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May 16, 2011

NYC's New Translator Silenced

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*This was supposed to be a big week for NEW YORK CITY's newest FM signal. But instead of launching a new format on Wednesday, Michael Celenza's W293BU (which would have become W292DV with its move to 106.3) is silent and trying to resolve an interference complaint from a co-channel station.

Since the 106.3 signal began testing with 99 very directional watts from Manhattan's Four Times Square on May 5, Press Communications' NEW JERSEY country station, WKMK (106.3 Eatontown), has been logging interference complaints from its audience, which includes a population of fringe-signal listeners in New York City, northern New Jersey and Long Island who have no local country station.

In most cases, a station like WKMK that's experiencing interference outside its protected signal contour (which, in the case of WKMK, doesn't even touch any of New York City) would be out of luck. But the interference rules for translators are different: they look at "actual interference" to regular reception that takes place even outside a station's protected contour, and they put the responsibility on the translator to fix the problem.

After spending several days soliciting interference reports from its listeners and sending them to the FCC, WKMK declared victory last Thursday night, telling its listeners: "We are pleased to announce that the radio station that had been causing interference since last Thursday May 5, 2011 to our Thunder 106 signal in NJ, Manhattan, Long Island, Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens, has suspended operations. Accordingly, you should no longer be experiencing any interference issues relative to the Thunder 106 in the communities we have previously been communicating to you. Over the next several weeks we will be meeting with the NYC radio broadcaster in an attempt to help them resolve their interference issues but IN NO WAY will we accept ANY interference to our Thunder 106 signal pattern and your right to receive and enjoy our THUNDER 106 Rockin’ Country Programming."

What happens now? That's not immediately clear. On the FCC front, the translator filed an application on May 6 for a license to cover the 106.3 facility, and that application remains pending ("accepted for filing") as of Sunday evening. If WKMK's objection keeps it from being granted, the translator's owner (and Clear Channel, which hopes to use the translator to relay the HD2 channel of its WLTW, which continues to rotate a new format each day) still have some options. The translator started out in Brooklyn on 107.1, and it could return there by way of another minor-change application - though 107.1 is an equally-problematic frequency in the region, with co-channel stations in Monmouth and Westchester.

Another possibility is a move down the dial to 95.9, which could be accomplished as a "minor change" from 106.5 - but which would come with complications of its own, in the form of second-adjacent signals WPLJ (95.5) and WXNY (96.3) and co-channel WRAT on the Jersey Shore, which could mount an interference complaint similar to WKMK's.

Perhaps the most open channel in the city at the moment is 104.7, nestled between two Clear Channel signals (WAXQ 104.3 and WWPR 105.1) that presumably wouldn't object, and with no nearby co-channel stations in the region. But there's no easy path for the translator to get to 104.7 (or to 100.7, or 102.3, or other "open" channels) without the FCC granting a waiver of its minor-change rules...and that might set a precedent the Commission may not want to explore.

(One more note from WKMK before we move on: "Thunder Country" has parted ways with music director/afternoon jock "Captain Jack" Aponte, who submitted his resignation last week. PD Marty Mitchell takes over MD duties; no permanent on-air replacement has been named yet, but Mitchell is splitting those shifts with Joe Stevens for now.)

*The fight for every millimeter of the Big Apple FM dial is extending to other corners of the spectrum, too. On 92.7, Univision's WQBU ("Que Buena") is applying to add two on-channel boosters to reinforce the signal from its main transmitter. The main WQBU signal, licensed to Garden City, runs 2000 watts/522' from the North Shore Towers, just off the Long Island Expressway on the Nassau/Queens line. WQBU once had a construction permit for a booster near Lincoln Center that was never built; this time, it's applying for 1200 watts, vertical-only, aimed west over Brooklyn and southern Queens from a site near JFK Airport, as well as for a smaller booster running eight watts, horizontal-only, aimed north up the west side of Manhattan from 450 West 33rd Street, the big building near the mouth of the Lincoln Tunnel that's been home to the Daily News, Associated Press and WNET.

There's still no hard sign-on date for WKLV-FM (96.7 Port Chester) as the newest "K-Love" outlet - but there's a clue to be had in an application filed May 6 and granted May 9 to construct a much smaller facility than originally planned for the new WTSX (96.7), which must relocate from Port Jervis, NY to Lehman Township, PA. By downgrading to a minimal 200-watt facility at its new home, WTSX was able to file for a license to cover almost immediately after getting its new construction permit, and that clears the way for the FCC to license the WCTZ (soon to be WKLV-FM) 96.7 facility at its new home in New Rochelle, possibly as early as this week.

Moving up the Hudson Valley, Juergen Klebe's Sunrise Broadcasting is paying River Vale Media Foundation $12,500 for translator W247AW (97.3 Poughkeepsie), which is relaying Klebe's WJGK (103.1 Newburgh). (And we should note here that the "Drive FX" format that's on HD subchannels of WJGK and WGNY-FM 98.9 Rosendale and several translators is actually doing a dance format, not classic rock, as we'd indicated earlier.)

In Albany, Clear Channel has parted ways with Eddie Clark, who'd been co-hosting the "Waking Up with the Wolf" show on WPYX (106.5).

Up the Northway, Regional Radio Group (WCQL/WCKM/WWSC) is planning a studio move. By autumn, the stations will move from downtown Glens Falls to a leased space at 238 Bay Road in nearby Queensbury, reports the Post-Star; the station's current building at 128 Glen Street will be put up for sale or lease.

*Some radio headlines from around the Finger Lakes and central New York: in Rome, Bible Broadcasting Network's WYFY (1450) changes calls to WRUY as it gets ready to be transferred to Ron Frisch's Tune In Broadcasting; BBN is shifting the WYFY calls to its station on 88.1 in Cambridge, Ohio, formerly WRUY.

In Geneva, WGVA (1240) is now being heard on FM, via translator W241AW (96.1), mounted on the tower of sister station WNYR (98.5 Waterloo); the move means all of Finger Lakes Radio Group's AM signals are now also being heard on FM translators.

Down Route 14 in Watkins Glen, WRCE (1490) quietly shifted primaries over the winter: as of February, it's now mostly simulcasting classic rocker WNGZ (104.9 Montour Falls) rather than country "Piggy" WPGI (100.9 Horseheads). WRCE continues to break away from the simulcast for auto racing and other weekend sports coverage.

In Binghamton, WHWK (98.1) PD/afternoon jock Don Brake is moving on. He's leaving the Citadel country station in a month or so after five years there; no replacement has been announced, nor has Brake announced where he's headed next.

In Jamestown, WKSN (1340) is applying to leave its longtime transmitter site on a downtown rooftop. It wants to diplex with sister station WJTN (1240) at its site on the west side of town - and to reduce power to maintain its current coverage area from WJTN's more efficient antenna. If granted, WKSN would drop from 500 watts days/1000 watts nights to 260 watts days/520 watts nights.

*In the New York City TV market, WWOR-TV (My9) is returning its late newscast to the 10-11 PM slot effective June 27, replacing the shortened 11-11:30 PM broadcast the Fox-owned station introduced two years ago. Harry Martin and Brenda Blackmon will continue to anchor the show, the lone news offering remaining on WWOR, which has come under fire from New Jersey residents and politicians who don't believe Fox has kept the Secaucus-licensed station's promises to remain a New Jersey-focused outlet.

James Tortora has resigned as news director of Syracuse's WSYR-TV (Channel 9) after more than a decade on the job; for more on the rather salacious rumors surrounding his resignation, we'd direct you to TVSpy and NewsBlues...

Younger Rochester-market TV viewers may not remember Anne Keefe, but in her time in the Rochester market, Keefe was a legendary figure. She started on radio at WHAM in 1946, was part of the original airstaff at WHAM-TV in 1949, and became one of the few staffers who remained with the station under its subsequent owners as it became WROC-TV. When she finally left the station in 1976 to take a job offer in the much larger St. Louis market, Keefe was by far the station's longest-serving air personality (an honor she holds to this day), and she went on to become a St. Louis radio icon as well in a 27-year career at KMOX (1120). And now, at age 86, she's heading home to Rochester to be closer to her children here. (Perhaps we'll see her at the big Rochester broadcasters' reunion planned for September?)

*Veteran Albany broadcast salesman, manager and owner Bill Hunt has died. Hunt started in sales at WPTR/WFLY radio and then in TV at WTEN in the seventies and eighties, then became part of the team that launched independent WTZA (Channel 63, later 62, now WRNN) in Kingston in 1984. He later returned to Albany radio as a manager at WPYX/WTRY and eventually became general manager of WQBK. Hunt entered ownership in 1995 with the purchase of WEMX (94.5 Ravena, now WYKV), and in 2002, after retiring from radio, he opened Jimmy's Italian Ice. Hunt died Thursday (May 12) at 66.

And we join many in the New York City broadcast community in mourning the untimely passing of Al Resnick, known for many decades as an integral part of ABC's engineering team. Resnick was chief engineer at ABC-owned WLS in Chicago in the early 1980s, then became VP/director of engineering for the entire ABC Radio Division in 1986. Resnick moved to ABC's TV side in 1997, where his projects included the rebuilding of WABC-TV after its World Trade Center transmission facility was destroyed. In recent years, Resnick had consulted for the Metropolitan Television Association and for Carl T. Jones Corp. He was also 66.


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Tower Site Calendar 2011 features 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 Hill.

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*The Boston Phoenix is selling its MAINE FM outlet. Since 1999, when Steve Mindich paid $1.02 million for the former WCDQ and its AM sister, WSME, WPHX-FM (92.1 Sanford) has been rebroadcasting the modern rock of WFNX (101.7 Lynn-Boston) to York County and parts of the Portland market.

But that's about to change: Andrew Hartmann's Aruba Capital Holdings, which owns WXEX (1540) just over the state line in Exeter, NEW HAMPSHIRE, is paying $1 million for the class A FM signal. The deal does not include WPHX (1220 Sanford), which has been silent since a transmitter failure last year.

There's a new callsign for a new signal in Dublin, west of Peterborough (where the Phoenix still owns WFEX 92.1). The new 89.9 in Dublin, owned by The Kingdom Christian Ministries, will be WVKJ.

And VERMONT Public Radio has calls for its new signal in Middlebury: the classical outlet on 89.1 will be WVXM.

(Speaking of VPR, we've been remiss in not mentioning the April 18 death of Will Curtis, the commentator who hosted "The Nature of Things" on the network for many years. Curtis was 93.)

*A Granite State translator continues its migration down to MASSACHUSETTS: the latest application from W291CC (106.1, still licensed to Sanford, Maine) finds the signal seeking a move southward from the Durham area to a site just west of Exeter. It's still several hops short of its final destination, Cape Ann, where it will become an FM relay for WNBP (1450).

Back when Clear Channel was launching "Talk 1200" (WXKS Newton) in the Boston market a year ago, several listeners suggested the station should be simulcast on one of the company's HD FM subchannels to reach parts of the market that can't hear the AM station, especially at night...and now it's finally happened: WXKS(AM) can be heard, as of last week, on the HD2 channel of sister station WXKS-FM (107.9 Medford), where it replaces an automated top-40 format that was a brand extension of Kiss 108.

Out west, public radio WFCR is on the move. Having long since outgrown its cramped space in a former dormitory building, Hampshire House, at UMass Amherst, the stations (WFCR-FM 88.5, WNNZ 640/91.7) are planning a move to downtown Springfield, relocating about three-quarters of their 30-person staff to the Fuller Block at 1537 Main Street over the next few years.

The Springfield Republican reports WFCR - now in the process of rebranding as "New England Public Radio" - will maintain some facilities at Hampshire House and at the studios recently built in the WGBY-TV complex in Springfield. WFCR will spend about $625,000 to buy the first floor of the Fuller Block, which is being developed as office condominiums, with the money being raised as part of a $7 million capital campaign.

And down the street, Don Gosselin is departing his role as operations manager for Clear Channel's Springfield cluster: he's becoming operations manager at Clear Channel in New Orleans, where he spent some time just after Hurricane Katrina.

Oh - and before we leave western Massachusetts, how about another round of congratulations for one of New England's foremost broadcast historians and educators and a longtime friend of the column? She's now "Doctor Donna Halper," having received her Ph.D. in communications from UMass Amherst on Friday.

No, her dissertation didn't have anything to do with the early discovery of the rock band Rush - it was all about how early broadcasting changed American life, and it took her nine years of hard work to complete. Congratulations, Dr. Donna!

*RHODE ISLAND is quickly going from no local TV news in high definition to a full slate of local HD offerings. With the new owner of ABC affiliate WLNE (Channel 6), Citadel Communications, announcing plans to add HD news, the market's other broadcasters rushed to beat "ABC6" to the punch. Media General-owned NBC affiliate WJAR (Channel 10) is expected to launch its HD local news as early as today, with LIN's duopoly of WPRI/WNAC not far behind.

*In CONNECTICUT, veteran newsman Bob Sagendorf is leaving the airwaves at WATR (1320 Waterbury) after a decade as news and sports director. The Waterbury Republican-American reports that Sagendorf lost his voice after having surgery to remove a tumor that was pressing on a nerve, and he's not expected to regain the use of his voice to return to the air.

Sagendorf worked at Naugatuck's WOWW/WNVR (1380) in the seventies and eighties, then worked behind the scenes for WCBS-FM and CBS Radio in New York and as operations manager at ESPN Radio before taking the job at WATR.


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*It's all about translators this week in western PENNSYLVANIA, where there are new signals on the air at 97.5 and 100.1 in the Pittsburgh market.

The 97.5 facility, which signed on Friday, is Bob Stevens' W248AR Monroeville, simulcasting WKFB (770 Jeannette) for Pittsburgh's eastern suburbs and extending that daytimer's programming past sunset, when it's carrying an oldies format.

On 100.1, it's Tim Martz' W261AX Pittsburgh, which began testing its potent 99-watt signal from the KDKA-TV tower over the weekend with a relay of WDUQ (90.5). That's only temporary, though - the translator will soon be fed instead by an urban format, about to be launched on WPYT (660 Wilkinsburg), which Martz is in the process of acquiring.

Not far away in Green Tree, KDKA (1020) dedicated the newsroom in its new studio facility last week in memory of Fred Honsberger, the 30-year KDKA news and talk veteran who died in 2009. Honsberger's widow, Chris, was at the station for the dedication ceremony.

*One of NEW JERSEY's biggest broadcast groups is restructuring its ownership. Millennium Radio Group's biggest lender, Oaktree Capital Management, is taking over the company, converting its debt into equity. Oaktree is also an investor in Townsquare Media, the former Regent group, and there's widespread speculation - as yet unconfirmed - that Townsquare will end up acquiring the Millennium assets, which encompass 11 stations in New Jersey.

In Atlantic City, Longport Media, the new owner of the former Atlantic Broadcasting group, has named its top executive. He's Dave Coskey, who's been serving as VP of marketing for the Borgata casino and who's previously served as president of the Philadelphia 76ers.

On TV, Western Pacific Broadcast LLC (owned by Richland Towers) now has a construction permit for channel 4 in Atlantic City. The new 10 kW/915' signal will reach at least some of the Philadelphia market from the WUVP (Channel 65) tower at Waterford Works.

*There are two new FM signals on the air in eastern CANADA.

In Peterborough, Ontario, Pineridge Broadcasting began testing the transmitter at CJWV (96.7) on Friday. The new "Magic 96.7" has hired Dan Duran as PD/morning man, bringing him back to radio after a long acting and TV career to do the wakeup show alongside actor Linda Kash. "Magic" becomes a new sister station to Pineridge's Cobourg-based CKSG (Star 93.3) and CHUC (107.9 the Breeze).

Just south of London, My Broadcasting's CKZM (94.1 St. Thomas) began testing Sunday, and it's already promising a launch on Friday, running the same "My FM" AC format used at most of the company's stations.

Just north of Toronto, Evanov's Z103.5 (CIDC Orangeville) has named its new morning team. "Cory Kimm and Ami A." come to the market from Edmonton, where they've been paired for the last couple of years on 102.3 Now Radio. Kimm's been in Toronto before, at CHUM-FM and Kiss 92.5.

Up in Sudbury, Le5 Communications wants a power boost at French-language CHYC (98.9), increasing the facility from 1.4 kW/165.3m to 4.6 kW/181.9m. CHYC says it's been having trouble with signal reception in vehicles and homes.

*And in Amherst, Nova Scotia, Maritime Broadcasting System wants speedy CRTC action on a request to slightly reduce the signal it would put out on its new CKDH-FM (101.7). Instead of building out its planned 18.7 kW DA (40 kW max)/32 meter facility, CKDH-FM now hopes to sign on with 23 kW DA (50 kW DA)/16 meters from a tower right next to the station's existing building, saying its planned transmitter site was damaged by a recent storm. It's asking the CRTC for a shortened comment period (20 days ending June 2) so it can move quickly to replace CKDH's AM facility at 900 on the dial.

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: May 17, 2010 -

  • A familiar morning voice in NEW YORK's Hudson Valley is once again off the air at WPDH (101.5 Poughkeepsie). John Tobin left WPDH in 2001 to move north to Albany, where he worked at WPYX (106.5) and WOFX (980), but he came back to Poughkeepsie in 2006, where he's most recently been half of the "Coop and Tobin Morning Show" alongside Mark Cooper. Tobin resigned from the station last Monday morning after the show, later writing on a Facebook fan page that he'd "been without a contract since June of 2008 because of corporate game-playing" - and that he "was being paid the same as I was in 2006 even though the ratings were in the stratosphere." For now, Cooper's handling the morning show along with sidekicks Kricket and Deuce while WPDH searches for a new co-host.
  • RHODE ISLAND Public Broadcasting is adding another signal. The FCC last week granted RIPR a construction permit for 88.1 in Newport, where it will run 100 watts/157' from a water tower on Reservoir Avenue, east of downtown. RIPR's application had originally been dismissed due to potential interference with WKIV (88.1 Westerly). When it signs on, the new Newport signal will be RIPR's third broadcast outlet, joining WRNI-FM (102.7 Narragansett Pier) across Narragansett Bay and WRNI (1290) in Providence.
  • Radio People on the Move in MASSACHUSETTS: Bernice Corpuz, whose resume includes afternoon news at WZID (95.7 Manchester NH) and more recently morning news anchoring at WCAP (980 Lowell), is leaving the Lowell station to become a full-time member of the news staff at Boston's WBZ (1030). In a particularly classy move, WCAP owner Clark Smidt is running on-air promos congratulating Corpuz on her move to the bigger station...and how often do you hear that? (Your editor is thinking he was the last to make that WCAP-to-WBZ move, some 18 years ago; there were quite certainly no on-air promos about it at the time.)
  • An odd move in western PENNSYLVANIA: ESPN Radio's WEAE (1250 Pittsburgh) cut six staffers loose last week, with a curious explanation from VP/GM Mike Thompson to the Post-Gazette: "We're in the position where we're very strong. Sometimes you do these decisions when you're in a position of strength," he told the paper. In any event, "1250 ESPN" will somehow have to now maintain that "position of strength" without PD Jim Graci (Thompson will take on the PD role), production director Larry Gerson or sports update anchors Eartha Jackson and Joe DeStio. Gerson, Jackson and DeStio were all veteran employees at the station, going back to the days when it was still WTAE, a full-service outlet owned by Hearst. (2011 update: the "position of strength" lasted only a few months, as ESPN pulled the plug on WEAE at the end of 2010, shifting its affiliation to Clear Channel's WBGG and taking 1250 to Radio Disney.)

Five Years Ago: May 15, 2006 -

  • It's been an exceptionally bad few weeks for hip-hop radio in NEW YORK. First came the latest shooting at Emmis' WQHT (97.1), which touched off an eviction battle with the station's landlord that's still underway. And then came the rivalry between Hot 97's Raashaun Casey, aka "DJ Envy," and the station's former morning host, Troi Torain, aka "Star," who moved to rival station WWPR (Power 105.1) and was also heard, via syndication, on about a dozen other stations, including WPHH in Hartford and WUSL in Philadelphia. The feud between the DJs had been brewing for a while, apparently, but it exploded last week, when Star was first fired and then arrested for a series of on-air comments beginning May 3 that apparently threatened DJ Envy's four-year-old daughter with sexual abuse and kidnapping.
  • Several New York City Council members brought the comments to light in a news conference Wednesday, and by that afternoon Clear Channel had fired Torain. On Friday, Torain was arrested after appearing at a New York police station to surrender his handgun and weapons permit. Charged with endangering the welfare of a child and with a fourth-degree weapons possession charge, Torain was released on $2,000 bail after pleading not guilty early Saturday morning. At least for next week, WWPR plans to use syndicated host Tigger and weekend DJ Egypt as a replacement for the now-cancelled "Star and Buc Wild Morning Show." It's still not clear what the ultimate consequences for Clear Channel might be. Several New York politicians are calling on the FCC to conduct an investigation of the incident, and it's likely that even if New York has heard the last of "Star" on its airwaves, it hasn't heard the last about this war of words.
  • Is there anything more we can say at this point about that big MASSACHUSETTS story, the at-long-last finalized deal for Red Sox radio rights beginning with the 2007 season? We still don't officially know just how much Entercom is paying for the 10-year deal, but it does appear that the initial figure we'd heard of $20 million a year is somewhat on the high side. We do know that the future Sox flagship, WRKO (680 Boston), is already making some changes. No more "Taste of Boston" at night - instead, that 7-10 PM slot on weeknights is now called the "Todd Feinburg Show," broadening its focus to add more political and issues-oriented talk to its previous diet of food and entertainment talk. Next spring, Feinburg will share those evening hours (except on Fridays, when the night games will be on WEEI, which will also host weekday afternoon Sox games) with baseball. Sox pregame broadcasts on WRKO will start at 6:30 most weeknights, cutting off the last half-hour of Howie Carr, and pre- and post-game shows will apparently be simulcast on WEEI as well.

10 Years Ago: May 14, 2001 -

  • It's been a long time since Greater Media added to its station count, but this week we're able to start our update in NEW JERSEY with word of a four-station sale to the New Brunswick-based group. New Jersey Broadcasting Partners will sell adult standards simulcast WMTR (1250 Morristown)/WWTR (1170 Bridgewater), modern rock WDHA (105.5 Dover) and active rock WRAT (95.9 Point Pleasant) to Greater Media for an undisclosed amount, adding the four stations to Greater's existing Central Jersey combo, full-service WCTC (1450 New Brunswick) and AC WMGQ (98.3 New Brunswick).
  • Next stop, NEW YORK, and we'll begin with some changes in the Big Apple. On the air, fans of Laura Schlessinger will have to stay up late to hear her advice show starting May 29, when WABC (770) moves her from 10 AM to 11 PM. No word yet on how WABC's schedule will shift to fill Laura's old slot, which was already cut down to two hours earlier this year. Meanwhile, WKTU (103.5 Lake Success) PD Frankie Blue addeed another station to his duties this week, with the departure of Joel Salkowitz as PD of Clear Channel sister WTJM (105.1 New York). What will happen now to the fading "Jammin' Oldies" format? We'll be watching closely. Also in the Clear Channel family, WHTZ (100.3 Newark) middayer Lisa Taylor will be leaving her shift to move to Nashville and start her own business. Taylor's been in that spot on Z100 since 1996; now PD Tom Poleman has two slots to fill, as he continues to search for a night jock as well.
  • MASSACHUSETTS radio is playing musical chairs again: John Osterlind, longtime midday guy ("O-Zone") on active rock WAAF (107.3 Worcester), is moving across the hall at Entercom to join Peter Blute on the morning show at talker WRKO (680 Boston). Osterlind fills the seat left vacant since the death earlier this year of Andy Moes. Meantime, rumor has former WAAF afternoon guy Tom Birdsey following former boss Bruce Mittman to WFNX (101.7 Lynn) and the afternoon shift, competing against former WAAF partner Rocko in the timeslot. And while Osterlind arrives at WRKO, PD Al Mayers is gone; he's reportedly headed to New York to be station manager at Bloomberg newser WBBR, says M Street.

15 Years Ago: New England Radio Watch, May 14, 1996

  • The weirdness continues in the unusual case of WBIV 1060 Natick MA and WRPT 1050 Peterborough NH. It seems that before Alexander Langer bought WRPT from the Peterborough Broadcasting Company, he had reached an agreement to pay WRPT to turn in its license (the station has been dark for years). Langer's application to change WBIV into a 50kw directional daytimer was contingent upon WRPT handing in its license. So when Langer decided instead to buy WRPT (and, as discussed in the last NERW, move it 100 miles southeast and 400 khz down the dial to AM 650 at Foxboro MA), he had to ask the FCC to suspend processing of the WBIV application until the WRPT matter could be resolved. The practical upshot is that Langer has asked the FCC for permission to keep WBIV dark for 6 more months (it has been silent now for over a year). In truth, WBIV could be off for far longer, since their planned transmitter site is still an empty field.
  • New England's tallest mountain could soon be losing a transmitter. WMTW-TV 8, which has operated from Mount Washington NH since 1958, has reportedly applied to move its transmitter off the mountain to a site near that of WCSH-TV 6 Portland ME, near Sebago Lake in Maine. I visited the WMTW site last summer, and had the pleasure of chatting with several of the engineers who live at the top of the mountain in week-long shifts year-round. It's undoubtedly a huge expense for WMTW, and the advantage it once provided -- incredible coverage across eastern Maine, northern New Hampshire, northern Vermont, and a huge swath of Quebec -- no longer seems to matter as much now that many of those remote viewers are plugged into cable or DSS. What's unclear is what would become of WMTW's erstwhile sister station, what's now WHOM 94.9 FM. The WHOM transmitter is housed in the WMTW transmitter building. It's powered by WMTW's generator, and the WMTW engineers handle maintenance. I doubt WHOM would want to leave the transmitter unattended through the winter months, when it's often impossible to reach the summit of the mountain, and winds rage to 200+ miles per hour. WZPK 103.7 Berlin NH also has transmitter facilities at the top of Mount Washington. (2011 update: WMTW indeed left the mountain, and the WHOM/WZPK transmitters stayed behind, unattended, until a fire several years later destroyed the former WMTW transmitter building. WHOM eventually moved into a new building and remains on Mount Washington.)
  • The school year is wrapping up at Boston's many colleges and universities, and that means some unusual programming on area noncomms. At Harvard- affiliated WHRB 95.3, it's time for the semi-annual Orgy(TM) season, in which the station devotes anywhere from a few hours to a week to a single composer, performer, genre, or theme. Among the big events this month is the Stravinsky Orgy, which gets underway Sunday, May 19 at 6am and doesn't end until 10pm Monday, May 20...and a massive Duke Ellington Orgy that started Sunday, May 12 and runs through Saturday night, May 18. Over at Emerson College, I've spoken highly in the past of the Saturday-midday "Standing Room Only" program on WERS 88.9. Host Cheryl Dechayne is graduating, and the show on Saturday, May 11 culminated in a half-hour long tearful farewell. Dechayne did a great job on the show, and I wish her and her fellow students well as they enter the "real world" of radio.

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NorthEast Radio Watch is made possible by the generous contributions of our regular readers. If you enjoy NERW, please click here to learn how you can help make continued publication possible. NERW is copyright 2011 by Scott Fybush.