August 31 & September
WAEB Tower Downed
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SATURDAY UPDATE: Vandals
struck the tower sites of two AM radio stations around the country
early Friday morning: KRKO (1380) in Everett, Washington, where
the activist group Earth Liberation Front is taking credit for
the bulldozer attack that took down two self-supporting towers
at what's been a very controversial new transmitter site - and
WAEB (790) in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where the northernmost
of five 1949-vintage guyed towers at the Whitehall, PA transmitter
site was brought down by someone who snipped three sets of guy
the vandalism happened just hours before the start of the National
Radio Club/Worldwide TV-FM DX Association convention - which
means we're able to bring you these exclusive images from the
site, a day after the devastation.
WAEB, a Clear Channel-owned talk station, is licensed to run
3600 watts by day using just two of the towers, with all five
towers in use at night with 1500 watts - and the station has
remained on the air, evidently using either the day pattern or
lower power, non-directionally.
The tower that fell went down in one piece, which is unusual
for a guyed tower, and its tip barely missed the guy wires for
the next tower to the south, avoiding still more damage to the
An investigation into the vandalism is now underway, with
the FBI involved. There's on-line speculation about connections
between the WAEB attack and the KRKO attack just hours later;
our semi-informed speculation would suggest that there's no obvious
link between the two incidents, since WAEB - unlike KRKO - is
a longtime fixture that's never caused much controversy in its
We'll have a full update in our next issue of NERW on Sept.
14 - and more updates in the meantime here if need be...
*Back in the day, a format war in
a place like Syracuse, NEW YORK meant a head-to-head
battle between two standalone stations - say, WOLF and WNDR -
each one throwing everything it had at the wall in hopes of taking
the competion down.
As of last Friday, there's once again a format war brewing
in Syracuse - but this time it's a somewhat tamer fight, pitting
two arms of a big corporate cluster against another signal recently
spun off from that same cluster.
least there's one thing the latest battle in the Salt City has
in common with the wars of the last generation: it still involves
a station called WOLF, broadcasting from the same little concrete-block
building on Kirkpatrick Street that was the scene of so much
good radio in the sixties and seventies.
The latest fight is in the country music arena, and here's
how it's all playing out:
The dominant country station in Syracuse for more than a decade
now has been Clear Channel's WBBS (104.7 Fulton) - but when Clear
Channel had to unload another signal in its cluster, the former
WWDG (105.1 DeRuyter), it inadvertently unleashed a competitor
to "B104.7." As NERW readers know, the 105.1 signal
went back to its former owners, Craig Fox and Sam Furco, doing
business as Foxfur Communications. Foxfur initially took 105.1
back to its old calls, WVOA-FM, with the same religious/ethnic
format it had used until 2001. But a couple of weeks ago, WVOA-FM
flipped to a simulcast of Radio Disney (heard on Fox's WOLF 1490
and two sister AM stations) - and then, last Thursday, 105.1
flipped again, this time to "WOLF Country," going right
up against B104.7 just two notches away on the dial.
Clear Channel, as it turned out, had some additional weapons
in its arsenal: just a few hours after the launch of "WOLF
Country," Clear Channel's WPHR (106.9 Auburn) abruptly pulled
the plug on the "Power 106.9" urban format it had been
running for most of the decade, replacing it with "Young
Country 106.9," giving Clear Channel two FM country signals
to flank Foxfur's one - and setting the market a-twitter (and
in some cases, on Twitter) with speculation about what
For Clear Channel, the 106.9 flip is part of a bigger transition
for the station, which is in the process of moving east from
Auburn, where it's been licensed as a class B station since its
days long ago as WMBO-FM and WPCX, to the Syracuse suburb of
Solvay, where it will be a 9 kW/407' class B1 signal from a new
site above Onondaga Community College, putting a stronger signal
over Syracuse at the expense of the station's present broad coverage
of the Finger Lakes.
How long will the battle last? "WOLF Country" says
it will bring live air talent on board in at least three dayparts
within a month or two, says CNYRadio.com
- which also reports that call changes are in the works to change
the calls of 105.1 from WVOA-FM to WOLF-FM. That means Fox's
pair of "Movin'" FM signals will change calls as well
- WOLF-FM (96.7 Oswego) becomes WMVN, while WWLF-FM (100.3 Sylvan
Beach) becomes WMVU - and the WVOA-FM calls return to what's
now WVOU (103.9 Mexico).
There's no word on air talent or new calls on "Young
Country 106.9," and it's anyone's guess whether the country
format is just a temporary way to lure listeners away from the
new Wolf and back into the B104.7 family - or whether it will
remain as the new 106.9 signal settles in.
MONDAY MORNING UPDATE: WPHR
is reportedly back to its former "Power" urban format
as of 8 AM. More to come...
*Down the Thruway in the Albany market, the analog audio signal
at 87.9 MHz that WRGB (Channel 6) had been running is now off
the air. We'd been wondering about the authorization for that
signal, which is even closer to the bottom of the FM broadcast
spectrum than the old 87.75 MHz audio of WRGB's old analog channel
6 - and it appears that there simply was no authorization from
the FCC for the signal, which disappeared last Monday.
"We do not have FCC authorization to transmit an analog
signal. We only have authorization for a digital signal at this
time," said WRGB VP/general manager Robert Furlong in a
statement last week. "We are reviewing our options and I
apologize for any inconvenience to our audience."
*Elsewhere in upstate New York, there's a station sale in
the Elmira market, where Calvary Chapel of Twin Falls will get
$275,000 as it transfers WREQ (96.9 Ridgebury PA) to Europa Communications,
which already owns classic rock WMTT (94.7 Tioga PA) and oldies
WPHD (96.1 South Waverly PA) in the market. WREQ also comes with
a 99-watt on-channel booster in Elmira.
noncommercial FM station is going home. WIRQ, the student-run
station at Irondequoit High School, has been bounced around the
dial repeatedly since signing on 50 years ago. It was displaced
from its original spot on 90.9 when the FCC relocated most class
D FM stations in the eighties, then shifted from 93.3 to 94.3
to its present 104.7 as other new commercial FM stations came
on the air in the nineties. Now the FCC has granted a waiver
that will allow WIRQ to move from 104.7 back to 90.9, getting
out of the way of the recently-upgraded WKDL (104.9 Brockport).
Syracuse University sports have a new radio home in the New
York City market: Salem's WNYM (970 Hackensack NJ) has signed
a deal to carry Orange football and men's basketball for the
next two years, giving the teams a radio voice in a city that's
full of Syracuse alumni.
While we're downstate, we note that Emmis' WRXP (101.9 New
York) has a new TV presence: morning co-hosts Matt Pinfield and
Leslie Fram shot a pilot called "NYFM" that's been
airing in weekend slots on WNBC (Channel 4), presenting live
performances and interviews with the rock musicians heard on
*Back upstate, the Buffalo Broadcasters Association has announced
the Hall of Fame lineup to be inducted at their annual banquet
Sept. 22. The lineup this year includes Tribune's Randy Michaels,
the western New York native who built his early successes at
WGR/WGRQ into a long career running Jacor and Clear Channel Radio;
veteran DJ Fred Klestine (best known for his many years at the
old WADV-FM); production guru Pat Feldballe; longtime WIVB-TV
reporter Marie Rice and Don Polec, who was at WKBW-TV for many
years before moving to Philadelphia's WPVI in 1982.
The banquet will also honor the 50th anniversaries of WNED-TV,
WBFO-FM and what's now WGRF (97 Rock).
Not to be outdone, the Binghamton
Broadcasters Reunion, which takes place Sept. 26, will award
a one-time "Dean of Broadcasting Award" honor, which
is going to veteran radio and TV broadcaster Bill Parker. The
"Living Legend" award this year goes to Bill Flynn,
who came to Binghamton from Scranton in the early seventies and
is best known for his weekend polka show - and "Broadcaster
of the Year Honors" go to WHWK (98.1) morning host Glenn
Family Life Ministries has call letters to go with its newest
FM construction permit, in the Allegany County town of Belfast:
the signal on 91.7 there will be WCOM-FM.
*In Watertown, they're mourning George Neher, whose death
on Tuesday ended four decades on the air in the North Country,
most of it at WWNY-TV (Channel 7) and its former AM sister station,
now WTNY (790), where he served as PD and operations manager
and most recently had been host of the morning news block for
the last decade. Neher was 65.
*The NEW JERSEY public radio station
that's moving its transmitter to Manhattan is halfway there,
at least as far as the paperwork goes. WBGO (88.3 Newark) was
granted FCC approval last week to move from its present downtown
Newark site to the Trump World Tower next to the United Nations.
But while WBGO intends to make good on its plans to cross the
Hudson, it's planning to amend that application to instead specify
the Four Times Square tower on Manhattan's west side.
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*Speaking of radio wars,
the sports battle in eastern MASSACHUSETTS continues to
heat up - and there's no hotter property this time of year than
the rights to carry Boston Red Sox games. Entercom, of course,
is in the midst of a big-ticket, ten-year deal to broadcast the
team's games, which have been running for the past two years
on WRKO (680 Boston)...except when they've been on sister station
WEEI (850 Boston) instead, generally on Wednesdays and on early-season
day games and some weekend games.
Until last week, that is - when Entercom abruptly shifted
the entire Sox lineup over to WEEI from WRKO. Why make the move?
Competition, obviously - with WEEI's sports dominance suddenly
under fire from CBS Radio's new "Sports Hub" (WBZ-FM
98.5), it makes more sense for Entercom to put its biggest sports
programming on WEEI itself than to try to use the Sox to draw
new listeners to talker WRKO.
the move caused static - literally - for some Sox fans, since
the WEEI night signal doesn't reach as well into some parts of
the North Shore as the Burlington-based WRKO signal does. It
also doesn't have as much punch in southern NEW HAMPSHIRE,
which became a sudden problem when financial tensions flared
between Entercom and Absolute Broadcasting, which has been carrying
the Sox on WGHM (900 Nashua) and WGAM (1250 Manchester), which
simulcast sports as "The Game."
Entercom pulled the games off "The Game" last Monday
(Aug. 24), citing failure to pay the rights fees, something Absolute
acknowledges - but Absolute says in light of the weak economy,
it's giving its advertising clients more time to pay the stations,
and therefore it requested more time to pay Entercom.
That dispute was resolved by the weekend, when Manchester
and Nashua listeners could once again hear the Sox on WGAM/WGHM
- but that may be the least of Entercom's headaches, since it's
not clear, from what we're hearing, that the sudden change of
Sox flagship AM signals was permitted by the company's contract
with the team.
Could this be Entercom's way out of the expensive contract
with the Sox? Could WEEI still compete with WBZ-FM if it doesn't
have the baseball coverage - and would CBS make a play for the
rights? Or will both sides work things out and carry on with
business as usual?
As we stay tuned for the answers to those questions,
there's another player making waves on the Boston sports scene:
ESPN, which has been a weak player on the Boston dial via WallerSutton's
WAMG (890 Dedham)/WLLH (1400 Lowell) for the last few years,
launched a splashy new web presence at ESPNBoston.com
last week - and it's now making noises about a move to a stronger
radio signal. Who might that be? The rumor mill is buzzing about
Clear Channel's WKOX (1200 Newton), which recently upgraded to
a 50 kW signal...but those are, for now, just rumors.
*The death of Senator Ted Kennedy late Tuesday night, while
hardly unexpected, came at a difficult time for Boston's radio
and TV newsrooms. The announcement of his passing, around 1:30
AM, found stations lightly staffed - but they quickly rose to
the occasion. WBZ (1030) had a pre-produced special about Kennedy's
legacy that ran at 2 AM, and by the time it was over, evening
host Dan Rea was back at the station alongside overnight host
Steve LeVeille to talk about Kennedy's legacy while the morning
team got an early start on the news. Public radio WBUR-FM (90.9)
also geared up its morning crew early, as did all the TV newsrooms.
WRKO (680) pulled its syndicated talk lineup off the air for
the day, replacing them with extended shifts by its local talk
hosts, and all three radio stations, as well as all four TV newsrooms,
offered live coverage of the Friday night memorial service and
Saturday's funeral mass and burial - though WBZ-TV (Channel 4)
moved some of its coverage over to sister station WSBK (Channel
38) because of contractual obligations to carry a pre-season
*Back in NEW HAMPSHIRE, WDCR (1340 Hanover) returned
to the airwaves last week, apparently for good. The station is
once again simulcasting the "WebDCR" stream that's
a sister station to student-run WFRD (99.3 Hanover).
VERMONT morning team is coming back to the airwaves. "Corm
and the Coach," who started on WIZN (106.7 Vergennes) before
settling in for a long run on WCPV (101.3 Essex NY) that ended
last year, have signed up with a new entrant in the market, Convergence
Entertainment's WNMR (107.1 Dannemora NY).
That signal from across the lake was pretty weak in Burlington
the last time we heard it, during its stint as WELX, a leased-time
simulcast of WCLX (102.9 Westport NY), but it has upgrade potential
for Convergence, which is apparently starting out with a lease
of the signal from owner Randy Michaels.
After the morning show featuring Steve "Corm" Cormier
and former UVM basketball coach Tom Brennan, the station will
apparently be offering some flavor of FM talk to the Champlain
Valley; the morning show will also eventually be simulcast on
another new Convergence acquisition, WGMU-CA (Channel 39).
Over at Hall Communications, they're looking for a new night
jock at WOKO (98.9), now that Chris "Dieter Hammerstein"
Chase is heading back home again to Indiana to go to school at
Ball State University, David Letterman's alma mater.
*Veteran CONNECTICUT morning jock
Sebastian is off the air at Marlin's WCCC-FM (106.9 Hartford)
as of this morning, the victim of budget cutbacks at the rock
station. No replacement has been named at WCCC, which is running
non-stop music this morning, and Sebastian is now looking for
a new radio home.
Former WTIC (1080) talker and Hartford Courant columnist
Colin McEnroe has found a new spot on the dial: he's joining
Connecticut Public Radio ("WNPR"), where he'll do a
daily hour-long show at 1 PM that replaces the syndicated "Here
and Now" on the statewide network.
*Stephen King is changing callsigns on one
of his MAINE stations: the former WDME (103.1 Dover-Foxcroft)
is now WZON-FM, matching the identity of the Bangor AM sports
signal it now relays.
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*EMF's "K-Love" contemporary Christian
programming is about to get a much bigger footprint in western
PENNSYLVANIA, as EMF prepares to buy WOGI (98.3 Duquesne)
from Keymarket Communications, removing that signal from the
four-way "Froggy" country simulcast that rings Pittsburgh.
will move the WOGI calls to another "Froggy" signal,
the Moon Township-licensed WOGF (104.3) that overlaps most of
WOGI's Pittsburgh coverage - and there are some interesting ideas
making the rounds about potential signal improvements for the
class A 98.3 facility, particularly in light of EMF's existing
WKEL (98.5 Confluence) at the southeastern edge of the Pittsburgh
market, not to mention the cross-ownership between Keymarket
and Forever, which owns big-signal WFGY (98.1) over in Altoona.
No purchase price has been announced for WOGI, and there's
no word about what will become of EMF's existing web of translators
in the Pittsburgh market, though it seems likely that they'd
end up with EMF's other network service, Christian rock "Air
Radio People on the Move in Philadelphia: Greater Media's
WBEN-FM (95.7) is down to just one air personality, morning host
Marilyn Russell, now that budget cuts have claimed the job of
afternoon jock Dave Cruise. Over at Beasley's WXTU (92.5), part-timer
Jeff Ryan has been promoted to evening host, replacing Razz,
who's now doing afternoons and working as the country station's
In the Cumberland Valley, Bruce Apgar's Cumberland Valley
Christian Radio is raising money to build its newly-granted signal,
WPFG (91.3 Carlisle), with a target date of early 2012 for sign-on.
And we note the death of James Hazeltine III, better known
on-air as Jim Rivers during a radio career that included time
at WLAN in Lancaster and WIBG in Philadelphia, as well as later
work in Rochester and in Ohio and Kentucky. He later went into
academia, teaching business at Illinois State University, Northeastern
Illinois University and the State University of West Georgia.
Hazeltine died Aug. 1 in Atlanta; he was 67.
Edited by NERW's own Scott Fybush - on sale now as
an e-book or printed volume!
*The news from CANADA starts with more
big changes on the TV dial: the "E!" network programming
that had been on Hamilton's CHCH-TV (Channel 11) and Montreal's
CJNT (Channel 62) is gone as of today, as Canwest Global shuts
down the Canadian version of "E!" and spins off the
Montreal and Hamilton stations to cable programmer Channel Zero.
The Hamilton station is ramping up its local news commitment,
including all-news blocks in late morning and, starting next
week, early afternoon. It's adding at least 12 news staffers,
and will reportedly be opening a Toronto office as well.
Out west, Canwest is rebranding British Columbia's CHBC as
"Global Okanagan" - and unless something changes by
the end of the broadcast day today, the company says it will
pull the plug on the remaining two "E!" affiliates,
CHEK-TV in Victoria, BC and CHCA-TV Red Deer, Alberta.
*On the radio, Astral Media says it wasn't budgetary concerns,
but rather a change in the station's direction, that prompted
the dismissal of a dozen staffers at Toronto's CFRB (1010) late
last week. Among those gone from the big news-talker are hosts
Michael Coren, Jacqui Delaney and the homespun husband-wife team
of Paul and Carol Mott, as well as newscaster Kris McCusker and
operations manager Steve Kowch. Inbound as interim PD is Mike
Bendixen, who just left Astral's CJAD in Montreal.
In Ottawa, PD Pete Travers and marketing and promotion director
"The Real" Darren Stevens are both out at "Virgin
Radio" CKQB (106.9).
In Sudbury, Newcap's brief "Kung Pao Radio" stunt
on the new CIGM-FM (93.5) ended at noon on Tuesday (Aug. 25)
with the launch of top-40 "Hot 93.5." Matt Sampaio
and Sherri K are doing mornings on the station, with the rest
of the airstaff coming soon.
And in Ottawa, they're mourning the founding PD of CHEZ (106.1).
Chuck Azzarello put the station on the air in 1977, and later
served as its president. He died Aug. 22 at age 60.
SCHEDULE NOTE: We're off next Monday, September 7, for Labor
Day - but we'll be back for the fall season September 14. See
you then...and follow our Twitter feed @NERadioWatch for updates
in the meantime!
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. Note that 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 25/Sept. 1, 2008 -
- In 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).
- 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.
- The 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'
August 30, 2004 -
- Its long-term survival is still in question, but CANADA's
most controversial radio station is at least assured of staying
on the air beyond the middle of this week. CHOI (98.1 Quebec
City) was due to have its license pulled this Tuesday (August
31) after the CRTC denied its application for renewal - but late
last week a Canadian court told station owner Genex Communications
that CHOI could remain on the air for now, as it challenges the
license revocation in court. A bow to public opinion after CHOI
brought some 50 buses full of supporters to Parliament Hill?
- Across the border in upstate NEW YORK, a familiar midday
voice is back on the air after nearly a year's absence. You'll
recall that Bob Lonsberry made quite the media splash when he
was ousted from the 11-2 slot on WHAM (1180 Rochester) last September
after making comments that many interpreted as a racial slur
on the city's mayor, who was then embroiled in a heated (and
ultimately unsuccessful) race for Monroe County executive.
- The other big story came from the other end of the Empire
State, where Arthur Schwartz left his longtime post as restaurant
critic for WOR (710 New York), in what was apparently a dispute
over how much influence advertisers would be permitted to have
over the content of his daily restaurant talk show. Substitute
hosts filled that 11-noon slot last week; its long-term future
- In CONNECTICUT, WFSB-TV (Channel 3) will be moving out of
the studio facility it's called home ever since its debut in
1957. Station owner Meredith is selling the building at 3 Constitution
Plaza to the city of Hartford in exchange for a new site on the
underdeveloped north side of I-84, along Main and Trumbull streets,
where it will build a new studio that it plans to occupy in early
Sept. 3, 1999 -
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