August 2, 2010
CRTC Pulls the Plug on CHSC
*Regulators in CANADA don't often
revoke a broadcast license, but the case of Pellpropco Inc. and
CHSC (1220 St. Catharines) has been an unusual one for the CRTC.
Ever since Pellpropco took over the station in 2002, it's
been in the CRTC's crosshairs for a series of what appeared to
be pretty serious violations of Commission policies, most notably
an unauthorized shift of format from the English-language music
format specified on its license to Italian-language programming
aimed not at St. Catharines and the Niagara region but rather
at the much larger Toronto market just up the QEW.
CRTC has been patient with Pellpropco, issuing short-term license
renewals while waiting to see if CHSC would correct the violations,
but now the agency's patience has run out. After calling CHSC
to two hearings (one in Orillia in 2008, then in Toronto earlier
this year), the CRTC has denied CHSC's license renewal, ordering
the station to be off the air by August 31.
In denying the renewal, the Commission said that it is not
convinced that Pellpropco and its owner, Domenic Pellegrino,
have "the ability and capacity to put its house in order
and, generally, to operate its station responsibly and to fulfil
its regulatory obligations and conditions of licence."
The last straw turned out to be a fairly small one: among
the promises that the CRTC extracted from Pellpropco at the 2008
Orillia hearing was the guarantee that CHSC would program at
least 20 minutes of news each Saturday and Sunday aimed at the
St. Catharines area. But when the CRTC reviewed logger tapes
at its 2010 Toronto hearing, it found that there was no local
weekend news - and it wasn't buying CHSC's explanation that its
local news anchor was out sick that day. (Indeed, the CRTC told
CHSC that it believed several of the "staffers" the
station claimed to have recently hired had been put on the payroll
just for the sake of demonstrating compliance at the Toronto
Then there's the matter of a main studio, which CHSC hasn't
had in St. Catharines since losing its old 36 Queenston Street
building to foreclosure in 2008. The CRTC says it's not convinced
that Pellpropco has any real intention of building a new local
studio. "In fact," the CRTC writes in the
denial, "the licensees explanations for non-compliance,
steps toward compliance and proposed remedies seem to have been
made in haste, leaving the Commission unconvinced as to the seriousness
with which the licensee takes its regulatory obligations, as
well as its ability and willingness to bring the station into
The last time the CRTC denied a license renewal was at Quebec
City's CHOI, which sparred with the CRTC over a controversial
morning show. In that case, political pressure forced the CRTC
to keep CHOI alive under a new licensee. In this case, it's more
likely that the 1220 frequency will indeed go silent at month's
end - and it's still an open question as to when or if another
broadcaster might apply to reactivate the channel.
CHSC fades out, there's a new station on Nova Scotia's south
shore. CJHK (100.7 Bridgewater) signed on last week as "Hank
FM," with a country format complementing sister station
CKBW (98.1), which was itself a country signal back in its AM
days. The launch of "Hank" comes with a studio move,
too, as both stations relocate to new digs at 135 North Street.
In Montreal, Canadian Hellenic Radio is testing CKIN (106.3),
the new ethnic sister station to its CKDG (105.1).
And Dan Sys' Canadian Radio News reports a call change
near Montreal as well: CFAV (1570 Laval) is now CJLV.
CALENDAR 2011 - IT'S ON THE WAY!
Production is underway on Tower Site Calendar
2011, starting with that fantastic cover image of New
York's Mount Beacon.
That's just one of more than a dozen thrilling
new pictures, spanning the globe (or at least the continent)
from Seattle to Tijuana to Georgia to Rochester.)
And if you order now, you'll be at the
top of the list to get your 2011 calendar as soon as they're
back from the printer, just before Labor Day.
We've still got a limited supply of Tower
Site Calendar 2010 as well - plus the signed, limited-edition
version of the 2011 calendar and much more in the fybush.com
(We've got special discounts for bulk orders,
too - they make great gifts for your business colleagues or friends...)
now at the fybush.com Store!
*PENNSYLVANIA has never been a hotbed
of Spanish-language radio, but a fast-growing national Spanish
network is getting cleared on Philadelphia radio beginning today,
as Beasley pulls the business talk format off daytimer WWDB (860)
in favor of ESPN Deportes.
arrival of ESPN Deportes will bring a second Spanish-language
signal to Philadelphia, complementing Clear Channel's "Rumba
1480" (WUBA), which is itself the remnant of an earlier
failed experiment with Spanish-language radio on a full-power
FM signal (WUBA-FM 104.5, now WRFF). And it's apparently part
of a larger deal between Beasley and ESPN to put the Deportes
programming on Beasley signals in other markets, including Atlanta
(where Beasley owns WAEC 860 and WWWE 1100) and Boston (where
Beasley owns just one station, brokered-time WRCA 1330), though
no official announcements have been made yet about clearances
in those markets. (Monday morning update
- The Atlanta and Boston piece of the deal turns out not to involve
ESPN Deportes, but rather a national sales rep agreement between
Beasley's Spanish-language AMs and Katz's Univision Radio National
Sales division. Thanks to Mark at BRW for the heads-up...)
In Philadelphia, the WWDB deal will split ESPN programming
between Greater Media, which runs English-language ESPN Radio
on WPEN (950) and WPEN-FM (97.5 Burlington NJ), and Beasley;
ironically, WPEN and WWDB have another close relationship - WPEN's
nighttime AM transmitter site is the same four-tower array in
East Norriton that WWDB uses during daytime hours.
*Up the dial at WHAT (1340 Philadelphia), Missy Stein is out
from her 9-10 AM talk show, "What's Up with Missy."
The station will run its regular standards format in that slot
Scranton, it's a long-awaited return to normalcy for public station
WVIA-FM (89.9), which suffered a devastating fire at its Penobscot
Mountain transmitter site five months ago. Since then, the FM
station has remained on the air with a lower-powered temporary
signal from a transmitter in a trailer next to the gutted transmitter
building, but on Tuesday at noon WVIA will resume full-power
operation from a renovated transmitter facility that will eventually
be home to the WVIA-TV facilities as well. (The DTV station has
been using the former interim digital facilities of its neighbor
WNEP-TV in the interim.)
With the return to full power at WVIA comes a return to HD
Radio broadcasting - and for the first time, simulcaster WVYA
(89.7 Williamsport) will also be broadcasting in HD, complete
with a second multicast stream.
"Recovery from such a technical catastrophe is an enormous
undertaking and WVIA thanks our members and listeners for their
patience and encouragement," said the station in announcing
the return to full power.
*There's a new station moving into the Erie market as part
of a sale. Frank Iorio's Iorio Broadcasting struck a deal last
week to sell WNAE-FM (102.7 Clarendon) to Family Life Ministries,
which has become one of the biggest broadcast groups in western
New York and northern Pennsylvania. But there's an interesting
twist: the $400,000 sale of the class A station hinges on FCC
approval of an application that's yet to be filed. The application
would move 102.7 from the Warren area west to Wattsburg, Pennsylvania,
which sits right at the corner where the New York/Pennsylvania
state line turns from north-south to east-west, less than 20
miles from downtown Erie.
Assuming the FCC approves WNAE's move, it would give Family
Life its first full-power signal into Erie, which has long been
served by Family Life translator signals.
(WNAE-FM has been simulcasting Iorio's "Kinzua Country"
WKNB (104.3 Clarendon), which covers pretty much the same area.)
*A veteran Pittsburgh-area personality has retired after an
amazing 44 years at the same spot on the dial. Barry Banker's
association with the 620 spot on the AM dial dates back to the
station's days as WHJB in Greensburg, and he's remained with
620 in its current incarnation as Irwin-licensed WKHB. Friday
was Banker's last day at WKHB and sister station WKFB (770 Jeannette);
replacing him in the morning slot at KHB is Bill Korch, who moves
over from the PD chair at WEDO (810 McKeesport). Another KHB/KFB
veteran, oldies jock Frankie Day, will do mornings alongside
As for Banker, he'll stay involved with KHB/KFB on a part-time
basis, doing the weekend public affairs show and perhaps some
sales as well.
*Pittsburgh radio newsman Bob Sprague has died. Sprague started
in radio in 1959 in State College just after he graduated from
Penn State, and he quickly moved up from WMAJ to Pittsburgh's
WTAE, KDKA and eventually KQV, where he spent most of his career.
Sprague died July 17 at age 70.
In Philadelphia, they're mourning J.J. Maura, the longtime
voice of WCAU-TV (Channel 10), who died Wednesday at 61 after
a battle with cancer. Maura had been with WCAU for 20 years,
and before that had worked at Philadelphia's WIP, Pittsburgh's
KQV and Allentown's WAEB.
DO IT RIGHT PRODUCTIONS --
Visit our Web site, doitrightproductions.net,
to hear our three syndicated shows, Classic Clips, Country Roots
and Gospel Doings, produced by longtime country and bluegrass
lovers. We also provide demo and duplicating services. Contact
Roland (Bruce) Cutler, PO Box 351, Lyons, NY 14489; or firstname.lastname@example.org.
FM GEAR NEEDED -- Seeking two-bay low-power FM antennas
(Jampro, PSI, Dielectric or others) at 96.5. Also looking for
1 kW FM transmitter, tube type OK. We pay shipping. Contact Allen,
dba Alleo, email@example.com
or 770-300-9287 (8 AM-9 PM).
You can have
your ad here, for just a few dollars a week! Click
for information on the most economical way to reach tens of thousands
of Northeast radio and TV people each week.
*They called him "Mr. WENY," and
over a long career in Elmira, NEW YORK there wasn't much
that Steve Christy didn't do at WENY-TV (Channel 36) and WENY
radio (1230). Christy, whose real name was Stephan Grabijas,
joined the radio station in 1963 fresh off a stint at Fredonia's
WBUZ (1570) and an earlier gig at WNIA (1230 Cheektowaga) in
his native Buffalo. Once he arrived in Elmira, Christy remained
a part of WENY for almost 45 years, until his retirement just
two years ago, spending most of that time on the TV side.
was WENY-TV's first weatherman when the TV station signed on
in 1969, and he stayed in that role until 2000, when he moved
to the morning news anchor slot. Christy also hosted the local
segments of the Jerry Lewis telethon for 36 years.
Christy had been battling cancer when he died Thursday (July
29); he was 75.
And Bob Adams, who was the afternoon announcer on New York's
classical WNCN (104.3) for many years, died July 19 at the age
of 92. Adams, an Oklahoma native, had also worked at WBAI, WNYC
and WNEW during a half-century career in radio.
*In non-obituary news, Mark Scott is heading into his last
few weeks as news director at Buffalo's WBFO (88.7), but the
public station has a replacement already in place: assistant
ND Eileen Buckley, another veteran of the Buffalo news scene,
will take over as interim news director when Scott retires August
Scott is heading
off for a well-deserved European vacation, but he'll contribute
long-form reporting to WBFO when he returns to town in the fall.
And in Owego, there's a new station on the air. WHVM (91.9)
signed on June 11 from the Mount St. Francis Hermitage near Binghamton,
serving the area between Elmira and Binghamton with Catholic
programming. (The calls stand for "Holy Virgin Mary.")
*Anyone who still believes the old line about
a local TV license being a "license to print money"
might look to RHODE ISLAND for a reality check. That's
where Global Broadcasting of Southern New England filed for receivership
last week, the latest development in a long run of bad news for
WLNE (Channel 6), the perennial also-ran of the Providence TV
A court has named Providence attorney Matthew McGowan as receiver
for the ABC affiliate, and Global's attorneys say they intend
to keep WLNE going while Global reorganizes. But there was a
perceptible note of uncertainty in the statement from attorney
Allan Shine, who told Providence Business News, "We
are almost certain WLNE will not close."
Global paid just
$14 million for WLNE in 2007, but it's struggled to keep the
station afloat ever since. Last year, WLNE lost much of its syndicated
programming when it was unable to pay King World for shows such
as Dr. Phil and Entertainment Tonight, and the station has remained
firmly mired in third place (and occasionally fourth!) with its
*A MASSACHUSETTS program
director is moving to CONNECTICUT: Keith Dakin is leaving
WFNX (101.7 Lynn), where he's also been morning host, to join
Cox Media Group's cluster in Stamford and Norwalk as operations
manager. Dakin will oversee classic rock WFOX (95.9 Norwalk),
AC "Coast" WCTZ (96.7 Port Chester NY) and the news-talk
simulcast of WSTC (1400 Stamford)/WNLK (1350 Norwalk).
*And two unbuilt NEW HAMPSHIRE stations
now have callsigns: mark down WSCG (89.5 Dover) for the station
that will replace WSCA-LP (106.1 Portsmouth) and WUKV (97.1 Colebrook)
for what will become an EMF "K-Love" outlet in the
north country once it signs on.
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 3 & 10, 2009 -
- Even as CBS Radio puts 41 years of rock radio out to pasture
(or at least out to an HD2 channel, which is pretty much the
same thing), the station's not going quietly. Current and former
staffers, including legendary WBCN names such as longtime PD
Oedipus and long-ago jock Peter Wolf of J. Geils Band fame, gathered
over the weekend for a farewell concert - and next weekend will
mark the start of a series of on-air farewell events leading
up to WBCN's final sign-off August 12.
- Behind the scenes, the wheels are turning quickly on the
transition, including a sequence of studio moves that took WBMX
(98.5 Boston) from its 1200 Soldiers Field Road studios to a
new studio on the top floor of CBS Radio's 83 Leo Birmingham
Parkway facility over the weekend. But by the time "Mix
98.5" made it down the road to Birmingham Parkway (the old
TV 38 building), it wasn't "WBMX" any longer. CBS quietly
changed 98.5's calls from WBMX to WBMX-FM late last week, the
first step in the series of call changes that will turn 98.5
into "Sports Hub" WBZ-FM.
- Here's how it all plays out: when WBMX became WBMX-FM, CBS
Radio also flipped WFNA (1660 Charlotte NC), one of its pair
of sports stations in the Charlotte market, to "WBMX"
- making it all but certain that the Charlotte 1660 signal will
end up being the spot where CBS parks the WBCN calls for safekeeping
come August 13, when WBMX-FM in Boston changes calls to WBZ-FM
and WBMX Charlotte and WBCN Boston swap calls, putting WBMX on
104.1 (as "Mix 104") and creating the cognitive dissonance
of "WBCN Charlotte" on the AM dial, for the tiny handful
of people who notice such things.
- The latest high-profile Boston pirate FM has been visited
by the FCC. "WPOT Hot 97.5" signed on in mid-July on
a particularly poorly-chosen frequency, right next door to Entercom's
WAAF relay, WKAF (97.7 Brockton). It didn't take long for agents
from the Quincy field office to track the signal to One Westinghouse
Plaza in Hyde Park - and to issue a Notice of Unlicensed Operation
to the building's landlord, Motherbrook LLC/The Hamilton Co.
Will pressure on the landlord get "WPOT" off the air
- or will it join other unlicensed signals like "Touch 106"
as long-term survivors on the Boston dial, much to the chagrin
of the city's licensed operators?
- The crisis that threatened to cost two small PBS stations
in NEW YORK and PENNSYLVANIA much of their viewer and donor bases
was averted late last week. WPBS-TV (Channel 16) in Watertown
and WQLN-TV (Channel 54) in Erie faced the loss of their large
and loyal audiences in Ottawa and London, Ontario, respectively,
when Rogers Cable announced it was planning to replace its over-the-air
pickups of those stations' signals with the feed of Detroit's
PBS station, WTVS (Channel 56), that's already on Rogers' fiber
backbone across much of Ontario. Viewers in both London and Ottawa
responded with protests to Rogers, and the Canadian cable giant
agreed to keep WPBS and WQLN on its systems if the U.S.-based
stations could arrange for fiber feeds of their signals to Rogers'
Canadian headends. Both stations announced last week that they'll
move forward with those feeds, though they come at a significant
cost (north of $30,000 a year) at a time when the stations -
especially WQLN - are facing budget shortfalls and cuts in state
- They call it "Happy Valley," but rock fans in State
College, PENNSYLVANIA won't be happy if they try to tune to "QWK
Rock" (WQWK 103.1 State College) this morning - there's
word that Forever Broadcasting is flipping the station to a simulcast
of news-talk WRSC (1390 State College). This was the second incarnation
of WQWK; its previous facility on 97.1 was traded away to 2510
Licenses a few years back.
August 1, 2005 -
- There are some nervous programmers in NEW YORK, and around
the country, awaiting the aftermath of the settlement between
state attorney general Elliot Spitzer and Sony Music over payola
charges. While Sony's $10 million payment, coupled with an assurance
that it will change its practices, gets the company off the hook
with Spitzer's office, the e-mails that Spitzer's office dug
up as part of its investigation will likely lead to more investigations,
both by the FCC and by some of the broadcasters accused of accepting
- Among the stations whose call letters appeared in the e-mails
were Boston's WXKS and WBCN (where Sony apparently paid for a
staff dinner for former PD Oedipus), Albany's WFLY and WKKF (where
Sony supplied a $1400 laptop to former PD Donny Michaels), Hartford's
WKSS, Buffalo's WKSE (where PD Dave Universal was ousted earlier
in the payola investigation, and where the e-mails suggest that
even Sony was finding Universal excessively greedy) and Rochester's
WPXY (where an e-mail from PD Mike Danger admits "i'm a
whore this week. what can i say?")
- In MASSACHUSETTS, Qantum Communications announced a $10 million
spinoff of three Cape Cod stations that it can't keep because
of ownership caps. Nassau will enter the Cape market with the
purchase of classic rock WPXC (102.9 Hyannis) and oldies WDVT
(93.5 Harwich Port)/WTWV (101.1 Mashpee) - and that starts the
rumor mill spinning, since Nassau's not a company that tends
to be happy with just three signals in a market.
- In Boston, former WBIX (1060 Natick) owner Brad Bleidt pleaded
guilty to mail fraud and money laundering charges last week,
which will land him behind bars for 11 years when he's sentenced
August 7, 2000 -
- As (WBCN's Charles Laquidara) says goodbye, a new TV station
says "hello." WHUB-TV (Channel 66) Marlborough made
its debut with a "Cheers"-heavy lineup of syndicated
shows on Tuesday (August 1); expect the USA Broadcasting outlet
to get heavily into the bidding wars for local sports in the
months to come.
- In NEW YORK's Southern Tier, Vox is growing yet again (with
the rumor mill hinting that it's preparing for an eventual sale).
The latest additions to Vox's growing cluster down that way are
Magnum's WMNS (1360) and WMXO (101.5) in Olean, and just across
the state line, the former WRLP (103.1 Russell PA), newly renamed
- We hear Clear Channel will step in and buy Binghamton's WINR
(680) from dentist Paul Titus, now that Titus' deal to sell the
standards station to Citadel is no more. CC already has four
FMs in the market, plus sports AM WENE (1430 Endicott); we wonder
what the strategy behind the (reportedly $2 million) purchase
will be? (Late word is that an LMA kicked in August 1, with the
deal to close this fall.)
- Radio people on the move: Ellis B. Feaster has packed the
moving van and he's on the way out of Rochester for the second
time in a few years. Feaster leaves the morning show at oldies
WBBF (98.9) for a job at Cox country giant WWKA (92.3) in Orlando,
Florida. Down in New York City, former WNEW (102.7) jock Dennis
Elsas has resurfaced at the low end of the dial, where he's signed
on for afternoon drive at Fordham University's cool AAA WFUV
- The word from VERMONT is that, yes indeed, country WLFE-FM
(102.3 St. Albans) has LMA'd AM 1070 across the lake in Plattsburgh
NY and is operating it as WLFE(AM). The irony here? Former WLFE
owner John Kimel checked in to remind us that back in the early
80s, he flipped the FM to country in an attempt to steal the
market share of...AM 1070 in Plattsburgh, then known as WKDR.
(Burlington's 100kw 98.9 spoiled the fun a few years later when
it switched from CHR as WQCR to country as WOKO.)
- NEW HAMPSHIRE's most powerful AM station is changing hands.
WDER (1320 Derry) is being sold by Spacetown Communications to
Blount Communications -- the same folks who own WBCI (105.9 Bath)
in Maine, WVNE (760 Leicester) in Central Mass., and WARV (1590
Warwick) in Rhode Island. No word yet on a sale price, and we
don't expect any change in WDER's religious format. (And before
we hear from Bob Vinikoor: yes, his 50kw CP for WQTH 720 in Hanover
will be the most powerful Granite State AM when it takes the
air; for now, WDER's 10kw daytime wins the prize.)
New England Radio Watch, August 8, 1995
can sponsor this weekly feature! Click here for information!
- WLYT, 92.5 in Haverhill MA, has taken a dive into "The
River." That's the station's new nickname as of Monday morning,
8/1. Format for the 35kw powerhouse 35 miles north of Boston
is the AAA-80s pop sort of mix they've been using for the last
few weeks. A call letter change is reportedly in the works. This
is an exciting breath of life for a station that's been largely
ignored, despite a solid class B signal that rimshots Boston
and is solid in the Merrimack Valley area along the Mass-NH border,
where the other FMs (WSSH 99.5 Lowell, WEGQ 93.7 Lawrence) are
now operating out of Boston, at least as far as studios are concerned.
- The big media deals of the last two days are having their
aftershocks in New England. The ABC-Disney deal won't change
much, since ABC has been busy selling its properties here. WPRO
AM-FM Providence went to Tele-Media a year or so ago, and CapCities/ABC's
several newspapers in Connecticut have been sold off as well.
CBS/Westinghouse is another story. The deal creates an immediate
AM-FM-TV combo in Boston - Group W's WBZ AM-TV and CBS's WODS
FM. Look for "Oldies 103" to move from downtown Boston
to BZ's newly-expanded building.
Westinghouse also ends up in line to get WPRI-TV 12 in Providence,
which CBS has applied to buy from Narragansett Broadcasting.
Since WPRI-TV and WBZ-TV have significant overlap, a waiver will
- Layoffs at WGBH: Boston's public broadcasting behemoth is
laying off 25 staffers, citing budget problems. Meanwhile, listeners
upset over planned schedule changes that will reduce daytime
classical programming in favor of news are forming a listeners'
group to protest the move. The big issue: the planned cancellation
of Ron Della Chiesa's afternoon "MusicAmerica" program.
NorthEast Radio Watch is made possible by the generous
contributions of our regular readers. If you enjoy NERW, please
click here to
learn how you can help make continued publication possible. NERW
2010 by Scott Fybush.