June 21, 2010
Death Knell for Canada's DAB
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*The future of digital radio in the United
States remains a hot topic for debate whenever broadcast people
get together. North of the border in CANADA, however,
the debate is over: the L-band Eureka-147 DAB system that launched
to extensive fanfare just over a decade ago is now dead.
week, the CBC notified Industry Canada that it's pulling the
plug on its DAB transmitters, beginning with the multiplex in
Montreal that carried two English and two French radio signals.
While the CRTC has not yet given public notice of CBC shutdowns
at its other digital transmitters, we checked with the lone Canadian
DAB receiver owner we know - and he reports that as of Friday,
the CBC multiplex on "channel LF" (1461 MHz) was indeed
off the air. (Thanks to Bill Hepburn for his monitoring assistance
With the CBC signals gone, it's a pretty good bet that the
remaining commercial DAB signals will soon disappear as well.
In Toronto, Bill reports that many of the stations on the three
remaining multiplexes had no audio on Friday; out of 15 stations
that were supposed to be available, only nine had audio - and
that audio, he reports, was "internet-quality."
The demise of the CBC DAB signals reflects a reality that
the CBC has been quietly acknowledging for some years now; the
promises made for DAB circa 1999, including bouquets of new services
aimed at niche audiences, never came true - and with only "improved
audio quality" (and barely even that) to sell the new radios,
the radios largely failed to sell. As early as 2003, the engineers
maintaining the DAB transmitters at the CN Tower were already
complaining that the signals were unreliable at best; most of
the commercial signals in Toronto were apparently off the air
for much of 2009 without much, if any, complaint from listeners.
That should be no surprise: one estimate we've seen suggests
that no more than 1,000 DAB radios ever found their way into
listeners' hands during the years the system was in operation.
*While digital radio fades away, the pressure for new analog
signals continues unabated. This week marks the end of a frequency
test aimed at squeezing yet another FM signal into the crowded
Toronto dial. Since May 31, "CARN Radio" has been testing
from the First Canadian Place transmitter site, reportedly with
about 500 watts, as Fitzroy Gordon attempts to find a workable
dial position for the Caribbean-focused station the CRTC licensed
to him back in 2006. CBC, which operates Radio One outlet CBLA
on 99.1 from First Canadian Place, objected to Gordon's proposed
use of the second-adjacent 98.7 frequency, which would normally
have been the end of that story - but Canada's heritage minster
intervened to authorize the test on 98.7. It's not yet clear
when a decision will be made about whether CARN can use 98.7
as a permanent frequency.
one of Toronto's broadcast TV signals going away? That appears
to be Quebecor's intent as it works out a plan that would replace
the present "Sun TV" (CKXT Channel 52) with a new national
cable news channel called "Sun News." The CRTC isn't
presently issuing new "category one" cable network
licenses, which mandate carriage (and payment) by cable companies
across Canada, but Quebecor apparently intends to ask the CRTC
to revoke its Toronto broadcast license (with relay transmitters
in Ottawa and London) and to trade it for a "category one"
cable license for Sun News.
Radio People on the Move around Toronto: The latest round
of cuts at Astral's CFRB (1010) has claimed the job of weekend
morning host John Donabie, a longtime Toronto radio veteran,
as well as evening anchor Bob Komsic and several behind-the-scenes
staffers. Down the hall at CKFM (Virgin Radio 99.9), three jocks
are out - Chris Biggs, Taylor Kaye and Jimmy T - setting in motion
a series of musical air-chairs that shifts Adam Wylde from CKIS
(Kiss 92.5) up the dial to Virgin and moves JJ King from mornings
on CFXJ (Flow 93.5) over to afternoons on Kiss, replacing Wylde.
Meanwhile in the world of talk radio, CFYI (640) is adjusting
its schedule, pulling the plug (at least until fall) on "Leafs
Lunch"; the sports show has been replaced by the syndicated
Charles Adler show from 1-4 PM, with former Leafs Lunch host
Bill Watters hosting a sports show from 4-7 PM in Adler's old
*In the outskirts of the Greater Toronto Area, community station
CHES in Erin is changing frequencies. CHES had been operating
on 101.5 with 50 watts, but it sought to better cover its listening
area 50 miles northwest of Toronto, and a power increase on that
frequency was impossible. So it applied for, and has now been
granted, an increase to 250 watts/63 meters and the addition
of a directional antenna - and a frequency change to 88.1, where
it will bump up against Toronto community station CKLN, though
CKLN and CHES have signed a letter of understanding agreeing
on a directional pattern for CHES that will send its signal south
into Mississauga and Brampton while avoiding CKLN's audience
in the core of Toronto.
Beyond southern Ontario, there's community radio news from
New Brunswick as well, where French community station CKMA (93.7
Miramichi) is applying to add a 250-watt relay transmitter at
Neguac to bring "Radio MirAcadie" to Northumberland
County's 8,000 Francophone listeners.
And just over the New Brunswick/Quebec line, CFVD (95.5 Degelis)
is applying for a 5.75 kW/89.3m relay transmitter on 102.5 in
the larger city of Riviere-du-Loup, "in order to address
the competitive imbalance that has developed over time"
and "to ensure the financial viability of its operations."
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*The week's big news from NEW YORK came
from the Capital District, where veteran morning man Don Weeks
announced that when his contract is up later this year, he's
retiring from WGY (810 Schenectady) after 30 years on the job.
who's 71, has been on the air in the Albany market since 1956,
including a stint as a top-40 DJ at WTRY (980, now WOFX) and
a long run doing weather and hosting the kiddie shows on WAST
(Channel 13, now WNYT). Last year, he was inducted into the New
York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame (and indeed,
that's where this picture of him was taken!)
"It has been a great run but I want time now to pursue
some other interests," Weeks said in a statement; WGY says
it will launch the proverbial national search to find a replacement
for WGY's morning slot.
Meanwhile, the talk host who used to follow Weeks in WGY's
mid-morning slot announced last week that he'll be back on the
air at a competing station. The rumors had been swirling for
a while, and today it becomes official: Al Roney has Dan Lynch's
old 2-6 PM slot on WGDJ (1300 Rensselaer).
One other shift we've been meaning to mention on the Albany
talk dial: Susan Arbetter's "Capitol Pressroom," the
WCNY Syracuse-produced daily hour of statehouse news and talk
formerly heard in Albany on WROW (590) before it dropped its
talk format, has found a new Albany home: it's heard weekdays
at 5 PM on Siena College's WVCR (88.3 Loudonville); Arbetter's
show is also being heard in Rochester on WXXI (1370), nightly
at 10 PM. (Usual disclaimers apply.)
In Syracuse, Candace Curby is the new night jock on "K-Rock"
(WKRL 100.9 North Syracuse/WKRH 105.9 Minetto/WKLL 94.9 Frankfort-Utica).
Curby comes to central New York from the Citadel cluster in Harrisburg,
where she was promotions director; she replaces Tiff in the evening
Bob Lonsberry has lost one of his jobs: on Thursday, he was abruptly
canned from his longtime morning gig on Clear Channel's KNRS
(105.7) in Salt Lake City. For the better part of the last decade,
Lonsberry had been doing the 6-9 AM show (8-11 Eastern Time)
on KNRS, followed immediately by his 11 AM-2 PM talk show on
sister station WHAM (1180 Rochester), usually from Rochester
but sometimes from Utah. He told readers of his blog that it
was the Salt Lake job that was providing him with most of his
income, and he's blaming the arrival of PPM ratings in Salt Lake
City for the weak numbers that led to his dismissal. Lonsberry
also alleges that KNRS was uncomfortable with his endorsement
in a recent Utah election campaign - but he says he's most upset
that Clear Channel also fired his son, Lee Lonsberry, who had
started out as a producer for other Clear Channel stations in
Salt Lake before working on his father's talk show.
Another veteran Rochester air talent is out of work, and this
time locally: Bill Pucko had been sports director at what's now
YNN Rochester since the Time Warner local news channel launched
back in 1990 as "WGRC-TV 5." (He'd joined from WHEC-TV.)
Pucko was abruptly sent packing on Thursday, and nobody's discussing
the reason. Pucko is still writing for the Messenger-Post newspapers
and for his BylineSports.com website. (More disclaimers: your
editor worked for R News, predecessor to today's YNN, from 1997-2001.)
*In New York City, Frank Flores is out as market manager of
SBS' New York stations, WPAT-FM (93.1 Paterson) and WSKQ (97.9
New York). Flores, who was also SBS' chief revenue officer, had
been a prominent voice in the spat between SBS and Arbitron over
the Portable People Meter; Mickie Reyes, SBS' local sales manager,
is handling market manager duties for now.
What ever happened to Joey Reynolds' new TV talk show on WNBC-DT's
4.2 local channel? Reynolds' website reports that the show, which
was to have launched this fall, "is now postponed due to
Up the Hudson River, the FCC is finally ready to auction off
one of the region's last open FM channels. The class A signal
in Rosendale has been in dispute since the mid-90s, when several
broadcasters applied for stations on 102.5. Subsequent modifications
of the table of allocations shifted the open channel to 98.9,
and now the five applicants who've been waiting for years to
get their hands on the frequency will get to participate in a
closed auction starting June 17. Opening bid on the facility,
which will serve the Poughkeepsie area, will be $100,000.
The Auction 88 process has also weeded out several applicants
for other facilities in the region, leaving only uncontested
"singleton" applications for a new signal on 750 in
Lansing, near Ithaca (Romar Communications) and a 102.5 translator
in Manahawkin, New Jersey (Penn-Jersey Educational Radio, which
owns WDVR in Delaware Township.)
*Central New York lost a well-loved broadcaster on Saturday.
Don DeRosa was a familiar face and voice up and down the Thruway,
from his early years in morning drive and the PD chair at Utica's
WRUN to later stints at WTLB in Albany, WSNY in Schenectady,
WPTR in Albany and then WOSC/WKFM in Fulton, where he was general
manager in the 1980s.
More recently, DeRosa was a station owner, buying the former
WOSC (by then WZZZ) in 2002 and flipping it to country music
under new calls WAMF. That story didn't have a happy ending;
a fire destroyed the station's studios and DeRosa eventually
sold the license to Craig Fox, who now operates the signal as
a relay of his Syracuse Radio Disney outlet, WOLF.
DeRosa had been ill in recent years, and his friends and admirers
had gathered Saturday afternoon for a benefit to help him pay
for his cancer treatments; sadly, DeRosa succumbed to the disease
even as the benefit was underway in Syracuse.
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*There's a station sale in MAINE:
Decelles-Smith Media, which has owned WEGP (1390 Presque Isle)
since 2000, is selling the talk station to Northern Maine Broadcasting
Inc., controlled by Gregory McNeil (and with a mailing address
in Trinidad and Tobago!)
McNeil is putting down $70,000 upfront for the station, with
the rest of the $220,000 purchase price to be paid in installments.
Decelles-Smith still owns the WEGP studios, which McNeil has
an option to acquire for $45,000 by the end of January 2011.
And there's an interesting programming clause in the contract:
if Premiere Radio Networks won't sign new contracts with McNeil
to keep Rush Limbaugh and Coast to Coast AM on WEGP, he can back
out of the purchase without any penalty. (Not that there's any
danger of Clear Channel launching an Aroostook County "Rush
Radio," a la Boston's WXKS; Clear Channel has been out of
Maine entirely for several years, and never owned in Presque
*In MASSACHUSETTS, the FCC has transformed
a $10,000 Notice of Apparent Liability into a forfeiture order
against the operators of "Hot 97," the pirate station
that the FCC tracked to two locations in Hyde Park and Mattapan
last year. Delroy Johnson, Paul Parara and Richard Parara never
responded to the NAL, and it doesn't appear that they have any
intention of paying up; "Hot 97" continues to operate
quite openly, albeit now on 87.7.
*We've been remiss in not mentioning the
NEW JERSEY Broadcasters Association's new Lifetime Achievement
Award, launched earlier this month at its annual Mid-Atlantic
Broadcasters Conference in Atlantic City. The first award went
to Pinky Kravitz, who's been doing the "Pinky's Korner"
show for an amazing 53 years, most recently on WOND (1400 Pleasantville).
The new NJBA board was also installed at the conference, including
chairman Bill Saurer, CEO of Millennium Radio New Jersey and
vice chairs Scott Taylor (WAWZ) and Bob Dunphy (Clear Channel
And we've also been remiss in failing to congratulate veteran
Garden State broadcaster Dick Taylor on his big move: the former
Clear Channel GM (and past NJBA board member) is on his way to
Kentucky to become an assistant professor at Western Kentucky
University's school of broadcasting and journalism.
*In PENNSYLVANIA, they've turned up
the power at WGAL-TV (Channel 8) in Lancaster. The station's
DTV signal is now operating at 32.2 kW ERP, a big jump from the
previous 14.2 kW. WGAL is hoping the power boost (and the UHF
translators for which it's applied) will help resolve persistent
reception problems that the station has been experiencing across
the huge swath of south-central Pennsylvania that makes up the
sprawling Harrisburg/Lancaster/York TV market.
On the Pittsburgh TV dial, Anne Linaberger can remove "interim"
from her title at KDKA-TV (Channel 2): she's now the CBS station's
news director, taking the slot Coleen Marren vacated when she
moved back east to become ND at Hartford's WTIC-TV.
Up in Scranton, Michelle Taylor has departed the morning show
on WBSX (97.9 Hazleton); Jim Bone is solo for now while 97.9X
looks for a successor to Taylor.
And there's another call change at the fringes of the market:
WFUZ (90.9 Laporte) becomes WCIS-FM.
There's a bit more Baseball on the Radio to report
this week: with New York-Penn League action now underway, the
Williamsport Crosscutters have added one more station to their
already extensive network, as WJSA (1600 Jersey Shore) picks
up the team's games.
And there's some rare radio coverage for a summer amateur
baseball league. The Geneva Red Wings of the New York Collegiate
Baseball League (NYCBL) are now being heard on Hobart and William
Smith's WHWS-LP (105.7 Geneva), reports GM Aaron Read.
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!)
June 22, 2009 -
- Back in the age of analog TV, the conventional wisdom held
that the low-band VHF spectrum - TV channels 2-6 - would become
superfluous as soon as the digital transition was over. Electrical
noise, propagation anomalies and the need for large, usually
outdoor, receiving antennas would make those channels undesirable
for digital TV, eventually freeing them up for other, non-TV,
uses...or so the belief went. As we enter the second full week
of the digital TV era in the U.S., that conventional wisdom is
being confirmed by some established stations, as problems crop
up with VHF digital TV not only on the low band but on the high-band
channels (7-13) as well. But it's also being significantly challenged
by some newcomers, including one broadcaster who's found a loophole
that may put new full-power DTV stations on the air in the New
York and Philadelphia markets at a bargain price.
- The problems, first: No sooner had stations such as Boston's
WHDH-TV (Channel 7), Philadelphia's WHYY-TV (Channel 12) and
New York's WABC-TV (Channel 7), WPIX-TV (Channel 11) and WNET
(Channel 13) made the move from their pre-transition digital
channels to digital operation on their old analog channels than
the complaints started pouring in: viewers who'd had no trouble
with DTV on the UHF dial were finding it difficult or impossible
to get a lock on the relatively low-powered VHF signals. While
many were no doubt using the UHF-only compact antennas that dominated
the marketplace of "digital antennas" in the first
few years of the transition, problems were being reported even
by technically-adept viewers using decent VHF antennas. And as
bad as things were for those high-band VHF stations, they were
even worse for the largest station in the nation to elect a spot
on the low VHF band, ABC's WPVI (Channel 6) in Philadelphia,
where phone lines and message boards were flooded with complaints
from viewers who could see everything in town except ABC.
- For some of the affected stations, solutions - temporary
ones, at least - were as close as the next room in the transmitter
building. On Tuesday, WHDH received special temporary authority
from the FCC to reactivate its interim channel 42 digital signal,
and there's word that the station is now trying to resolve some
spacing issues in order to make its permanent home on UHF. (That's
still not an inexpensive solution; WHDH spent considerable money
and manpower to install the VHF digital rig that could end up
being turned off after just a few weeks on the air.)
- For other stations, such quick fixes weren't an easy option.
WPVI, WHYY, WNET and other VHF digitals in the region (Rochester's
WHEC-TV and WHAM-TV, Lancaster's WGAL, Manchester's WMUR) were
using digital channels in the upper UHF band that's now outside
the broadcast spectrum. WPIX's former channel 33 digital allocation
is now home to another station, WCBS-TV. And WABC-TV's former
channel 45 has spacing issues that would make it less than desirable
for permanent use.
- Fortunately, the FCC was quick to issue additional STAs for
power increases. WPVI, for instance, was able to crank its power
from 7.5 kW to 30 kW by the weekend, resulting in at least a
moderate increase in its receivability. In the long run, though,
it appears the FCC may be right back where it was in, say, 1950:
coming to terms with the reality that the state of the art in
receiver and antenna design probably requires significantly more
power than was originally thought necessary. That, too, may be
an expensive solution for some stations that had already built
what were to be their "permanent" VHF digital facilities
- though the good news is that most of the stations moving back
to their VHF analog allocations have plenty of headroom in their
antennas and transmission systems for more power, and often have
extra transmitter power to spare, too, if they've converted recent
analog transmitters to digital use.
- In the meantime, though, those "vacated" channels
at the bottom of the TV dial may fill up faster than expected
in some big markets. We've already reported on the surge in demand
from low-power TV stations for new berths on channel 6, where
continued analog LPTV operation makes it possible to function
as pseudo-FM stations on 87.7. In some cities, other newly-vacated
low-VHF channels are being filled by LPTVs as well; for instance,
WNYW's now-former channel 5 slot in New York already has a digital
LP construction permit for a new occupant. Full-power use of
those vacated channels, though, was supposed to be far in the
future, if it happened at all, since the FCC is apparently in
no hurry at all to thaw the long-frozen allocations table to
allow for new digital-only allotments. But when there's a huge
prize to be had - signals over two of the nation's largest TV
markets - there's no underestimating how far the creativity of
a good communications lawyer can go toward finding an unusual
way to shoehorn new stations onto the dial.
- That's the long way around to explaining why NEW JERSEY's
Press Communications quietly bought two tiny TV stations out
west - NBC affiliate KJWY (Channel 2) in Jackson, Wyoming and
independent KVNV (Channel 3) in Ely, Nevada - and why it's apparently
poised to move those stations right into the heart of the Philadelphia
and New York TV markets, respectively.
- The loophole that makes those moves possible dates back a
quarter of a century, to the mid-80s controversy over the lack
of local TV presence in both New Jersey and Delaware. An amendment
to the Communications Act of 1933 established a way for states
with no commercial VHF stations - a list that included only New
Jersey and Delaware - to gain such operations: it provided that
any licensee that notified the FCC that it was willing to accept
reallocation to a VHF-less state would immediately be granted
a license for the moved operation, bypassing just about every
other provision of the Act except for spacing requirements.
- The provision was very narrowly targeted, aimed entirely
at moving New York's WOR-TV (Channel 9) to Secaucus, N.J., a
move owner RKO accepted in order to be allowed to sell the station
instead of losing the license as part of the investigation into
RKO's billing practices. But long after channel 9 made the move
- and long after it was clear that the "move" didn't
prevent channel 9, now WWOR, from continuing to be a "New
York" station, transmitting from Manhattan and serving the
entire metro area - the rule stayed on the books, apparently
never to be used again. With the DTV transition looming, though,
the lawyers at Fletcher, Heald and Hildreth spotted an opportunity:
since WWOR's digital signal is on channel 38, New Jersey would
end up once again bereft of VHF stations. With the channel 2
stations in New York City and Baltimore vacating that spot, and
channel 3 in Philadelphia and Hartford going empty as well, there
was suddenly spectrum available for VHF allotments in both New
Jersey and Delaware...and a law on the books that appeared to
give that spectrum to any station willing to make the move, just
for the asking. And so Press notified the FCC last Monday that
it was "willing to accept" reallocations that would
move KJWY's channel 2 from Jackson to Wilmington, Delaware, and
KVNV's channel 3 from Ely to Middletown Township, New Jersey
- with strongly-worded language making it clear that it believes
the Commisson is compelled by the language of Section 331(a)
of the Communications Act to immediately grant those moves.
- It should come as no surprise, of course, that the new "Delaware"
and "New Jersey" stations would have their sights set
on the bigger markets next door: Channel 2 would transmit with
10 kW/845' from the Roxborough tower farm in Philadelphia, while
Channel 3 would have 10 kW/860' from the Four Times Square tower
in Manhattan, making both signals full-market (within the limitations
of low-band VHF) in their respective markets.
- What's in it for the people of Delaware and New Jersey? Probably
not all that much: in a Delaware newspaper interview, Press CEO
Bob McAllan (the managing member of "PMCM, LLC," the
licensee of KJWY and KVNV) wouldn't even go so far as to commit
to local studios in either state, promising only that the stations'
programming, once moved, "might be something you haven't
seen before." Given the FCC's current lax requirements for
local news - and the lack of a requirement for a main studio
in the city of license, a rule that at least obliged WWOR to
move its studio from Times Square to Secaucus back in the day
- it appears, to us at least, that there's little to stop the
new channel 3 and channel 2 from setting up shop right in Manhattan
and Philadelphia, respectively, yielding new stations in those
cities at an amazing bargain price: PMCM paid just $1.2 million
for those two licenses in Nevada and Wyoming, and surely far
less than that for the legal work to get the stations moved.
- The big question, then, is whether the FCC will indeed grant
the moves. We're not lawyers here - but our reading of Section
331(a) suggests that the Commission would have a hard time saying
no. Unless Delaware and New Jersey get VHF allocations some other
way - say, by WPVI or WABC or WPIX trading their VHF allotments
to commercial broadcasters on UHF in Delaware or New Jersey,
a prospect that seems unlikely - the FCC appears to be required
to do just what PMCM says it must, though of course there's nothing
saying they have to hurry up about it. And while the FCC is loath
to set precedents like this, it appears to us that there's no
precedent to be set: once the KJWY and KVNV moves are granted,
there would be no states without VHF commercial stations (meaningless
though that distinction is in the channel-mapped DTV world),
and thus no further application of Section 331(a) - so perhaps
the FCC will be inclined to simply get these two moves over with.
(2010 update: The FCC found its own
loophole, instead allocating different VHF facilities to Delaware
and New Jersey that would be more distant from Philadelphia and
New York City; Press continues to appeal the ruling.)
- The rest of our PENNSYLVANIA news this week starts on a sad
note: five years into his fight with prostate cancer, WPVI (Channel
6) sports director Gary Papa, a beloved figure on the Philadelphia
airwaves, died Friday at age 54. Papa was a native of Buffalo,
where he grew up with his brother Greg, now the play-by-play
man for the Oakland Raiders. He started his career at WSTV-TV
(Channel 9, now WTOV) in Steubenville, Ohio, then returned to
Buffalo to do sports at WGR-TV (Channel 2, now WGRZ) before joining
the WPVI Action News team in 1981. He had been sports director
there since 1990, though he'd been on the air only sporadically
in recent months as his illness worsened. One of his last public
appearances came on April 13, when he appeared in a wheelchair
for the memorial service for longtime Phillies broadcaster Harry
- Our NEW YORK news starts in Utica, where just a month after
Eric Thomas arrived as the highly-publicized new morning man
at Roser's "Kiss FM" (WSKS 97.9 Whitesboro/WSKU 105.5
Little Falls), he's parted ways with the station. In an unusually
outspoken blog posting, Thomas called his move from Michigan
"one of the biggest mistakes of my life," and he says
the format-flip stunt that heralded his arrival was not his idea.
"Kenny the Promo Guy" is handling mornings on Kiss
on a temporary basis while the station looks for a replacement,
and while Thomas looks for new work.
- Meanwhile, on a hill in the town of Floyd, north of Utica,
there's a fight brewing between EMF Broadcasting's WOKR (93.5
Remsen) and a neighbor who claims that the station's new antenna
location is putting so much RF over his nearby home that it's
causing him and his family to break out in blisters and suffer
other illnesses. Steve Lloyd told the Utica Observer-Dispatch
last week that he was forced to move from his house adjacent
to the tower not long after WOKR signed on there in mid-April,
and to back up his claims he showed the newspaper a report from
an engineering firm claiming that the 3-kW signal operating from
a 2-bay antenna 85 feet above the ground was making it unsafe
to be in his house for more than 30 minutes a day. But as the
story drew national attention in the engineering community, some
questions developed - especially after Utica's WKTV reported
that the engineering company that allegedly prepared the report
is denying having done so. (The newspaper had reported that Mid-State
Communications prepared the report "at Lloyd's request";
Lloyd told WKTV "he was given the study.") Town officials
have asked Congressman Michael Arcuri to look into the matter,
and EMF says it's also trying to determine the source of Lloyd's
- CANADA's latest AM-to-FM move is now underway in Peterborough,
Ontario, where CKRU (980) signed on CKRU-FM (100.5) last Monday.
The new "Greatest Hits Kruz 100.5 FM" continues to
simulcast on AM 980 for the next three months.
June 20, 2005 -
- If you're looking to buy TV ad time on a full-power station
in VERMONT, you're down to just three choices after the recent
sale of ABC affiliate WVNY (Channel 22) in Burlington and a subsequent
joint sales agreement with the owners of crosstown Fox affiliate
WFFF (Channel 44).
- Here's what's going on down by the shore of Lake Champlain:
C-22 License Subsidiary, the owner of WVNY, recently won FCC
permission to sell the station to a company called Lambert Broadcasting
of Burlington, controlled by Michael Lambert of Beverly Hills,
California. Under the terms of the $10.5 million deal, Lambert
will then enter into the joint sales agreement with Smith Media,
part of the Smith group that already owns WFFF. While the deal
will keep Smith from having an attributable ownership interest
in WVNY (which would be illegal in a market as small as Burlington,
with just four commercial TV stations and thus no possibility
of a legal TV duopoly), it will put Smith in charge of most of
the operations of WVNY. Smith will handle WVNY's ad sales (though
with a provision barring it from forcing ad buyers to buy WVNY
and WFFF in combination), publicity, routine engineering functions
and will provide no more than 15% of WVNY's programming.
- That programming is expected to include at least some local
news, which is one area in which the deal could benefit viewers
in the Burlington market. WFFF has never offered local news,
and WVNY's history with news has been a troubled one; the station
cancelled its last (and most ambitious) attempt at local news
last year after failing to make enough of a dent against market
giants WCAX (Channel 3) and WPTZ (Channel 5). The hope, apparently,
is that WVNY and WFFF together might be more of a contender than
either station would have been alone. (The prospect of local
news on WFFF raises questions, too: the station currently serves
as both the Fox and WB outlet in the market, delaying WB's 8-10
PM primetime offerings to a "WB Time" block that runs
from 10-midnight each night; would a 10 PM WFFF newscast get
in the way of that?) Operations of both stations will apparently
be consolidated at WFFF's facility in Colchester, sooner or later.
- The FCC's had a busy week digging through the hundreds of
applications for new AM stations and major changes to existing
AM stations that were filed during last year's window - and now
it's ready to begin dealing with many of those applications,
including a whole bunch from NERW-land. The key word to keep
in mind as we run through some of those applications this week
is "mutually exclusive." That's the category into which
the FCC has put many of those applications, and the burden is
now on the applicants in each "MX group" to find a
way to resolve that mutually-exclusive status. The FCC has opened
a settlement window (through September 16) in which certain applicants
- generally those proposing major changes to existing stations
or new applicants MX'd to major changes - can legally attempt
to buy out rivals (thus sparing the FCC the need to choose a
winner in each group); it's also asking applicants to provide
information on the communities they propose to cover in the event
that settlements can't be reached.
- The rumor mill keeps churning in MASSACHUSETTS over a new
radio home for the Boston Celtics, whose deal with WWZN (1510
Boston) ended at the close of the season. Mark Shneyder's Boston
Radio Watch (no relation) says the team is headed to Entercom's
WRKO (680), but the station itself hasn't confirmed any deal,
though it acknowledges that negotiations have taken place. (NERW's
take: a Celts/WRKO deal would make sense, especially given the
cross-promotion that Entercom could provide on sister station
WEEI and on its network of stations in Worcester and Rhode Island.
Some of the other possibilities mentioned - Infinity's WBZ or
WBCN and Greater Media's WTKK - seem far less likely for a variety
of reasons. Interesting that the new "ESPN 890/1400"
- which had still yet to launch at press time Sunday night -
hasn't been mentioned much as a contender.)
- On the TV side, it marked the end of an era - not just in
Boston, but in local TV everywhere - when WCVB (Channel 5) president/general
manager Paul LaCamera announced last week that he's stepping
down as general manager on August 1 and as president at year's
end. LaCamera has been with WCVB since its 1972 sign-on, and
he's managed the station since 1988. Under his leadership, the
station won a well-deserved reputation as one of the best local
TV outlets in the country, and it will be interesting indeed
to see whether his successor, Bill Fine of Hearst-Argyle's WBAL-TV
(Channel 11), will be able to maintain that reputation. (NERW
wonders, in particular, whether WCVB icon Natalie Jacobson will
be inclined to stick around for a new contract after the departure
of LaCamera, to whom Jacobson and other station veterans are
- In any event, we join the rest of the industry in saluting
LaCamera for his work over the decades at WCVB, and we wish him
well on his retirement. (2010 update:
Some retirement - LaCamera soon ended up being hired to run public
station WBUR, where he can still be found today.)
- Speaking of MAINE, veteran Portland morning man Mark Persky
is returning to the airwaves next month, but not at his longtime
home of WBLM (102.9 Portland), where he suddenly disappeared
from the morning show in January. (The station formally announced
his departure in April, leaving Herb Ivy, his co-host of 18 years,
as the show's anchor.) When Persky signs back on (presumably
after working out a non-compete deal with WBLM), it'll be at
Nassau's WFNK (107.5 Lewiston), which has been making ratings
waves with its "Frank" classic rock format. There's
a nifty irony here - that 107.5 frequency is the same one on
which Persky started all those years ago, when WBLM was broadcasting
from the now-famous "little trailer in the woods in Litchfield."
- In NEW YORK, the outcry over the abrupt format change at
WCBS-FM (101.1 New York) continues, at least among the devoted
fans of the oldies format that was replaced by "Jack FM"
a couple of weeks back. This week's developments: CBS-FM fans
are planning a rally on Tuesday (June 21) outside Viacom's corporate
offices at 1515 Broadway (which is also home to the WCBS-FM studios).
In the meantime, Big Apple oldies listeners are seeking out alternatives,
and in the absence of a full-coverage New York signal picking
up oldies, the suburban stations are stepping in. WMTR (1250
Morristown NJ) began streaming last week at www.wmtram.com, hoping
to get some New York office listeners. Meanwhile out on Long
Island, WBZO (103.1 Bay Shore) opened its morning show mikes
to some of the displaced WCBS-FM jocks last week, giving them
a chance to say the farewells that they never got to offer on
- In Ithaca, Saga took over operation of the former Eagle cluster
last week, and wasted no time making a Monday-morning flip of
oldies WTKO (1470 Ithaca) to progressive talk as WNYY.
June 23, 2000 -
- We begin this week in CANADA, where precisely a year after
CBL Toronto said its final "adieu" on 740 and moved
to FM for good, the CRTC is announcing its successor on the 50
kilowatt blowtorch frequency. The nod goes to Michael Caine's
CHWO (1250 Oakville), which will move its adult-standards format
down the dial to 740 by next June under the moniker "PrimeTime
Radio." Caine persuaded the CRTC that listeners over the
age of 55 are underserved on the Toronto dial, and says his station
will serve as an "oasis" in the midst of the rock that
dominates Toronto FM. NERW expects the new 740 to use the existing
CBC transmitter plant in Hornby, but we're keeping an eye out
for construction at the CHWO site as well.
- It turns out 1250 won't go silent as a result of the move;
the CRTC says Caine can lease that facility out to the Christian
broadcasters who now lease 50 hours a week on CHWO sister station
CJMR (1320 Mississauga). When they take over as "Joy 1250,"
CJMR will become all-ethnic (largely Asian languages).
- Over on the FM side, the CRTC handed out two more licences,
expected to be the last available in Canada's largest city. B.
Denham Jolly, who had applied unsuccessfully for the 92.5 channel
(now CISS) and the 99.1 facility (now CBC's CBLA), finally gets
his FM under the name "Milestone Radio." The urban-formatted
station will be on 93.5 with 298 watts -- a perfect spot, really,
to usurp the Toronto listeners who now hear the format on Buffalo's
WBLK (93.7 Depew NY). (A minority interest in Jolly's station
will be held by Standard, which already owns CFRB and CKFM in
Toronto, but the CRTC says this will not constitute an illegal
- The last licence goes to Gary Farmer's Aboriginal Voices
Radio, whose station will be the first in Toronto aimed at a
native audience. AVR asked for both 740 AM and 106.5 FM; they
were granted only the FM, with 250 watts. NERW wonders what *that*
channel will sound like in the summer when reception heats up
over the water path across the lake to co-channel 50-kilowatt
WYRK Buffalo, which can usually be heard in Toronto on a warm
day. All three stations are expected on the air by June 2001.
- The FCC has released the first batch of applications for
LPFM, and in addition to a veritable slew of California apps,
there are a surprising number to report in the two New England
states where the window opened earlier this month.
- We'll start in RHODE ISLAND, where the most popular frequency
was 96.5 in the Providence area. Applicants there included Casa
de Oracion Getsemani, Brown Student Radio, Providence Community
Radio, Mision Cristiana Eliam, St. Francis Chapel, Ephese French
SDA Church, Gregory S. Ferland, Christopher Young, Better Living
Radio in Johnston (for Johnston), and House of Gold Foundation
(for Cranston). Also applying for 96.5: Zion Bible Institute
- Runner-up in the popularity contest: 94.9, with apps for
Experience Evangelistic Ministry (Providence), Calvary Chapel
Christian Fellowship (Warwick), Little Flower House (Warwick),
Katherine Russo (Warwick), Better Living Radio in Wickford (Wickford),
State of the State Communications (West Warwick), and Olney Street
Baptist Church (Cranston).
- A few more: Newport Musical Arts Association (105.9 Newport),
Spirit Life Ministries (92.9 Westerly), Washington County Chamber
of Commerce (107.1 Westerly; and isn't this the group that's
involved in WBLQ Westerly and those pseudo-TISes down that way?),
and Northern Rhode Island Public Radio Inc. (95.3 Providence).
- On to MAINE, then, to see who's applying for LPFM in the
Pine Tree State. Only one channel is seriously contested, and
that's 105.1 in Portland, with applications from All Inclusive
Inc., Calvary Chapel of Portland (in Westbrook), Voice of Freedom
(Westbrook), and Standish Citizens Educational Organization (Standish).
In Yarmouth, the Maine Science and Technical Museum wants 105.3;
Growstown Radio Users seeks 97.3 in Brunswick; Penobscot School
wants 93.3 in Rockland; and All That is Catholic Ministries wants
94.7 Augusta. Heading north, Inter-Faith Studies Institute wants
95.1 in Bangor, while Faith Community Fellowship wants the same
frequency in Ellsworth. Bangor Fine Arts Radio wants 96.5 in
Bangor, conflicting with Calvary Chapel of Bangor's 96.3 application
there. And nobody -- nobody -- applied for LPFMs up north or
New England Radio Watch, June 17, 1995
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- From our Southern Rhode Island department: WUAE-FM 99.7 in
Wakefield RI is on the air. The station is the latest project
of Bear Broadcasting, which just last week closed its sale of
WWRX-FM 103.7 Westerly-Providence to Radio Equity Partners. WUAE
doesn't have WWRX's earth-shattering signal, but it seems to
be getting out pretty well for a straight class A. (It shares
WWRX's site in Exeter, RI). The format is modern rock (the second
in Rhode Island, after Brown University-affiliated WBRU 95.5),
and the non-ID is "The Edge." Bear still owns WHIM
1110 in East Providence and WERI 1230 in Westerly as well.
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learn how you can help make continued publication possible. NERW
2010 by Scott Fybush.