February 7, 2011
Will New York Outlaw Pirate Radio?
*Will NEW YORK become the latest state
to make pirate radio a crime? Beset by a growing number of unlicensed
broadcasters and an understaffed FCC that can't keep up with
the interference they cause, state lawmakers in Florida and New
Jersey have passed laws in recent years giving state law-enforcement
officials the power to investigate and shut down unlicensed broadcasters.
Now the Empire State is poised to join them, as Albany lawmakers
consider a pair of bills (A.326 in the state assembly, S.2737
in the state senate) that would make a class D felon out of anyone
who "knowingly makes or causes to be made a radio transmission
in this state without first having obtained a license or an exemption
from licensure" or "acts, whether directly or indirectly,
to cause an unauthorized radio transmission to, or interference
with, a public or commercial radio station...or to enable the
radio transmission or interference to occur."
The bill has the support of the New York State Broadcasters
Association, whose members (especially in the New York City area)
have long been plagued by pirates that interfere with their signals
and, in some cases, their business. So it's not surprising to
see the outspoken Bill O'Shaughnessy, whose WVIP (93.5 New Rochelle)
broadcasts leased-time programming to many of the same audiences
targeted by the pirates, making a strong case for the anti-pirate
O'Shaughnessy praises the dedication of the "legitimate
entrepreneurial minority broadcasters who play by the rules and
serve a wide range of constituencies with community programming
broadcast in many different languages," but he warns that
"their dedication and hard work is seriously threatened
by the 'fly by night' pirates who are in clear violation of Federal
laws concerning the integrity of the spectrum." And he says
the situation has gotten so out of control that "FCC field
agents have actually been threatened when, with their limited
staff resources, they tried to move on the pirates."
But the broadcast community in New York is far from unanimous
in its support of the bill. The Society of Broadcast Engineers
has opposed state involvement in broadcast regulation, warning
that the establishment of state jurisdiction in one context (pirate
radio, in this case) could lead to states asserting regulatory
authority over other aspects of broadcasting as well - including
areas such as tower siting where broadcasters have traditionally
relied on federal preemption of state law to get around local
authorities that have tried to restrict their operations.
"The bill as New York has configured it is preempted
on its face by the Communications Act of 1934. The case law is
very clear. It is subject to challenge, just as the New Jersey
and Florida statutes are," said SBE general counsel Chris
Imlay in a message to New York members.
There are other concerns about the proposed new law as well:
in a state that's already struggling to find money for essential
services, some broadcasters ask, where would the funding come
from to track down pirates and bring them to justice? And there
are questions about whether the law is written in an overly broad
way that could affect licensed amateur operators or Part 15 broadcasters
operating legally without licenses.
The bill was referred to committees in both the Assembly and
Senate last month; we'll be following its progress through Albany's
legislative morass in the months to come.
*One of the bigger
ratings surprises in recent years has come from Rochester, where
a plucky little oldies station called "Legends" emerged
from obscurity to settle into a comfortable spot in the middle
of the market's top ten stations.
Rochester's "Legends," WLGZ (102.7 Webster), changed
owners last year from Don Crawford's Crawford Broadcasting to
DJRA Broadcasting, owned by Donald Crawford Jr., and last week
the younger Crawford shipped "Legends" down the Thruway
to his other upstate signal, Albany-market WPTR (96.7 Clifton
Albany's new "Legends 96.7" replaces a Christian
contemporary format, "Pulse 96.7," and Crawford openly
blames the arrival of an out-of-town competitor for the format's
demise. In a letter to listeners, Crawford acknowledged that
much of his audience was being lost to EMF Broadcasting's "K-Love"
(heard in Albany on WYKL 94.5) and "Air 1" (WOOB 93.7).
"Unfortunately, there are not enough Christian listeners
in the Capital Region to support three nothing-but-music Christian
radio stations," he wrote. "Because we must air commercials
to survive, and most do not want to listen to them, most will
resort to another source for Christian music, whether the Internet,
Satellite radio, or another radio station. Therefore, we can
neither compete nor continue to morally or confidently bring
on new advertisers, knowing they will not get the support they
need to at least break even on their advertising investment."
Crawford says the plan is to use increased revenues from WPTR's
oldies format to help sustain sister station WDCD (1540 Albany),
still owned by Crawford Broadcasting and carrying a Christian
teaching format. Former WPTR afternoon host Alison Stevens moves
to mornings on WDCD - and at least for now, "Legends 96.7"
is using an on-air lineup that comes mainly from Rochester's
"Legends," where jocks are voicetracking shifts for
And yes, WPTR's shift to oldies means that Albany once again
has a format battle between stations called "WPTR"
and "WTRY." It's a far cry from the hard-fought AM
top-40 war between WPTR on 1540 and WTRY on 980 that lasted all
through the sixties and seventies, but the new Legends is competing
directly with Clear Channel's classic hits WTRY (98.3 Rotterdam).
One more Clear Channel Albany note: D. Scott is the new afternoon
jock at WKKF (102.3 Ballston Spa), providing some local content
in a "Kiss" lineup dominated by syndicated jocks Elvis
Duran and Ryan Seacrest.
*Radio People on the Move in New York City: Heather Walters
is out of middays at CBS Radio's "Fresh" WWFS (102.7),
replaced by former WLTW (Lite 106.7) weekender Karen Carson,
who's just departed the Clear Channel AC signal to rejoin her
former PD Jim Ryan down the street at Fresh. Carson had also
been voicetracking for Clear Channel's KOST (103.5) in Los Angeles.
Former ESPN talker Stephen A. Smith is rejoining the network,
starting at its local stations in New York and Los Angeles. Smith
is joining WEPN (1050 New York) for a new 7-9 PM local show,
after which he'll stay in the studio to do a local show for KSPN
(710 Los Angeles) that will air from 6-8 PM out there; it's expected
that he'll also begin contributing to the network's basketball
Across the Hudson, Curtis Sliwa is adding even more airtime
at Salem's WNYM (970 Hackensack). In addition to doing mornings
six days a week on "970 the Apple," Sliwa is now also
doing two hours of afternoon talk, from 5-7 PM, alongside Gerson
CALENDAR 2011 - IT'S HERE!
It's 2011 now - and that 2010 calendar on your
wall won't do you much good, will it?
But lucky for you, we're here to help:
Tower Site Calendar 2011 is now available, featuring
more than a dozen great images of radio and TV broadcast facilities
all over the country (and even beyond - this year's edition takes
us to Mexico!)
Thrill to a night shot of KFI's new tower!
Check out the WAEB Allentown array just after it lost a tower
- or enjoy the history at venerable sites like those of KID in
Idaho Falls, WCAP in Lowell, KTKT in Tucson and Rochester's Pinnacle
But wait - there's more! We now have a
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as well as a limited supply of Tower Site Calendar 2010
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Orders of 20 or more calendars get a discount.
We'll even add a bow or a gift card upon request.
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*One of CANADA's first black-owned
radio stations has changed hands, and that's brought big changes
in staff and programming at "Flow 93.5," CFXJ Toronto.
closed on its C$27 million purchase of the station from founder
Denham Jolly last week, and wasted no time moving the station's
studios from 211 Yonge Street to the CHUM complex between Richmond
and Queen streets.
With a new slogan of "Hip-hop, dance and R&B,"
CTV's version of Flow more closely resembles a rhythmic top-40
than the urban station Jolly was running - and along with the
format shift came the departure of many of Jolly's employees,
including PD Wayne Williams and much of the station's airstaff.
Will the "Flow" name survive the transition, or
will CTV install the "Bounce" moniker it's been using
on rhythmic top-40 stations in Edmonton, Halifax and elsewhere?
*When we sat down to write last week's NERW, we didn't include
an item about the "suspension" of the morning team
at Ottawa's "Virgin Radio" (CKQB 106.9). Something
about the story - perhaps the idea that the hosts were pulled
from the air after disobeying orders from "the boss"
to stop mentioning the station's former identity as "The
Bear" - carried with it a strong whiff of eau de publicity
sure enough, our nose wasn't steering us wrong: as of Friday
morning, the "Virgin" identity, which never quite fit
the rock format in Ottawa as well as it did at Astral's top-40
"Virgin" signals in Montreal and Toronto, is gone.
106.9 is now back to "The Bear" after just over two
years - and the existing airstaff (yes, including the "suspended"
morning team) remains in place.
*Corus has now completed its exit from Quebec, and Cogeco
is already making changes at the stations it's acquiring in a
C$80 million deal. The acquisition included a requirement that
Cogeco spin off stations in Quebec City and Sherbrooke, but in
order to hang on to a Sherbrooke outlet for its "CKOI"
French-language hot AC network, Cogeco ended up swapping formats
and calls there as the deal closed.
will still sell the 104.5 facility in Sherbrooke, as the CRTC
required - but that's no longer CKOY. It's now CJTS, carrying
the "Souvenirs Garantis" French oldies format that
had been on CHLT (107.7) - and 107.7, which stays with Cogeco,
is now CKOY, carrying the CKOI relay.
*What's the largest Canadian city with no local CBC radio
outlet? Hamilton, Ontario - but perhaps not for much longer.
The national broadcaster unveiled its "CBC 2015" expansion
plan last week, calling for additional local service in Hamilton
and several other communities that now rely on CBC signals serving
larger markets. The CBC acknowledges that there's no space on
the FM dial for a new Radio One signal in Hamilton, but it says
it may explore other ways to bring local service there.
*Radio People on the Move: Jamieson Bridal moves from afternoons
on Brockville's CFJR (104.9) to mornings on sister station CJPT
(103.7 Bob FM), replacing "Bob's Breakfast with Ali, Chris
and the Lock." Ryan Valdron moves from CHST (102.3 Bob FM)
in London to CFJR to replace Bridal, reports Milkman UnLimited.
Were you on vacation earlier
this month? Away from the computer? Did you miss our giant 2010 Year in Review special? It's available
all year, including the Rant, right
here! And don't wait until NERW Monday
for breaking news - follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates as they happen!
*In a week when PENNSYLVANIA, at least
its western half, was paying more attention to football than
radio for some reason, the biggest news was the weather. While
Pittsburgh and vicinity ended up with rain instead of the predicted
heavy snowfall, there was plenty of snow in the central part
of the state, sending engineers scurrying to keep transmitter
sites on the air as power failed in some areas.
In Harrisburg, ABC affiliate WHTM (Channel 27) lost its over-the-air
signal for much of a day, which also knocked out the station's
signal for Dish Network and DirecTV viewers.
In Philadelphia, there's a new assistant PD/music director
at Clear Channel's WUSL (98.9) and WDAS-FM (105.3). Kelly Mac
moves north from WJMZ in Greenville, South Carolina to handle
music and programming at "Power 99" and its urban AC
Birach Broadcasting's WWCS (540 Canonsburg) went silent last
week, a month to the day after its former Radio Disney programming
moved up the dial to Disney-owned WDDZ (1250 Pittsburgh, ex-WEAE).
WWCS had been broadcasting a loop directing listeners to Disney's
new home, but after that extra month of leased time from Disney
ended, and we hear that there was a scramble to figure out how
to control the WWCS transmitter locally once that lease was up;
it had been controlled remotely from the WEAE/WDDZ studios in
the WTAE (Channel 4) building on Ardmore Boulevard in Pittsburgh.
*And just days before the Steelers hit the gridiron for Super
Bowl XLV, the long-lost video footage of Super Bowl I surfaced
in another corner of the Keystone State. For years now, the NFL
and video historians have been searching diligently for any surviving
copy of the first "Big Game" back in 1967, which was
broadcast by NBC and CBS but which was not preserved by either
network. Just last week, the Paley Center for Media in New York
revealed that it's been restoring an incomplete copy of the game
that was taped off Scranton's WDAU-TV (now WYOU-TV, channel 22)
and then stored in an attic for decades.
The 2" tape actually surfaced back in 2005, but news
of its existence remained under wraps while its owner, the son
of the man (evidently an employee at WDAU-TV or a competitor)
who recorded the video, negotiated with the NFL over rights to
the video. According to the Wall Street Journal article
announcing the discovery of the tape, the NFL (in good NFL fashion)
asserted that it holds the copyright to the game footage, offering
its owner a mere $30,000. For now, the tape, restored by the
Paley Center, remains in legal limbo; here's hoping we get to
see it in its entirety someday.
*NEW JERSEY's newest TV allocation
will hit the auction block with only a few interested bidders.
The FCC released its list of "qualified applicants"
in the upcoming Auction 90 last week, and only three broadcasters
bothered to fill out the paperwork and commit to bidding for
either a new signal on channel 4 in Atlantic City or channel
5 in Seaford, Delaware. Notably absent from the list was PMCM,
the sister company to New Jersey's Press Communications, which
had started the whole process rolling with its attempt to use
an obscure FCC rule to move two existing stations from small
towns in Nevada and Wyoming to suburbs of Philadelphia and New
As NERW readers will recall, the FCC sidestepped PMCM's application,
which was premised on the lack of VHF signals in New Jersey and
Delaware after the DTV transition, by instead allotting other
VHF channels to communities in both states that are more distant
from the big markets PMCM sought to serve. And if the FCC's intent
was to create new allotments that wouldn't be very desirable
to anyone else, either, it appears to have succeeded: of eight
broadcasters who'd originally expressed interest in the new channels,
the only ones left are Avinash C. Ahuja, Loop Media LLC and Western
Pacific Broadcast LLC.
The FCC hasn't yet announced minimum bids for the Atlantic
City or Seaford facilities; the bidding will start February 15.
*Radio People on the Move: former WPST (94.5 Trenton) morning
man Tommy Jordan has landed in morning drive just south of the
Mason-Dixon line, where he's joining WAFY (103.1) in Frederick,
Maryland. Jordan had also been heard at WJRZ (100.1 Manahawkin),
where veteran Jersey jock Tripp Rogers has just signed on for
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*As WCAP in Lowell, MASSACHUSETTS heads
towards its sixtieth anniversary later this year, the station's
owners are heading to court in a dispute over who's actually
running WCAP's operations.
broadcaster Clark Smidt and Lowell businessman Sam Poulten joined
forces in 2007 to form Merrimack Valley Radio, becoming just
the second owners in WCAP's history.
But the Lowell Sun reports relations between the partners
began turning chilly last summer, when Smidt demanded that Poulten
meet him in mediation to resolve some management disputes. Smidt's
lawyers say Poulten cancelled that meeting, and now Smidt is
seeking to have Poulten removed from WCAP's daily operations,
saying Poulten "refused to work on a regular basis to deliver
significant advertising revenues, interfered with staff members'
duties, failed to take part in managerial duties, failed to provide
documentation to complete a Small Business Association loan application
and failed to communicate in a factual, timely or helpful manner
regarding the financial needs and responsible and profitable
operation of Merrimack Valley Radio."
Poulten's lawyers tell the Sun that they're planning
a countersuit, saying it was Smidt who refused to meet with Poulten;
here at NERW, where we take a very personal interest in the station
that gave your editor his start in broadcasting, we're hoping
for an amicable resolution that can keep Lowell's hometown station
going and avoid a sale that could mean the end of local broadcasting
on the AM dial in Lowell.
*Some happier news: Pete Braley is celebrating 20 years on
the air at WBSM (1420 New Bedford), and we're told he marked
his 5,000th morning show last week. That's a lot of early wakeups
- and a rare sort of longevity these days!
a new FM station on the air - sort of - in Danbury, CONNECTICUT,
where Berkshire Broadcasting has changed the callsign of WREF
(850 Ridgefield) to WAXB, rebranding the station as "B107.3"
as it makes its FM debut on newly-acquired translator W279AN
(107.3 Danbury), transmitting from the tower of co-owned WLAD
(800)/WDAQ (98.3). The new B107.3 keeps the same satellite-delivered
True Oldies Channel format; its new calls, meanwhile, have a
history in the market, having been heard on the competing station
that's now WDBY (105.5 Patterson NY) back when it was "B105.5"
And speaking of WDAQ, it has a new PD: Rich Minor, 98Q's morning
man, is now programming the station as well, taking over from
the recently departed Zach Dillon. Dillon had also been doing
afternoons, and that airshift has now been filled by former night
jock Nate, who's also music director.
Meanwhile in New Haven, Juan Castillo moves up from PD to
director of operations at WYBC-FM (94.3), while Anthony Brooks
takes over as PD.
*Radio People on the Move in NEW HAMPSHIRE:
in Concord, Ryan Seacrest is gone from middays at WJYY (105.5),
where morning co-host Mya will now be heard in middays, while
the syndicated interactive Jelli takes over from 10 PM-midnight.
On the seacoast, Sean Sullivan departs WERZ (107.1 Exeter),
heading for "ventures outside the broadcast industry."
PD Jeff Pierce is tracking the afternoon shift until a permanent
replacement is named.
*Across the state line in MAINE, religious
WSEW in Sanford has completed its move from 88.5 to 88.7, more
than doubling power from 3.2 kW/564' (vertical-only) to 6.5 kW/719'
the NERW Archives
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.
One Year Ago: February 8, 2010 -
- The three-way battle for talk radio listeners in Albany is
down to two competitors. Albany Broadcasting is pulling the plug
on talk at WROW (590), and we're hearing most of the station's
staff, including morning host Steve van Zandt, was let go this
morning. (Also out are news director Heidi Kelly and news producer
Tom Rigatti; most of the actual WROW newscasts had already been
outsourced.) The 590 signal will be simulcasting soft AC/standards
WKLI (100.9) for the time being; WROW PD Jackie Donovan, who
co-hosted the morning show, stays on as a WKLI jock, we're told.
There's no word about a new Albany affiliate for the station's
other local show, Susan Arbetter's "Capital Pressroom,"
which is produced by Syracuse public station WCNY.
- WROW's demise is good news for competitor WGDJ (1300 Rensselaer),
staffed in large part by former WROW staffers; Clear Channel's
WGY (810 Schenectady) is the other talker left standing.
- The "Magic" format from WKLI will apparently become
WROW's new permanent format in a few months, when a new format
arrives on 100.9.
- Much more in next week's NERW...
- *In the years just after World War II, Hornell, NEW YORK
was a happening little place. The small city of 15,000 or so
people boasted a daily newspaper, and beginning in 1946, its
own FM station, WWHG-FM (105.3), named for newspaper publisher
W.H. Greenhow. In 1948, a competing AM outlet, daytimer WLEA
(1320), sprouted - and two years after that, the paper launched
its own AM daytimer, WWHG (1590), then promptly bought out WLEA,
silenced 1590 and moved WWHG down the dial to 1320. (A new WLEA
quickly returned to the airwaves as yet another kilowatt daytimer,
operating on 1480, where it continues to this day.)
- In later years, the AM station on 1320 became WHHO, while
the FM became WKPQ. And as of last week, the AM station is off
the air, its license cancelled by the FCC for failure to live
up to the terms of a 2008 consent decree.
- That agreement, which we reported in NERW back on April 7,
2008, obligated licensee Bilbat Radio to pay $20,000 to settle
allegations of public-file discrepancies at WHHO and WKPQ. The
payments for WKPQ were apparently made, since the FM station
was successfully transferred to a new owner (which also ended
up with the studio building and transmitter site for both stations,
by way of a 2007 foreclosure sale), but the picture for WHHO
and owner Bill Berry was less rosy.
- Despite an installment-plan agreement under which Berry could
have paid WHHO's $10,000 fine (er, "voluntary contribution
to the U.S. Treasury") in ten installments of $1,000 each,
it appears that not even a single payment was made.
- "Lack of revenue prohibited the timely payment of the
fine," Berry said in a statement he released after the FCC
sent him a letter denying WHHO's license-renewal application.
And by Thursday, the 1320 frequency had fallen silent in Hornell
for the first time in more than sixty years.
- Assuming this is really the end for WHHO ("deleted"
doesn't always mean dead and gone at the FCC, which has been
known to reinstate "deleted" stations when an unpaid
fine is paid at the last moment), this brings to an end a long,
sad saga for WHHO, which has been struggling for survival since
Bilbat co-owner Richard "Bat" Lyons fell ill a few
years back. (Lyons died in 2006.)
- The mess apparently began with several failed attempts to
sell WHHO and WKPQ, first to Pennsylvania's Sabrecomm, then to
Elmira's Pembrook Pines group; the collapse of the latter deal
landed Berry and Lyons in a nasty court battle with Pembrook
Pines that found control of the FM station passing back and forth
- At one point, there was a tentative solution in which Pembrook
Pines would have ended up with WKPQ while Berry kept WHHO and
received Pembrook's WABH (1380 Bath) as well. That, too, was
never consummated, and the foreclosure of the WKPQ/WHHO properties
soon followed, along with the sale of the FM license. (WHHO continued
to operate out of the joint studio facility, most recently with
a format that mixed Fox Sports Radio with some syndicated talk.)
- Under its new ownership, WKPQ at least appears to have once
again found some stability. As for its erstwhile AM sister, if
WHHO is truly dead, the frequency may stay dead for a while:
it would take another AM filing window for new applications for
1320 to be accepted, and the FCC no longer grants new class D
facilities like WHHO's 5 kW daytime/22 watts night, non-directional,
which means a new 1320 would have to employ a more expensive
directional antenna system - assuming that other stations in
the region don't claim the frequency first by filing minor changes
in the meantime.
- And perhaps the time for such a facility has simply passed:
Hornell's population now numbers barely more than 9,000, and
in addition to WKPQ there's radio competition from WLEA and its
sister FM, WCKR (92.1), not to mention the daily Tribune. That's
a lot of media for a small town, even without one venerable AM
- *As one western New York station died last week, another
was being born. Go west from Hornell 60 miles or so and you come
to Little Valley, in Cattaraugus County, where the Seneca Nation
signed on WGWE (105.9) last Monday morning at 6, kicking off
the broadcast with a traditional Seneca prayer of thanksgiving.
WGWE's regular format is Citadel's satellite-delivered classic
hits, but the station also has a local morning show and noontime
request show, hosted by Mike Smith, aka "Smitty," who
left a long stint at Olean's WPIG to join the station. It's based
in a former convenience store in Salamanca, and its 7 kW/626'
class B1 signal reaches north almost to Erie County and west
almost to the Pennsylvania state line. WGWE (the calls come from
a Seneca word that means "what's up") is also carrying
Buffalo Bandits lacrosse games, and plans to add high school
sports to its schedule as well.
- Out on Long Island, Barnstable is about to pull the plug
on its AC format at WLVG (96.1 Center Moriches), using the signal
to simulcast its Nassau County "K-Joy" (WKJY 98.3 Hempstead)
to Suffolk County listeners. March 1 is the target date for "KJOY
96.1 Suffolk" to make its debut, replacing the former "Love
- And we note with sadness the passing of Cecil Heftel, the
entrepreneur who built several clusters of radio stations including
the group that became the core of today's Univision Radio, over
four decades in the business. Heftel's first northeastern acquisition
was Pittsburgh's WJAS (1320) in 1973, which was soon renamed
WKTQ ("13Q") for a short but very memorable run as
a screaming top-40 station. Heftel sold WKTQ in 1976 when he
entered the world of politics as a congressman from Hawaii; while
he removed himself from day-to-day operations, his company went
on to buy WWEL/WWEL-FM in Boston in 1979, relaunching the stations
as top-40 "Kiss 108" WXKS-FM and "Music of Your
Life" WXKS 1430. (The original Heftel group was sold off
not long after that; by 1982, WXKS/WXKS-FM were in the hands
of Pyramid Broadcasting.)
- After serving five terms, Heftel lost a 1986 bid for governor
of Hawaii. That same year, he returned to radio, entering the
New York market with the purchase of WADO (1280) and later WPAT
(930 Paterson). A decade later, he merged his company with Texas-based
Tichenor Media to create a larger Heftel group, which added WNWK
(105.9 Newark, later WCAA and the ancestor of today's WXNY 96.3)
to the cluster in 1998 in exchange for WPAT and $115 million.
- Heftel also served as a congressman from Hawaii from 1976-1986.
He died on Friday (Feb. 5) in San Diego, at age 85.
- Three stations in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton market changed
hands last week as WS2K Radio LLC (the remnant of the old Route
81 group) exited the market, closing on its sale of WLNP (94.3
Carbondale), WNAK (730 Nanticoke) and WCDL (1440 Carbondale)
to Bold Gold, which paid just $500,000 for the three stations
- barely more than the $475,000 that Route 81 paid for WNAK alone
back in 2003. (WCDL and what's now WLNP came as part of a $2.5
million purchase from Citadel that also included WAZL in Hazleton
and WHYL in Carlisle.)
- Bold Gold adds the three signals to a cluster that already
includes WWRR (104.9 Scranton) and the "Game" AM network
(WICK 1400 Scranton/WYCK 1340 Plains/WFBS 1280 Berwick); for
now, WLNP is in a temporary simulcast of WWRR ("The River")
while the AMs are silent awaiting a new format.
- More NEW JERSEY news: Tommy Jordan is out as morning man
at WPST (94.5 Trenton) after a decade and a half; Chris Rollins
is now helming "Chris & Crew" in morning drive
- One of CANADA's oldest TV newsrooms is a smoky, waterlogged
mess today, and it may be a while before the newspeople at CTV's
CJOH (Channel 13) in Ottawa can return to their usual home base
on the second floor of CJOH's Merivale Road studios in suburban
Nepean after a fire ripped through the facility early Sunday
- Nobody was working in the newsroom when the fire broke out
overnight, and by the time a security guard summoned firefighters,
there had already been extensive damage (estimated at over $2
million) to the newsroom, including the apparent destruction
of most of CJOH's archives.
- The show must go on, of course, and CJOH's news staff is
relocating to the A Channel (CHRO) newsroom at Byward Market
in downtown Ottawa for the next few days, at least. Fortunately
for them (if not for Ottawa news consumers), the space was available
after CTV cancelled most of the local news product on A Channel.
- As of Sunday afternoon, CTV was considering its options,
which include the possibility of moving CJOH's operations out
of the Merivale building for good. CTV sold the building several
years ago and had been leasing it back.
Five Years Ago: February 6, 2006
- So much for the oldies on Buffalo's WWKB (1520) - after a
three-year run with the format (almost to the day, actually),
they're gone, as of 3 PM Monday, replaced with liberal talk.
And that means two liberal talkers in Buffalo, unless Entercom's
pre-emptive strike on 1520 knocks WHLD's plans out before the
new station can even get out of the gate. Much more next week!
- *There are certainly bigger stories making headlines in PENNSYLVANIA
this week - especially for football fans anywhere west of Harrisburg
or thereabouts - but for fans of old-time radio history, there's
a pretty significant story developing in the small town of Grove
City, halfway between Pittsburgh and Erie.
- That's where one of the last vestiges of the early history
of educational radio may now have breathed its last. WSAJ (1340)
traced its history back to amateur station 8CO, which began operations
in 1914. After being silenced by the war, Grove City College
returned to the air in 1920 as 8YV, and in 1921, 8YV received
a broadcast license as WSAJ, using a transmitter built by electrical
engineering professor Dr. Herbert W. Harmon.
- For most of its existence, WSAJ shared time with what's now
WOYL in Oil City, and even after WOYL went full-time (with a
directional antenna), WSAJ remained at 100 watts, operating only
two days a week from the very same wire cage antenna (rebuilt
in 2002) from which it signed on in 1921. There's very good reason
to believe that the antenna atop Rockwell Science Hall is the
oldest AM transmitter site in the United States, predating by
several years the KGFJ (KYPA) site in Los Angeles.
- Sadly, WSAJ's long run on the AM dial now appears to be over.
The station added an FM service on 91.1 in the eighties, and
the AM facility's been somewhat neglected ever since. Its 1950-vintage
transmitter was out of service for a while, and the old cage
antenna was damaged a few years ago. And while the antenna was
fixed and a new LPB transmitter installed, WSAJ's management
apparently lost interest in their historic little treasure somewhere
along the way. Last week, word began circulating that there wouldn't
be a renewal application filed for WSAJ(AM), and it now appears
that the FCC has cancelled WSAJ's license and deleted the AM
- That's stirred concern among some NERW readers, who wonder
whether it's possible to save this nifty little relic of another
era of broadcasting. From what we've heard, there are engineers
and FCC experts out there who are willing to take on the task
of trying to get the license renewed and putting the AM 1340
signal back on the air - and there's apparently a closed-circuit
student station on campus that would no doubt appreciate having
the over-the-air signal, even with only 100 watts. (Students
are heard for four hours nightly on WSAJ-FM, which runs satellite-delivered
classical and jazz for the remainder of its broadcast day.)
- Does Grove City College know what it's on the verge of losing
for good? And is it too late to do anything about it?
- Elsewhere in the Keystone State, WAMO (860 Millvale-Pittsburgh)
announced that it will join Radio One's new urban talk network
beginning February 27, adding Radio One's 10 AM-7 PM schedule
to a lineup that already includes Tom Joyner's morning show and
the local Bev Smith talk show in the evening. WAMO had been carrying
on the "Majic" R&B oldies format that was simulcast
with the former WJJJ (107.1 Greensburg), which relaunched last
week as "Sam FM" WGSM under new owner Renda.
- Western NEW YORK is getting another progressive talk station,
with a familiar Buffalo name at the helm.
- Starting next Monday (Feb. 13), Citadel will lease WHLD (1270
Niagara Falls) to "Niagara Independent Media," a consortium
that includes longtime Buffalo newsman Ray Marks. He and Alex
Blair will host a 6-10 AM talk show on the station, with programming
from Air America filling out the day.
- Alert NERW readers will recall a mention late last year of
the WHLD calls appearing on - and then disappearing from - the
Air America website, and now we know why.
- Will WHLD do better than Entercom's WROC (950 Rochester),
where a mediocre signal and a near-total lack of promotion (not
to mention the disappearance of local content) have led to nonexistent
ratings? It can't hurt to have Ray Marks involved, certainly,
and the WHLD signal (diplexed with WNED 970 at that station's
five-tower site in Hamburg) catches most of the areas in Buffalo
and the Falls that would likely tune in to the new programming.
- Speaking of WNED, the public broadcaster is joining forces
with the state's other public TV outlets (WXXI Rochester, WCNY
Syracuse, WSKG Binghamton, WPBS Watertown, WMHT Schenectady,
WCFE Plattsburgh and WNET New York) to launch a fiber interconnection
that will allow the stations to share programming statewide,
including WNED's "ThinkBright" educational channel,
which will be seen on DTV subchannels across the state once the
interconnect is completed. The interconnect project, which will
cost $1.35 million, is funded by a matching grant from the Corporation
for Public Broadcasting.
- Sorry to report the passing of two New York voices: Al Lewis
was best known as "Grandpa Munster," of course, but
his long and varied career also included political activism and
a Saturday talk show on WBAI (99.5), which had been hosted by
his wife Karen in recent months as Lewis' health deteriorated.
Lewis died Friday (Feb. 3); he was widely reported to have been
95, but his son says he was 82. And Michael O'Neil, whose deep
tones were heard doing news on WMCA and WINS, died last week
in Florida at the age of 74. O'Neil, whose resume also included
a stint at Chicago's WCFL, retired from WINS in 1992.
- It's the end of the line for more than half a century of
community radio at two eastern MASSACHUSETTS AM stations. The
Asher family, which put WJDA (1300 Quincy) on the air in 1947
(the calls stand for James D. Asher) and which has owned WESX
(1230 Salem) for years, is selling the stations, for $4.5 million.
- The buyer is Principal Broadcasting Network, with financial
support from Mercury Capital Partners, and when the deal closes,
Principal principal Otto Miller (who ran New York's WNWK and
WKDM for Multicultural Broadcasting) will reportedly flip the
stations to a religious format similar to that at WDJZ (1530
- Over in Maynard, it was another tumultuous week for WAVM
(91.7). The station's fight for survival was featured in a segment
on NPR's "All Things Considered" last week (including
an interview with your editor) - and in the meantime, WAVM and
its partner, Boston's WUMB (91.9), rejected a proposal from Living
Proof that would have settled the controversy over the FCC's
tentative grant to the California religious broadcaster of a
construction permit in Lunenburg.
- While the deal would have given WAVM protected class A status,
it would have required WAVM to build a complicated directional
antenna - and it would have also granted a new class A signal
on 91.7 in Lexington to another religious broadcaster, CSN International.
As NERW had suspected, the prospect of a new adjacent-channel
signal right along Route 128. WUMB and WAVM are proposing an
alternate deal that would give them a class A on 91.7 in Maynard
and still yield a class A signal out in Lunenburg for Living
Proof - but that would shut out CSN, which would still have to
agree to that deal before it can move forward. Stay tuned...
10 Years Ago: February 5, 2001 -
- Radio listeners in western MASSACHUSETTS woke up to some
changes on Thursday (Feb. 1), at least if they were fans of the
adult album alternative sounds of WRSI or the country music on
- We told you a few weeks ago that Vox's purchase of WPVQ from
Cardwell Broadcasting would mean the move of WPVQ's country from
the Turners Falls 93.9 signal to WRSI's Greenfield-licensed 95.3,
with WRSI's "River" format drifting downstream to 93.9
and its translators, W246AM (97.1) in Amherst and W287AK (105.3)
in South Hadley. And indeed, the switch happened right on schedule
at midnight, accompanied by days of reminders on both stations
(though, oddly, very little on either station's Web site.)
- But as country listeners move over to 95.3 (now known as
"The Bear"), River fans have still one more frequency
to check for their station. In addition to the former WPVQ outlets,
Vox also put the River on what had been WSSH (101.5 Marlboro
VT), part of a three-station simulcast of soft AC (along with
WZSH Bellows Falls and WWSH White River Junction) as "Wish."
- The new calls on 101.5 are WRSY (the other two stations continue
with Wish), returning the AAA format to an area WRSI used to
serve when it was simulcast on still another frequency, the 100.7
in Wilmington, Vermont known as WVAY, then WMTT, and now WVAY
again. (That station has been simulcasting Vox classic rocker
WEXP Brandon-Rutland for the last few months.)
- If Vox's moves aren't enough, here's one more in the Pioneer
Valley: Saga, which is buying Greenfield's WHAI/WHAI-FM from
the Haigis family, has filed to change the calls of WHAI(AM)
(1240) to WHMQ. A few weeks ago, we predicted that the AM station
would become a simulcast of Saga's WHMP (1400 Northampton)...looks
like we were right. (With the other WHMP simulcast, WHNP 1600
East Longmeadow, the WHMP signal now reaches pretty much the
entire Pioneer Valley.)
- Meanwhile in Boston, WILD (1090) is facing some unwanted
attention after the dismissal of a reporter who aggressively
questioned Mayor Thomas Menino during a January interview.
- Bernardine Nash, WILD's former owner (and now station manager
since the station's sale to Radio One), tells the Globe that
Rose Arruda acted more as an activist than a journalist when
she asked Menino about stalled contract talks with city firefighters
and other issues.
- Menino tells the Globe he asked his press secretary after
the interview to make sure there were no repercussions over Arruda's
- (The paper speculates that Nash dismissed Arruda in part
to "curry favor for a possible antenna in Boston,"
confusing WILD, whose tower is in Medford, with its FM sister
WBOT Brockton, which can't move north to Boston anyway because
of stations in Winchendon and Dover, N.H.)
- Easy come, easy go: Boston's newest independent TV station,
WHUB-TV (Channel 66 Marlborough), quietly ended its run on Wednesday
after less than half a year with the format. The station is back
to the Home Shopping Network fare it used to run (as WHSH), while
it awaits the sale of parent USA Broadcasting to Univision, expected
in the next few months. Looking for WHUB-TV's local sports (like
the upcoming Beanpot hockey tournament?) You'll find many of
them on AT&T Cable's channel 3.
- Radio People On The Move: John "Hutch" Hutchinson
is leaving his afternoon slot at Plymouth's WPLM-FM (99.1) to
return to Boston -- and to start a new career as an account executive
at Greater Media's WROR (105.7 Framingham). Hutch's distinctive
accent will still be heard on the weekends on WROR and on his
old home, WBOS (92.9 Brookline). Remember Rico Petrocelli and
Stu Taylor from their "Home Team" morning show a few
years back on WBPS (890 Dedham)? They're back -- on the same
towers, even -- doing the "Home Team" on weekends on
WBIX (1060 Natick).
- A strange story from NEW YORK's Capital Region just got a
lot stranger. We've been telling you about the return of WPYX
(106.5 Albany)'s Bob Wolf after his breakup with co-host John
Mulrooney, ending Clear Channel's attempt to keep the show on
the air in both Cleveland (where Wolf and Mulrooney moved last
year) and Albany.
- Now Mulrooney's facing harassment charges brought by Wolf
(whose real name is Robert Wohlfeld), which culminated in Mulrooney's
arrest a week ago when he returned to Albany for a visit.
- Wolf says Mulrooney threatened him by phone over money Wolf
owed from a loan last year, leading him to file the harassment
complaint, saying he feared for his family's safety. Police in
the Albany suburb of Colonie arrested Mulrooney, 42, at a gun
- Mulrooney was released on his own recognizance and was back
on the air this week at Cleveland's WMMS, albeit without another
former member of the "Wolf and Mulrooney Show." Newscaster
Ellen Z. (Thaler) followed Wolf back to Albany to rejoin him
at WPYX, along with another of Wolf's former colleagues.
- John Tobin, who worked with Wolf at Poughkeepsie's WPDH (101.5)
in the mid-nineties, left WPDH last week to join Wolf on the
"Wakin' Up with the Wolf" show, in turn leaving the
"Tobin and Cooper" morning show on WPDH with just one
- New York listeners might not have Juan Gonzalez anymore,
but they're getting a taste of one of Rochester's top-rated morning
hosts, thanks to a bit of Infinity corporate synergy. "Brother
Wease," whose gravelly voice was waking up WCMF (96.5 Rochester)
listeners when Howard Stern was still a nobody in Connecticut,
is now being heard on WNEW (102.7 New York) via a Saturday "best-of"
show. Will Wease (aka Alan Levin) make sense in the Big Apple,
or is he one of those local tastes that just can't be exported
(like white hots, for instance)? We suspect the latter...but
offer Wease our best wishes anyway.
- Last year's fad format was "Jammin' Oldies." This
year it's 80s pop, and it was no great surprise to discover that
one of Rochester's most inconsequential stations made a weekend
format flip from the one to the other. Clear Channel's WLCL (107.3
South Bristol) dropped its "Cool 107" identity to become
"Channel 107.3" -- the second all-80s station in Rochester,
following on the heels of last fall's switch at Entercom's 98.9,
now WBZA "the Buzz," which has a far superior class
B signal and will soon have jocks and a morning show and all
the things that used to be considered more than optional for
a radio station.
- Two questions come to mind: first, will this incarnation
of WLCL be any less of an identity-free jukebox than the Jammin'
Oldies version (which never did anything substantive by way of
local jocks or promotion, and second, will Clear Channel ever
build out the CPs that will move 107.3 from its short tower south
of town in Bloomfield to the much taller Bristol Mountain, way
out of town, while at the same time moving WNVE ("the Nerve")
from Bristol to Baker Hill in Perinton. (And is it legal for
WLCL to be using South Bristol as its community of license when
it barely pumps any signal over the hill into that small town
from its current site?)
- Oh yeah, a third question comes to mind: does anybody, anywhere,
really need to be able to hear A Flock of Seagulls on two stations
in one market?
- Back to New England for a few minutes: in MAINE, J.J. Jeffrey
has made the format change on his WLOB stations (WLOB 1310 Portland
and WLOB-FM 96.3 Rumford), dropping the religious programming
that ran in the stations' Carter Broadcasting days in favor of
news, talk, and classic jingles as "Newstalk WLOB."
- Meanwhile, the erstwhile third wheel of the WLOB simulcast,
WLLB (790 Rumford), is now simulcasting with WTME (1240 Lewiston)
and WKTQ (1450 South Paris) under its new Gleason Group ownership.
- And way, way, way Down East, our loyal listener Rod O'Connor
checks in to report a format change at WQDY (1230/92.7 Calais)
and WALZ (95.3 Machias), which replace their mix of AC and country
with classic hits as "Classic Hits 92.7, 95.3."
15 Years Ago: New England Radio Watch, February 8, 1996
can sponsor this weekly feature! Click here for information!
- The WBPS saga continues, as Mark Shneyder has been reporting
in the Boston Radio Watch. This ill-fated signal has been on
the air for not much more than a year, most of it leased by owner
Douglas Broadcasting to Prime Sports. Now that lease is over,
and the last Prime Sports on 890 will have aired at noon on Thursday,
2/8. The 26000/3400 watt signal will go to music for a few days,
then to leased-time ethnic next week. There's already leased-time
ethnic in town on 950 WROL, 1150 WMEX, 1330 WRCA, 1360 WLYN,
1550 WNTN, and 1600 WUNR. I think on balance, I'd rather have
WLS at night...
- Kiss 108, WXKS-FM Medford-Boston, promotes itself as being
"Where the Stars Come Out to Play"...and Kiss stars
Matt Siegel, JJ Wright, Dale Dorman, et al. will be playing in
the big leagues on Friday, That's when Kiss' new corporate owner,
Evergreen, will be simulcasting Kiss-108 over WYNY-103.5 New
York, as part of 'YNY's ongoing format change from country to
something as yet unannounced. Other Evergreen stations getting
a Big Apple tryout over WYNY include WRCX, Chicago; KKBT, Los
Angeles; and KMEL, San Francisco.
- Following up on the format and call swap late last year,
WHIM 1450 in West Warwick RI now has new owners. Richard Muserlian's
Providence Broadcasting will pay $200K for the 1kw AM which used
to be WKRI. The spanish-language programmers who used to do weekends
on WKRI 1450 are now full-time on the former WHIM facility at
1110 in East Providence, as WPMZ, "Poder Once-Diez."
- Not emanating from New England, to be sure, but two expanded-band
AMs are pounding into the region. WJDM on 1660, of course, with
its new Radio AAHS format...and as I type this, I'm enjoying
everyone's favorite Army experimental station, KTRK/ARMY/ABS
on 1670 from Fort Meade MD.
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2011 by Scott Fybush.