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July 26, 2010

Back to Country at Hamilton's CHAM

*After not quite two years as a talk station, CANADA's Astral Media has flipped CHAM (820 Hamilton) right back where it came from. On Thursday at noon, CHAM ditched "Talk 820," which had failed to make much of a dent in Corus' dominant CHML (900) since launching in September 2008.

In its place is "Today's Country 820 CHAM," returning the 50,000-watt signal to the format it had used for decades before making the flip to talk.

The revived country CHAM features morning host Mike Nabuurs, who'd been doing the station's late-morning talk shift. And along with sister station CKOC (1150)'s oldies format, we believe it makes Hamilton the only large Canadian market that still has two stations playing music on the AM dial - three, if you count Evanov's nearby CKPC (1380 Brantford), which recently flipped to a news/country hybrid.


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*Our abbreviated coverage of a slow week in the region continues with several obituaries:

John Manzi worked in several New England states during his long radio career, but it was in RHODE ISLAND that Manzi became known as "Big Ange," bringing his high-energy delivery to stations that included WJAR, WICE, WHIM and most memorably WPRO.

Manzi, who also went by "Andy Jackson," worked in Binghamton (WINR), Elmira (WELM) and Maine (WASY, WZON) as well during a career that stretched from the sixties into the late eighties.

He died July 17 in Providence, at 67.

*In CONNECTICUT, Hipolito Cuevas made headlines a few years back when he sparred with the FCC over his unlicensed Spanish-language station in New Haven. "La Nueva Radio Musicale" was eventually shut down in 2000, and Cuevas went legit shortly thereafter, working at WXCT (990 Southington) and later at WNEZ (910 New Britain). Cuevas had a number of health problems, including kidney and heart disease and diabetes; he died on July 7 at just 44.

*Almost a year after being displaced from WCLX (102.9 Westport NY), VERMONT's "Album Station" is back on the air down the dial. Diane Desmond and Russ Kinsley had kept their eclectic AOR format alive via a website ( after their dispute with WCLX owner Dennis Jackson led to their departure from the FM airwaves over Lake Champlain, but on Friday they returned to the air via another leased facility, RadioActive's WZXP (97.9 Au Sable NY), transmitting from the old WPTZ-TV site at Terry Mountain south of Plattsburgh. WCLX, meanwhile, remains very much on the air with a similar AAA format and a new operator, Chip Morgan's "Farm Fresh Radio."

And speaking of AAA stations in the Green Mountain State, WEQX (102.7 Manchester) has made Amber Miller's PD job official. She's been acting PD since March, when her predecessor Willobee departed for Scranton.

*Some good news for NEW HAMPSHIRE's scrappy little classical station: Harry Kozlowski's WCNH-LP (94.7 Bow) received planning board approval last week for the new transmitter installation it's planning at its new full-power CP, WCNU (91.5 Bow). Some neighbors had objected to the new signal, but others showed up in force at a planning board meeting to support WCNU's proposal, which would add a small transmitter shed and even smaller antenna to an existing 40-foot pole.

(NERW notes that "I don't want to look at a shed every day," an actual objection from an actual neighbor at the board meeting, may well be one of the least persuasive NIMBY complaints we've ever seen...)

*An unbuilt MASSACHUSETTS station is getting new calls: WDMY (91.9 Stockbridge) will become WDVN when it takes air.

And we offer our heartiest NERW congratulations to Sox color commentator Jerry Remy of NESN, who crossed the 3000-game milestone with the network during Sunday's game.


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*Clear Channel is donating a NEW JERSEY AM station to the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, the latest in a growing list of small AM signals that MMTC will eventually pass along to qualified small broadcasters. This time it's WTOC (1360 Newton), the former WNNJ(AM), which has been running an automated "True Oldies Channel" format while Clear Channel has tried to sell it off to remain under the ownership cap in northwest Jersey.

*The last commercial FM channel in NEW YORK's Hudson Valley went for a (comparative) bargain price as the FCC's Auction 88 process wrapped up last week. The closed auction was limited to applicants who'd already filed for the class A channel in Rosendale (originally 102.5, later moved to 98.9), and after seven rounds of bidding that included Chet-5 Broadcasting (Woodstock's WDST) and Sacred Heart University, the permit went to Hawkeye Communications for $499,000, a steep drop from the multi-million dollar prices being paid for some far less appealing frequencies in earlier auctions a few years back.

Who's Hawkeye Communications? That would be Irmgard Klebe, wife of Joergen Klebe, whose Sunrise group owns WGNY (1220) and WGNY-FM (103.1) in Newburgh.

*In New York City itself, public station WNYC-FM (93.9) will soon be operating from fully licensed facilities for the first time since 9/11. Until now, WNYC has remained officially licensed at its long-gone World Trade Center site, while its actual operation has remained under Special Temporary Authority with 4 kW from the Empire State Building master antenna.

The problem with WNYC's return to its old Empire home was the short-spacing that plagues so many stations in the region - when 93.9 moved from Empire to the World Trade Center in the early 70s, it lost the grandfathered short-spacing it enjoyed to adjacent-channel WZMX (93.7 Hartford), and WZMX's current owner CBS Radio objected to the interference an Empire-based WNYC-FM would cause to the Hartford station. WNYC and CBS finally reached a settlement, and now WNYC-FM will once again be licensed to Empire at 5.4 kW/1361', just shy of the 6 kW a full class B signal would use at that height.

With WNYC's impending return to licensed status, only one of the Trade Center FM signals is still in license limbo: SBS' WPAT-FM (93.1) continues to operate under STA at Empire as it works out its own short-spacing issues.

On TV, WPIX (Channel 11) kicked off the early-early-morning news arms race when it moved the start time of its morning show from 5 to 4:30 AM, a move widely followed around the country (and in New York by WNYW and WNBC) - and starting Sept. 20, WPIX will edge its morning show even earlier, becoming one of a handful of stations around the country starting its morning news at 4 AM. Chris Burrous and Tamsen Fadal draw early-early anchor duty, from 4-6 AM, followed by Sukanya Krishnan and John Mueller from 6-9 AM.

North of Albany, there's a familiar new morning host at WQAR (101.3 Stillwater). Ric Mitchell, who'd been the morning man at WYJB (95.5 Albany) until he was fired in May, starts August 2 at "Star 101.3" up in Saratoga.

And there's word that veteran Long Island DJ Ken Gholson has died. Over a 25-year career, Gholson had worked at WSBJ (now WHFM), WBAZ, WBEA and WLNG. He was just 49.

(Speaking of WLNG, it was off the air for part of the weekend as it finally completed a long-pending project to replace its old transmitter and antenna.)

*In western PENNSYLVANIA, there's a new general manager at public broadcaster WQED, where Deborah Acklin has been picked to succeed George Miles Jr. when he retires in September. Acklin has been with WQED for 14 years, most recently as executive VP/COO.

From the NERW Archives

(Yup, we've been doing this a long time now, and so we're digging back into the vaults for a look at what NERW was covering one, five, 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 for the idea - and thanks to you, our readers, for the support that's made all these years of NERW possible!)

July 27, 2009 -

  • NEW YORK's dance music station was back in the headlines last week, but it's still not clear what exactly was going on behind the scenes at "Pulse 87" (WNYZ-LP), the channel 6 LPTV license that's operated by Mega Media as an FM station at 87.7 on the dial. On Monday, Pulse's announcers began telling listeners that the station was in severe financial trouble and would be gone by week's end...unless those listeners came forward with donations to save the format. Listeners apparently responded - but the fund drive didn't last long. By Tuesday morning, the fundraising announcements (complete with premiums such as messenger bags and wristbands) had been pulled, the "donate" webpage on the Pulse website was gone, and the station was suddenly announcing that it had won a reprieve from its creditors thanks to an "overwhelming" response from listeners. But all that money pledged by the Pulse audience isn't staying with Mega Media - it's being returned to donors, the station says, leaving it rather unclear as to what the point of the one-day fundraiser really was.
  • So while the good news for New York's dance fans is that Pulse remains on the air, there are still plenty of unanswered questions - what prompted the drive in the first place, and why was it called off so abruptly? Even more curious is the low profile Mega's leadership has been taking; the announcements of the pledge drive and of its cancellation came from Pulse staffers, not from CEO Alex Shvarts, and the normally outspoken Shvarts hasn't been heard from at all during the latest series of events. Apart from a one-line posting to his Facebook page on Monday, he's had no public comment, and even the station's passionate fans, who've been outspoken about the latest developments on all the usual message boards, say they've heard nothing at all from Mega management to clear up what's going on. Mega's stock dipped below a penny per share last week, closing at $0.008 per share, and the company has now pulled back from its ambitious expansion plans for "Pulse." Mega had earlier announced that it wasn't going ahead with plans to launch "Pulse" on channel 6 LPTVs in Chicago and Los Angeles, and last week it dropped its plans to put the format on a channel 6 LPTV in the Washington, DC market.
  • After a tumultuous week in MASSACHUSETTS radio, things got back down to business as Boston's WBCN (104.1) prepared for its final farewell. The station's swan song will take place over four days, starting Saturday, August 8 and wrapping up Tuesday, August 11 with the three-way flip that sends WBCN to HD2 retirement on 98.5-2, moves "Mix" WBMX from 98.5 to 104.1, and launches the new all-sports "Sports Hub" WBZ-FM on 98.5's main channel.
  • There's a physical move coming as well: by early August, Mix will have finished its move from 1200 Soldiers Field Road, next door to WBZ-TV/WSBK-TV/WBZ(AM), down the road to the CBS Radio cluster studio at 83 Leo Birmingham Parkway in the former WSBK studio building - and that will end some two decades of radio at 1200 Soldiers Field Road, starting with WBOS (92.9), which was joined there by WSSH (99.5, later WOAZ) before those stations moved out and WBMX moved in as part of the big cluster shuffles of the late '90s.
  • The public broadcaster serving northwest PENNSYLVANIA is warning that its impending removal from the cable lineup in London, Ontario could be the last straw forcing it to close down. WQLN-TV (Channel 54)/WQLN-FM (91.3) has already been hit hard by budget cutbacks, including an $800,000 hit in state funding that forced the station to lay off staffers and cut pay for remaining employees. Losing its 1700 members across Lake Erie in London would reduce the station's donations by about 20%, says president Dwight Miller, removing another $150,000-$200,000 from the station's already tight budget. "It would seriously jeopardize our ability to stay open," Miller told the Erie Times-News last week, forcing WQLN to put itself up for sale or to investigate consolidating with other public broadcasters. WQLN says it's investigating the possibility of a fiber connection to Rogers Cable in London to replace the off-air pickup that Rogers says has been unreliable, leading to its decision to replace WQLN with Detroit's WTVS, effective August 18.
  • Today is the last day for AM radio in the largest city in CANADA's Maritimes, as CFDR (Kixx 780) in Halifax, Nova Scotia signs off, ending a 46-year run that's found the station on 790 and 680 as well as its current dial position. It appears that the CFDR staff, including morning host Frank Lowe, won't be making the move from current owner Newcap over to Rogers, which bought the AM license so it could be moved to FM as "Lite" CKLT (92.9), which officially launches today. (It's not yet clear whether CKLT will simulcast on the old AM frequency for a transition period, though we'd suspect they won't.)

July 25, 2005 -

  • As Boston's WBZ-TV (Channel 4) fights to regain the ratings dominance it once held in eastern MASSACHUSETTS, it will do so under a new news director. Last week, the station sent ND Matt Ellis packing, two years after Ellis replaced longtime news director Peter Brown. For the moment, newsroom veteran Jen Street is running things until a permanent replacement for Ellis is named.
  • NEW YORK may soon have one fewer analog TV signal, as the owners of WLNY-TV (Channel 55) in Patchogue apply to turn off their analog signal and go digital-only (on channel 57 for now, though they'll have to move from that interim channel in a few years.) Here's the back story - the spectrum that's now UHF channels 52-59 is being reallocated out of broadcast use, and the FCC has already auctioned several of those channels to new users, even though they won't be able to occupy them right away. A subsidiary of Qualcomm landed what's now channels 55 and 56, and they're now making offers to stations on those channels to speed up the transition and abandon analog TV earlier than scheduled. It's a pretty good bet, we think, that very few of WLNY's viewers are watching the over-the-air analog signal, and for everyone else watching on cable or satellite, the station will remain available as usual.
  • By our count, this would be the third analog TV station in NERW-land to go digital-only, following the leads of WRNN in Kingston and WMCN in Atlantic City, N.J. Both of those stations abandoned analog transmitters in favor of DTV signals that were substantially closer to their target markets of New York and Philadelphia, and thus gained more cable must-carry than they would have enjoyed otherwise. (That won't be the case for WLNY, which is already available on cable as far afield as Rockland County and parts of northern New Jersey.)
  • Heading upstate, Albany's WAMC completed its takeover of WRUN (1150 Utica) last week, returning the signal to the air after a few days of silence. It's now the westernmost link in the WAMC public radio network, which stretches north to Plattsburgh, south to Middletown and east to central Connecticut and Massachusetts.

July 31, 2000 -

  • After just a few months as a public radio outlet, the lone AM station in Bennington, VERMONT is about to return to commercial operation. WBTN (1370) came along with Vermont Public Radio's purchase of WBTN-FM (94.3) from Belva Keyworth last winter, and for the moment, VPR had been using the AM mostly to simulcast the FM, breaking away for a few minutes of local news, commentary, and death notices on weekday mornings. VPR announced this week that it will sell 1370, and the new owner should be familiar to anyone who's ever put a piece of professional broadcasting gear in a carrying case. Those blue canvas camera covers and bags come from Porta-Brace of North Bennington -- whose owner, Robert Howe, will soon buy WBTN(AM) from VPR to continue operating it as a local voice for Bennington County. "WBTN-AM is in good hands with Bob Howe and I'm sure he will be successful in operating this legacy station that the Bennington community supports so strongly," said VPR president Mark Vogelzang,
  • Staying north for another moment, we see that the FCC has flagged the Clear Channel purchases in the Bangor market for ownership-cap review. By the way, we miscounted in our estimate of what Communications Capital Managers paid for the six stations involved -- it was actually just over $13 million, for a tidy profit of just under $7 million from the sale.
  • The big news this week in MASSACHUSETTS is the impending departure of Charles Laquidara. The Big Mattress' finale on WZLX (100.7 Boston) comes on Friday (8/4), and Charles will have a busy week leading up to the last show -- from being honored with a star on the Tower Records sidewalk on Monday to an open house Wednesday night at the Hard Rock Cafe. (Which reminds us...NERW would very much like to hear from anyone in WZLX signal range able to tape the last Laquidara shows; read on to see why we won't have the NERW-mobile parked in the shadow of the Pru ourselves.)
  • It must be "end of an era" week, as over on the TV side, WCVB (Channel 5) announced its post-Chet'n'Nat lineups. Just as the last issue was going to press, GM Paul La Camera spake thusly: Natalie Jacobson will do the 5 and 6 PM shows, the former with Anthony Everett and the latter solo. In between, Everett and Heather Kahn continue on the 5:30, and both return at 11. What of Jacobson's former (on- and off-air) partner, Chet Curtis? He'll anchor Sunday nights with Pam Cross, as well as doing in-depth reports for channel 5 and its Web presence. Just to add to the fun, a new news director is also on the way to 5 TV Place: Coleen Marren comes to WCVB from Hearst-Argyle sister station WISN-TV (Channel 12) in Milwaukee. She starts August 22.
  • Meanwhile over at WBZ-TV (Channel 4), the new post-Liz Walker lineup shakes out like this: With Walker now doing the noon show and going home to her son, Joe Shortsleeve and Lisa Hughes take the 5 and 11, Ted Wayman and Sara Underwood handle the 5:30, and Hughes does the 6 with Jack Williams.

New England Radio Watch, July 26, 1995

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