February 9, 2009
Cumulus' Turn for Job Cuts
*It didn't get the nationwide attention that
Clear Channel drew for its massive job cuts a couple of weeks
ago, but Cumulus made some big cuts of its own on Friday, and
at least in some markets the pain went just as deep, proportionally,
as did the Clear Channel cuts last month.
The worst-hit, at least in this region, appears to be the
cluster in CONNECTICUT's Fairfield County, where WICC
(600 Bridgeport) and WEBE (107.9 Westport) lost more than half
a dozen staffers on Friday afternoon.
from WICC are news director/morning news anchor Tim Quinn, who'd
been with WICC for 36 years; afternoon news anchor Paul Pacelli,
who'll continue with the station as a part-timer; 1-4 PM talk
host David Smith and 4-7 PM talk host Brian Smith. The syndicated
Clark Howard show will move into the 1-4 PM slot, while Jim Buchanan's
"Talk of the Town" show moves to afternoons to replace
Brian Smith - which in turn puts Dennis Miller in Buchanan's
former 10 AM-1 PM slot.
So if you're keeping track - that means a station that was
doing live talk from 5 AM until 7 PM with three newspeople is
now doing local talk only in morning and afternoon drive, with
a full-time news staff of one. Good for the short-term bottom
line? Sure - but it's certainly not going to do anything for
WICC's long-term outlook, or to draw more listeners to local
radio in general over the long run.
Across the hall at WEBE, Mary Lee is out as morning co-host,
leaving "Stormin' Norman" solo, while Ann Rondapierre,
who'd been doing afternoon traffic, is gone as well. We're hearing
several back-office employees at the cluster were cut, too; there's
no word (so far) of cuts at Cumulus' other Connecticut cluster,
up in Danbury.
This Week in the DTV Follies:
Now that Congress has voted to extend the deadline
for the shutoff of analog full-power TV to June 12, with President
Obama poised to sign the delay into law early this week, TV stations
have until tonight at midnight to notify the FCC about their
plans to stay on or shut off on the original schedule. As we
"go to press" Sunday night, the situation remained
fluid in many markets, with station managers nervously looking
right and left to see how their competitors plan to handle the
We'll have a full market-by-market roundup next week of
stations' decisions to stay on or pull the plug, but for now
we'll let you know what we're hearing from market to market.
In Hartford-New Haven, it appears that CBS affiliate
WFSB (Channel 3) will stick to the Feb. 17 deadline, as will
Connecticut Public TV's analog transmitters statewide. But NBC
and the other "Big 4" networks have committed their
owned-and-operated stations, including WVIT (Channel 30), to
extended analog operations. No definite word yet from Tribune
(WTXX/WTIC-TV) or LIN (WTNH/WCTX).
*There's not much left to cut at Cumulus'
clusters across the state line in NEW YORK - WFAS (1230
White Plains) and WFAS-FM (103.9 Bronxville) in Westchester County
have already been through big cutbacks in recent years, as have
the Cumulus stations to the north in the Poughkeepsie market
- and word is that those clusters were spared more pain last
WFAS-FM, of course, has a construction permit to move its
transmitter south from Westchester to the Bronx, and it now appears
that the station may have some company whenever it relocates
to the Montefiore Medical Center building that's already home
to WFUV (90.7 New York).
(93.5 New Rochelle) already derives much of its income from leasing
time to ethnic broadcasters (largely Haitian Creole) who target
listeners in the Bronx, Queens and north Jersey, and now owner
Bill O'Shaughnessy is applying to move the station from its current
transmitter site in Westchester to the WFUV tower.
From that site, WVIP would run 1.75 kW/433', putting most
of Manhattan and Queens within its 60 dBu contour - and it would
become the third class A signal to move from New York's northern
suburbs into the city, following WFAS-FM and Cox's WCTZ (96.7),
which changed city of license from Stamford, CT to Port Chester,
NY in preparation for a move to the Bronx.
So far, none of the proposed moves has actually been made,
and the delays are no doubt partly attributable to the economic
slump that's sharply reduced station values. Will WVIP end up
being the first of the three to carry out its move? We'll be
*The slump on Wall Street is taking its toll on the media
companies that depend heavily on finance-industry clients, and
that includes Bloomberg LP, parent company of New York's WBBR
(1130). The New York Post reported that 60 staffers from
Bloomberg Radio and TV were laid off last week, and from the
radio side, those cuts included veteran anchors and reporters
such as Mitch Lebe, Ian Hunter and Jessica Moore - and they meant
many radio-only features will be abandoned in favor of simulcasts
of Bloomberg TV audio.
Out on Long Island, Tim Clarke is leaving Cox's WBLI (106.1
Patchogue), where he's been music director; he's heading south
to WAPE in Jacksonville to serve as PD.
Up the Hudson Valley, we're hearing that WCKL (560 Catskill)
has once again fallen silent after several months of simulcasting
WCTW (98.5); the station has not operated with a regular schedule
or with any of its own programming since Clear Channel spun it
off to Black United Fund of New York back in 2003, and it was
recently being noted far off-frequency (560.8 kHz or thereabouts),
which delighted DXers but must have made for some noisy interference
to its neighbors on 560 in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
Way upstate, WYME (97.9 Au Sable) has now been licensed, though
it's apparently not programming on a regular basis. The Plattsburgh-market
C3 signal is owned by Randy Michaels' RadioActive group (though
it's been listed for sale), and transmits from the WPTZ (Channel
5) site on Terry Mountain.
There must be something in the Finger Lakes drinking water:
just a week after Geneva's WEOS (89.7) applied for the semi-legendary
"WVWA" calls for its new 90.3 construction permit in
Auburn, Ithaca Community Radio followed up with a callsign request
for its new 89.9 in Odessa - that new signal will be "WINO,"
which ought to be a tribute to the late George Carlin but is
more likely a reference to the region's flourishing wine industry.
DTV Follies: The
state's biggest market, New York City, looks like it will
be keeping most of its remaining analog service through the June
12 deadline, which must be something of a blow to public broadcaster
WNET, impatient to replace its low-power Channel 61 DTV operation
with full-power digital on its former analog channel, 13.
Stations in Albany are split - Hubbard's NBC affiliate,
WNYT (Channel 13), will stay on the air in analog through June,
while Newport's Fox station, WXXA (Channel 23) will sign off
on schedule Feb. 17. Other stations in the market haven't decided
yet what they'll do.
In Utica, WKTV (Channel 2) will stick to the early
shutoff, and we're hearing Nexstar will do the same at WUTR (Channel
20) and WFXV (Channel 33).
There's no word yet on plans from Watertown, Binghamton
or Elmira; the Elmira stations are all awaiting the
shutdown of analog in order to go full-power with digital signals
on their former analog channels.
Syracuse viewers will lose analog service
from CBS, Fox and the CW, as Granite pulls the plug on WTVH (Channel
5) and Sinclair silences analog service on WSYT (Channel 68)
and WNYS (Channel 43); no word yet on the market's remaining
In Rochester, it's a split - Sinclair's Fox affiliate,
WUHF (Channel 31), goes off on Feb. 17, while public station
WXXI (Channel 21) and Newport's ABC station, WHAM-TV (Channel
13) will keep analog on through June, with the market's other
players likely to follow suit.
In Buffalo, Sinclair will turn off WUTV (Channel
29, Fox) and WNYO-TV (Channel 49, My), while Granite pulls the
plug on WKBW (Channel 7, ABC); other stations in the market look
to be staying on for the duration.
And up north in the Plattsburgh-Burlington market,
it looks like a DTV converter box will be a must, since the market's
stations all plan to hold to the Feb. 17 date. (That's somewhat
significant, since the lengthy delays in getting DTV signals
on the air from Mount Mansfield meant viewers in Burlington and
vicinity had less time than most of the rest of the country to
transition to digital; if they're ready, shouldn't the rest of
the nation be, too?)
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*Saga's NEW HAMPSHIRE cluster suffered two
big job losses last week, both at classic hits WMLL (96.5 Bedford):
PD/afternoon jock Alex James and morning man Adam McCune are
both out at "The Mill," which has turned to satellite-delivered
programming from Dial Global to replace those local shifts.
Across town at Nassau's WJYY (105.5 Concord), there's more
satellite programming, too - the ubiquitous Ryan Seacrest is
now being heard there in middays, replacing Gabrielle Vaughn.
And there's a radio connection to Governor John Lynch's choice
of a replacement for U.S. Senator Judd Gregg as he departs for
a post in the Obama Cabinet: Bonnie Newman was one of the principals
in WZEA (102.1 Hampton) when that station went on the air in
1992. She sold it in 1995, and it later became half of Citadel's
"Shark" simulcast as WSAK.
DTV Follies: Most
Granite State stations - including Hearst-Argyle's WMUR in Manchester
and New Hampshire Public TV - were originally sticking to the
Feb. 17 transition date, but WMUR now says it will stay on until
*The Cumulus cuts affected MAINE as
well, where we're hearing Damien Brown is out at WBZN (107.3
Old Town), where he was doing afternoons.
Up the road in Dexter, EMF Broadcasting wasted no time flipping
WGUY (102.1) from oldies to its satellite-delivered "K-Love"
contemporary Christian format late last week. Sister station
WFZX (101.7 Searsport), which is also being purchased by EMF,
is still running the oldies format that it was simulcasting with
WGUY, but that should change any day now.
DTV Follies: Viewers
in Portland have already lost their analog PBS, CW, My
and Fox signals, and it appears they'll lose CBS as well, since
Sinclair's WGME (Channel 13) will stick to the original date.
Hearst-Argyle's WMTW (Channel 8) will reportedly stay on with
analog ABC, and there's no decision from Gannett's NBC station,
WCSH (Channel 6).
In Bangor, WLBZ (Channel 2) and WABI (Channel 5)
will keep their analog signals on through June, while WVII (Channel
7) will shut down.
Communications made a surprise format flip on its RHODE ISLAND
AM signal and its southeastern Massachusetts simulcast sister
last week. WLKW (1450 West Warwick RI) and WNBH (1340 New Bedford
MA) had been carrying the "Timeless Favorites" satellite-fed
standards format, but a hole in the market opened up when Citadel
flipped WSKO AM/FM away from their "Score" sports format
last year - so as of last Monday, WLKW and WNBH are carrying
ESPN Radio sports talk on a full-time basis.
(Speaking of ESPN Radio, we've been tremendously remiss in
not mentioning the experimental FM signal that's on the air from
the network's campus over in Bristol, Connecticut. WX4ESPN
is the callsign for the signal on 98.1 that's being used as a
testbed for advanced HD Radio services, including several all-digital
modes and extended hybrid multicasting.)
DTV Follies: You'd
better have your box ready if you watch Providence TV
- the market's PBS and CW stations are already digital-only,
and the rest of the signals will stick to the Feb. 17 deadline.
*In MASSACHUSETTS, WHDH-TV (Channel
7) and its star anchor, Randy Price, abruptly parted ways on
a station that's always shunned the "star system,"
Price was as close as WHDH has come to a veteran anchor, having
joined the station in 1998 after several years across town at
WBZ-TV (Channel 4). In recent years, he'd been the face of the
station's 5, 6 and 11 PM newscasts. But he tells the Boston Herald
that he was called in to meet with station owner Ed Ansin
late last week and told that the station "needed to make
changes" - and that "I really can't contribute in the
way they they probably want me to contribute."
Does that portend another swing towards blood-and-guts, tabloid-style
news at Channel 7, which made a big splash when its brash style
shook up the market after Ansin bought the station in 1993, only
to slip back in the ratings behind a resurgent WBZ in recent
(One more WHDH-TV note: the station has launched the new "This
TV" network on its 7.2 subchannel, formerly home to NBC's
now-defunct Weather Plus.)
another veteran personality leaving the Boston TV news scene:
Dick Albert announced on Wednesday that he's retiring from WCVB
(Channel 5) after more than 30 years there, most recently as
co-chief meteorologist, delivering the weather reports during
Channel 5's 5 and 6 PM newscasts.
Albert, 64, says his retirement will take effect after his
Feb. 26 reports; among his post-retirement project will be his
blog at DickAlbert.com.
WBZ (1030 Boston) has picked weekend sports anchor Walt Perkins
to fill the morning-drive shoes of Gil Santos. Perkins has a
long history on the New England broadcast sports scene: he went
to the University of New Hampshire, worked at WEAN/WPJB in Providence
and WGIR in Manchester after graduation, then moved into TV at
Providence's WLNE (1985-1988), WBZ-TV and WSBK in Boston (1988),
then as a freelancer for WCVB until joining WBZ's weekend radio
team in 2003.
(As for WBZ veteran Bob Lobel, who'd been filling in for Santos
the week after his departure? He's doing some freelance work
for New Hampshire's WTPL, including a trip down to Florida to
cover Red Sox spring training.)
Over at Boston's ESPN Radio affiliate, WAMG (890 Dedham)/WLLH
(1400 Lowell), local sports talk appears to be making a disappearing
act. The local midday show with Mike Salk and Bob Halloran is
gone, replaced by extended carriage of the network's offerings.
That leaves just the local afternoon "Lew and Mike"
show in place, and David Scott's "Scott's Shots" column
over at Boston Sports
Media Watch speculates that it's only there because host
Lew Goldstein is buying the time. Scott also reports that the
rumors of "ESPN Boston" moving to the WCRB (99.5) studios
in Waltham appear to be unfounded, with the station staying put
at the Schrafft Center in Charlestown.
Out on the Cape, it was Qantum Communications making cuts:
Larry Egan, who'd been doing mornings on WCIB (101.9 Falmouth),
is gone, replaced by Joe Rossetti, who moves over from afternoons
at sister station WCOD (106.1 Hyannis). Ricky B takes the WCOD
afternoon shift. Over at WRZE (96.3 Dennis), David Duran is out
as PD and afternoon jock, with Steve "McVie" Solomon
taking on PD duties (adding to his existing PD duties for WCIB)
and a longer airshift.
DTV Follies: For
whatever reason, Fox's Boston outlet, WFXT, isn't acknowledging
what viewers already know - while there may be some remnant of
an analog signal coming out of its transmitter, it's not surviving
the trip up the tower to the antenna. So we'll count Fox as already
digital-only in Boston, even as most of the rest of the market's
stations are apparently prepared to keep their analog signals
on the air for a while. Public broadcaster WGBH says it may have
to shut down the aging WGBX (Channel 44) analog transmitter,
and Entravision is offering similar warnings about Univision
outlet WUNI (Channel 27).
Over in Springfield, they're down to just one analog,
anyway - NBC affiliate WWLP (Channel 22) - and there's no word
yet on whether they'll stick it out until June.
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*In eastern PENNSYLVANIA, there's
a new PD at WPHT (1210), as Ed Palladino moves up from assistant
PD to fill a seat that's been empty since last May, when John
Cook lost his job as PD of WPHT and sister station WYSP (94.1).
Over in Lebanon, Calvary Chapel of Lebanon is buying WOMA-LP
(93.1) from the Latino America Media Organization for $18,000.
Up in the Lehigh Valley, there will be an FM signal this year
for the New York Yankees, as Nassau adds the team's games to
rocker WWYY (107.1 Belvidere NJ). The Yanks are already heard
in the market on Nassau's ESPN simulcast, WTKZ (1320 Allentown)/WEEX
(1230 Easton), but those signals are challenged at night
In Pittsburgh, KDKA (1020) faces a $6,000 fine from the FCC
for a bit of goofiness committed by talk host Marty Griffin on
a slow Thanksgiving Day shift back in 2007. To get the phones
moving, Griffin joked that he'd give away a million dollars to
the thirteenth caller - but one listener apparently wasn't in
on the joke, because he complained to the FCC that he'd been
caller 13, yet hadn't received his promised million dollars.
The FCC reviewed the transcript, and KDKA's contention that any
regular listener to Griffin's show would have known he was being
facetious - and it concluded that Griffin had indeed conducted
a "contest," per FCC rules, and had broken those rules
by failing to pay out to the "winner."
DTV Follies: Since
all of the "big four" outlets in Philadelphia are
network O&Os, it appears those signals will stay on in analog
In Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, analog service from Fox
and CW is already history, and it appears that PBS outlet WVIA
will follow suit on Feb. 17; no word yet from the market's remaining
In the Harrisburg market, Hearst-Argyle NBC affiliate
WGAL (Channel 8) says it will stay on through June, while others
in the market have yet to commit.
Over in Johnstown/Altoona, Cox's NBC outlet, WJAC
(Channel 6) says it will stay on through June, and there's no
word yet from the market's other stations.
In Pittsburgh, CBS will keep KDKA-TV (Channel 2)
on with analog through June - but if Cox does the same at WPXI
(Channel 11), that will delay the sign-on of the digital signal
at KDKA's sister station, CW outlet WPCW (Channel 19), which
is to use channel 11 when WPXI's analog goes away. Public broadcaster
WQED will pull the plug on WQEX (Channel 16) analog, in the unlikely
event anyone notices, and will silence WQED (Channel 13)'s analog
in a month or so, allowing WQED-DT to move from 38 to 13 and
WQEX-DT to move from 26 to 38.
And poor Erie, which is awaiting the end of analog
so that it can finally get a full complement of full-power DTV
signals, may have to wait a bit longer; there's no word yet about
the fate of plans to flash-cut on WICU's channel 12 or WJET's
We'll update these "DTV Follies" listings once
the filings are all in to the FCC later this week...stay tuned!
*The alternative rock void on the NEW
JERSEY shore left behind by the format flip at "G Rock
Radio" (WHTG-FM 106.3 Eatontown/WBBO 106.5 Bass River Township)
is being filled - sort of - by streaming audio and, soon, an
HD2 subchannel. "ShoreAlternative.com"
is coming from Millennium Radio, and we hear it will soon be
broadcast on the HD2 of WJLK-FM (94.3 Asbury Park.)
There's a new analog signal on the air, too - there's late
word that WDNJ (88.1 Hopatcong) is on the air with Spanish-language
Christian contemporary programming.
Edited by NERW's own Scott Fybush - on sale now as
an e-book or printed volume!
*CANADA's financial slump may lead
to a TV station sale: CanWest Global announced last week that
it's "exploring options" for the future of its "E!"
network stations, including Hamilton-based CHCH (Channel 11)
and Montreal's CJNT (Channel 62). Among the names being floated
as possible owners are Torstar, the parent company of the Toronto
Star and the Hamilton Spectator. Within Hamilton,
there's concern about the future of CHCH's local presence; while
the station has long operated under license conditions that compel
it to focus its newscasts and ad sales on Hamilton and the Niagara
region, but given the station's broadcast and cable presence
across the province, could the CRTC be persuaded that CHCH needs
to be allowed to broaden its reach to stay afloat in rough times?
The economy also played a role in the CRTC's decision to turn
down most of the nine applicants who sought new stations in London,
Ontario. Rejecting proposals from big guns such as Rogers and
CTV, the CRTC instead granted a single new commercial license
to Blackburn Radio, which proposed a 4 kW signal on 98.1 running
a AAA format. It also approved an application from Sound of Faith
Broadcasting, which will trade its low-power CHJX (105.9) for
a 234-watt signal on 99.9.
Over in Windsor, the University of Windsor's CJAM is applying
to move from 91.5 (where it runs 914 watts into a directional
antenna) to 99.1, where it would run 456 watts, non-directional.
(NERW thinks this move is tied in with the CBC's proposal to
move Windsor's CBE from 1550 to two FM transmitters, one on 97.5
in Windsor and one on 91.9 in Leamington.)
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, ten and - where available - fifteen 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!)
February 11, 2008 -
- Just short of its twentieth anniversary as NEW YORK's smooth
jazz station, Emmis' WQCD (101.9) abruptly dropped the format
on Tuesday afternoon (Feb. 5), playing short pre-recorded farewells
from several "CD101.9" staffers before a 4 PM flip
to WRXP, "101.9 RXP, the NY Rock Experience."
- "Adult rock" is the company's official name for
the new format, a broad-based music mix that draws from alternative
rock, AAA and classic rock, with an obvious debt to the former
WNEW-FM (102.7), and perhaps a less-obvious debt to at least
some of the previous incarnations of 101.9 itself in its WPIX-FM
days, especially its flirtation with New Wave music in the late
seventies. WQCD PD Blake Lawrence is the only survivor from the
old format, and he's promising to hire an airstaff that will
actually have input into the music they play. So far, there's
just one live jock on WRXP's air - Bryan Schock, in afternoons.
- We've seen several rumored launch dates come and go (and
indeed, the station's website still says "Coming January
2008"), but Mega Media says this morning will be the official
launch of top 40 "Pulse 87" on the audio carrier of
WNYZ-LP (Channel 6) in New York. The station's new morning show,
with Star and Buc Wild, won't launch until next Monday on the
station, which can be heard at 87.7, just below the FM dial.
- Up in Rochester, the Brother Wease contract drama came to
an abrupt end Thursday morning, when Entercom announced (on the
air, during Wease's former morning show on WCMF 96.5) that it
was unable to come to terms on a new contract for the veteran
WCMF morning man. Despite rumors that Entercom might turn to
a syndicated morning show to replace Wease, the company is sticking
with the rest of his morning show cast for the moment. As of
Friday, the former "Radio Free Wease" has become "The
Men's Room," hosted by former Wease producer Bill Moran
and sidekicks Tommy Mule and Sally Carpenter. Entercom says it
will add additional talent to the show in the weeks to come.
- As for Wease, he says legal concerns are forcing him to remain
quiet for now (though he did make one brief on-air appearance
Thursday, calling in to WHAM midday host Bob Lonsberry to thank
him for his support), but he also says he'll be back on the air
in Rochester in some form, and that he may be doing some off-air
work in the meantime. (And we're hearing that Wease has been
seen in the hallways of WHAM owner Clear Channel, as well as
over at independently-owned urban outlet WDKX.)
- Crawford Broadcasting exited the crowded field of religious
radio stations in the Rochester market Saturday night as it signed
off "102.7 the Light," WRCI (102.7 Webster), ending
15 years of Christian broadcasting on that frequency, originally
WDCZ. The station returns to the air today as WLGZ-FM, "Legends,"
simulcasting with Crawford's WLGZ (990 Rochester) and adding
oldies to the adult standards that have been heard on the AM
- Pamal shuffled its lineup in central VERMONT on Friday, pulling
the plug on AAA WEBK (105.3 Killington) after 16 years and replacing
it with the "Cat Country" format that's been running
on lower-powered WJEN (94.5 Rutland). Pamal had kept the AAA
format running (most recently as "The Peak") ever since
buying WEBK from original owner Dan Ewald seven years ago, but
"it doesn't have the numbers," said Pamal GM Debbie
Grembowicz in a Rutland Herald interview. After several weeks
of simulcasting, the 94.5 signal will relaunch under new calls
WDVT and an as-yet-undisclosed format. WEBK jocks "Uncle
Dave" Tibbs and James Emmons will stay with Pamal after
February 9, 2004 -
- Radio stations in two Northeast states are cleaning up this
week after suffering some damaging fires. In western MASSACHUSETTS,
Saga's WAQY (102.1 Springfield) was the victim of an apparent
arson at its East Longmeadow studios on Thursday morning, when
station staffers say they saw a man set a fire outside one of
the building's windows, then flee the scene. Damage from that
fire was minimal - less than $25,000 - but the Springfield Union-News
reports the station is offering a $50,000 reward for information
leading to a conviction.
- One day earlier, in PENNSYLVANIA, an electrical fire struck
the building on Domino Lane in Philadelphia's Roxborough section
that's home to Clear Channel's WUSL (98.9) and WJJZ (106.1).
Everyone inside the building escaped safely - even WJJZ PD Michael
Tozzi, who had to be pulled from the building by his colleagues
as the smoke got heavier - but the damage to the office portions
of the building was pretty severe.
- Up in northeastern Pennsylvania, Tunkhannock's WEMR (1460)
and WCWY (107.7) changed hands last week from Citadel to GEOS
Communications, which flipped them to a simulcast of soft AC
WCOZ (103.9 Laporte). WEMR, which had been simulcasting "Cat
Country" WCWI (94.3 Carbondale), is expected to stay with
the "Cozy" simulcast, but WCWY, which had been simulcasting
AC WMGS (92.9 Scranton), will get a new format of its own in
a few weeks.
- Over in Batavia, the Buffalo News reports that the sale of
WBTA (1490) will close this week, bringing some changes at the
little community-oriented full-service station. New owner Dan
Fischer won't assume the lease at 438 E. Main Street, where WBTA
has been since the seventies; instead, he'll move the station
to a more visible location in the former W.T. Grant store at
the corner of Main and Center streets.
- CANADA's already a hotbed of stations named "Jack,"
"Bob," "Dave" and "Joe" - and now
the original "Joe" (Corus' Edmonton outlet, recently
upgraded from AM to FM) has a little brother in Kingston, Ontario.
Corus abruptly pulled the plug on the longtime "Country
96" format at CFMK (96.3) on Friday, flipping the big signal
to classic hits/hot AC as "96.3 Joe FM." CFMK's old
website now points country listeners to the streaming audio of
Corus country outlets in Hamilton, Calgary and elsewhere - but
we suspect most country listeners in Kingston will flip over
to cross-border WFGY (97.5 Watertown), at least for now.
- But the end of one country station in Ontario was balanced,
just hours later, by the start of another: Larche Communications'
new "KICX Country" (CIKZ 99.5) launched Friday afternoon
in Kitchener/Waterloo, bringing the format back to a market that
hadn't had a local country station since 1991, when the old CKGL-FM
(96.7) became AC CHYM-FM.
February 6, 1999 -
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- A 65 year radio tradition in MASSACHUSETTS' Merrimack Valley
is nearing its end. Arnold Lerner's Merrimack Valley Wireless
Talking Machine Company has agreed to sell WLLH (1400 Lowell/Lawrence)
to Mega Broadcasting for a reported $936,000. By early March,
WLLH will drop its adult standards format (and leased-time ethnic
nights and weekends) for a Spanish dance format, to be run in
conjunction with Mega's WBPS (890 Dedham) and WNFT (1150 Boston).
- Local English-language radio in the valley has been disappearing
at a rapid clip in the last few years. The FMs in Lowell (99.5,
ex-WLLH-FM, WSSH, WOAZ, and now WKLB-FM) and Lawrence (93.7,
ex-WGHJ, WCCM-FM, WCGY, and now WEGQ) have been operating from
Boston studios and aimed at Boston audiences for most of the
90s; Haverhill's WXRV (92.5) still operates from the old WHAV
studios on How Street but targets a much broader audience; and
WHAV (1490 Haverhil) and WNNW (1110 Salem) are running Spanish-language
formats under the ownership of Costa-Eagle, which also runs mostly-English
WCCM (800 Lawrence). That leaves WLLH, with its synchronous transmitters
in Lowell and Lawrence, and WCAP (980 Lowell) -- and soon, just
WCAP, which is likely to keep going with its talk format and
resist all purchase offers as long as founder Maurice Cohen lives.
- The radio scene out in Southbridge is changing fast. On the
FM side, WQVR (100.1) turned off its transmitter this week in
preparation for a transmitter move and ownership change. The
new site will put a better signal into Worcester and, we're told,
come with a new format as well. There's a new format on WQVR's
former AM sister station, WESO (970). PD Bruce Marshall checked
in to report that WESO has switched from satellite standards
to Jones' Good Times Oldies format, with a local morning show
featuring Tony Powers, Marshall, and Ann Renda (formerly at WTAG).
There's also a trading post show weekdays from 9-10 AM and a
Saturday talk block. And while we're in Central Massachusetts,
we'll note that WORC-FM (98.9) has been granted a city of license
change from Webster to Spencer. Funny how the station's stated
intention of "eliminating short-spacing to WPLR and WPLM-FM"
also ends up putting it much closer to Worcester...
- Cape Cod needs another FM allocation the way Howard Stern
needs another FCC complaint...but where there's an open frequency
there's sure to be an applicant or two, so the FCC added a class
A allocation to Brewster this week at the request of the "Brewster
Broadcasting Company" and Ernie Boch. The 94.3 channel was
made possible by Boch's WXTK frequency change (to 95.1 from 94.9)
last year -- and it's another case where the FCC was able to
convince itself that Brewster had no "local broadcast service"
even though it sits right on the edge of one of the most over-radioed
markets, on a per-capita basis, in the country. Oh yeah, it's
also home to the main studio of one station (WFCC) and transmitters
of two (WFCC and WYST), not that that matters. Have we mentioned
lately that we think the allocation rules need to be revised?
- Two station sales this week in RHODE ISLAND: Keating Willcox
becomes a duopoly owner in Woonsocket with the purchase of WNRI
(1380), just a year after he bought WOON (1240). And Boston's
Charles River Broadcasting is making an Ocean State move with
the $738,000 purchase of WVBI (95.9 Block Island) from Tim English.
Like Charles River's WCRB (102.5 Waltham) and WFCC (107.5 Chatham),
WVBI is a classical station -- but until now, one with a limited
schedule and extremely limited signal (NERW had trouble hearing
them the one time we were on Block Island!). We expect Rob Landry
and the rest of the 'CRB engineering team will have 95.9 reaching
out much better soon.
- The big story in NEW YORK is the sorta-format change at WPLJ
(95.5 New York). The only staffers still remaining at the Disney
outlet are the morning team of PD Scott Shannon and Todd Pettengill,
and overnighter Dave Stewart. Everyone else was swept out with
the change to mainstream hot AC and "New York's Hit Music
Station," according to the trades...except for afternoon
guy Rocky Allen, who's settling in to his new spot across the
hall at WABC (770).
- Up across the border, Toronto's CISS (92.5) has been sold
by Rawlco to Rogers, and promptly changed format late Friday
(2/5) from country to CHR as "Power 92." Rogers also
owns CFTR (680) and CHFI (98.1) in Toronto. NERW thinks this'll
make it much easier for us to figure out which 92.5 we're hearing
as we drive between Buffalo and Rochester, where the short-spaced
allotments in Toronto and Rochester (WBEE-FM) clash noisily,
and until now, both with country music.
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learn how you can help make continued publication possible. NERW
2009 by Scott Fybush.