August 9, 2010
Boston's WUMB Seeks Big Growth
*Eastern MASSACHUSETTS is already
a pretty busy place for public radio. Regular NERW readers are
well-acquainted with the format war that's now underway as big
guns WBUR-FM (90.9 Boston) and WGBH (89.7 Boston) vie for listeners
for their competing news-talk programming.
But over on the music side, Boston's number-three public radio
station is embarking on a big-time capital campaign designed
to stake out a more prominent position in the region's noncommercial
WUMB-FM (91.9 Boston)
will kick off a five-year, $7 million capital campaign at a gala
fundraiser on the UMass Boston campus Wednesday night, featuring
a catered dinner and performances by Judy Collins and Tom Rush.
What's the money for? WUMB says the campaign "will fund
new studio and offices for WUMB, provide a place for musicians
to play on air in front of a live audience, improve the station's
studio equipment, improve and expand the station's broadcast
signals, create additional Internet streams, take advantage of
new technologies, digitize the station's archive collection,
acquire and digitize additional music archives, make the archives
available to the community for enjoyment and research, create
music education spaces for children, teens and adults, fund paid
internships for UMass Boston students and, support the WUMB Endowment."
The station (and its satellite signals on the North Shore,
in Worcester and on the Cape) has already been through some big
transformations in recent years, moving from its roots in acoustic
folk music to a broader-based AAA format. And it's about to add
a new signal: WUMG (91.7 Stow) just got its call letters assigned,
and will soon be on the air as a share-time operation with WAVM
(91.7 Maynard) at Maynard High School, bring at least a part-time
WUMB signal to an area northwest of Boston.
*In CONNECTICUT, cutbacks have claimed
two-thirds of the morning show at WCCC-FM (106.9 Hartford), where
Mike Picozzi's still standing but co-hosts Holden Johnson and
Mary Scanlon are out, leaving Picozzi and Miss Klonk doing mornings.
Several Nutmeg State applications were part of the FCC's latest
batch of "tentative preferences" for competing noncommercial
FM applications from the last window back in 2007. A Catholic
applicant, the Academy of St. Therese, prevailed in the fight
for 89.5 along the Connecticut/Rhode Island state line as the
FCC selected its Pawcatuck application as the winner. (It was
a good week for Pawcatuck: the FCC also granted the application
from WBMW 106.5 to change city of license from Ledyard to Pawcatuck
and to upgrade its power from class A to B1; sister station WWRX
107.7 will stay put, but with a COL change from Pawcatuck to
*VERMONT Public Radio,
which has long sought a full-power signal in the Brattleboro
area, will finally get one as a result of the FCC's latest batch
of noncommercial tentative selections. VPR's application for
88.9 in Brattleboro edged out four other applicants for Brattleboro
and adjoining areas in NEW HAMPSHIRE.
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*In western NEW YORK, Buffalo's "Totally
Gospel" group has ended its lease of Citadel's WHLD (1270
Niagara Falls) after four years of programming that signal with
black gospel music. WHLD is carrying an automated standards format
for now - and the Totally Gospel folks, who'd been programming
WHLD from the historic Churchill Tabernacle building at 1420
Main Street that was the original home of WKBW-TV, have taken
their programming to streaming-only for now. Their ultimate goal,
at least according to a new page on their website, is to secure
an FM frequency in western New York for the format.
Ithaca's ESPN affiliate
is getting new owners, but Todd and Tina Mallinson are familiar
faces at WPIE (1160 Trumansburg), where Todd has been the PD
for a while now. The Mallinsons are doing business as "Taughannock
Media, LLC" as they buy the station from Pembrook Pines,
Inc. for $150,000. There's already a JSA in place between Taughannock
and Pembrook Pines.
Near Hornell, Equinox Broadcasting's WZHD (97.1 Canaseraga)
took a big downgrade so it could get on the air last fall ahead
of the impending expiration of its construction permit. But with
that deadline now passed, WZHD is asking the FCC for a construction
permit to increase its 100-watt signal to something closer to
full class A facilities: 3.9 kW/312' DA, with a big notch to
the east to protect WYXL (97.3 Ithaca).
New York's CBS-owned AM and TV stations are describing their
new internet portal as a work in progress - but a visit to "wfan.com"
or "1010wins.com" already redirects to the new "CBSNewYork.com,"
which will combine content (and eyeballs) from WFAN, WCBS, WINS
and WCBS-TV, each of which has had its own separate site until
Meanwhile, New York's Fox TV flagship spent most of the weekend
off the air - sort of. In today's world of multiple distribution
paths, WNYW (Channel 5) continued to reach most of its viewers
on cable and satellite despite a transmitter failure, and even
its over-the-air viewers continued to have access to Fox programming,
at least in standard definition, via the "5.2" subchannel
that actually goes out over the RF channel 38 transmitter of
sister station WWOR (Channel 9).
Out on Long Island, we're hearing that the transmitters are
being removed from the former WNYG (1440 Babylon), and while
the license still remains alive for the moment, complete with
a construction permit to move the station east to Medford, the
62-year-old AM voice that was once WBAB(AM) won't be returning
to the airwaves.
Got swag? Here in Rochester,
your editor is part of the committee that's planning this year's
convention for two prominent DX clubs, the National Radio Club
and the Worldwide TV-FM Association. They're coming to town August
27-29, and if your station (or broadcast-related company) has
any bumper stickers, keychains, T-shirts, or anything else you'd
like to add to the convention's big door-prize pile, we'd love
to have them. (Contact your editor for a mailing address...)
Where are they now? Robin Marshall, late of "Fresh 102.7"
(WWFS) in New York City, has relocated from Long Island to Charlotte,
North Carolina, where she's continuing her VO business and now
pulling a couple of weekend shifts on Greater Media's WLNK (107.9
the Link). She's got a new book out, too - "Is This Thing
On?" chronicles some of the more amusing moments in the
careers of some well-known radio folks, and we should really
get our hands on a copy.
From the obituary files, via CNYRadio.com,
comes word that former WTVH (Channel 5) weatherman Jack Slater
died July 25. Slater was a Syracuse University graduate who had
a long run at WTVH in the seventies. Slater, who'd been living
in Florida, was 76.
And Kerry Richards, who was chief engineer of WOR (710) during
much of the station's big move of its studio and transmitter
sites earlier this decade, died last weekend, far too young.
Richards came to WOR in 1996 after working in the theatrical
projection business; he moved on from WOR to Susquehanna/Cumulus
in San Francisco in 1996, and then to the Regent/TownSquare cluster
in Fort Collins, Colorado. Richards developed an infection on
his arm that spread to his heart. He was just 58.
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*In northwestern PENNSYLVANIA, WNAE-FM
(102.7 Clarendon) hasn't officially changed hands yet, but buyer
Family Life Radio has already filed its application to relocate
the class A station to Wattsburg, along the New York-Pennsylvania
border on the fringe of the Erie market. The station's new facilities
would be 3.5 kW/433' from a new tower right on the state line,
just far enough from Erie to be fully spaced from WQHZ (102.3
Moving from the
Pennsylvania/New York line to the Pennsylvania/Ohio line, Cumulus
is one big step closer to a long-delayed move that would shift
WWIZ (103.9 Mercer) closer to Youngstown, Ohio. "Rock 104"
has been trying for some years now to move closer to the larger
population base on the Ohio side of the line, most recently with
a 2007 application to change city of license from Mercer to West
Middlesex, just a couple of miles east of the state line.
That 2007 application stalled out when it ran afoul of FCC
rules barring city-of-license changes for clusters that are already
grandfathered over ownership limits. But where there's a DC communications
lawyer, there's a way - and in 2008, Cumulus quietly redrew the
boundaries of the Youngstown Arbitron radio market to exclude
several outlying stations, thus putting its cluster under the
ownership caps and making a WWIZ move possible. That set the
clock running on the Commission's two-year waiting period, but
Cumulus is patient. In January, it reapplied (as soon as it was
eligible to do so) to move WWIZ to West Middlesex, and last week
the move was granted.
WWIZ won't move its physical facilities when the change takes
effect, but we'd expect another application to be filed soon,
probably shifting the transmitter site across the state line
into Ohio Media Watch
Pittsburgh's WQED-TV (Channel 13) is reworking its "OnQ"
nightly public-affairs lineup. Starting in November, WQED will
offer five separate weekly shows in the 7:30 PM "OnQ"
slot: Mondays will be "Experience," a local take on
PBS' "American Experience"; Tuesdays will feature "Horizons,"
a replacement for the weekly "Black Horizons" show
that's been running on WQED since 1968; Wednesdays will be Rick
Sebak's "It's Pittsburgh and a Lot of Other Stuff,"
a short-form version of the popular documentaries he's been producing
for years; Thursdays will be "Pittsburgh 360," looking
at health, the environment, science and technology; and Fridays
will be "4802," a replacement for the weekly "OffQ"
roundtable discussions featuring local reporters.
The FCC's noncommercial "tentative preference" machine
cranked out three new Keystone State signals last week: Invisible
Allies Ministries' application for 89.3 in Beech Creek prevailed
over three others for nearby Lock Haven (which inexplicably appeared
as "Lockhaven, PA" on two of the applications and as
"Lockhaven, NY" on the FCC ruling announcing the tentative
preferences), while North Carolina-based Bible Broadcasting Network's
application for Leesville beat out three other applicants for
88.3 in the Reading area. And Four Rivers Community Broadcasting
edged out Harrisburg's WITF, the city of York and three other
applicants on both sides of the Pennsylvania/Maryland state line
to win a "tentative preference" for 90.7 in Spring
Grove, just north of Hanover.
And while we're down by the Mason-Dixon line, we bid farewell
this week to a Keystone State AM station: WHGT (1590 Chambersburg)
has been transmitting from a temporary site across the state
line in Maryland ever since the former WCBG lost its old Chambersburg
site to development. Now the station, licensed to the Emmanuel
Baptist Temple in Hagerstown, has filed for a license to cover
its new 15 kW day/58 watts night facility, licensed to Maugansville,
Maryland - which means it's now up to Dave Hughes and DCRTV
to cover it, if he so chooses...
*If it was a quiet week in the northeastern
US (and it was), it was a fairly busy one in CANADA, where
the CBC told the CRTC it won't be ready for the DTV transition
planned for next summer. The CBC submitted a modified transition
plan last week, asking regulators for an additional year (until
August 31, 2012) to get its digital signals on the air in a dozen
places around the country, including English-language transmitters
in Windsor, Saint John/Fredericton, Charlottetown, Halifax and
In Quebec, Cogeco
is asking the CRTC for a waiver of its common-ownership policy
as part of its planned purchase of most of Corus' radio stations
in the province. Cogeco says that only by owning three French-language
FM stations can it sustain the cost of operating CHMP (98.5),
the last privately-owned Francophone talk station left standing
in Montreal. Cogeco also says it will sell off two Quebec City
signals, CJEC (Rhythme FM 91.9) and CFEL (102.1 Montmagny). CFEL
is part of a three-station network that's been relaying Montreal's
CKOI (96.9); Cogeco says it would transform the Sherbrooke CKOI
relay, CKOY (104.5), into a rebroadcaster of French-language
sports-talk CKAC (730 Montreal) with no local advertising.
Three applications for new Ontario stations will be on the
CRTC's docket at an October 6 public hearing in Saskatoon: Debra
McLaughlin wants to put a AAA format on the air in Prince Edward
County, running 5 kW/492' on 89.5; Paul Lefebvre wants a new
French-language commercial station up in Nipissing, with 90 kW
DA/377' (51 kW average ERP); and Haliburton Broadcasting wants
to add to its resort-country holdings with an AC station in Barry's
Bay, south of Algonquin Provincial Park, running 12 kW/417' 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 8 & 15, 2005 -
- After a dozen years at Boston's WBZ (1030), morning reporter
Flo Jonic is out of work this week, sparking a controversy over
potential government intrusion into the newsgathering process
along the way. As both of Boston's big papers have reported,
Jonic was fired by WBZ management after sending an e-mail to
other newsroom staffers criticizing what she said was a decision
to shelve a story she had done on lax security at the FBI offices
in downtown Boston. That's about as much as all sides agree on,
though. Jonic says she was fired for opposing the decision to
keep the story off the air (which she says was prompted by a
phone call to management from the FBI). WBZ managers say Jonic
was fired for insubordination, for sending the e-mail to the
entire newsroom. They contend that the story was being readied
for promotion during the fall ratings period.
- Diane Sutter's making big plans for her new TV station, WNDS
(Channel 50) in Derry, NEW HAMPSHIRE. After 22 years as "The
WiNDS of New England," the independent station serving the
Boston market will change calls to WZMY when Sutter's Shooting
Star relaunches its operations this fall. Those calls stand for
"MyTV," and the Nashua Telegraph reports that Sutter's
plans include a nightly talk show called "My TV Prime"
and a rebranded newscast, "My TV Now." (And yes, never
fear, the station's signature personality, weatherman Al Kaprielian,
will still be a part of the broadcasts.)
- On the border between Vermont and NEW YORK, WZEC (97.5 Hoosick
Falls NY) has gone silent, as ownership passes from Pamal to
the religious broadcasters at WHAZ (1330 Troy). The station's
Bennington studio is closed, and it's applied for new calls WHAZ-FM
as it prepares to return to the air as the newest link in a network
that also includes WMNV (104.1 Rupert VT), WBAR (94.7 Lake Luzerne
NY) and WMYY (97.3 Schoharie NY).
- Just the other side of the state line, the FCC has dismissed
Pamal's application to buy WNYQ (105.7 Queensbury, soon to be
Malta) from Vox, citing market-concentration issues; while that's
causing the usual twittering on the message boards, we suspect
it's a paperwork issue (perhaps having to do with delays in Pamal's
spinoff of several other Albany-market FMs) that will be cleared
up soon enough.
- On the western side of the Albany market, WMHT (89.1 Schenectady)
has taken control of WBKK (97.7 Amsterdam), where commercial
classical programming was replaced with a simulcast of WMHT's
programming on Thursday (Aug. 4); 97.7 is expected to take the
all-classical mantle, and we'd expect more news and talk on 89.1
as the transition continues.
August 14, 2000 -
New England Radio Watch, August 11, 1995
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- A drive home along Mass. Route 2 Sunday night turned up one
surprise - the long-dormant CP for 97.3 A in Orange, Mass. is
now on the air. The CP was issued with the consecutive calls
WFUB (yes, it was the last one issued before Purdue University's
now-legendary WFUC-FM, since changed to the prosaic WBAA-FM :-).
A recent call change turned 97.3 into WJDF...which, interestingly
enough, are nearly identical calls to Massachusetts' other 97.3,
the 50kw Portuguese powerhouse WJFD in New Bedford.
- This leaves very few unbuilt Massachusetts CPs. I think WBSO
650 in Clinton (40 miles west of Boston) has been cancelled now.
WFPB 91.9 in Falmouth is a very recent CP, as is the yet-without-calls
91.1 Nantucket that will be public radio. WCDJ 102.3 in Truro
(outer Cape Cod) is getting pretty stale, and may well expire
before it can be built. Everything else is either on, or dark
and near-death (like Leominster's WCMX 1000 and Worcester's WNEB
1230 -- though the latter could actually return this fall).
- There's One Born Every Minute: Family Stations has actually
found a buyer for the now-dark 1060 WBIV Natick license. Loyal
readers will recall that 1060 had been owned by a company called
SRN Boston, which traded it for Family's CP for 890 WBMA Dedham-Boston.
SRN built the 890 facility by modifying its old 1060 facility
in Ashland, Mass., and then sold 890 to Douglas Broadcasting,
which now operates it as sports-talk WBPS. That left Family with
a useless 1060 license...useless because SRN and Douglas refused
to let 1060 diplex on what had been its transmitter site. Land
values in the area are extremely high, and the NIMBY factor still
higher, so the
odds that anyone will be able to erect the 5+ tower array needed
to bring 1060 back on with its old 25kw day are pretty slim.
All that notwithstanding, someone named Alexander Langer actually
spent 71 thousand dollars to buy the 1060 license. There's no
indication that Langer owns any other broadcast properties...and
I can't wait to see what he tries to do with 1060. My bet is
that we'll never see that thing on the air here again. (2010 update: Good thing I didn't put money
on that bet. As NERW readers know, Langer did resurrect 1060
as WMEX and then WBIX, and is now in the process of selling it
to Holy Family Communications.)
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2010 by Scott Fybush.