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September 6, 2010

A Reprieve for CHSC - For Now

*CANADA was supposed to have lost yet another AM station at the close of business August 31 - but troubled CHSC (1220 St. Catharines) was still on the air the next day, and it now appears there will be more legal maneuvering before the CRTC can enforce its order directing owner Pellpropco to silence the station that's been at the center of numerous CRTC actions in recent years.

On August 25, Pellpropco asked the Federal Court of Appeals to issue a stay while it awaits a response to an application for leave to appeal the CRTC ruling, and with just hours to go before CHSC's death sentence, the appeals court granted the stay. In its ruling, the appeals court concluded that "The Crown has not alleged any specific harm to the Crown or the public interest that could result if Pellpropco is permitted to continue its broadcasting activities pending the disposition of its application for leave to appeal."

A Crown response to the application for leave to appeal is due September 13, and it now seems likely that CHSC will continue to pursue legal options to stay on the air despite the CRTC's decision not to renew its license. Among the precedents being cited by CHSC is the case of Genec Communications and CHOI (98.1 Quebec City), the last time the CRTC attempted to pull a station's license.

Back then, the issue was purely one of content - CHOI had run afoul of CRTC standards with its outspoken morning show - and there was a considerable amount of public pressure helping to push higher levels of the Canadian government to overturn the CRTC's decision and allow CHOI to remain on the air under a new licensee. In CHSC's case, the CRTC has amassed plenty of evidence suggesting that Pellpropco is unwilling to abide by some of the most basic tenets of Canadian broadcast licensing (including an unauthorized change of studio location and programming language), and it's not clear that CHSC has anywhere near the kind of political influence that CHOI did.

*While we're in the Toronto area, we note that multiethnic station CHIN (1540) is applying for a big power increase for the FM relay of its AM signal. CHIN-FM-1 (91.9) wants to jump from 161 watts DA (350 watts maximum) to 1850 watts DA (5 kW maximum), from 86 meters above average terrain, increasing the population in its 3 mV/m (70 dBu) contour from 442,756 to more than 1.5 million.

Milkman UnLimited reports that Jason Barr is out at Corus' CFNY (102.1 the Edge) in Toronto, where he spent many years producing the old Humble and Fred morning show and more recently served as co-host of Dean Blundell's morning show. Down the dial, Taylor Kaye segues from afternoons at Astral's CKFM (Virgin Radio 99.9) to middays at Rogers' CISS (Kiss 92.5), returning to the station where her career began.

(And we join with Milkman editor John Mielke in sending our best wishes to Craig Smith, founder and moderator of the Southern Ontario-Western NY Radio Message Forum, aka "SOWNY." Craig has been in and out of the hospital in recent years, and as we assemble the column this Monday morning, he's been moved to a palliative care unit after doctors decided he's not strong enough to remain on the transplant list. There's an update page on the SOWNY site where Craig's friends are providing the latest news on his condition.)

*In London, Astral tweaked formats this morning at CIQM (97.5), keeping the "EZ Rock" nickname but updating the station's format from AC to a more contemporary hot AC sound. Veteran CIQM morning man Rich Greven is gone from the station's staff after a quarter-century on the air in London, replaced by Mark Lapointe for "EZ Mornings." Down the dial, we're hearing that Karl Josephs is out of morning drive on sister station CKSL (Oldies 1410) - and that at CJBK (1290), Shauna Rae's late-morning talk show is being replaced by a simulcast of Tom McConnell's show from CKTB (610 St. Catharines).

Out east, Evanov has been conducting signal tests for its new CKHY (105.1 Halifax), with the official launch of modern rock "Live 105" expected as early as today.

And over on Cape Breton Island, we're hearing that the CBC is pulling back on its plans to replace CBI (1140 Sydney) with a new FM signal, CBIT (97.1). While the FM signal was on the air over the summer, it was apparently only for the purpose of signal tests, and CBI remains very much on the air - and may stay that way, with the FM signal becoming only a "nested" relay.


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*If Press Communications gets its way, there will soon be a frequency swap on the NEW JERSEY shore: it's applying to move WBHX (99.7 Tuckerton) to 99.3, sending Atlantic's WZBZ (99.3 Pleasantville) to 99.7. The swap would allow WBHX to move its transmitter site from Long Beach Island to another location a few miles inland, wasting less of its signal over the ocean and reducing the overlap between WBHX and its "Breeze" soft AC simulcast partner, WWZY (107.1 Long Branch).

But before WBHX can move to those new 2.2 kW/210' facilities (lower power but greater antenna height compared to its present 5.6 kW/108'), there are some FCC obstacles to overcome: WZBZ's move to 99.7 would make it short-spaced to the Atlantic City Board of Education's WAJM (88.9 Atlantic City). Press says that shouldn't be a factor, because WAJM's license ceased to be valid way back in 2006, when no renewal application was filed. Press says it's tried to contact the school board about the current status of WAJM (which NERW believes is on the air, at last check), but received no reply. As a backup position, Press notes that the IF-spacing rules that govern the spacing between 88.9 and 99.7 do not apply to stations of less than 100 watts, so it suggests WAJM could be reduced in power from 150 to 99 watts, at Press' expense.

There's one more station in the way of the proposed 99.7/99.3 swap: WPOV-LP (99.9 Vineland) already has a pending CP, also at Press' expense, to move to the 107.7 frequency that became available after WSNJ-FM in Bridgeton was moved off 107.7 a few years back.

The rest of this week's Garden State news also comes from the shore, which is fitting for this end-of-summer holiday: in Wildwood, Jim MacMillan is retiring from WCMC (1230) on September 21, ending more than two decades with the station, most recently as PD and morning host.

In Ocean County, Brick Memorial High School has officially surrendered the license to WBGD (91.9 Brick). In a letter to the FCC, principal Richard Caldes wrote that, "Unfortunately, the wiring sustained damage during a roof replacement, and due to the current economic climate facing public schools in New Jersey, it is financially impossible to replace and/or repair to operate." WBGD went on the air in 1975 as a 10-watter, and had upgraded over the years to 195 watts/56'.

And in Monmouth County, there's a new oldies simulcast on the air: WADB (1310 Asbury Park) has dropped its Fox Sports format and is now paired up with WOBM (1160 Lakewood Township), which segues from standards to a more up-tempo oldies format.

Away from the shore, the political wheels keep turning in Trenton, where Governor Chris Christie is pushing forward with a plan to spin NJN public TV and radio away from state ownership, possibly as soon as the start of 2011. On Thursday, Christie sent lawmakers a bill called the "New Jersey Public Broadcasting System Restructuring Act," which would either transfer the NJN stations to another public broadcaster (presumably the big guns at opposite ends of the state, New York-based WNET and Philadelphia-based WHYY) or to a new independent nonprofit. It's not at all clear whether lawmakers will go along with the Christie plan; they've scheduled several public hearings later this month on the issue. Meanwhile, NJN interim director Howard Blumenthal has announced that he's leaving that post September 17 after a year at the helm of the statewide network. He'll return to Philadelphia's independent noncommercial TV station, WYBE (aka "MiND-TV"), where he's been working part-time.

*We begin our PENNSYLVANIA news up in the state's northwestern corner, where WWCB (1370 Corry) has picked up a venerable set of calls, WHYP. That callsign spent many decades on the air in nearby North East, where the inimitable James Brownyard ran a one-man operation on AM 1530 (now Mercyhurst College's WYNE) and FM 100.9 (now WRKT), distinguished by his gravelly-voiced IDs and the occasional sound of a record running out while Brownyard was out mowing the lawn.

As of last week, "WHYP" is back on the air, attached to an oldies format on 1370 that's being operated by Vilkie Communications, which also owns WMVL (101.7 Linesville) over in the Meadville market. The FM is "Cool 101.7," and the AM is now "Cool 1370."

(Until Mercyhurst bought 1530 a few years back, it was co-owned with WWCB and even simulcasted for a time; the old Jim Brownyard version of WHYP, meanwhile, lives on by way of a pirate station that's heard on the shortwaves every once in a while...)

*While we're up around Erie, Penn State Behrend is getting an FM translator for its business-talk AM station, WPSE (1450). Donors to the university have ponied up the $68,000 that it will cost Penn State to buy W296AW (107.1 Erie) from Michael Celenza.

Just across the state line, former Pittsburgh broadcaster Chris Lash has a new format on WRTK (1540 Niles, Ohio) - the little Youngstown-market AM station is now doing classic country as "AM 1540, the Farm."

Down in the southwesternmost corner of the state, WCYJ in Waynesburg has changed frequencies: the class D station at Waynesburg University has relocated from 88.7 to 99.5, boosting power just a bit (from 6 to 7 watts) and getting out of the way of interference from WYFU (88.5 Masontown) in the process.

In Williamsport, Daniel Klingerman and Larry Allison, Jr. are buying out Jeff Andrulonis' 33% interest in Colonial Radio Group of Williamsport, which owns WLYC (1050) and translator W281AR (104.1). Andrulonis will receive $20,000 for his third of the partnership.

And we're sorry to hear of the death of Ron Smith, who was known on the air as "James Pond" doing mornings at Forever's WGYY (100.3 Meadville)/WGYI (98.5 Oil City). Smith died last Thursday (Sept. 2); he was just 49 and had been with the stations for about three years.


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*Again befitting our Labor Day issue, our NEW YORK coverage starts out in the Hamptons, where Long Island University has granted Peconic Public Broadcasting yet another extension to come up with the $637,000 it still owes as the final payment for the license of public radio station WLIU (88.3 Southampton).

The money was to have been due at the end of August, but LIU extended the deadline, first to September 3 and now to September 28.

"While PPB has not raised all of the funds required to complete the purchase, it has indicated that significant progress is being made and Long Island University has agreed to the extension based upon their assurances that it will soon have the funding needed to purchase the station," said a statement from the university announcing the second extension.

In a part of the statement where some residents are driving cars that cost as much as that last payment, Peconic has struggled to persuade the area's largely seasonal inhabitants to pony up for local public radio, but as the deadline loomed, the broadcaster began to line up commitments. PPB says a local bank has now committed to loaning it the needed funds, and it's lined up a $50,000 matching grant from George Soros.

While we're out on the East End, there are new calls for Hamptons Community Radio's new construction permit on 89.1 in Westhampton: it will be WEEW, to go along with WEER on 88.7.

*Upstate New York was a little slower than the rest of the country to get on the "early-early morning news" bandwagon, but reports that the area is about to get its first 4:30 AM newscast, courtesy of WSYR-TV (Channel 9) in Syracuse, which starts its 4:30 AM show tomorrow. WSYR-TV is also adding a 10 PM newscast on its 9.2 digital subchannel; the 15-minute show anchored by James Gaddis will repeat at 10:15, 10:30 and 10:45 in an attempt to pull early-late-news viewers away from the market's only current option, the WSTM-produced 10 PM show on WSTQ (Channel 14/WSTM 3.2), which is itself expanding from 30 minutes to a full hour this week.

There's no early-early-morning news in Rochester yet, but there's about to be an early-early-evening option: CBS affiliate WROC-TV (Channel 8) rolls out the market's first 4 PM show next Monday, with Matt Molloy at the anchor desk. Across town at WHAM-TV (Channel 13), we're still waiting for the debut of the first HD local news in the area; the initial plan to launch August 28 was held up by some technical issues, and now we're hearing "sometime in early September" for the start of the HD newscasts there.

Radio People on the Move: former WXXI (1370) news director Peter Iglinski has landed a new gig outside the broadcast universe. He's moving over to the University of Rochester as a senior science writer later this month. (Usual disclaimer and then some: your editor works at WXXI, and was hired there by Peter - and wishes him all the very best as he heads off to new challenges!)

*The Buffalo Broadcasters Association has named this year's class of Hall of Fame inductees, and for 2010 it leans very heavily on the early days of Buffalo radio and TV. Only Ed Kilgore, longtime sports director at WGRZ (Channel 2), is still working in the market; the rest of the class includes WGR radio/TV personality Frank Benny, WEBR music director Mary Brady, reporter Brian Meyer, WEBR manager Margaret Russ-Guenther, WGR-TV/WBEN-TV/"Inside Edition" reporter Les Trent, and public radio's Bill Siemering, who took the innovations he developed at WBFO to the national level when he helped create "All Things Considered" for NPR in the early seventies.

The hall of fame induction ceremony on September 21 will also include a tribute to the 50th anniversary of what's now WNED-FM (94.5); there's more information, as always, at

*In Ithaca, WHCU (870) once again has an FM simulcast: it's being heard over W240CB (95.9), which is the relocated version of an older Ithaca translator, the old W238AA (95.5). WHCU had briefly been heard on 95.5 before that translator was forced off the air by the move-in of WFIZ (95.5 Odessa); this time, the translator is getting promoted heavily on WHCU, including in the talk station's new logo.

There's significant Empire State representation on the newly-elected board of the Society of Broadcast Engineers: SBE president Vinny Lopez, also known as director of engineering at Syracuse's WSYT-TV/WNYS-TV, has been re-elected to another yearlong term. He'll serve alongside treasurer (and New Jersey-based engineer) Andrea Cummis and board member Jeff Smith (Clear Channel Radio in New York City).

(And this is probably a good chance, too, to mention the upcoming SBE 22 Broadcast and Technology Expo, which takes place at Central New York's Turning Stone Casino on October 6. President Vinny will be there, and so will your editor...)

*In Glens Falls, there's a new format at WENU (1410 South Glens Falls): the Pamal station has segued from standards to classic country. Across the hall at sister station WFFG (107.1 Hudson Falls), "Big Mike" Patrick is departing morning drive after two years on the job. AllAccess reports that Patrick just survived a second serious car accident on his 50-mile commute from Albany to the Pamal studios in Glens Falls, and he's now seeking work closer to home. Kate Sullivan has moved from middays to mornings and Ken Edwards is handling middays for now at "Froggy."

There's a new transmitter on the air for North Country Public Radio: WSLZ (88.1 Cape Vincent) extends the network's reach westward a bit, supplanting a North Country translator on 93.9 and improving the network's signal over nearby Kingston, Ontario.

Moving down to New York City, Eric Meyrowitz is the new VP/general manager at WPIX (Channel 11), moving up from Tribune sister station WDCW (Channel 50) in Washington to take the place of Betty-Ellen Berlamino.

*As eastern MASSACHUSETTS and RHODE ISLAND breathe deep sighs of relief at having dodged the brunt of Hurricane Earl, two broadcast groups are learning that they'll get one of the last open FM channels in the area, as long as they're prepared to share time.

The FCC considered 13 competing applications in a mutually-exclusive group that stretched from Palmer and Ware, Massachusetts down to northern Rhode Island, and when the dust settled, two applications for 91.5 - one from St. Joseph's Radio Station Inc. for Pascoag and another from Providence Community Radio for Harrisville - ended up tied under the FCC's point system. Each received a "tentative preference," but they'll be required to come up with a time-sharing agreement before they can receive construction permits for the new signals.

(Among the losing applicants were some big names - Boston's WBUR sought a new signal in Ware, while Bryant University had applied for Pascoag and Rhode Island Public Radio for Woonsocket.)

*With the impending end of business talk on WBIX (1060 Natick, soon to be Catholic WQOM), some of the station's program lineup is finding new homes elsewhere on the AM dial. That includes Barry Armstrong, who's taking his financial talk down the dial to WRKO (680), where he'll displace an hour of Charley Manning's midday show for the noon-1 PM "Lunch Money with Barry Armstrong" beginning later this week.

The 4:30 AM news trend continues to spread in New England as well: Boston's WCVB (Channel 5) starts its early-early show tomorrow, followed by WFXT (Channel 25) in two weeks, leaving only WHDH (Channel 7) without a 4:30 AM show in Boston, which is odd for a station that's usually led the parade into non-traditional timeslots for news.

(Down east, Maine's WCSH Portland/WLBZ Bangor also added a 4:30 AM "Early Morning Report" over the summer.)

Where are they now? Former WBCN program director Dave Wellington moved down to Washington two years ago to program Clear Channel rocker WWDC (DC101), later adding Baltimore's "Jack FM" WQSR (102.7) to his portfolio, but he's now parted ways with those stations.

*In MAINE, Bill Fox became the second high-profile Portland morning man in as many weeks to lose his job when he was ousted from Nassau's Portland "Frank-FM" (WFNK 107.5 Lewiston) in late August. He's looking for new work, and blogging at in the meantime.

The University of Maine at Farmington has apparently completed the upgrade of its student station. WUMF has been a 13-watt class D signal on 100.1, but the University applied for, and was granted, a new 100-watt class A facility on 91.5. The station received $17,000 in student activity money to help pay for a new transmitter, antenna and studio equipment.

Light of Life Ministries has reshuffled its translator lineup in southern Maine, shifting signals in Portland (W223BH 92.5 and W300BN 107.9), Sanford (W246BP 100.7), Freeport (W252BT 98.3), Biddeford (W272CG 102.3) and Yarmouth (W272BV 102.3) from WMDR-FM (88.9 Oakland) to the "Worship-FM" signal from WWWA (95.3 Winslow). The network is still ironing out some technical issues: listeners reported hearing the Biddeford 102.3 signal relaying WLNH (98.3 Laconia NH) last week, as summertime propagation knocked out reception of its intended parent signal, the 98.3 Freeport translator. Northwest of Portland, Light of Life will also sign on WFYB (91.5 Fryeburg) as part of the "Worship-FM" network this fall.

*And in Hartford, CONNECTICUT, there's word of cutbacks at Clear Channel's WHCN (105.9 the River): morning man Chuck Taylor and music director/air personality Rod Warner are both gone from the station, which is now advertising for a new morning host who "will also put your deep Selector knowledge and music flow theory to good use."

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 31 & September 7, 2009 -

  • Vandals struck the tower sites of two AM radio stations around the country early Friday morning: KRKO (1380) in Everett, Washington, where the activist group Earth Liberation Front is taking credit for the bulldozer attack that took down two self-supporting towers at what's been a very controversial new transmitter site - and WAEB (790) in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where the northernmost of five 1949-vintage guyed towers at the Whitehall, PA transmitter site was brought down by someone who snipped three sets of guy wires.
  • WAEB, a Clear Channel-owned talk station, is licensed to run 3600 watts by day using just two of the towers, with all five towers in use at night with 1500 watts - and the station has remained on the air, evidently using either the day pattern or lower power, non-directionally. The tower that fell went down in one piece, which is unusual for a guyed tower, and its tip barely missed the guy wires for the next tower to the south, avoiding still more damage to the site.
  • An investigation into the vandalism is now underway, with the FBI involved. There's on-line speculation about connections between the WAEB attack and the KRKO attack just hours later; our semi-informed speculation would suggest that there's no obvious link between the two incidents, since WAEB - unlike KRKO - is a longtime fixture that's never caused much controversy in its neighborhood.
  • Back in the day, a format war in a place like Syracuse, NEW YORK meant a head-to-head battle between two standalone stations - say, WOLF and WNDR - each one throwing everything it had at the wall in hopes of taking the competion down. As of last Friday, there's once again a format war brewing in Syracuse - but this time it's a somewhat tamer fight, pitting two arms of a big corporate cluster against another signal recently spun off from that same cluster.
  • At least there's one thing the latest battle in the Salt City has in common with the wars of the last generation: it still involves a station called WOLF, broadcasting from the same little concrete-block building on Kirkpatrick Street that was the scene of so much good radio in the sixties and seventies.
  • The latest fight is in the country music arena, and here's how it's all playing out: The dominant country station in Syracuse for more than a decade now has been Clear Channel's WBBS (104.7 Fulton) - but when Clear Channel had to unload another signal in its cluster, the former WWDG (105.1 DeRuyter), it inadvertently unleashed a competitor to "B104.7." As NERW readers know, the 105.1 signal went back to its former owners, Craig Fox and Sam Furco, doing business as Foxfur Communications. Foxfur initially took 105.1 back to its old calls, WVOA-FM, with the same religious/ethnic format it had used until 2001. But a couple of weeks ago, WVOA-FM flipped to a simulcast of Radio Disney (heard on Fox's WOLF 1490 and two sister AM stations) - and then, last Thursday, 105.1 flipped again, this time to "WOLF Country," going right up against B104.7 just two notches away on the dial.
  • Clear Channel, as it turned out, had some additional weapons in its arsenal: just a few hours after the launch of "WOLF Country," Clear Channel's WPHR (106.9 Auburn) abruptly pulled the plug on the "Power 106.9" urban format it had been running for most of the decade, replacing it with "Young Country 106.9," giving Clear Channel two FM country signals to flank Foxfur's one - and setting the market a-twitter (and in some cases, on Twitter) with speculation about what happens next. For Clear Channel, the 106.9 flip is part of a bigger transition for the station, which is in the process of moving east from Auburn, where it's been licensed as a class B station since its days long ago as WMBO-FM and WPCX, to the Syracuse suburb of Solvay, where it will be a 9 kW/407' class B1 signal from a new site above Onondaga Community College, putting a stronger signal over Syracuse at the expense of the station's present broad coverage of the Finger Lakes.
  • How long will the battle last? "WOLF Country" says it will bring live air talent on board in at least three dayparts within a month or two, says - which also reports that call changes are in the works to change the calls of 105.1 from WVOA-FM to WOLF-FM. That means Fox's pair of "Movin'" FM signals will change calls as well - WOLF-FM (96.7 Oswego) becomes WMVN, while WWLF-FM (100.3 Sylvan Beach) becomes WMVU - and the WVOA-FM calls return to what's now WVOU (103.9 Mexico). There's no word on air talent or new calls on "Young Country 106.9," and it's anyone's guess whether the country format is just a temporary way to lure listeners away from the new Wolf and back into the B104.7 family - or whether it will remain as the new 106.9 signal settles in.
  • MONDAY MORNING UPDATE: WPHR is reportedly back to its former "Power" urban format as of 8 AM. More to come...
  • Down the Thruway in the Albany market, the analog audio signal at 87.9 MHz that WRGB (Channel 6) had been running is now off the air. We'd been wondering about the authorization for that signal, which is even closer to the bottom of the FM broadcast spectrum than the old 87.75 MHz audio of WRGB's old analog channel 6 - and it appears that there simply was no authorization from the FCC for the signal, which disappeared last Monday. "We do not have FCC authorization to transmit an analog signal. We only have authorization for a digital signal at this time," said WRGB VP/general manager Robert Furlong in a statement last week. "We are reviewing our options and I apologize for any inconvenience to our audience."
  • Elsewhere in upstate New York, there's a station sale in the Elmira market, where Calvary Chapel of Twin Falls will get $275,000 as it transfers WREQ (96.9 Ridgebury PA) to Europa Communications, which already owns classic rock WMTT (94.7 Tioga PA) and oldies WPHD (96.1 South Waverly PA) in the market. WREQ also comes with a 99-watt on-channel booster in Elmira.
  • Speaking of radio wars, the sports battle in eastern MASSACHUSETTS continues to heat up - and there's no hotter property this time of year than the rights to carry Boston Red Sox games. Entercom, of course, is in the midst of a big-ticket, ten-year deal to broadcast the team's games, which have been running for the past two years on WRKO (680 Boston)...except when they've been on sister station WEEI (850 Boston) instead, generally on Wednesdays and on early-season day games and some weekend games. Until last week, that is - when Entercom abruptly shifted the entire Sox lineup over to WEEI from WRKO. Why make the move? Competition, obviously - with WEEI's sports dominance suddenly under fire from CBS Radio's new "Sports Hub" (WBZ-FM 98.5), it makes more sense for Entercom to put its biggest sports programming on WEEI itself than to try to use the Sox to draw new listeners to talker WRKO.
  • But the move caused static - literally - for some Sox fans, since the WEEI night signal doesn't reach as well into some parts of the North Shore as the Burlington-based WRKO signal does. It also doesn't have as much punch in southern NEW HAMPSHIRE, which became a sudden problem when financial tensions flared between Entercom and Absolute Broadcasting, which has been carrying the Sox on WGHM (900 Nashua) and WGAM (1250 Manchester), which simulcast sports as "The Game." Entercom pulled the games off "The Game" last Monday (Aug. 24), citing failure to pay the rights fees, something Absolute acknowledges - but Absolute says in light of the weak economy, it's giving its advertising clients more time to pay the stations, and therefore it requested more time to pay Entercom. That dispute was resolved by the weekend, when Manchester and Nashua listeners could once again hear the Sox on WGAM/WGHM - but that may be the least of Entercom's headaches, since it's not clear, from what we're hearing, that the sudden change of Sox flagship AM signals was permitted by the company's contract with the team.
  • Could this be Entercom's way out of the expensive contract with the Sox? Could WEEI still compete with WBZ-FM if it doesn't have the baseball coverage - and would CBS make a play for the rights? Or will both sides work things out and carry on with business as usual?
  • The death of Senator Ted Kennedy late Tuesday night, while hardly unexpected, came at a difficult time for Boston's radio and TV newsrooms. The announcement of his passing, around 1:30 AM, found stations lightly staffed - but they quickly rose to the occasion. WBZ (1030) had a pre-produced special about Kennedy's legacy that ran at 2 AM, and by the time it was over, evening host Dan Rea was back at the station alongside overnight host Steve LeVeille to talk about Kennedy's legacy while the morning team got an early start on the news. Public radio WBUR-FM (90.9) also geared up its morning crew early, as did all the TV newsrooms. WRKO (680) pulled its syndicated talk lineup off the air for the day, replacing them with extended shifts by its local talk hosts, and all three radio stations, as well as all four TV newsrooms, offered live coverage of the Friday night memorial service and Saturday's funeral mass and burial - though WBZ-TV (Channel 4) moved some of its coverage over to sister station WSBK (Channel 38) because of contractual obligations to carry a pre-season Patriots game.
  • EMF's "K-Love" contemporary Christian programming is about to get a much bigger footprint in western PENNSYLVANIA, as EMF prepares to buy WOGI (98.3 Duquesne) from Keymarket Communications, removing that signal from the four-way "Froggy" country simulcast that rings Pittsburgh. Keymarket will move the WOGI calls to another "Froggy" signal, the Moon Township-licensed WOGF (104.3) that overlaps most of WOGI's Pittsburgh coverage - and there are some interesting ideas making the rounds about potential signal improvements for the class A 98.3 facility, particularly in light of EMF's existing WKEL (98.5 Confluence) at the southeastern edge of the Pittsburgh market, not to mention the cross-ownership between Keymarket and Forever, which owns big-signal WFGY (98.1) over in Altoona. No purchase price has been announced for WOGI, and there's no word about what will become of EMF's existing web of translators in the Pittsburgh market, though it seems likely that they'd end up with EMF's other network service, Christian rock "Air 1."
  • The news from CANADA starts with more big changes on the TV dial: the "E!" network programming that had been on Hamilton's CHCH-TV (Channel 11) and Montreal's CJNT (Channel 62) is gone as of today, as Canwest Global shuts down the Canadian version of "E!" and spins off the Montreal and Hamilton stations to cable programmer Channel Zero. The Hamilton station is ramping up its local news commitment, including all-news blocks in late morning and, starting next week, early afternoon. It's adding at least 12 news staffers, and will reportedly be opening a Toronto office as well.

September 5, 2005 -

  • It's been a busy week for Hall Communications - first, the Connecticut format changes we told you about in our last issue, and now a major station purchase in the Burlington, VERMONT market. Hall was already a major player in town, with market-leading country giant WOKO (98.9 Burlington), standards WJOY (1230 Burlington) and oldies WKOL (105.1 Plattsburgh NY). Now, for $17 million, it's adding Burlington Broadcasters' two stations - classic rock WIZN (106.7 Vergennes) and modern rock WBTZ (99.9 Plattsburgh). (WBTZ is actually still owned by Plattsburgh Broadcasters, and Hall assumes Burlington's right to purchase the station, as well as an LMA until the sale closes.) Hall says it won't change anything at WIZN and WBTZ, and we tend to take that statement more seriously when Hall's involved. The stations will stay at their current home on the south edge of downtown Burlington, too.
  • Meanwhile over at Steve Silberberg's stations, WXAL (93.7 Addison) takes its new calls WUSX this week. Those calls come over from 105.7 Campton NH, which changes calls to WLKC, which was the old call on Silberberg's 103.3 Waterbury VT. And the circle goes round...
  • A station sale in MAINE: Franklin Broadcasting is selling WKTJ (99.3 Farmington) to Clearwater Communications for $450,000. Clearwater brokers WSKW/WCTB/WHQO in Skowhegan from Mountain Wireless.
  • There's a station sale to report in MASSACHUSETTS, as well, where William J. Macek's Central Broadcasting Company is paying Liveair Communications $795,000 for WEIM (1280 Fitchburg). Macek's a familiar name in central Massachusetts; he used to own WINQ in Winchendon (and was a DJ on WLLH in Lowell years ago, too, as "Bill Maxwell.")
  • Our NEW YORK news kicks off with a brand-new tower - three of them, in fact! The steel is beginning to rise at WOR (710)'s new site in New Jersey's Meadowlands. The tower raising will continue through the next couple of months, according to CE Kerry Richards. Right now, just a couple of segments of one tower are up, but all the pieces for the first of three 658-foot towers (made by Indiana's Central Tower) are in place at the site just north of WOR's existing plant in Lyndhurst, N.J. The transmitter building's finished, too, and inside it two brand-new Harris 3DX50 transmitters, along with a phasor, ATUs and other goodies await installation.
  • Up on the New York/Vermont line, we've learned a little about the plans for WZEC (97.5 Hoosick Falls) once Troy's WHAZ takes over. The station, which is getting new calls WHAZ-FM, won't be a simulcast of the current four-station WHAZ network's religious programming. Instead, it'll run a homebrewed format called "Gospel Gold," playing classic religious music from the last four decades. They're hoping to get WHAZ-FM on the air by mid-September, if all goes well.
  • In Rochester, Sinclair's "News Central" departed WUHF (Channel 31) in a classy way Wednesday night, with a lengthy credit roll listing the 120 or so staffers who've passed through the doors at 360 East Avenue since the news operation began there in 1997. WUHF's remaining staffers (about half of the 50 or so people who worked there on August 31) moved into their new home at Nexstar's WROC-TV (Channel 8) on Thursday; the new WROC-produced 10 PM news on WUHF will debut around November 1.

September 4, 2000 -

  • (no issue)

New England Radio Watch, September 4, 1995

  • (no issue)

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