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April 25, 2011

NYC Translator Makes Next Move

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*For the last few months, we've been closely following the peregrinations of a new FM translator as it's migrated around NEW YORK City and vicinity, and now it appears to have found its permanent home.

The translator owned by Michael and Tammy Celenza (as "Apple 107.1, Inc") started out as W296BT (107.1) in Brooklyn, then slid across the East and Hudson rivers to become W293BU (106.5) in Union City, New Jersey, operating only long enough from that location to get a license to cover - and to file for its ultimate move, back across the Hudson to the top of Four Times Square and down one notch on the dial to 106.3.

Now the FCC has granted that move, and speculation is running rampant on the future of this new 99-watt signal from midtown Manhattan. Will the new W292DV continue to relay the country format from the HD2 channel of Clear Channel's WLTW (106.7), or will it become the home of a new format sourced from a different HD subchannel or AM outlet?

(Those HD-sourced translators are becoming big business: in Detroit, veteran border broadcaster Tim Martz just launched two of them, programming rock and smooth jazz formats "originating" on the leased HD2/HD3 channels of the local urban signal, WGPR 107.5.)

And as long as the speculation is floating around out there, it's worth noting that another new Big Apple FM signal is moving closer to the airwaves: after months of preparation, it appears that EMF Broadcasting is getting pretty near to launching the relocated 96.7 signal it's acquiring from Cox.

In its current incarnation as WCTZ, "96.7 the Coast" is telling listeners to adjust their dials to another Cox station in CONNECTICUT, WFOX (95.9 Norwalk), and we're told an antenna is now in place atop the Trump tower in New Rochelle for the new 96.7 "K-Love" signal, for which the WKLV-FM calls were requested back in January.

The new 96.7 signal, whenever it finally signs on, will blanket southern Westchester, the Bronx, much of Queens and Fairfield and at least the northern half of Manhattan - and surely we're not the only ones noticing that it would mesh nicely with the reach that the 99-watt 106.3 sigal from Times Square will have. That directional signal will go mainly east-west, serving much of Manhattan and portions of Brooklyn, Queens and north Jersey.

*Elsewhere in the region, we've been remiss in not mentioning a new morning show in Orange County: for the last few weeks, Mark West has been leasing time on WALL (1340 Middletown) for a 6-10 AM show on weekdays, splitting the Cumulus station from its "True Oldies Channel" simulcast with WEOK (1390 Poughkeepsie).

Down the road in Port Jervis, WTSX (96.7) is letting listeners know that the "Fox" AC format will be moving soon, as the 96.7 signal gets sent down the Delaware River to its new home in Lehmann Township, Pennsylvania, north of Stroudsburg, as part of the shuffle that's moving a new 96.7 signal into New York City.

"Fox" listeners are now being directed to WDLC (1490 Port Jervis) and its new FM simulcast, W299BA (107.7).

Up in the Catskills, WRIP (97.9 Windham) is getting a new morning man, and while nobody will ever really fill the shoes of station co-founder Guy Patrick Garraghan, who died last November, veteran jock Joe Loverro will certainly make a fine replacement when he comes on board full-time next month. Loverro had worked for WRIP owner Dennis Jackson at WQQQ (103.3) in Connecticut before that station was LMA'd out to public broadcaster WSHU earlier this year.

Some Hockey on the Radio news: since the Binghamton Senators are in the AHL playoffs and the parent Ottawa Senators failed to make the NHL cut, B-Sens flagship WINR (680 Binghamton) is sending its playoff coverage north of the border to give Ottawa fans something to listen to. Grady Whittenburg's call is being heard in Ottawa on the NHL Senators' flagship, CFGO (Team 1200), as well as on WINR and sister station WENE (1430) when Yankees games don't conflict.

TV People on the Move: New York's WABC-TV (Channel 7) is lining up its new anchor teams as it prepares to fill the 4 PM "Oprah" timeslot with news after the syndicated talk show ends its run in May. reports Liz Cho will move from 11 PM to co-anchor the new 4 PM newscast with David Novarro starting May 26; 5 PM anchor Sade Baderinwa will replace Cho as 11 PM co-anchor alongside Bill Ritter starting May 9.

Upstate, veteran Albany reporter John McLoughlin, who left WTEN (Channel 10) earlier this year, has landed at WNYT (Channel 13) as a part-time reporter; he's also now writing a weekly column for the Schenectady-based Daily Gazette. And down the road at WRGB (Channel 6), Ken Screven has retired from the newsroom after 34 years there - and a few years before that at WROW (590).

*And we send our best wishes to WNYM (970 Hackensack NJ) morning man Curtis Sliwa, who had surgery Thursday morning for prostate cancer. Ever the ironman, Sliwa was on the air for several hours on Thursday before heading to the hospital for the surgery, which doctors say was a success, and he says he plans to be on the air again sometime later this week.


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*In NEW JERSEY, there's a new ownership structure taking shape at Atlantic Broadcasting: on April 8, the bankruptcy court handling the Atlantic case approved a transfer of ownership to a new entity called "Boardwalk Radio, LLC." The new owner is controlled by the Northwood Ventures/Northwood Capital Partners group and Henry T. Wilson, who'd held 89.5% of Atlantic after the bankruptcy and who now end up with a total of 99% of the equity in Boardwalk. (Much of the remaining 1% goes to Atlantic CEO John Caracciolo, while the sale wipes out the remaining equity interests held by former Atlantic founders Mike Ferriola and Brett DeNafo.)

The deal is valued at $3 million - but it's not quite final yet. The FCC filings for the transfer to Boardwalk note that it's still dependent upon the outcome of a bankruptcy auction for the Atlantic assets. The court has designated the Boardwalk proposal as the "stalking-horse bid" in that auction, setting the baseline that competing bids, if any, would have to exceed. Those competing bids are due Thursday, and would be followed by an auction on May 4 if there's competition for the stations and real estate.

*Just over the PENNSYLVANIA state line in the Wheeling, WEST VIRGINIA market, EMF is actually selling one of its "K-Love" outlets: for $550,000, it's sending WLVW (96.5 Moundsville WV) into the hands of Keymarket.

The two companies have a long history together - Keymarket has long leased WPKV (98.3 Duquesne) to Pittsburgh as its K-Love signal there, and it's accepting a slight downgrade to WGYI (98.5 Oil City) to allow EMF to upgrade WKEL (98.5 Confluence) - and now they've found a deal that will allow Keymarket to add a third FM to its Wheeling cluster while EMF pockets some cash and moves K-Love down the dial to a new noncommercial CP, WULV (90.7 Moundsville).

EMF will keep the WLVW calls when it sells off the 96.5 signal, which will join Keymarket's "Jack" WYJK (100.5 Bellaire OH), oldies WUKL (105.5 Bethlehem WV) and sports WOMP (1290 Bellaire OH)/WSTV (1340 Steubenville OH) in the cluster. When it flips to a new format, it will be at least the second format flip this spring in Wheeling: earlier this month, Clear Channel flipped WBBD (1400 Wheeling) from standards to True Oldies Channel oldies.

*In Brattleboro, VERMONT, community station WVEW-LP (107.7) is working to rebuild after the six-alarm fire that devastated its studio and transmitter site in the Brooks House building. WVEW's website reports that the station's over-the-air signal remains silent, but it's streaming a limited schedule from an alternate location. The good news, so far, is that the station's antenna appears to be intact on the Brooks House roof, and it appears that the fire didn't actually reach into the station's studios - but there's still no definitive word on the extent of any smoke or water damage to the station, which is taking donations as it attempts to rebuild.

*A deleted RHODE ISLAND noncommercial FM station remains very much deleted, says the FCC, which has tossed out an attempt by Educational Radio for the Public of the New Millennium to get the Commission to reconsider its cancellation of the station's license. In March, station president Carlos Vasquez filed a packet of materials with the FCC to support his contention that "we feel as though there is (sic) people working against our favor in order to gain access to our freqency," and arguing that sabotage from Verizon and others prevented WRJI (91.5 East Greenwich) from broadcasting for more than a year, from November 2, 2009 until November 25, 2010.

But the FCC says it can't do anything to help WRJI: it notes that the prolonged outage exceeded the one-year statutory limit after which Congress mandates that a silent station's license should be deleted, and that the petition for reconsideration arrived long after the deadline for such filings to be made. And the FCC says WRJI's application to relicense from East Greenwich to Providence won't work, either, since it would create impermissible overlap with Providence College's WDOM (91.3) and several pending station applications. So the Commission has reaffirmed its deletion of the WRJI license, adding a reminder that any operation of the station is "unauthorized and must cease IMMEDIATELY" (their caps, not ours!) Will 91.5, which we've been told is indeed operating from its Providence studio location, in fact go silent - or will it join the substantial ranks of unlicensed signals in eastern New England?

*With new ownership takes over at WLNE (Channel 6) come layoffs: a round of job cuts at the ABC affiliate last week reportedly included the station's chief engineer, an assignment editor, several photojournalists and production staffers.

*It didn't take long for veteran CONNECTICUT weatherman Geoff Fox to find a new gig after being dismissed from ABC affiliate WTNH (Channel 8) after a quarter of a century there. Fox has landed at Fox outlet WTIC-TV (Channel 61), where he debuted last Monday, reporting for the station's early-evening newscasts and doing weather on the 11 PM show. Meanwhile, WTNH has hired Erica Grow as a weekend weathercaster.

*There's a callsign now for a new Catholic station in NEW HAMPSHIRE: mark down "WSFO" for 90.7 in Barrington, the construction permit assigned to Emmaus Christian Healing Ministries.

And in MAINE, WFYB (91.5 Fryeburg) is now on air, relaying "Worship FM" from WWWA (95.3 Winslow).

(An update from last week, too: the two-person morning show at WPOR in Portland is only temporary, we're told, and the station continues to look "aggressively" for a replacement for Joe Lerman.)

*In an otherwise fairly quiet week in MASSACHUSETTS, there's a big change at, the online station that continues the legacy of the old WHAV (1490 Haverhill): after seven years as a commercial operation, is going nonprofit under the aegis of a new organization, Public Media of New England Inc.

Founder Tim Coco, an alumnus of the original WHAV, will continue as volunteer general manager and as a board member of the nonprofit, which will continue to operate as a 24-hour service on the web as well as on cable access audio and over low-power AM signals at 1640 in northern Haverhill and in Plaistow, New Hampshire.

In Springfield, Paul Mueller has resigned from his anchor position at WGGB (Channel 40) after the posting of a YouTube video showing him delivering a slurred speech at an anti-bullying benefit dinner. Mueller tells the Boston Herald he was told to resign or be fired, and acknowledges that he has a problem with alcohol that may permanently end his TV career. Mueller says he's seeking treatment for his alcoholism.


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*Haliburton Broadcasting continues to be one of the fastest-growing broadcast groups in CANADA, and their cluster of "Moose FM" stations in Ontario is about to grow again with CRTC approval for a new signal in Kemptville, just south of Ottawa. The new station will run 2.8 kW/80 m DA (average ERP 1360 watts) on 97.5 with an adult contemporary format.

Another Ottawa station, CIDG (101.9 the Dawg), is getting a power boost: the CRTC has granted it an inrcease from 4.5 kW to 5.5 kW/98 m DA (average ERP increasing from 934 to 1,793 watts).

In Toronto, Gene Stevens has stepped down as PD at CFZM (740); he remains on the air at the standards station.

While the new Sun News Network gets underway as a national conservative TV voice, it's the end of the line - at least temporarily - for an attempt at a local cable news operation in the Niagara region. St. Catharines-based Niagara News TV (NNTV) suspended its broadcasts last Monday after less than three months on Cogeco digital cable. President Frank Thibault tells the St. Catharines Standard he still hopes to relaunch the station this fall (its cable channel remains active with weather and a news crawl), and he regrets having to let the channel's 17 staffers go.

And way, way up north in Cochrane, Ontario, there are some changes coming to the radio dial: the Cochrane Polar Bear Radio Club has been granted a new 50-watt signal on 104.7 that will replace its existing 5-watt "developmental" station, while Cochrane Christian Radio has been granted a 37-watt signal on 102.1 to provide a Christian music service in that small town on Highway 11 north of Timmins.

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.

One Year Ago: April 26, 2010 -

  • After four decades of state support, the NEW JERSEY Network is on the verge of being cut loose. While the public radio and TV system has survived plenty of previous budget crises in the Garden State, New Jersey's new governor made it clear when he took office that he intended to end a state subsidy that currently provides a significant portion of the network's $28 million budget. (The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that New Jersey currently provides a $4 million cash subsidy to NJN, along with $2.4 million in employee benefits and $4.5 million in other resources including the use of state facilities and parking.)
  • While NJN is hardly the first public broadcaster to lose its government subsidies, the time frame specified by Governor Chris Christie doesn't give the network much time to find new sources of support. Christie wants NJN to operate without state help as early as January 1, 2011, and he wants to begin the transformation by cutting NJN's $4 million appropriation in half for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1. NJN's interim executive director, Howard Blumenthal, appeared before the state senate's budget committee last week to report that planning is underway for the transition, but that some questions remain unanswered - and NERW wonders whether NJN's radio network, a very low-profile cousin to its much better-established TV network, will survive the transition. Might the network of nine stations, with somewhat less than full-state coverage and relatively little local programming, end up being sold to fund the TV network's survival?
  • It was a quiet week in NEW YORK, where Fordham University's WFUV (90.7) continues to tweak its signals. Now that the new 2500-watt WFUV booster is on the air from West 31st Street, aimed southeast at lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, WFUV has turned off (at least for now) its other booster, WFUV-2, which had been serving Manhattan's west side from atop Riverside Church in Morningside Heights. Meanwhile, WFUV quickly made good on its promise to add a translator signal in the Hudson Valley: it's now on the air from W233BM (94.5) high atop Mount Beacon, serving the Newburgh-Beacon area and reaching north as far as Poughkeepsie.
  • If WCBS-FM (101.1 New York) morning man Dan Taylor sounds a little jet-lagged today, he has a good excuse: it's his first day back on Eastern Time after an unplanned week of shows from London. Taylor was in England for pilot training when that volcano erupted in Iceland, and his scheduled April 18 flight home ended up being delayed for a full week. The show went on from a studio at CBS News in London; meanwhile, BBC Radio 1's Chris Moyles was doing his morning show from Sirius XM in New York after being stuck Stateside when air travel was shut down. Taylor probably got the better end of the deal, starting his show at 11 AM London time while Moyles had to be on the air at 1:30 AM in New York.
  • The unbuilt AM station that wanted to move from Vermont to Albany won't get to make that move after all. Alfredo Alonso and Charles Hecht applied back in 2008 to move WVVT (670) from Essex Junction, Vermont to East Greenbush, where they proposed a four-tower array cranking out 15 kW by day and 260 watts at night. But that move drew a protest from adjacent-channel WFAN (660) in New York, which complained that Hecht and Alonso had deliberately taken their ground-conductivity measurements on WFAN at the worst possible time of the year. WFAN submitted its own set of measurements, taken in January, that showed overlap between WFAN and the proposed WVVT. Last week, the FCC sided with WFAN and dismissed WVVT's application for East Greenbush. Hecht and Alonso still have until April 26, 2011 to build out WVVT's original Vermont construction permit, or to come up with a new modification application.
  • There's a new signal being tested on the air in CANADA's capital city. Astral's CJOT (99.7 Ottawa) signed on last week with the same adult contemporary music it's expected to be playing when it launches officially soon. There's even a temporary website at, which may or may not be the permanent home when CJOT signs on for real. CJOT's debut has pushed tourist information station CIIO off the air at 99.7; its English-language service has now moved to 101.9, which had been the French-language signal - but even that's temporary, since 101.9 will soon be occupied as well, by new blues-rock station CIDG (DAWG-FM).

Five Years Ago: April 24, 2006 -

  • The end arrived Friday for one of the most publicized morning shows in recent history. After less than five months on the air, CBS Radio pulled the plug on the floundering David Lee Roth show (heard in NERW-land on "Free FM" flagship WFNY-FM 92.3 New York, WBCN 104.1 Boston and WYSP 94.1 Philadelphia). It'll be replaced with a sanitized three-hour simulcast of XM Radio's Opie and Anthony, the duo who brought down the company's last attempt at FM talk when they were in afternoons at WNEW (102.7 New York) a few years back. The show's final two hours will be heard only on XM.
  • From the sounds of Roth's show recently, the move was little short of a mercy killing, allowing Roth to escape the battles he's been fighting with CBS management and head out on tour, while giving the former Howard Stern affiliates a more proven commodity in mornings.
  • Out on Long Island's east end, the AAA sounds of WEHM have returned - sort of - to their original home. Cherry Creek Radio's been doing some shuffling of its signals in the Hamptons, and it recently moved WHBE (96.7 East Hampton) to 96.9, from a new site about 12 miles west of its original location. With more signal over portions of Suffolk County that can't hear WEHM on the 92.9 Southampton facility (where the calls and format moved a few years ago, flipping 96.7 to WHBE with Bloomberg business news), Cherry Creek decided last Tuesday to pull the plug on the business news at 96.9, in favor of a simulcast with 92.9.
  • There's an anchor shuffle underway in Rochester, as veteran WHEC (Channel 10) anchor Janet Lomax moves off the 11 PM news, at her own request. Weekend anchor Jennifer Johnson takes over the 11, while Lomax adds the 5 PM newscast to her existing duties at 6. Those moves in turn take 5 PM co-anchor Robin DeWind off the anchor desk (she's also the health reporter), send morning anchor Nikki Rudd to weekends and move Lynette Adams to mornings. And no sooner were those moves announced than news director Adam Bradshaw landed a new gig in a much bigger market - he's headed here to Las Vegas to become ND at Fox affiliate KVVU (Channel 5).
  • A call change in CONNECTICUT: "The Fox" in Norwalk is now legally WFOX. Cox radio parked those very desirable calls at 95.9 in Norwalk last week, replacing WEFX. The WFOX calls had been on Cox's "River" 97.1 in the Atlanta market, which just became WSRV.

10 Years Ago: April 23, 2001 -

  • A call swap in PENNSYLVANIA is in the works, with the new CP in Cooperstown getting WHUG-FM, the longtime calls across the state line at 101.9 in Jamestown, New York. Jamestown gets the WMHU calls that were on the Cooperstown CP; we'll have to get down that way to hear whether a format swap is also taking place.
  • There's a low-priced station sale to lead off our NEW YORK report: Barnstable is transferring WFOG (1570 Riverhead) to Five Towns College for the lordly sum of $72,000. The station on Long Island's East End has been on and off the air for the last few years; we heard it in February simulcasting rock sister WRCN (103.9 Riverhead). Five Towns apparently plans to change the calls to WFTU, and we presume it will become a student-run station. That's good news for the students at Five Towns, but we've got to wonder: with the price that low, did the folks at Polnet make any attempt to add 1570 to their just-purchased WLIM 1580 down the road in Patchogue? The stations did simulcast years ago (as WPAC and WAPC), and the 1570 reaches a considerably larger Polish community than the 1580 signal (which cost Polnet $850,000!)
  • Going way upstate, we hear a Tuesday format change is planned at Utica's "Wow FM" (WOWB 105.5 Little Falls/WOWZ 97.9 Whitesboro), now that the stations are owned by Clear Channel. PD J.P. Marks stays with former owner Ken Roser, helping to run "Bug Country" (WBGK 99.7 Newport Village/WBUG-FM 101.1 Fort Plain/WBUG 1570 Amsterdam). As of late Monday night, WOWB and WOWZ were simulcasting Clear Channel's CHR "Kiss" (WSKS 102.5 Rome); we'll let you know if that turns out to be a permanent move.
  • Also in Utica, Nelson Suggs' Bethany Broadcasting is selling religious WVVC (100.7) to the Educational Media Foundation, which owns dozens of religious stations and translators around the country. The $1.25 million purchase of WVVC gives EMF its first foothold in New York.

15 Years Ago: New England Radio Watch, April 23, 1996

  • A few weeks ago, I wrote about now-dark WRPT 1050 Peterborough NH, which according to the Commission had applied to "change city of license and power." What we didn't know until know was just how much of a change. It seems WRPT's new owner, Alexander Langer, wants to move the station more than a hundred miles to the southeast, specifically to Foxboro, Mass. (M Street had this erroneously as "Foxboro NH") Langer's application calls for the new WRPT to move to 650 kHz, with 250 watts DA-D, diplexed from the Norfolk MA transmitter/studio site of WDIS 1170. This will be a somewhat tight directional, since Norfolk is just barely north of the 0.5 mv/m contour for WFAN 660 New York. And giving protection to WNNZ 640 Westfield MA and WPRO 630 Providence RI means WRPT's 250 watts will be pointed mostly northeast...which, how about this, just happens to be the direction of Boston! Clever fellow, this Alexander Langer. (He also owns the license for currently-dark WBIV 1060 Natick MA, which has applied for 50kw ND-D, something that can only be possible with WRPT off 1050.) As for the 650 frequency, there was a longstanding CP for WBSO Clinton MA on that frequency. It was to have been a 10kw DA-2 operation, with a decent signal into Boston and a tight null towards NYC. The CP was granted in 1984 and revoked about a year ago, making this possible.
  • It seems to me this is one of the more dramatic move-ins of late... comparable perhaps to the still-unconsummated move of WDMV 540 from Pocomoke City MD (on the Delmarva Peninsula) to Brinklow MD (between Washington and Baltimore), or the never-permitted move of WHMA-FM Anniston AL to the Atlanta area a decade or so ago. Admittedly, there's no station licensed to Foxboro MA (the home of the New England Patriots), but it's hard to claim to be the first service to a community when you're diplexed off an existing station's tower. In fact, Foxboro is within city-grade contours of most of the Providence RI stations as well as Boston. (WRPT didn't move to Foxboro, but it did end up in Ashland, where it's now WSRO.)

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