August 25 & September
Atlantic Coast, Nassau Shake Up Maine
MONDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: Big
news from CANADA - Toronto's CKFM (99.9) ended its stunting
at 4 PM by flipping to "Virgin Radio," as Astral Media
inaugurated a licensing agreement with Virgin that puts the international
brand and a top-40 format on the former "Mix 99.9,"
with Mad Dog and Billie remaining in mornings and the inescapable
Ryan Seacrest later on in the day. Much more on this change next
*This column almost came to you with a MAINE
dateline this week, as we contemplated spending a few days before
the Labor Day weekend visiting friends and colleagues in the
Pine Tree State. We stayed home instead (though we're heading
to Pittsburgh in a few days for the National Radio Club convention,
hence this double issue - we'll be back Sept. 8 unless there's
major breaking news in the meantime), but if we'd made the drive,
we'd have been there just ahead of some big format shuffles.
Last week, NERW broke the story of a major rearrangement of
Atlantic Coast Radio's Portland-market signals, and this week
we can fill in all the blanks - and tell you about some changes
down the road at the Nassau stations, too, not to mention a big
change up in Bangor.
Coast: As we reported last week, it's the end of the line for
"Red Hot 95.9." That station - WRED (95.9 Saco) - will
become half of a new Atlantic Coast sports station in the market,
as owner J.J. Jeffrey affiliates with Boston's WEEI and puts
its sports programming on 95.9 and on WJJB-FM (95.5 Topsham),
which had been half of the locally-programmed "Big Jab"
The Big Jab will stay in the market on a stronger signal,
replacing talk on what's now WLOB-FM (96.3 Gray) and remaining
on WJJB (1440 Westbrook). And the talk programming will stay
in place, too, but only on WLOB (1310 Portland).
Those changes will all take place Sept. 1, and there will
be new calls, too - 96.3 will become WJJB-FM, 95.5 will be WTEI
and 95.9 will be WPEI.
(A quick bit of NERW analysis before we move on: whether or
not you believe the rumor that WEEI owner Entercom forced Atlantic
Coast's hand by threatening to move the valuable Red Sox radio
rights elsewhere in the market, Jeffrey ends up with an interesting
competitive position in southern Maine. While he won't have a
total sports monopoly in the market - Nassau's WLVP 870/WLAM
1470 are fulltime ESPN Radio, and the Portland Sea Dogs are heard
on Saga's WBAE 1490 - Jeffrey will now have outlets offering
both local sports talk and the Boston-centric WEEI product, not
a bad hand to play if the goal is to deliver a young male audience.)
readers with longish memories will by now have noted that the
initial announcement of a New England-wide WEEI network last
winter included numerous Nassau stations, WLVP/WLAM among them.
As WEEI relaunches its regional network plans, Nassau is still
absent - but there is now a Bangor affiliate. September 1 will
also bring the WEEI network to Blueberry Broadcasting's WABI
(910 Bangor) and WWBX (97.1 Bangor), replacing talk on the AM
side and top 40 "B97" on the FM. That's a pretty big
signal for WEEI, and even if the WEEI network is being handled
separately from the Red Sox rights, we have to wonder how much
longer Stephen King will be able to hang on to the Sox over at
And returning to the Portland/southern Maine end of things,
there's a format shuffle coming from Nassau, too: In October,
it will move classical "W-Bach" from its present homes
on WBQW (106.3 Scarborough) and WBQQ (99.3 Kennebunk) to what's
now "Bone" classic rocker WHXQ (104.7 Kennebunkport).
The 106.3 frequency will flip to "The Bone," simulcasting
with WHXR (106.7 North Windham) to blanket the Portland market,
at the expense of York County; 99.3 will flip to "Wolf"
country, simulcasting Nassau's WTHT (99.9 Auburn) to improve
the Wolf's coverage of the full Portland market, where Nassau's
apparently looking at sagging ratings for Saga's country giant,
WPOR (101.9 Portland), and seeing vulnerability. (There are no
changes planned - at least not yet - for the northern outposts
of the "W-Bach" network, WBQX 106.9 Thomaston and WBQI
107.7 Bar Harbor.)
There's a call change at EMF's "Air 1" outlet: WCYI
(93.9 Lewiston) becomes WARX.
There's a translator swap in southern Maine: W277AM (103.3
Biddeford) is going to Bible Broadcasting Network (which will
use it to relay WYFP 91.9 Harpswell), in exchange for two translators
in Mississippi and Indiana.
And on top of all that radio news, there's TV news from Maine,
too: because of "significant equipment problems associated
with its analog equipment" (it can't get parts for its aging
Comark transmitter, and a deteriorating klystron tube is forcing
the station to chug along at 70% of licensed power), Portland
CW affiliate WPXT (Channel 51) has been granted FCC permission
to shut down its analog transmitter on Sept. 18. Its sister station,
My Network TV affiliate WPME (Channel 35), received FCC permission
to turn its analog signal off on August 21, allowing the station
to complete its DTV antenna work before the Maine winters hit.
Both stations are seen by most viewers on cable and satellite,
anyway, and WPXT-DT (Channel 43) and WPME-DT (Channel 28) are
both on the air.
*In NEW HAMPSHIRE, Nassau is complying
with the FCC's order to immediately end its JSA with Vox's WWHK
(102.3 Concord), leaving Vox without the "Hawk" classic
rock simulcast that WWHK has been using for the last few years.
For now, we understand that 102.3 continues to carry a rock format,
but entirely automated, with only a legal ID playing each hour.
What's next for 102.3? NERW readers may recall that WWHK -
and erstwhile Lakes Region simulcast partner WWHQ (101.5 Meredith)
- were on Nassau's list of stations to join the WEEI network
before that deal fell apart last winter. With Nassau now out
of the picture, could Vox put 102.3 back into play as a WEEI
meantime, WEEI is adding another station in the Granite
State. Great Eastern Radio (whose ownership interlocks with Vox)
announced last week that it's getting ready to put silent WTSM
(93.5 Springfield VT) back on the air from a new city of license
- Swanzey, New Hampshire - and with new calls, WEEY-FM, bringing
the WEEI network into the Keene market.
Entercom's press release noted that the new additions will
put WEEI in 12 of the 17 Arbitron-rated markets in New England,
with the most conspicuous absences being Hartford, Burlington/Plattsburgh
and the Upper Valley area. Ironically, that last market is where
Great Eastern had been parking the WEEY calls; it applied for
(but never implemented) a call change at talker WTSL (1400 Hanover)
a few months back. Could WEEI still find a home in the Upper
Valley? Stay tuned...
*The RHODE ISLAND ratings scandal took another
interesting turn late last week, as news emerged that the six
questionable diaries in the Providence spring Arbitron book were
filled out by Kristen DePetro of East Greenwich, wife of WPRO
(630)/WEAN (99.7) morning talker John DePetro.
Going into the weekend, DePetro and his bosses at Citadel
closed ranks, with DePetro saying that he was unaware of the
fraudulent diaries, which reportedly listed hundreds of hours
of WPRO listening by nonexistent listeners in the prime 25-34
demographic. WPRO management issued a statement saying they were
"profoundly disappointed" in Mrs. DePetro.
Will the story end there? It's standard procedure, after all,
for Arbitron to ask potential diary recipients whether they,
or anyone in their household, are employed in the media - and
standard for most broadcast companies' employee handbooks to
include stern warnings about ratings tampering. (Indeed, it's
a firing offense at most of the companies we're familiar with,
often driven home by big posters in cafeterias and employee lounges
reminding workers of the dangers of ratings interference.)
In the meantime, the Providence TV stations, the newspapers
and WPRO's competition kept the story very much alive, with Jim
Corwin, VP/GM of Clear Channel talker WHJJ (a former DePetro
employer) issuing the requisite "We are shocked and disappointed
at todays news that fraudulent ratings diaries have come
from the home of an on-air personality at WPRO" statement.
There's a new permanent midday host at NEW
YORK's WPLJ (95.5): Jeff Miles takes the spot formerly occupied
by Race Taylor, who's now doing afternoons. Miles comes to New
York from Citadel's Dallas operations, where he's been morning
show producer at KSCS (96.3 Fort Worth) and host of ABC Radio's
"Cruz in the 80s."
In the Hudson Valley, unbuilt WJGK (1200 Highland) is being
transferred, but it's all within the family: Joergen Klebe's
Sunrise Broadcasting sells the construction permit to Hawkeye
Communications, controlled by Klebe's wife Irmingard, for $10.
The WJGK construction permit was due to expire Sept. 29, but
the transfer to Hawkeye should allow for an 18-month extension
under new FCC rules that allow small businesses additional time
to build newly-acquired CPs.
Albany, a bit of history came down recently: we're told WAMC
has finally taken the big "WABY" letters down from
the tower of its AM 1400 signal, which once bore those storied
calls. Today, that tower on Braintree Street, right next to I-90,
carries not only WAMC (1400) but also WUAM (900 Watervliet).
Over at Albany Broadcasting, Nik Rivers is out as PD at WZMR
(104.9 Altamont); his departure from "The Edge" means
morning guy Darwin adds music director duties, Mike the Enforcer
shifts from nights to afternoon drive and becomes assistant PD,
and Boomer moves from weekends to nights.
Upstate, we have this update on the move of Finger Lakes Radio
Group's WFLR-FM (95.9 Dundee) to the Ithaca market, as a class
A on 95.5 licensed to Odessa: with Dundee translator W245BL (96.9)
now on the air and simulcasting WFLR-FM, listeners in the area
are being told that "WFLR is moving to 96.9," effective
Sept. 1. What will actually play out next weekend, as best we
can piece it together, will be WFLR-FM going silent on 95.9 to
make its Odessa move - and 96.9 translating WFLR (1570 Dundee),
which will flip from its present news-talk format (as part of
the Finger Lakes News Network) to the country format now heard
In Syracuse, public broadcaster WCNY is trying some innovative
programming on its digital multiplex channels on both radio and
TV. On WCNY-DT (Channel 25), they've transformed their 24-3 subchannel
from a delayed rebroadcast of the main PBS service to "Cinema
24," a 24-hour service full of classic movies. And on WCNY-FM
(91.3), they're playing 50s and 60s oldies on their HD2 subchannel,
complete with voicetracks from veteran central New York morning
man Bill Baker ("Awake with Bake"), as well as Jack
Mindy, Captain John Smith and Pete (McElvaine) McKay. Every night
at 11, "WCNY-HD2" is resurrecting an old WOLF (1490)
feature, too, presenting "The Sandman Serenade" with
Joe McDonough. We're looking forward to checking out WCNY's digital
display if we can make it over to the New York State Fair later
there's good news and bad news from our friends over at WCJW
(1140 Warsaw). The good? A power increase to 250 watts on FM
translator W279BO (103.7 Warsaw) is giving "CJ Country"
greater reach on FM. We heard it clearly Saturday night while
watching a Muckdogs baseball game in Batavia, as CJ was carrying
a night NASCAR race that it never would have been able to carry
in its entirety as a daytime-only AM facility.
The bad news actually came from WBTA's Muckdogs broadcast,
as the announcer noted the death on Saturday evening of WCJW
news director and mid-morning personality Jenny Snow, who collapsed
while doing volunteer work for the Perry Fire Department. Morning
man Steve Weber will be serving as acting news director, while
owner Lloyd Lane will handle mornings until a replacement for
Snow can be hired.
Edited by NERW's own Scott Fybush - on sale now as
an e-book or printed volume!
*As we noted up above, NERW's spending Labor
Day weekend in western PENNSYLVANIA at the National Radio
Club convention, and we'll have a format change to listen to
while we're there.
Renda's WPTT (1360 McKeesport) is trading its talk format
for business talk, and that means the departure of one of the
station's fixtures, Lynn Cullen. She'll do a final week of shows
on WPTT this week, wrapping up on August 29, just a day before
the station flips to its new format and new calls of WMNY. (Those
calls were last seen in NERW-land a few years ago at the Buffalo
AM signal that's now WBBF.)
Meanwhile, construction is finally underway on a new tower
site for Renda's other AM in the Pittsburgh market, WJAS (1320).
NERW readers may recall that WJAS lost its current site near
the mouth of the Squirrel Hill tunnel after its landlord sold
the property to the city of Pittsburgh, apparently ignoring a
"right-of-first-refusal" clause in Renda's lease. Renda
ended up going to court, filing a suit that was settled when
the city's Urban Renewal Authority sold WJAS a new piece of land
north of downtown.
While WJAS is building, WPXI (Channel 11) is tearing down.
Now that the Cox-owned NBC affiliate is in its new home on the
city's North Side, wrecking crews were hard at work last week
demolishing most of WPXI's former studio building on Rising Main
Avenue, just north of downtown. Only the original 1950s-era core
of the building, still home to WPXI's transmitters, will be saved;
while WPXI had planned to move its tower to the new studio site,
the neighbors objected, and so the transmitters will stay put
at the old location.
Harrisburg, Cumulus has flipped WTCY (1400) to ESPN sports, returning
the station to its original callsign, WHGB. But it's not the
end of the line for the "Touch" urban AC format that
WTCY was carrying - it's alive and well on WNNK-HD2 (104.1),
and being heard by most of the market via translator W237DE (95.3
Harrisburg). Can a translator carry an FM station's HD2 signal?
Cumulus believes it's on solid ground with the FCC here, and
we've heard nothing from the Commission to contradict that. Meanwhile
at WNNK's main channel, middayer Kelly Iris departs for Grand
Rapids and the PD chair at Clear Channel's WOOD-FM (105.7).
There's a station sale up along the New York/Pennsylvania
border: Cary Simpson's Farm and Home Broadcasting is selling
WQRM (106.3 Smethport) to Colonial Broadcasting, which already
owns WLYC (1050 Williamsport) and WLMI (103.9 Kane). Pittsburgh's
Ray Rosenblum brokered the $290,000 deal - and we'd expect WQRM
to change formats, since it's now simulcasting "Sam"
adult hits with Simpson's WFRM-FM (96.7 Coudersport).
Over near the Ohio/Pennsylvania border, WKQW (1120 Oil City)
has flipped from "Wildcatter Country" to oldies, as
In Philadelphia, WPEN (950) will be without afternoon host
Jody Macdonald for a while. "Jody Mac" is having heart
surgery today, and we join the rest of the radio community in
hoping for a quick and full recovery. Michael Bradley is filling
in for Macdonald while he's recuperating.
And there's an analog TV signal leaving the air early in that
area, too: WTVE (Channel 51) in Reading tells the FCC that the
$40,000 klystron tube in its transmitter is "expected to
fail completely in the near future," so it's asking the
FCC for expedited permission to go silent on September 30, "or
at the earliest possible date." WTVE-DT (Channel 25) is
experimenting with "distributed transmission," using
eight DTV transmitters scattered from Maryland to New Jersey
to extend the reach of its digital signal.
*In MASSACHUSETTS, DJ Pup Dawg is
the new music director at WJMN (94.5), filling the gap left by
Gee Spin's departure for the APD/MD post at sister station WWPR
in New York. Pup Dawg has been part of Jam'n's morning show for
the last few years. Meanwhile, sister station WXKS-FM (107.9
Medford) will be looking for a new night jock as Jackson Blue
departs "Kiss 108" for afternoons at Clear Channel's
"Kiss" in Dallas (KHKS 106.1 Denton).
*In VERMONT, there's a new morning
show to replace the long-running "Corm and the Coach"
at "Champ" WCPV (101.3 Essex NY)/WCVR (102.1 Randolph).
"Rich and Mary's Morning Mess" pairs Mary Cenci, who'd
been doing afternoons at the station, with Rich Haskell, who
returns to the station he programmed from 1997-2000. Steve Cormier
retains his operations manager title as he moves to middays,
and former morning show producer Carolyn moves to afternoons
to replace Cenci.
In Rutland, veteran sportscaster Jack Healey has left WSYB
(1380), ending a career there that began in 1971. (He left in
1975 for now-defunct competitor WHWB, but returned in 1982.)
Healey is heading for the world of webcasting, joining the crew
at NortheastSports.net to do play-by-play for Castleton State
University. Healey is also leaving his play-by-play gig as the
voice of UVM hockey, a job that helped him win the "Vermont
Sportscaster of the Year" award 18 times and landed him
in the Vermont Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
AM-to-FM drumbeat continues up in CANADA, where the latest
batch of CRTC applications finds CJOY (1460 Guelph ON), CIGM
(790 Sudbury ON) and CFDR (780 Dartmouth/Halifax NS) all applying
for FM moves.
Corus' CJOY application - for 95.7, with 30 kW DA/176' - is
part of a package of more than a dozen applications to be considered
by the CRTC at a hearing October 20 in Cambridge, Ontario. There
are also three applications for new signals on 101.5 in Guelph
- Blackburn Radio wants a classic rock/new rock station, Durham
Radio proposes a "new distinctive rock" format and
Frank Torres wants an all-blues station.
Down the road in London, the CRTC will consider nine applications
for new stations: on 98.1, Torres wants a blues station; Evanov
proposes a "youth contemporary" format; Rogers proposes
a hit radio station with "an on-demand, on air and on-line
local radio experience;" CTV proposes a "modern hit"
format; Durham Radio proposes a "pop/oldies" format
and Blackburn proposes a AA format. Blackburn also submitted
an alternate proposal to use 91.1, where United Christian Broadcasters
proposes a religious station. Sound of Faith Broadcasting proposes
a religious signal on 99.9, and in nearby St. Thomas, My Broadcasting
proposes a "gold-based AC" format on 94.1.
Up in Sudbury, CIGM's
move to FM - made possible by the swap that sends CIGM to Newcap
and CFDR in Nova Scotia to Rogers - would find the 50,000-watt
AM 790 facility moving to 93.5, with 100 kW/667'. At CFDR, which
had previously been granted a move to 88.9 with 21 kW, the new
application from Rogers would instead move the 50,000-watt AM
780 signal to 92.9, with 100 kW/643' DA.
In Saguenay (zone La Baie), Quebec, Carl Gilbert has found
a frequency for his new FM station; it will operate on 105.5
with 6 kW DA.
In Nova Scotia, Wayne Harrett's "Seaside FM" (CFEP
Eastern Passage) has been granted a frequency change that will,
at long last, allow the station to boost power from 50 watts
to 1.3 kW to better cover Metro Halifax. CFEP initially planned
to upgrade on its current frequency, 94.7, but after interference
complaints from CKWM (94.9 Kentville), it settled on 105.9 instead.
In northern New Brunswick, the CBC has applied to move Radio
One transmitter CBZW Woodstock from 91.9 to 95.3, getting it
out of the way of Radio-Canada's soon-to-debut CBAF-FM-21 (91.7
In Toronto, former CHUM-FM morning co-host Rick Hodge, until
recently one-third of "Roger, Rick and Marilyn," has
moved across town (OK, a couple of blocks up Yonge Street) to
CFRB (1010), where he'll join Bill Carroll in mornings and host
a Sunday-night comedy show. As for CHUM itself, word is that
when the sale of its venerable 1331 Yonge St. headquarters is
complete, the stations - and their famed neon sign - will move
downtown to 250 Richmond St. W., just around the corner from
the soon-to-be-former CITYtv building at 299 Queen St. W.
has finished rebranding the "A Channel" stations it
took over as part of its purchase of CHUM Ltd.
The stations in Ottawa (CHRO), Barrie (CKVR), London (CFPL-TV),
Wingham (CKNX-TV), Windsor (CHWI) and Victoria, BC (CIVI) have
all been reborn as simply "A," with a new website at
Atv.ca, and they now have a
sister station in the Maritimes, as the former Atlantic Satellite
Network, sister to CTV's ATV stations in Halifax, Sydney, Saint
John and Moncton, has been reborn under the "A" banner
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!)
August 27 & September 3, 2007
- It's been literally years in the making, but VERMONT Public
Radio is finally about to throw the switch on an expansion that
will bring its second service, an all-classical network, to the
state's largest market. On Friday, August 31, VPR will take control
of what's now WAVX (90.9 Schuyler Falls NY), replacing that station's
Christian rock format with classical and changing the calls to
WOXR. "The calls don't have any particular importance, other
than an homage to the great New York classical station, WQXR,"
says VPR president Mark Vogelzang. (He jokes that they could
also stand for "Only eXcellent Radio.")
- The station is expected to sign off as WAVX on Wednesday,
when VPR closes on its purchase of the station from Christian
Ministries, Inc. It will return Friday at - when else? - 9:09
in the morning. When it does, it will help to fill out the VPR
Classical network that signed on in 2004 at WNCH (88.1 Norwich),
serving the Connecticut River Valley. The network grew in a small
way with translators, then added a second full-power signal,
WJAN (95.1 Sunderland, now WVTQ), earlier this year - but until
now, it's been heard in Burlington and vicinity only via web
streaming and the HD2 channel of VPR's main network.
- In Albany, Regent has not only returned to sports on WEEV
(1300 Rensselaer) after the demise of the GreenStone Media talk
network - it's also returned to the station's former calls of
WTMM. Will the format change (which creates a simulcast with
WTMM-FM 104.5 Mechanicville) be permanent?
- Two new calls on two new religious outlets in PENNSYLVANIA:
WMBZ (88.5 Halifax) changes to WLVU, as it joins EMF Broadcasting's
"K-Love" network. Meanwhile, Family Life Network has
acquired the former WDAH (91.5 Shenandoah PA), which becomes
- The newest FM station in CANADA (for a few minutes, anyway)
hit the airwaves in Peterborough, Ontario at noon on Tuesday.
CKPT-FM (99.3) takes over where CKPT (1420) left off, freshening
up the soft AC that was on the AM. The new "Energy 99.3"
takes a hot AC approach, and it's running jockless until September
10. (The CTVglobemedia-owned station will continue simulcasting
on AM for 90 days before 1420 goes silent for good.)
- The next newest station in Canada will likely be My FM's
new outlet in Nappanee. CKYM (88.7) is close to completing its
testing, and when it signs on, Milkman UnLimited reports Rob
Calabrese will be doing mornings, with Matt McIntyre in middays
and Jamie Cybulski in afternoons.
August 25 & Sept. 1, 2003 -
- It's not often that a brand new radio group bursts on the
scene - and even less often that such a group does so by buying
nearly a dozen stations in two states at once. But that's what
Lloyd Roach, owner of WCOJ (1420) in Coatesville, PENNSYLVANIA
did last week, creating a new group that will be a major presence
in one market, a minor presence in another and with the potential
to add significantly to its holdings in the months to come.
- Roach's new "Route 81 Radio" launches with WCOJ
and clusters in two markets. In the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area,
the group is buying WKJN (1440 Carbondale), WCWI (94.3 Carbondale)
and WAZL (1490 Hazleton) from Citadel and WNAK (730 Nanticoke)
from Seven Thirty Broadcasters. WKJN, WCWI and WAZL have long
been somewhat forgotten corners of Citadel's big Northeast Pennsylvania
cluster. WCWI does "Cat Country,"simulcasting out-of-market
WCTO 96.1 Easton PA; it's simulcast with WEMR 1460 Tunkhannock,
which presumably needs a new format now. WKJN and WAZL have been
simulcasting the news-talk of WARM 590 Scranton, which was itself
rumored to have been for sale. WNAK is probably the best known
of the four, running a standards format that has long shown up
well in the ratings up and down the valley. The deal also includes
WHYL (960 Carlisle), which has been doing oldies for Citadel
on the fringe of its Harrisburg cluster.
- Route 81 will make its biggest splash, though, in a market
that's not even near Route 81. The new company is buying the
Eolin Broadcasting "Radio Works" cluster that includes
talkers WENY (1230 Elmira) and WCLI (1450 Corning), AC "Crystal"
simulcast WENY-FM (92.7 Elmira) and WCBA-FM (98.7 Corning), oldies
WGMM (97.7 Big Flats) and oldies WCBA (1350 Corning).
- A station sale in southern NEW JERSEY: it's been a given
that the stations left behind when Howard Green died last year
would be sold, and now we can tell you who's buying them. For
$22 million, Access.1 Communications (the old Unity Broadcasting)
gets NBC affiliate WMGM-TV (Channel 40) in Wildwood, classic
rock WMGM (103.7 Atlantic City), oldies WTKU (98.3 Ocean City),
sports simulcast WOND (1400 Pleasantville) and WGYM (1580 Hammonton),
and R&B oldies WUSS (1490 Pleasantville). About half the
sales price will end up with the Salvation Army, chief beneficiary
of Green's estate.
- Up in VERMONT, Radio Free Brattleboro isn't staying silent
- and they want to make sure everyone knows about it. Forced
off the air earlier this summer by FCC inspectors, the community
station put out the word last week that it would sign back on
Friday afternoon at 5 on a new frequency, 107.9, and that's just
what they did, with a burst of media attention that landed them
in every trade publication and even the Boston Globe. The RFB
folks are making the case that, having been shut down for lack
of "authority to broadcast," they've now obtained that
authority - not through FCC channels but through a petition that
they say has been signed by 2,000 people (in a town of barely
twice that population) and through support from the local government
and even the local paper. They also say - apparently with a straight
face - that they have no idea whether or not the FCC will notice
that they're back on, or care.
- Over the last few years, Clear Channel Radio has built a
reputation as a non-stop purchaser of stations - but America's
biggest radio company sometimes sells stations, too, and that's
just what it did last week in western PENNSYLVANIA.
- In the Johnstown market, Clear Channel owned just two stations:
country WMTZ (96.5) and news-talk WNTJ (1490), which wasn't a
tiny position (WMTZ is regularly the #1 station in the market),
but was also far from the big clusters the company likes to build.
Over in Grove City, on the eastern fringes of the Youngstown
market, Clear Channel had the opposite problem - a cluster that
was too big to fit within the FCC's new guidelines for station
ownership. For almost four years now, Clear Channel has been
trying to buy country WICT (95.1 Grove City), standards WNIO
(1390 Niles OH), top 40 "Kiss" WAKZ (95.9 Sharpsville)
and oldies WBBG (106.1 Niles OH) from Gocom, which also owns
Youngstown's WKBN-TV (Channel 27) and the Fox LPTVs there - but
the deal's been held up because of market-concentration problems.
- Now there's a solution to both problems, in the form of the
growing Forever group. It's paying $9.13 million for WMTZ/WNTJ
and $2.28 million for WICT, getting Clear Channel out of Johnstown
and clearing the way for Clear Channel to close on its purchase
of the remaining Gocom stations, which it had been operating
under LMAs anwyay. What Forever gets for its money is a dominant
position in Johnstown, where it adds WMTZ/WNTJ to AC "Key"
WKYE (95.5 Johnstown, the market's #2 station), country oldies
WLYE (850 Johnstown) and classic hits "Wuzz" (WUZY
97.7 Somerset/WUZI 105.7 Portage). Will WMTZ join forces with
Forever's "Froggy" WFGY (98.1) in nearby Altoona? Ribbit...
- Labor Day weekend brought new calls and a new format to WEMG
(104.9) in Egg Harbor City, NEW JERSEY: after a four-month stunt
as country and a day of nonstop heartbeats, it relaunched Friday
as WOJZ, "Smooth Jazz 104.9."
- In NEW YORK, the top story was a new TV station for Albany.
WNYA (Channel 51), licensed to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, signed
on for real on Monday (9/1) after a weekend-long loop of UPN
highlights. (There's a joke in there somewhere that we'll refrain
from making...) WNYA is being operated as "Capital District
UPN" by CBS affiliate WRGB (Channel 6) - and the deal includes
tower space for WNYA's new simulcast. WNYA-CA (Channel 15) also
signed on over the weekend, operating from WRGB's tower in the
Helderbergs; it's the former WVBX-CA (Channel 39). (Cable viewers
get WNYA on Time Warner's channel 4, where it replaces the old
cable-only "UPN4" that was a joint Time Warner/Clear
- Karlson and McKenzie, the morning team that got its start
at the old WEGQ (93.7) in Boston and then spent several years
at WZNE (94.1) in Rochester, landed a new gig: it turns out the
weekend stunting on WPDH (101.5 Poughkeepsie) was a leadup to
K&McK's arrival in the Hudson Valley, where they replace
Coop & Mikey, recently dismissed by Cumulus there.
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- In what has to be the biggest one-day set of radio transactions
ever, Capstar is merging with Chancellor, while CBS is spinning
off its radio operations under the old Infinity Broadcasting
name. We'll start with the Capstar-Chancellor deal, which has
been rumored ever since Hicks, Muse began building two of the
nation's biggest broadcast groups.
- Chancellor was the big-market operator, with Boston's WJMN
and WXKS-AM/FM and New York's WHTZ, WKTU, WAXQ, WBIX, and WLTW
- along with WALK AM/FM on Long Island. Capstar was the smaller-market
broadcaster, with WZNN, WTMN, WMYF, WXHT, WSRI, WHEB and WERZ
on the New Hampshire seacoast; WGIR AM-FM in Manchester; WEAV,
WEZF, WXPS, and WCPV in Burlington-Plattsburgh; WTAG and WSRS
in Worcester; WHJJ, WSNE, and WHJY in Providence; WHMP AM-FM
in Northampton; WPKX serving Springfield; WPOP, WWYZ, WKSS, WMRQ,
and WHCN in Hartford; WPLR (and an LMA on WYBC) in New Haven;
and WTRY AM-FM, WGNA AM-FM, WXLE and WPYX in Albany. The $4.1
billion deal makes the combined Capstar/Chancellor the largest
radio operator in America, with 463 stations in more than a hundred
markets -- not even counting Hicks, Muse's substantial TV holdings.
- Meantime, more than two years after CBS bought Infinity Broadcasting,
the Infinity name is coming back. CBS is spinning off its radio
assets, along with some billboards, into a new company bearing
the Infinity name. Mel Karmazin stays in charge of the new Infinity,
along with his post as President of CBS Corp., which will continue
to own 80% of the new radio company. In our region, that puts
the Infinity name on Boston's WBZ, WNFT (still being held in
a trust), WBMX, WZLX, WODS, and WBCN; Hartford's WTIC AM-FM,
WZMX, WRCH; New York's WFAN, WCBS, WINS, WXRK, WCBS-FM, and WNEW;
Rochester's WZNE, WCMF, WPXY, and WRMM; and Buffalo's WECK, WLCE,
WBLK, WJYE, and WYRK.
- It's a far cry from the original Infinity -- WZLX, WBCN,
WFAN, and WXRK, plus the since-sold WBOS and WOAZ in Boston and
WZRC New York.
- Northern VERMONT won't be able to listen to Howard Stern
out of Canada any more; Montreal's CHOM (97.7) has dropped him
despite respectable ratings. CHOM's owner, the CHUM Group, was
under heavy pressure from the CRTC to take Stern off the air,
especially after planning to add Stern's TV show to its CITY-TV
(Channel 57) in Toronto. Stern's lone Canadian outlet now is
CILQ (107.1; "Q107") in Toronto, and NERW wonders if
it too will dump Stern to curry the CRTC's favo(u)r, since Q107
owner WIC is trying to sell its radio properties to Shaw. In
any event, Stern can still be heard on WIZN (106.7) in Vergennes.
- Imagine MASSACHUSETTS without Joe Martelle -- or Joe Martelle
outside Massachusetts. After 17 years, it's about to happen.
The veteran of two incarnations of WROR has taken a job doing
mornings at Houston oldies outlet KLDE (94.5).
- Howard Stern is adding another Bay State outlet, Cape Cod's
WPXC (102.9 Hyannis). So what about R.J. Makkay, recently hired
to be "Pixy 103"'s morning guy? He's going to sister
station WCIB (101.9 Falmouth) instead, replacing Doug Frye and
Mina Greene. He'll also serve as PD for WCIB.
- We'll start our NEW YORK news with a rare TV call change:
Watertown PBS affiliate WNPE-TV (Channel 16) is changing its
identity. The station is paying $5,000 to WPBS (1050) in Conyers,
Georgia for the right to become WPBS-TV, calls the station began
using on September 1. WNPE's other transmitter, on Channel 18
in Norwood, remains WNPI, with a one-line ID at the bottom of
the screen identifying it as such.
- Two other call changes: AM 1190 in Cobleskill moves from
WLAL to WXBH, and William H. Walker's new 102.1 in Jeffersonville
is assigned WWHW.
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2008 by Scott Fybush.