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August 23 & 30, 2010

Cornwall's CJUL Silenced

*An AM station going silent in CANADA has almost ceased to be a news item these days - but it's only in recent months that the drumbeat of AM-to-FM conversions has been joined by a steady drip of AM signals simply signing off for good.

Corus Radio led that new trend when it abruptly pulled the plug on Montreal's big-signal CINF (690) and CINW (940) a few months back. Last Wednesday, Corus even more abruptly turned off the 1000-watt AM signal of CJUL (1220) in Cornwall, Ontario, on the St. Lawrence River southwest of Montreal.

Corus officials tried to put the best possible face on the shutdown, saying the market had outgrown the little AM signal and that its news and information programming would be shifted to expanded newscasts on its remaining FM sister stations, CJSS (101.9) and CFLG (104.5), but the shutdown nevertheless meant job cuts, including CJUL morning man John Bolton and news reporter Shannon Simpson. By Thursday morning, crews were already on hand tearing down the two AM 1220 towers, which were reportedly in seriously deteriorated condition.

CJUL's shutdown marked the second time in just over a decade that Cornwall had lost a station on 1220: in 1999, the veteran station on that frequency, CJSS, moved to FM, clearing the way for then-owner Tri-Co to apply for a new 1220 signal using the old CJSS facilities, which signed on the following year as CJUL. (Cornwall had also once had a second AM station, French-language CFIX 1170, which left the air in 1983.)

And in another odd bit of irony, CJUL will be one of two Ontario stations on 1220 to go dark in August; at least as we go to press, CHSC (1220 St. Catharines) doesn't appear to be fighting the CRTC's decision not to renew its license when it expires August 31.

*However dead AM radio may be in Cornwall, it's at least fondly remembered down the St. Lawrence Seaway in Kingston, where the last AM signals went dark a couple of years ago.

One of those AM-to-FM moves was CFFX, which went from oldies on 960 to soft AC as "Lite Rock 104.3" - but with the CRTC's decision last year to allow oldies formats on FM, Corus is reviving an earlier AM 960 identity.

As of 6 PM last Thursday (August 19), CFFX-FM became CKWS-FM, returning to the AM station's original calls, which stood for the Kingston Whig-Standard newspaper back then and which now cross-promote sister Corus station CKWS-TV (Channel 11).

The resurrected CKWS is expected to announce a new on-air lineup today, and it will hold a free downtown oldies concert Sept. 3 to help promote the new format.

*In Toronto, the CRTC has denied the application that Spanish-language station CHHA (1610) filed for a change from 10 kW days/1 kW nights to 6500 watts fulltime. The denial had nothing to do with the merits of the application; CHHA filed its annual reports late several years running, and the CRTC won't process applications for stations that aren't in compliance with their regulatory requirements.

The CRTC also denied an application from suburban country station CJKX (95.9 Ajax) to modify its Toronto booster station, CJKX-FM-2, to cover more of Toronto. This one, too, was on procedural grounds: the CRTC says the "technical amendment" that CJKX filed was inappropriate in this case, where CJKX cited a desire to bring the country format to more of Toronto, rather than any technical deficiency or economic issues with its existing signal.


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*On the US side of the border, a venerable eastern PENNSYLVANIA AM station has quietly vanshed from the FCC database. WOYL (1340 Oil City) was Venango County's first radio station when it signed on in December 1946; it went silent 63 years later, in December 2009, due to a transmitter failure, and while the FCC granted Special Temporary Authority for WOYL to remain silent through June 2010, it was never renewed and WOYL now appears to be gone for good. (A bit of irony here: WOYL is the second half of a former share-time on the frequency to disappear; WSAJ at Grove City College, which operated only two days a week on the channel, left the AM dial a few years ago.)

While WOYL disappears, another silent AM signal on the other side of the state appears to be close to returning to the air under new ownership. Great Scott Broadcasting took WPAZ (1370 Pottstown) silent last December, but the "WPAZ Preservation Association," a nonprofit led by Rick Rodgers and Ross Landy, announced last week that it's reached an agreement with the Scott family to buy WPAZ and resume operations, with an official purchase deal expected to be announced by the end of the month. The WPAZ Preservation group held several fund-raising events over the summer to promote the cause of local radio in the area northwest of Philadelphia.

And back in western Pennsylvania, a sale of Beacon Broadcasting's WGRP (940 Greenville), WEXC (107.1 Greenville) and WLOA (1470 Farrell) is said to be close to completion. Last week, Beacon's other two stations, WANR (1570 Warren) and WRTK (1540 Niles), on the Ohio side of the state line, got a new owner, and he's a familiar Keystone State face: Chris Lash is a Pittsburgh radio veteran, and he's now working to build new studios near Youngstown for his new purchases. Lash is doing business as "Whiplash Radio, LLC," and his purchase of the stations from the estate of the late Harold Glunt was brokered by Pittsburgh's Ray Rosenblum. Whiplash is paying $50,000 for the pair of small AMs in Ohio.

News from northeastern Pennsylvania? There's just a little bit: Scranton public broadcaster WVIA, which was granted a construction permit earlier this year for a new Tioga County relay signal on 88.1 in Sylvania, has won FCC permission to change the new station's frequency to 88.3 and its city of license to Mainesburg. The frequency change comes with a slight power decrease (from 60 watts to 50), but also with a revised directional pattern that will give the new station better coverage of Mansfield.

And we note the passing of Jack Buckwalter, the chairman of Steinman Enterprises. The Lancaster-based media firm once owned WGAL-TV there and WTEV-TV in New Bedford, Massachusetts (as years of Broadcasting Yearbook cover ads attested), and subsidiary Delmarva Broadcasting still owns WDEL/WSTW in Wilmington, Delaware and several other stations in Delaware and Maryland. Buckwalter died Wednesday (Aug. 18) while vacationing in Maine; he was 79.

*In southern NEW JERSEY, David Allen Pratt and Jerry Beebe are gone from the morning show at WTKU (98.3 Petersburg), and the real shocker is just how little the duo say they were being paid. AllAccess reports that Pratt and Beebe had lost their full-time gigs with WTKU in March, but had stayed on with the Atlantic Broadcasting station as contract employees making just $7,500 a year...and no, we didn't accidentally omit another digit from the front of that sum.


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*In southern MAINE, Tim Wright was surely making much more than $7,500 a year after 15 years with Saga's WMGX (93.1 Portland), and that may well have had something to do with his sudden departure from "Coast 93.1" last week. Co-host Eva Matteson is doing the morning show solo for now while WMGX seeks a replacement for Wright.

*From MASSACHUSETTS come some pictures of the big WUMB-FM (91.9 Boston) fundraising concert that brought a sold-out crowd together to hear Judy Collins and Tom Rush perform - and to kick off a $7 million capital campaign for the station. WUMB says it will have an update later in August on the progress of the campaign, which aims to fund new studio facilities and additional programming for the station.

We're delighted to be able to promote a great new interview with one of our favorite Boston radio people. Ken Meyer was Larry Glick's producer (aka "Muck") in the seventies, created the memorable "Big Broadcast of 1975" old-time radio re-creation, and later had his own talk show on WBZ (1030).

He was an invaluable help when your editor was producing WBZ's 75th anniversary celebration back in 1996 - and he's from Rochester, too. George Pollard interviewed him at length for the Grub Street website, and you really should check out the interview here.

And there's a radio landmark missing on the North Shore: the WESX (1230 Salem) tower that's been part of the landscape on Naugus Avenue in Marblehead since 1939 was dismantled on Wednesday.

It's been two years since WESX was relocated to a new city of license, Nahant, and a new transmitter site in Saugus. The land where WESX sat in Marblehead will be redeveloped as housing - but the old site will always live on at Tower Site of the Week, where we profiled it back in 2006.

*CONNECTICUT's CW affiliate filed for a callsign change back in June, but it's just now promoting its shift from the longtime WTXX (Channel 20) to WCCT, aka "The CT."

Loyal NERW reader Bill Dillane spotted this "South Park"-themed ad in the Advocate weekly and shared it with us, and we couldn't resist sharing it with you.

(And we've yet to find anyone out there who'll admit to liking that new "CT" mascot the station is using in its promotions...)

*A veteran RHODE ISLAND TV anchor is retiring. Karen Adams has been with WPRI (Channel 12) since 1989, anchoring the 6 and 11 PM newscasts. She announced last week that she'll leave the station at the end of December, with plans to travel extensively. No replacement has been named so far.

Meanwhile, in a story that's almost not news anymore, WALE (990 Greenville) is once again silent; it's not clear whether economic problems or technical difficulties (or some combination of the two) are to blame for the latest disappearance of this troubled station.

*Upstate NEW YORK radio listeners had a bit of a scare last week when WFXF (95.1 Honeoye Falls) morning man Brother Wease was hospitalized with heart problems. Fortunately (especially given Wease's recent brush with cancer), Wease spent only a few days in the hospital and is recuperating well - but his listeners had a surprise Wednesday morning when Clear Channel plugged WHAM (1180 Rochester) midday talker Bob Lonsberry into Wease's morning slot. Lonsberry, as conservative as Wease is liberal, frequently spars with Wease on-air, but this was his first time serving as Wease's fill-in.

A few bits of Rochester TV news: the market's first 4 PM newscast (aside from 24-hour cable channel YNN) will debut in mid-September on WROC-TV (Channel 8), anchored by Matt Molloy. And we're hearing that next Saturday, Aug. 28, will be the start of HD local news on WHAM-TV (Channel 13). Promos running on WHAM feature a new "circle 13" logo - not quite the one shown here (that's WTVG in Toledo), but very, very similar.

In Syracuse, comedian Josh Grosvent, a frequent guest and occasional guest host on the "Ted and Amy" morning show at Citadel's WNTQ (93Q), will be moving across the hall on James Street next month, when he takes over morning drive at sister station 95X (WAQX 95.7 Manlius). Starting Sept. 7, Grosvent will be on the air from 5:30-9 each morning alongside current "Shut Up and Rock Mornings" host Hunter Scott.

Downstate, Emmis' WRKS (98.7 New York) confirmed late last week that it's parted ways with comedian D.L. Hughley in morning drive. Arbitration is underway to resolve a dispute over syndication of the show, which never happened, and "Kiss" is now assembling a local morning show to replace Hughley, who's shooting a movie in Europe.

After a 15-year run with CBS Radio, WCBS-FM (101.1) chief engineer (and audio processing wiz) Mike Erickson has departed Hudson Street. Mike reports he's taken on some freelance work in the New York area and beyond, and he's reachable at

And we're sorry to report the death of "Dangerous Dan Lundy," who was part of the airstaff at Geneva's WECQ (101.7) back in the heyday of "CQ102" in the eighties. Lundy, whose real name was Alan Yoffee, died Aug. 13 at age 59 at his home in Canandaigua.

*A few housekeeping notes: Tower Site Calendar 2011 is at the printer, and those of you who've pre-ordered the calendar should find your copies in the mail shortly after Labor Day. Haven't ordered yet? We've still got plenty of copies - order today! (They make great client gifts at holiday time; check with us for special bulk discounts...)

Meanwhile, we're pleased to welcome new advertiser Subcarrier Communications, which offers tower-rental and management services - and with the end of a slow summer just around the corner, you're reading our last double issue of the season. Barring breaking news (which you'll learn about when you follow us on Twitter), we'll be back with our next issue on September 7. See you then!

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!)

August 24, 2009 -

  • Two station sales lead our NEW YORK news, beginning in Syracuse, where Buckley Broadcasting is exiting the market with the sale of its classic hits pair WSEN-FM (92.1 Baldwinsville)/WSEN (1050 Baldwinsville) and oldies WFBL (1390 Baldwinsville). While rumors about the impending sale of the stations had been swirling for a few months, the identity of the buyer came as a surprise: it's James Johnson's Leatherstocking Media Group, which just closed on nearby WMCR/WMCR-FM (1600/106.3 Oneida). Leatherstocking will take over operation of WSEN/WFBL under an LMA on September 1; the transaction hasn't yet been filed with the FCC, so we don't yet have a purchase price to report.
  • The addition of WSEN/WFBL to the Leatherstocking group puts Johnson into some stiff competition - unlike Oneida, where WMCR pretty much has rural Madison County to itself, the Syracuse stations face off against national players Clear Channel and Citadel, as well as two other local players, Ed Levine's Galaxy cluster and Craig Fox's stations. Speaking of Fox, he quietly flipped formats on his latest acquisition a couple of weeks ago: WVOA (105.1 DeRuyter) is now carrying Radio Disney, also heard on Fox's WOLF (1490 Syracuse)/WWLF (1340 Auburn)/WAMF (1300 Fulton). The "Love Radio" religious/ethnic programming that's been heard on 105.1 in two incarnations is again being heard exclusively on WVOU (103.9 Mexico).
  • In MAINE, Hearst's WMTW-TV (Channel 8) is hoping to return to the dials of viewers using UHF-only antennas to receive digital TV - it's applying for a digital replacement translator in Portland on channel 26 (the old analog home of MPBN's WMEA-TV). The new translator would run 6.2 kW from atop the time-and-temperature sign above WMTW's studio building in downtown Portland. WMTW tells the FCC that it's still receiving reports from viewers unable to receive its channel 8 signal on indoor antennas, and it says many of those viewers, especially in urban Portland, are in situations where they can't install outdoor antennas.

August 22, 2005 -

  • Nexstar and Sinclair announced that they're entering into a joint services agreement under which Nexstar's WROC-TV (Channel 8) in Rochester will handle most of the operations of Sinclair's WUHF (Channel 31). NERW has learned some of the key details of the arrangement, and it includes the shutdown of WUHF's quasi-local "News Central" 10 PM newscast. That program will go off the air September 1, with 26 of WUHF's employees (including news anchors Melanie Barnas and Ty Chandler) joining the staff of WROC and 26 more losing their jobs. Later this fall, WUHF will relaunch its 10 PM news as a half-hour broadcast produced by the WROC news staff.
  • In CANADA's largest market, the handful of viewers who ever noticed "Toronto 1" (CKXT Channel 52) in its first couple of years of operation will now have to get used to a new name. The independent channel changed hands from Craig to Quebecor earlier this year as part of CHUM's acquisition of Craig. That deal brought the Craig "A-Channel" name to the former CHUM "NewNet" stations across Ontario, and it forced the spinoff of Toronto 1, which now leads to the new identity there.
  • Quebecor, of course, is the owner of the Toronto Sun, and the company hopes that the new "SUN-TV" name for the station will tap into the popularity of the downmarket tabloid paper, much as Quebecor's Journal de Montreal and Journal de Quebec cross-promote with the company's TVA network to great success in Francophone Canada. And it's no surprise at all that the rebranded SUN-TV will focus its programming on sports and entertainment; the station's ambitious news efforts were already minly history by the time Quebecor took over.
  • In MASSACHUSETTS, it's a busy week at the Entercom cluster, where WRKO (680 Boston) program director Mike Elder is the latest executive to leave the talk station. This move doesn't appear to be related to the departure a week earlier of GM Tom Baker, whose job was eliminated in an apparent cost-saving measure; instead, it's a big opportunity for Elder, who heads to New York to become director of talk programming at fast-growing Fox News Radio. Even so, it makes for a big challenge for WRKO, which has been facing tough competition from Greater Media's WTKK (96.9 Boston).
  • Meanwhile, down the hall at WAAF (107.3 Westborough), the active rock station is finally gearing up for a long-planned signal upgrade. NERW hears that work will begin this week to install a new antenna for the station at the Boylston site of WUNI (Channel 27), a few miles closer to Boston than WAAF's longtime home at Mount Asnebumskit in Paxton.
  • It was a bad week for a legendary PENNSYLVANIA station. The studios of KDKA (1020 Pittsburgh), along with sister stations KDKA-TV (Channel 2) and WNPA (Channel 19), sit in a prominent spot at Gateway Center, at the "Golden Triangle" where the city's three rivers converge. It's a nice location, but it's also subject to flooding, as the station found out when a 36-inch water main burst just down the street on Wednesday. The TV stations were hit the hardest, as their graphics computers, news cameras and remote trucks were all located in the basement of the complex, where they were more or less ruined by the water. (So, for that matter, were many employees' personal vehicles.) If that wasn't bad enough, on Friday a small fire in an elevator forced the building to be evacuated mid-afternoon, sending KDKA-TV's news outside and leaving KDKA radio afternoon host Fred Honsberger alone in the building. (He was eventually persuaded to leave, too, and he continued his show by cellphone from outside for a while.)
  • It's a good thing KDKA's owner, Infinity, has studio facilities elsewhere in town for its other stations; KDKA was able to set up temporary studios at the Infinity offices in Greentree while it dealt with the issues downtown.

August 28, 2000 -

  • Keeping track of Canadian radio stations used to be easy -- no more than a dozen stations in even the largest market, with format and call changes taking place at the rate of perhaps one or two per market per year. The past week in NEW BRUNSWICK seems to throw the old order completely out the window, with no fewer than six new stations and an AM-to-FM move being authorized by the CRTC.
  • Here's how it plays out: In Moncton, both existing commercial broadcasters are getting new frequencies. Maritime Broadcasting System, owner of country CKCW (1220) and oldies CFQM (103.9), gets to move CKCW to FM with 19kw on 94.5. Atlantic Stereo, owner of rock CJMO (103.1), gets to add a new station on 96.9 with 100kw, also approved with a country format (though the CRTC notes that one of the two is likely to change away from country before both stations take the air). NERW notes here that CKCW's move to FM restores the country format to the band where it was found before last year's format swap took 1220 to country and 103.9 to oldies. [We're also wondering what will become of CJCW, the 590 kHz outlet in Sussex that relayed CKCW's programming to the areas west of Moncton in the 1220 null...]
  • But wait; there's still more new radio coming to Moncton! On 99.9, Denis Losier was granted a license for a 9500 watt French-language commercial outlet, the first in Moncton since the 1985 demise of CHLR (1380). Losier will operate the station in conjunction with CKCW and CFQM, with Maritime Broadcasting owning 49% and using its studios on St. George Boulevard for the new 99.9. Want religion? You'll have that, too, when two low-power Moncton stations sign on. At 100.9, James Houssen was granted a 50 watt station, while the International Harvesters for Christ Evangelical Association (why do we have this image of ministers on big farm tractors?) was granted 50 watts on 105.9.
  • Over in Saint John, New Brunswick Broadcasting will soon have a second station to help its CHSJ (94.1) compete against Maritime's three-station group. The CRTC granted 97.3 with 55 kw for a new AC station. An hour away in St. Stephen, just across the water from Calais, Maine, New Brunswick Broadcasting gets another new station: 40 kilowatts on 98.1, with a mix of AC and country.
  • When all the dust settles, New Brunswick will be left with just four commercial AM stations: CJVA 810 Caraquet, CKNB 950 Campbellton, and CKBC 1360 Bathurst in the northern part of the province, and CFBC 930 in Saint John. (CJCW might be a fifth, if it doesn't go away when CKCW moves to FM.) We wonder if the CBC will now feel pressure to move Moncton's CBA (1070) to FM, now that it stands alone as the last AM in town. (If so, the 90.7B frequency remains open for it...)
  • Congratulations to CONNECTICUT's WDRC-FM (102.9 Hartford), which just marked its fortieth anniversary with a reunion of "Big D" staffers. Our ears in the Nutmeg State tell us the "Big D" nickname is slowly going away, supplanted by "Oldies 103 DRC-FM."
  • The side effects of the AMFM/Clear Channel deal are finally being felt for real in southern Connecticut, as Cox closes on its big trade with Clear Channel. Put WNLK/WSTC, WEFX, WKHL, WPLR, and the LMA of WYBC-FM in the Cox column, while Clear Channel walks away with Los Angeles' KFI/KOST in trade (giving up stations in Florida and Atlanta to Cox as well...what, you think the only I-A clear channel in the #2 market comes cheap?)
  • Cumulus is flipping things around in Central MAINE, or so the folks at All Access report this week. WCME (96.7 Boothbay Harbor) and WCTB (93.5 Fairfield) are dropping their country simulcast for sports as "The Score," which leads us to wonder: is this what Cumulus meant when it said it would find a new FM simulcast for its WSKW (1160 Skowhegan)?
  • More Clear Channel/AMFM spinoff deals are closing in NEW YORK, as Regent officially adds a stack of Albany licenses to its portfolio. Joining the company are WTMM (1300 Rensselaer), WGNA (1460/107.7 Albany), WABT (104.5 Mechanicville), WQBK (103.9 Rensselaer), and WQBJ (103.5 Cobleskill). Regent also gets some Michigan spin-offs, in exchange for its clusters in Ohio and California. Now come the format changes...

New England Radio Watch, August 30, 1995

  • There's a new experimental FM in town. Avis Rent-a-Car is operating, or at least sponsoring, KF2XBF 88.5 FM at Boston's Logan Airport. The station runs a HALF-HOUR long loop of tourism information and Avis ads. Yes, ads. Yes, 88.5 FM. No, I don't have an explanation. At least it doesn't get out too far...15 miles away, here in the western suburb of Waltham, I still get WFCR Amherst MA on 88.5.
  • There's a new pirate in town. "EB101" is allegedly operating weekends on 101.3 from "somewhere in the Boston area." Haven't heard it yet...I'll be trying again this weekend.
  • So much for the "Matty in the Morning" show as a syndicated venture. The show is back to being heard only on WXKS-FM "Kiss 108" Medford-Boston, now that it's been dropped by WKZS-FM 99.9 "Kiss" Auburn-Portland ME. Kiss' local morning host led a successful public campaign against the show...saying it demeaned women. WKZS pulled out after just four months of a three year contract.
  • Also in Maine: 95.9 in Saco has indeed changed calls to WRED-FM. The station is still CHR, and was formerly WHYR-FM.
  • Almost on the air: The new antenna for Harvard's WHRB (95.3) is up, on the One Financial Center building in Boston's Financial District, right next to the antenna for Emerson College's WERS (88.9). It will be quite a boost for WHRB to move off the single-bay antenna on Harvard's Holyoke Center building. They'll gain several hundred feet by moving to the new antenna...and if WERS is any indication, they should get great coverage. No word on an exact date for the move.
  • In the Albany market, the "Mix" talk-and-AC format on WEMX Ravena NY (94.5) is
    history. It's been replaced by a simulcast of the (presumably satellite) standards format of WABY Albany (1400). WEMX now goes by "94.5 WABY," and the WEMX calls are heard only on the top of the hour. I'm guessing that WABY is LMA'ing
  • And Thursday marks the end of the line for one of Boston's finest radio traditions. Public radio WGBH is reshuffling its schedule and dropping Ron Della Chiesa's 2-5pm "Music America" program, which mixed jazz, pop, and whatever else Ron could find in the "Great American Songbook." Now 'GBH is trying to accomodate the new 2-hour All Things Considered (never mind that it's already heard at the same time on
    WBUR in Boston, and can be heard on the west coast feed two hours later on the UMass Boston public radio network), and so they're dropping MusicAmerica and replacing it with classical music in the afternoon. Meantime, WGBH is adding
    an extra hour of Morning Edition as well (again, the program is already heard for 3 hours every morning on WBUR). ME will run from 6-8am, followed by classical music hosted by Della Chiesa. Non-classical music has to wait until 7pm, for Eric in the Evening and jazz Monday-Thursday, and Della Chiesa's new "Jazz Songbook" show on Friday.

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