "Radio has become a waste of electricity." WMTR's local voice-tracked part-timers, including Mark Mitchell and Pete Tauriello, are also out, but at least they're able to keep their day jobs - Tauriello, for instance, is the morning traffic voice on WINS (1010 New York). Chris Edwards stays on board doing mornings at WMTR.

*There's a new signal on the air in the Garden State, but it won't do much for the cause of local radio, either: WNJY (89.3 Netcong) signed on July 8, bringing NJN Radio's mix of NPR news/talk and jazz to the I-80 corridor through Morris County and parts of neighboring Sussex County.

And that EnCap project that forced WOR (710 New York) to move to a new transmitter site in the Jersey Meadowlands? The Star-Ledger is now reporting that there's an investigation underway into whether the billion-dollar project, which was halted after its developers filed for bankruptcy this spring, had mob ties. The paper reports that an "organized crime associate" may have been taking bribes to allow dumping at the site. (In the Meadowlands, of all places; who'd have thought such a thing was possible?)

*The biggest news out of PENNSYLVANIA over the last couple of weeks came from the State College area, where veteran station owner Cary Simpson handed over the keys to WGMR (101.1 Tyrone) to Forever on July 7, bringing an end to the station's many decades under those call letters, most recently with top 40 as "G101."

To nobody's surprise (but lots of chatter on the message boards), Forever promptly flipped the station to country as "Froggy," using its big class B signal to give that regional brand new reach in the areas north and east of Forever's other Froggy stations in the area, WFGY (98.1 Altoona) and WFGI-FM (95.5 Johnstown). The WGMR calls are gone from 101.1, too, replaced at week's end by WFGE.

Froggy's former home in State College, WSGY (98.7 Pleasant Gap), was silent for a few days as its ownership transferred from Forever to 2510 Licenses, but it returned July 9 with adult contemporary music as "Wish," with new calls WWSH.

While we're up in this corner of north central Pennsylvania, there's a station sale to report in St. Mary's, as Dennis and Rose Heindl's Laurel Media buys back WDDH (97.5) from Intrepid Broadcasting for $1.23 million, four years after Laurel had sold the signal. Intrepid just bought a start-up FM in the Watertown, N.Y. market, and its president, Michael Stapleford, is also president of Magnum Broadcasting, which owns WPHB/WJOW in Phillipsburg, WBLF in Bellefonte and WZYY in Renovo.

The holiday week brought another format change in the Keystone State: in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Shamrock Communications ditched the AC "Q-FM" format on WQFM (92.1 Nanticoke)/WQFN (100.1 Forest City) on July 3, returning to the oldies format it had used until late 2005. The stations are now "Cool FM," though with no call change. (We'd note that the WQFM calls have a very long history with Shamrock and the Lynett family, having lived for decades on the company's Milwaukee FM station, now WLDB, until moving to Scranton a few format changes ago.)

Radio People on the Move in Philadelphia: Michael Chew is the newest member of the morning team at Jerry Lee's WBEB (101.1), replacing Samantha Layne alongside Tiffany Hill on the morning show there. Chew had been doing mornings in Milwaukee at WRIT until losing his job in last fall's Clear Channel cuts (and ironically, his former partner there, Carol Von, just landed at WLDB, the former WQFM.) At "Martini Radio" WHAT (1340), afternoon host Mike Bowe is now hosting the "Morning Martini" wakeup show. And at CBS Radio's WPHT (1210), the search may be on for a new morning host, now that Michael Smerconish is making noises about leaving local radio once his contract is up at year's end. Smerconish has been ubiquitous in the cable news world of late, guest-hosting shows for MSNBC and for Fox News Radio, sometimes on the same day, and he's been making loud noises about seeking a full-time career in the TV world, first to former Inquirer TV columnist Gail Shister over at, and subsequently...well, everywhere, actually.

We've been remiss in not mentioning a construction permit granted in June: Greater Media's WPEN (950 Philadelphia) now has FCC approval to boost daytime power from 25 kW to 43 kW from its three-tower site on 77th Street and Brookhaven Road. WPEN's 21 kW night signal, from the WWDB (860) site in East Norriton, would remain unchanged.

In York, WSBA (910) midday host Gary Sutton is also looking for a new career - in politics, in his case, as he announces a run for the Pennsylvania House in the 196th District. Sutton tells the York Daily Record he'd "gladly" give up his radio career if he's elected.

Up the road in Harrisburg, Jim Berman has landed on his feet after being let go as part of the Newport Television cutbacks at WHP-TV (Channel 21)/WLYH (Channel 15). Berman was hired last week by Belo to be president and general manager at its WVEC-TV (Channel 13) in Norfolk, Virginia. Also out at WHP/WLYH were operations and program director Lou Castriota and several others.

Where Are They Now? Former KDKA (1020 Pittsburgh) sports talker Thor Tolo is looking for work in Seattle, where he moved a few years ago to do afternoon drive for Salem's conservative talk station, KGNW (820 Burien WA). KGNW let Tolo go, saying it wanted to move the station in a different direction, and Tolo says he'd like to stay put in the Pacific Northwest.

And we close our Pennsylvania report by remembering Paul Oles, who was a legend in Northeast Pennsylvania sportscasting. Oles started at WCDL (1440 Carbondale) back in 1953, first as a DJ and then as a sportscaster. In 1977, he began doing part-time TV work for WNEP (Channel 16), and in 1984 he joined the TV station fulltime as sports director. Oles died June 28 in his hometown of Olyphant; he was 79.


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 35 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.

*One of the true veterans of NEW HAMPSHIRE radio has retired. Paul Leblanc spent a remarkable 44 years at WTSN (1270 Dover), pretty much all that time as morning man. (His arrival at the station came right on the heels of the departure of a talented young newsman named Gary LaPierre; there must have been something in the water up there in the early sixties.)

Leblanc's last "WTSN Morning Information Center" broadcast on July 11 was followed that evening by a big retirement dinner at the Great Bay Gallery in Somersworth, where Leblanc was honored with a "WTSN Lifetime Achievement Award" and a big-screen TV. General manager Mike Dafoe tells Foster's Daily Democrat that he hopes LeBlanc will return for some fill-in work down the road - and LeBlanc tells the paper he plans "to do a whole lot of nothing."

And there's a call change in the Upper Valley: after more than half a century as WTSL (1400 Hanover), the new calls there are WEEY.

*There are call letters for a new FM construction permit in the Portland, MAINE market: WRKJ (88.5 Westbrook) will be run by the Calvary Chapel of Portland, with 415 watts, directional, from an antenna just 10 feet above average terrain near the Maine Mall in South Portland.

*Just after our last issue before our holiday break came out, there was a format change in VERMONT: Northeast Broadcasting's WUSX (93.7 Addison) dropped its "US Country" format, which never made a dent in market behemoth WOKO (98.9 Burlington), in favor of oldies and a new nickname, "Cruisin' 93.7."

Over at Vermont Public Radio, they're saying goodbye to one of the network's longtime staffers. Jody Evans oversaw some big changes in her ten years as program director, including the launch of a full-time classical network. She's departing for the PD chair at KUT (90.5) in Austin, Texas; no replacement has been announced yet at VPR.

*Radio People on the Move in RHODE ISLAND: Tom St. John is departing Clear Channel's WWBB (101.5 Providence), where he was assistant PD and music director, to take an IT/engineering job at Greater Media's Boston cluster. Downstairs at Hall's WCTK (98.1 New Bedford MA), Steve Guittari departs as PD, with no replacement yet named.

*The big news from MASSACHUSETTS is on the engineering side, and specifically from 750 Saw Mill Brook Parkway in the Oak Hill section of Newton. That's the WUNR (1600 Brookline) transmitter site, and it moved much closer to its final configuration just before the holiday.

The first big transition came on June 18 at 3 AM, reports chief engineer Grady Moates, when WUNR switched from its old two-tower array to the new five-tower array that was built right around the old sticks last year. For now, WUNR is running reduced power under Special Temporary Authority - but as of 1 AM on July 4, it's doing so from its new Broadcast Electronics 4MX25 transmitter in the renovated transmitter building, replacing the old AM5E that had been moved to a trailer out back during the construction.

Meanwhile, on June 28th at 5 AM, WRCA (1330 Waltham) signed off for good from the South Street site in Waltham that it's called home for six decades. It's running at 5 kW under STA from the new site, and with a new city of license of Watertown. The lease on the old Waltham site, behind the studios of former sister station WCRB-FM, ran out July 1, and the towers will soon be demolished, we're told.

The next steps will involve proofing out the patterns from the new array so that WUNR and WRCA can go to full power (20 kW day and night for WUNR, 25 kW day/17 kW night for WRCA) - and the move of WKOX (1200 Framingham) to the Oak Hill site. Stay tuned...

Boston's "ESPN 890/1400" (WAMG Dedham/WLLH Lowell and Lawrence) is losing its star talk personality. Mike Felger, who's been doing afternoons since the station signed on with ESPN in 2005, departed after his Friday show, with no replacement named; Felger is headed for competitor WEEI, where he'll be writing columns for the station's website, at least initially.

Former WZLX/WBCN program director Dave Wellington has landed a new high-profile programming gig: he's the new PD for Clear Channel rockers WWDC (101.1 Washington DC) and WCHH (104.3 Baltimore).

We don't usually pay a lot of attention to radio and TV news awards competitions; having spent enough years creating and judging entries, we know all too well how subjective and political they can be, and these days there's so little competition in so many categories, because there are so few newsrooms left to enter anything, that many of the regional contests have become all but meaningless. But we can't let one particular award go unnoticed: our former WBZ colleague and good friend Carl Stevens took home a national Edward R. Murrow award for his newswriting, and that's anything but meaningless. (It was one of two national Murrows WBZ won this year; other awards in the region went to Amherst's WFCR, New York's WNYC and WSLU/North Country Public Radio up in Canton, N.Y.)

And we remember Roger Allan Bump, who spent many years as news director of WRKO (680 Boston), where he was better known simply as Roger Allan. He came to the station in its WNAC/Yankee Network era, having worked before that at WMEX, WCOP and Marlborough's WSRO, and he weathered the transition to top-40 WRKO in 1967 and to talk almost a quarter-century later before retiring in 1990. Bump also taught at Curry College, and most recently had been heard as part of the "Twin State Journal" afternoon talk show on WNTK-FM (99.7 New London NH). Bump was 79 when he died July 1 at a hospital in Hanover, New Hampshire.

*In CONNECTICUT, a war of words continues between the town of Burlington and WJMJ (88.9 Hartford), which has transmitted from a tower on Johnnycake Mountain for more than two decades. The agreement that allowed WJMJ to use the tower required the station to broadcast ecumenical programming, and town officials have been complaining that WJMJ's recent format change to Catholic talk programming is in violation of that deal. The town is expected to issue a cease-and-desist order against the station and its owner, the Archdiocese of Hartford, possibly as early as this week. (NERW notes: the FCC has recently taken a dim view of tower-use contracts that attempt to regulate programming, labeling them in some cases an unauthorized transfer of control of the station. Will Federal law overrule the town in this case? Stay tuned.)

In New Haven, there's a new afternoon talk show at Clear Channel's WELI (960): former state senator Tom Scott and Ryan Jordan, who's "Jordan" in the mornings on sister station WKSS in Hartford, have teamed up for the "Tom Scott and Ryan Show," which started last Monday from 5-7 PM.

In Greenwich, Dima Joseph-Thompson has departed WGCH (1490) after more than two decades, most recently as assistant news director.

And in Danbury, Zach Dillon moves up from music director/middays to PD, filling the gap left by Chris Duggan when he moved east to Providence and WSNE. Night guy Nate Mumford adds MD duties, and Jayna comes north from WAZR in Harrisonburg, Virginia to handle middays.

*We're still waiting to find out whether NEW YORK governor David Paterson will sign into law a bill passed a few weeks back by state lawmakers that would outlaw non-compete clauses for broadcast industry employees in the Empire State.

The "Broadcast Employees Freedom to Work Act" is being strongly opposed by the New York State Broadcasters Association, which is asking its members to lobby Paterson to veto the bill.

If it's passed (as seems likely), the bill would have consequences not only in the high-stakes world of New York City radio and TV, but upstate as well. Here in Rochester, for instance, the non-compete deal between Brother Wease and his former employer, WCMF (96.5), made front-page headlines last fall; if WCMF owner Entercom were suddenly unable to enforce that non-compete, it's a good bet that Wease would be back on the air almost immediately at his new employer, Clear Channel's WFXF (95.1), where he's biding his time in an off-air capacity until his non-compete expires.

*In Buffalo, former staffers and listeners of WKBW (1520) held a small gathering outside the station's old 1430 Main Street studio building July 3 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the historic 1958 flip to "Futuresonic" top-40 radio.

We stopped by to check out the party, which included commemorative posters, classic cars and live music.

KB veterans Stan Roberts and Tom Donahue were on hand when we pulled up, and Danny Neaverth showed up in a zippy little convertible not long afterward. (We're told that later in the evening, Neaverth even took the stage to perform the only-on-KB classic "Rats In My Room," and we're sorry we missed it!)

The oldies that have long since disappeared from WKBW and its successor WWKB have resurfaced an hour to the south in Jamestown, where WKSN (1340) has flipped from talk to ABC's True Oldies Channel, returning to its former branding of "Kissin' Oldies." (And yes, the sister FM station is "Huggin' Country," WHUG.)

Radio People on the Move: in Elmira, Vinny Pagano has exited as PD/morning man at Backyard Broadcasting's WNGZ; in Albany, Russ Allen is inbound from Knoxville, Tennessee and WKHT to be the new PD at Albany Broadcasting's WAJZ; middayer "Meredith McGreen" and production director Geoff Storm are both hopping out of Regent's "Big Frog" WFRG in Utica; and in Syracuse, Dave Laird is retiring from Clear Channel's WYYY (Y94) at the end of the month, ending a career that started way back in 1964 at WNDR and has included stops in Memphis (WMPS), Boston (WCOP), Rochester (WHAM/WVOR/WSAY) and all over the Syracuse dial (WNTQ, WFBL, WEZG, WSEN). For the last 11 years, Laird has been Y94's production director and host of the Saturday Night Dance Party; now he's heading to Tennessee, reports

In New York City, it looks like WRXP (101.9) is getting a midday host - the rumor mill down in Atlanta is churning with word that former WNNX jock Steve Craig is following his former PD, Leslie Fram, up to New York. Expect a formal announcement sometime this week, we're told.

There's not much new to report on the ongoing soap opera that is contract negotiations for Mike Francesa and Chris "Mad Dog" Russo at WFAN (660); the two are still on alternating vacations, though they did work together one day this past week. Meanwhile, WFAN's morning talkers, Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton, will be in the broadcast booth for tonight's Brooklyn Cyclones game, sharing play-by-play as the team gets some rare exposure on the big WFAN signal while the parent Mets are off for the All-Star break. (It's also "Boomer and Carton Bobblehead Night" at Keyspan Park, as well as "Salute to the Pork Rind." No, really.)

And over on the public radio side of things, NPR is pulling the plug on its "Bryant Park Project" alternative morning show after July 25. The New York-based show never picked up many affiliates (and what few it did get, including Rochester's WXXI, were largely on obscure HD subchannels) and it faced stiff competition from another new morning offering, the higher-profile "Takeaway" show that started recently at New York's WNYC.

TV People on the Move: Greg Kelly, late of Fox News Channel, is the new morning co-anchor at Fox's WNYW (Channel 5) in New York, replacing Ron Corning. In Rochester, budget cutbacks at WHEC (Channel 10) claimed the job of sports director Mark Gruba last week. In Albany, two anchors are out of work - veteran WRGB/WABC/WTEN anchor Tracy Egan has departed Channel 10 there, while Michele Smith is leaving WRGB (Channel 6) to stay at home while she awaits the birth of her second child.

We know a bit more about some of the fallout of the Newport Television cutbacks late last month: in Rochester, veteran WHAM-TV (Channel 13) engineer Ted McWhorf was among the victims.

And in Syracuse, WSYR-TV (Channel 9) reporter Mike Price retired July 3 after an amazing 45-year run at the station, all the way back to its genesis as WNYS-TV in the basement of Shoppingtown Mall way back when. Price was a staff announcer back then, best remembered for his portrayal of "Baron Daemon," host of horror movies late at night and the kiddie cartoons in the afternoon. (He even boasts the top-selling local record in Syracuse music history, the 1963 novelty tune "Transylvania Twist.") After a 1967 studio fire that destroyed his costumes and sets, Baron Daemon was retired, and Price became an audio operator and then a general-assignment reporter for Channel 9. More recently, he's been contributing "Good News" segments to the station's evening newscasts. Price says he's hoping to continue to do some voiceover and freelance work in his retirement.

Up north, WVLF (96.1 Norwood) reimaged from "Valley 96.1" to "Mix 96.1" on July 7, tweaking its AC format slightly and replacing syndicated morning show Bob & Sheri with local host Jerry Manor. He's followed by Chelsea in middays, then Ryan Seacrest in afternoons and Delilah at night.

In Glens Falls, Eric Straus is exiting the radio scene with a $2.75 million sale of the three radio stations his (Regional Radio Group) owns there. The new owner at WWSC (1450 Glens Falls), WCKM (98.5 Lake George) and WCQL (95.9 Queensbury) is Clayton Ashworth, who's acquiring the stations under the "Northway Broadcasting" name. Sound familiar? That's the same operating name Ashworth used more than a decade ago when he owned crosstown WBZA and WMJR.

And in Rochester, it looks like the end of the line for progressive talk at Entercom's WROC (950). Saddled with a poor signal and distinct also-ran status in a cluster full of big and very profitable FMs, the little AM station has been running essentially without local programming for several years now, and it appears that the current format will disappear after August 1. (At least, that's what the station reportedly told representatives of the syndicated Bill Press morning show when they called to inquire about promoting an appearance Press recently made here.)

What's next for 950? We're hearing ESPN sports, which would pull some programming away from Clear Channel's WHTK (1280 Rochester) and Pembrook Pines' WACK (1420 Newark) - and much as we'd like to see Entercom extend its Red Sox network this far west, that doesn't appear to be in the cards.

*It was a quiet couple of weeks in CANADA after the Canada Day holiday, but there are a few bits of news to pass along: in Toronto, CFTR (680 News) morning co-anchor Lisa Brandt announced she's leaving the station in October after six years, hoping to pursue a career as a writer.

In St. Catharines, the fate of CHSC (1220) is up in the air after a bankruptcy sale of the station's studios and equipment. The St. Catharines Standard reports that the CHSC studios at 36 Queenston Street will be sold in a bailiff's auction today, in hopes of collecting C$28,000 in back rent and taxes. The station's listed phone number has been disconnected, but the Standard reports that as of Thursday, CHSC remained on the air. The station has been trying to target listeners in Toronto, across Lake Ontario, and is apparently now running its studios from at a sales office in the Toronto suburb of Woodbridge, where it was already originating the "Radio Uno" Italian-language programming that fills most of its schedule. Will the CRTC allow that to continue?

Another CHSC note: longtime news director Ed Eldred died last Monday (July 7) at age 58. Eldred worked at CHSC from 1988-2003, and at CFOS (560 Owen Sound) for many years before that.

Milkman UnLimited also reports the death on July 8 of Pete McNabb, who owned CKLY (910 Lindsay) from 1961 until 1986, and was renowned for the boat trips through the Kawartha Lakes that he ran for potential advertisers. McNabb was 80.

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!)

July 9, 2007 -

  • Thirty-five years after NEW YORK's WCBS-FM (101.1) flipped to oldies, and two years after the station rocked the Big Apple radio world with a flip away from oldies to adult hits "Jack FM," the message boards once again began buzzing last Thursday afternoon with word that the new management at CBS Radio was about to reverse course and restore oldies to 101.1.
  • Whether or not the news was an intentional leak, it came at a perfectly slow moment in the larger news cycle, and by Friday it had moved beyond the radio message boards and e-mail lists and out to the TV newscasts and the headlines on WINS. By Saturday morning, it was even the front-page story in the Daily News, even though CBS had yet to confirm that the move was happening.
  • As we head for our Sunday night NERW deadline, there's still been no confirmation from within CBS, but all the signs we're hearing tell us that the rumors are true, and that at some point between today and Thursday, WCBS-FM will indeed return to some version of the oldies format it was using until that dark day in June 2005.
  • That's good news for New York oldies fans, but perhaps not quite as much good news as some of them were hoping for. Despite the Daily News' claim that the station will be bringing back "real DJs," our sources tell us that at least at first, the new CBS-FM will sound very much like the HD2/webstream version of CBS-FM that's been serving as a stopgap replacement for the original station - no DJs, and a music mix that leans more heavily on the 70s and early 80s than the old CBS-FM did.
  • Elsewhere in the Empire State over the long holiday week: In the Albany market, public broadcaster WMHT pulled the plug on one of its two classical music services on Saturday, replacing "cool, comfortable, classical" WBKK (97.7 Amsterdam) with "Exit 97.7," a new AAA format with new calls WEXT. WMHT says the two-year experiment with WBKK, which had been a commercial classical station before WMHT bought it, found that there was a tremendous amount of listener duplication between 97.7 and the more established WMHT-FM (89.1 Schenectady), producing little in the way of new listeners or members to the station. The new "Exit 97.7" will feature local jocks Dave Michaels in morning drive and Eileen Roarke in middays, with station manager Chris Wienk handling afternoons.
  • Boston's channel 2 just moved, and now CONNECTICUT's channel 3 has started to load up the moving vans. WFSB (Channel 3) has finished construction of its new studio complex in Rocky Hill, and station staffers began moving in last week. Newscast production from the new studios won't start for a few more weeks, so the news department remains at the old Broadcast House in downtown Hartford for a little while longer.

July 7 & 14, 2003 -

  • Clear Channel flipped two of its VERMONT properties last week, just in time for Independence Day. In Rutland, WZRT (97.1) kept its top 40 format under a new name, taking on Clear Channel's national "Kiss" branding (and the blue ball logo that's already been phased out in some other Kiss markets); up US 7 in Burlington, the arrival of "Kiss" was a bit more of a surprise, with the 4 PM change last Thursday (7/3) installing "Kiss 92.1" on WJVT (92.1 Port Henry NY), the rimshotter that had been doing smooth jazz for the last year and change. Under its (pending) new calls of WVTK, Kiss will pose at least something of a threat to established top 40 WXXX (95.5 South Burlington), though the two stations' signals have little overlap except over Burlington itself. Through the miracle of voicetracking, the stations share an airstaff that consists of Dave Ryerson, Judy Anderson, AJ and Mike Cruz, though we hear the programming is separate at each frequency. (And wouldn't it figure that the switch would come not 48 hours after we drove out of the market...)
  • Just in to NERW at press time is word that one of the best-known voices in MASSACHUSETTS has been silenced. Ernie Boch never had an airshift, but his trademark "Come on DOWN!" beckoned listeners to his auto dealerships over decades of high-intensity radio and TV advertising. In 1991, Boch became a broadcast owner with the $825,000 purchase of WOCB (1240/94.9 West Yarmouth), and in the years that followed he expanded his Cape Cod holdings into one of the market's most important clusters. With his 1996 purchase of three more FMs and his 2001 donation of the former WOCB(AM) to Boston University, Boch's cluster now consists of news-talk WXTK (95.1 West Yarmouth), AC WCOD (106.1 Hyannis) and oldies simulcast WDVT (93.5 Harwich Port) and WTWV (101.1 Mashpee) - and with Boch's death Sunday at age 77, the rumors are already flying about potential purchasers interested in the stations.
  • Up in CANADA, CHUM officially launched its new FM signal in Brockville, Ontario, transforming CFJR (830) into CFJR-FM (104.9), aka "JRfm." The FM signal has been on the air testing for several weeks, but the official launch today sets the clock running to the signoff later this year of the AM signal. (Oddly, CFJR's website makes no mention of the FM yet!) But in the midst of launching "JRfm," CHUM also flipped its older Brockville FM signal. CJPT (103.7) has been doing top 40 as "the Point," but as of today it's a clone of CHUM's CKKL (93.9 Ottawa), running classic hits and hot AC currents as "103.7 Bob FM."

July 3 & 9, 1998-

  • Another billion-dollar deal is making news in CONNECTICUT. New Haven's WTNH (Channel 8) is one of the stations Chancellor Broadcasting is buying from LIN for a total of $1.72 billion. Investment firm Hicks, Muse, Tate, and Furst has significant interests in both LIN and Chancellor -- and in Capstar, which owns WPLR (99.1) and LMAs WYBC (94.3) in New Haven, as well as owning four FMs and an AM in Hartford. The trades are already buzzing about a combined Capstar-Chancellor, which would create a massive media conglomerate in the Nutmeg State.
  • In NEW YORK, it's tower-shifting time in the Watertown market. WUZZ (1410) has applied to move from its current 5000/1000-watt DA-N three-tower array to a single tower of the array at sister station WTNY (790). As a non-directional station, WUZZ would use 3500 watts by day, and just 58 watts at night. Meantime, WCIZ (93.5, moving to 93.3) and WFRY (97.5) are building a new tower next to the current WFRY stick in the town of Rutland.
  • Big Apple news anchor Ernie Anastos is becoming a station owner. The WWOR (Channel 9) anchor is one of the partners buying WJKE (101.3 Stillwater) in the Saratoga Springs market. Peter Coughlin's Fair Way Communications gets $900,000 for the adult contemporary station. He's using the money to buy two stations in Florida.
  • Dedham-licensed WBPS (890) is one of several stations being transferred to Z Spanish Radio from current owner TSG Associates (which holds the stock of John Douglas' Achievement Radio Holdings). NERW expects WBPS to begin running Z's nationwide Spanish programming, which would mark the first time a national Spanish-language broadcaster has operated an O&O in the Boston market. This also explains why WBPS cancelled the proposed sale to Salem last month. The full deal, which includes stations in Chicago, Houston, and San Jose, is valued at $27 million.
  • An upstate NEW YORK station has changed cities of license; Johnstown's WSRD (104.9) is now Altamont's WSRD (104.9), which NERW suspects opens the way to a transmitter-site move that would make it more of a player in Schenectady and Albany. NERW notes also that the initial FCC information about this move misspelled the town name as "Altamount," although it seems to be correct in the database.

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