In this week’s issue… WEEI, WFXT soar on Sox win – New talker launches in NJ – Veteran NY manager retires – FM sale in PA – Buffalo FM seeks tower move
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*This column wouldn’t be “this column” if we didn’t avail ourselves of the opportunity, every now and again, to celebrate the success of a certain New England-based baseball team. But the third World Series win in a decade for the Red Sox is more than just the occasion for some mild gloating on our part (say, how did those Yankees do this year?) – it’s also a very big deal for the broadcasters who were lucky enough to get to ride the bandwagon (duck boat parade?) along with the Sox.
Take, for example, Boston’s Fox O&O, WFXT (Channel 25), which posted some truly gaudy ratings numbers as the series wrapped up. How gaudy? The last half-hour of Game 6 in Boston found WFXT pulling a 59.5 rating and an amazing 84 share; for the full game, WFXT drew a 54.5/75. (Remarkably, those weren’t quite records: WFXT did slightly better for the decisive Game 4 back in 2007!)
On radio, this column has been a frequent skeptic of Entercom’s decision, in the wake of the 2004 Series win, to bet big on a ten-year contract believed to be worth $200 million. But that risky move suddenly looks a lot better in the wake of this year’s winning season than it did after the debacles of 2011 and 2012, doesn’t it? Entercom still has two more seasons remaining on that deal, and the success of the 2013 Sox will no doubt push ad rates higher on the network for 2014.
WEEI even managed to salvage some degree of a regional network feed after game 6, offering its local Boston post-game coverage to Red Sox network affiliates around New England following the conclusion of the ESPN post-game show that was mandated to be fed to the affiliates in place of Dave O’Brien and Joe Castiglione’s call. (Alas, automation on the WEEI streaming feed sent ESPN network audio to out-of-market streaming listeners in place of WEEI’s all-night Red Sox lovefest.)
There was an all-night Sox festival going on up the dial at CBS Radio’s WBZ-FM (98.5) after the Sports Hub finished its coverage of the Bruins game that nobody much cared about Wednesday night, and having a winning Sox team to talk about this winter will surely help the Sports Hub during the off-season, too.
And then came the victory parade on Saturday morning, with the usual wall-to-wall coverage by all the usual suspects, including both sports talkers, all-news WBZ (1030), all the local broadcast TV newsrooms, Sox-owned NESN and a simulcast by Comcast sister outlets New England Cable News and CSN New England. (The NECN/CSN coverage was also seen nationally on MLB Network.)
Your editor has long been on the record as being a staunch believer in the continued value of mass media, and there’s no better example than a celebration that draws millions of Bostonians to the streets to show off what broadcasters can cover better than anyone else – with no doubt a healthy bump in ad sales along the way.
(This is as good a spot as any to plug a very nice profile of your editor that appeared on Friday in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, wherein I expound a little on those thoughts and show off how clean my office can get, briefly, when a photographer’s on the way.)
*With Halloween in the rear-view mirror and Thanksgiving just a few weeks away, it is, of course, time for radio stations to get busy playing Christmas tunes. We’ve already told you about the stunt underway at WNDR (103.9 Mexico) in the Syracuse market, which is running “Holly FM” in between formats, and about the usual way-early flip in south Jersey at WEZW (93.1 Wildwood Crest). Now several stations in western NEW YORK have joined them. On Friday afternoon, Clear Channel’s WODX (107.3 South Bristol) was the first in the Rochester market, followed on Saturday morning by two Buffalo AC stations, Townsquare’s WJYE (96.1) and Entercom’s WTSS (102.5).
(Want to track all the Christmas flips? With the assistance of our content partner, RadioInsight.com, we’re on the case – check out our new, comprehensive national list of Christmas stations!)
It was a busy week at Entercom’s FM stations: its newest entry, “Alternative Buffalo” WLKK (107.7 Wethersfield Township) named its first programming staffer, hiring Nik Rivers away from Stephens Media’s WZNE (94.1 Brighton) in Rochester to become the new PD at 107.7. Rivers’ last day in Rochester will be November 15, and he’ll start two weeks from today in Buffalo.
And down the dial at top-40 WKSE (98.5 Niagara Falls), Entercom has been plotting a new transmitter site for “Kiss 98.5” for quite a while. Last week, its engineers made the official filing with the FCC: they’re asking for a construction permit to move WKSE for the first time in the signal’s history. What’s now WKSE goes way back to 1947, when WHLD (1270) put WHLD-FM on the air from its then-new transmitter site on Staley Road on Grand Island, midway between Buffalo and the Falls. Over the years, the FM antenna was moved to a taller tower that served as part of the AM array, and it stayed put at the old AM site long after the AM and FM stations ended up with separate owners, and even after WHLD moved completely away from Staley Road. (It’s now diplexed with WDCZ 970 way down south in Hamburg.)
As the Staley Road site has decayed in the many years since both AM and FM studios moved away, Entercom was seeking a more secure new home for the FM – and now it’s found one just a few miles to the southwest, at the longtime WBEN (930) site right at the southern tip of Grand Island. Entercom is proposing to build a new tower directly between the two existing towers of WBEN, detuned of course to prevent disruptions to the AM station’s pattern. From there, WKSE would run 41.6 kW/413′, a slight decrease from the present 46 kW/420′ that will nonetheless add an additional 58,000 potential listeners in Buffalo’s southern suburbs to the station’s 70 dBu coverage area.
*There’s a big changing of the guard in Syracuse, where Joel Delmonico has ruled the roost for more than two decades at the helm of what’s now the Clear Channel cluster (WSYR/WSYR-FM, WYYY, WWHT, WHEN).
Last week, Delmonico announced he’s retiring from his post as market manager, effective at year’s end. His departure will close a big chapter for WSYR and its sister stations: with Delmonico in charge, the Syracuse Clear Channel cluster has escaped some of the downsizing and central control that has become the company’s trademark in other markets, including the nearby Rochester and Albany clusters.
Will that change when Delmonico’s not there to protect his stations? We’ll know more when a replacement is announced.
*In Albany, Disney has found a buyer for silent WDDY (1460). The 5 kW fulltime signal left the Radio Disney fold last month as the Mouse continued to pare back its terrestrial AM reach, and now it’s going Catholic with a sale to Pax et Bonum, Inc. The $375,000 sale will pair 1460 with Pax et Bonum’s WOPG-FM (89.9 Esperance), which serves the western fringes of the Albany market – and it will mean both big upstate 1460 signals will be Catholic, a decade after Rochester’s WWWG flipped to Catholic WHIC.
(Speaking of Rochester-area AMs, we note that Brian McGlynn’s Genesee Media has filed for STAs to fix the nighttime patterns on both WRSB 1310 in Canandaigua and WASB 1590 in Brockport; WASB is broken enough that McGlynn is temporarily running it daytime-only until its problems can be resolved.)
*Radio People on the Move: the search is on for a new midday host at CBS Radio’s top-40 WNOW-FM (92.3 NOW) in New York after the departure of Micki Gamez. Weekend jock Niko is filling the shift for now. Up the dial, we’re tracking reports that general manager Berthold Reimers may be the latest victim of the troubles at perpetually-troubled WBAI (99.5); more on that as we’re able to get confirmation.
In Olean, Joel McGuirk is the new afternoon sports voice at Colonial’s “Sportsradio 93.9,” the HD/translator fed from WVTT (96.7 Portville). McGuirk has been working in Florida and has hosted shows on Long Island at WGBB (1240 Freeport); in Olean, he’ll host “The Cage with the Mouth.”
*One more New York City-market note: after being displaced from leased-time WNSW (1430 Newark), the Voice of Russia’s English-language service has moved to HD Radio, where it launched Friday on the HD2 of WVIP (93.5 New Rochelle).
*There’s a new talk station launching in central NEW JERSEY, thanks to Connoisseur Communications. Its acquisition of the last pieces of Nassau Broadcasting included the religious simulcast of WCHR (920 Trenton) and WNJE (1040 Flemington), but Connoisseur had something bigger in mind for 920: it’s keeping the Christian programming on 1040, and moving the WCHR calls back there, while flipping 920 to talk as “The Voice” with new calls WNJE.
The new “Voice” lineup includes Glenn Beck, just displaced from the greater Philadelphia market with the flip of WWIQ (106.9 Camden), as well as Dave Ramsey, Andy Dean and NBC Radio News.
*WWIQ’s flip turns out to be our top PENNSYLVANIA story this week: with EMF taking over at 106.9 today, the K-Love format and the WKVP calls move up the dial to the much bigger 106.9 signal from their previous home at 89.5 in Cherry Hill, NJ. EMF has requested new calls WYPA for 89.5, which means it will be carrying the sister Air 1 service pretty soon, once the K-Love listeners have been moved over to 106.9.
Over at the new home of some of the former WWIQ talent, there’s a new PD at CBS Radio’s WPHT (1210 Philadelphia): Jared Hart moves east from Cumulus’ once-dominant KGO (810 San Francisco), where he was assistant PD. Earlier in his career, Hart worked at KCMO (710 Kansas City) with current WPHT morning man Chris Stigall.
*A long-running LMA has turned into a station sale in the mountains of south central Pennsylvania, where Cary Simpson’s Allegheny Mountain Network continues its slow exit from the business with the $400,695 sale of WEEO-FM (103.7 McConnellsburg) to Magnum Broadcasting. Magnum has been operating WEEO-FM since 2008, running it as “FM Talk 103.7.” With the sale of WEEO-FM, Simpson’s last remaining properties are his longtime flagship WTRN (1340 Tyrone), north of Altoona, and the trio of WNBT/WNBT-FM/WNBQ-FM in Wellsboro/Mansfield.
Moving back eastward along the US 30 corridor, Four Rivers Community Broadcasting has put WPAZ (1370 Pottstown) back on the air, but not as a simulcast of its big “Word FM” network all across eastern Pennsylvania. Instead, WPAZ is carrying a new format of classic inspirational music for the western Philadelphia suburbs.
*In CONNECTICUT, Jerry Kristafer didn’t stay off the air for long. The veteran of almost four decades on the Hartford airwaves found a new job last week, less than a month after losing his morning slot on WDRC-FM (102.9). Kristafer’s new job is as morning man on Catholic-owned WJMJ (88.9 Hartford), where he replaces Bruce Stevens in the 5:30-10 AM slot beginning today.
*On Cape Cod, Jerry McKenna is the new PD for Cape Cod Broadcasting’s WQRC (99.9), WKPE (103.9), WOCN (104.7) and WFCC (107.5), making a big move toward the ocean from his previous gig as regional PD/OM at Cumulus in Worcester and Springfield. McKenna and Cape Cod Broadcasting GM Bev Tilden have worked together in the past at WQSX (93.7) and WXKS-FM (107.9) in Boston.
*In MAINE, Bob Bittner is trying to fix the nighttime directional array at his newest acquisition, WFAU (1280 Gardiner); while he works on the problems, he’s requested an STA to run at 1250 watts, non-directional, after dark.
*In CANADA, the CRTC has signed off on the last piece of a four-way deal to improve several signals in and around Toronto. The deal, originally proposed back in January, was prompted by the new CIND (Indie 88.1), which was looking for a way to get more power to help compete with Toronto’s bigger signals.
Instead of its originally-authorized 532 watts average/875 watts (max DA)/328.4 m, CIND will now be allowed to run 2.1 kW average/4 kW (max DA)/281 m from First Canadian Place.That extra power goes in the direction of two co-channel stations and one on a first-adjacent channel: CHES (88.1 Erin), CFRH (88.1 Penetanguishene) and CJIQ (88.3 Paris). but CIND worked out arrangements with all of them. French-language community station CFRH will get up to $70,000 from CIND (pending the completed power increase), as well as CIND-supplied equipment for a CFRH rebroadcast transmitter on 106.7 in Barrie, also approved last week. As for the remaining stations, they”ve all entered into a mutual interference agreement. That yielded permission last week for CHES has to boost its power from 125 watts average/250 watts max DA to 570 watts average/1250 watts max DA, while CJIQ will be allowed to go all the way up to full class B (50 kW/150 m) if it desires.
One more important note this week: if you’re about to flip your 2013 Tower Site Calendar to the November page, please note that the human beings who produce the calendar (which would be your editor and Mrs. Editor) made a little goof: Thanksgiving is, as always, on the fourth Thursday – which would make it November 28 this year, not, as the calendar indicates, November 21. Want a corrected PDF you can print out? It’s yours for the asking – just drop a line to lisa at fybush dot com.
We trekked across the continent seeking the prettiest towers…we searched through our databases for the most notable dates…we thought, talked and sweated over design, and thought, talked and sweated some more over printing…but we’d do it all over again (and will, next year!) to produce your favorite 12-month wall calendar.
Yes, the 2014 Tower Site Calendar has gone to press, and you can be the first to reserve your very own. We expect to have them in our hands THIS WEEK, and we’ll send them right to you, spiral bound, shrink wrapped and best of all, with a convenient hole for hanging!
This year’s pinups include the iconic towers of Catalina Island, a combiner system in St. Louis, the twin towers of KNRS in Salt Lake City, a historic rooftop site in Jamestown, New York and many more!
If you want a tower calendar on your wall NOW, you can pick up the current edition for just $5 with your 2014 order!
Click here to order your 2014 calendar! Shipping will begin in November.
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: November 5, 2012
*The last time a storm ripped across the Jersey shore and Long Island Sound with the intensity of last week’s Hurricane Sandy, the year was 1938 and the broadcast damage was extensive and long-lasting.
With just a few exceptions, Sandy left behind much less permanent damage, but its effects on the broadcast community were still plenty intense in the short term. As we chronicled all throughout last week in updates to NERW, the combination of massive power and telecom outages and record-high water levels in low-lying areas left stations struggling to stay on the air in the hours and days immediately after the storm.
We’ll get to the latest station-by-station details in a moment, but first a few bigger thoughts about how radio and TV fared not only in surviving the storm, but in covering it.
We were fortunate up here in western New York (as we so often are) to escape the worst of the storm. Our colleague Lance Venta of RadioInsight.com was not so fortunate; he lives near the Jersey shore, and while his home wasn’t damaged, he spent several days stranded without power, listening carefully to what radio offered, and to what it didn’t offer. In other trade publications, you’re already reading radio executives praising the industry for the service it provided during the storm – but be sure, too, that you read Lance’s account of what wasn’t there when he needed it. Here’s just a highlight – but go read the whole thing:
At the peak of the storm only two local FM’s were in full storm mode. New York Public Radio’s 93.9 WNYC-FM and Disney’s 98.7 WEPN-FM, the latter of which was simulcasting the programming of sister WABC-TV. Some other stations had local break-ins but for those fearing their lives what good is it that Taylor Swift is never getting back together?
The NAB has been on a crusade to have FM chips placed in cell phones using crises such as this as a reason why. That’s all and good, but without the content the listeners need what good is it?
On with our detailed review of the storm’s aftermath and the latest on the recovery –
Perhaps the best review that can be offered is that the service broadcasters provided was decidedly mixed. As ever, there were a handful of top-notch local stations that went all-out to provide nonstop local coverage. Out on Long Island’s East End, WLNG (92.1 Sag Harbor) kept going even as water was rising into its studio building Monday night, and its commitment was matched in other parts of the region by stations such as WGHT (1500 Pompton Lakes NJ), WRNJ (1510 Hackettstown NJ) and WOND (1400 Pleasantville/Atlantic City, silenced on AM but simulcasting on sister WWAC 102.7) that kept on chugging with hyper-local storm information.
Other areas, as Lance notes, were not so fortunate. Connecticut’s Fairfield County, at the edge of storm-swelled Long Island Sound, suffered plenty of storm damage and long-lasting power outages, but lacked a strong local news outlet, especially after the storm crippled WICC (600 Bridgeport), the area’s biggest local AM signal, along with other local stations such as WGCH (1490 Greenwich). That left several other players to try to pick up the slack with more limited news resources – Cox’s WPLR (99.1)/WEZN-FM (99.9) went wall-to-wall with coverage at the height of the power outages, and public radio WSHU-FM (91.1) tried to pour more resources into the local AM signals it picked up from Cox, WSTC (1400 Stamford)/WNLK (1350 Norwalk), to respond to criticism that their local news operations had been silenced by the sale.
Storm damage and power outages made it hard to get information to central Long Island as well. WALK-FM (97.5 Patchogue) was displaced from its low-lying studios and decamped to emergency studios at the Suffolk County emergency operations center, but the FM signal ended up losing power and leaving the air, with WALK programming heard only on the weaker WALK (1370) for a time. WHLI (1100 Hempstead) simulcast News 12 Long Island for several days, including during the nighttime hours when the daytimer is usually silent.
Local news was hard to come by up the Hudson Valley, too. There were (and still are) extensive power outages in areas such as Rockland County, which lacks much local radio – and the local station that does broadcast in English, WRCR (1300 Spring Valley), lost part of its center tower and is operating at reduced power, non-directionally, in the meantime.
In New York City, the mass migration of studios from expensive midtown Manhattan office space to cheaper lower Manhattan ended up causing problems. There were power outages of varying durations at the studios of CBS Radio, Clear Channel, WOR, Emmis, Multicultural Broadcasting and WBAI. And even in the places where power was quickly restored via generator or studio operations shifted to backup facilities elsewhere (such as Clear Channel’s backup studio in Secaucus, N.J., where automation quickly kicked in to put its five FMs back on the air), there were more challenges to be overcome.
The flooding in lower Manhattan ended up taking out much of Verizon’s telecom infrastructure, making it difficult or impossible to get audio and information in and out of the neighborhood. That silenced the WOR Radio Network for several days, and it took out all of CBS’ corporate e-mail for most of the week as well.
Then there were the challenges of getting people in and out of the area: with no subway service, closed tunnels and jammed roads, staffing broadcast facilities and getting reporters and guests in and out of the area was difficult at best and impossible at worst for much of the week. As broadcasters learn from the lessons of Sandy, will the concentration of facilities in such a flood-prone part of Manhattan become one of the vulnerabilities that gets fixed?
*Across the Hudson, another point of vulnerability became clear in the hours after the storm: record high floodwaters in the New Jersey Meadowlands caused severe damage to many of the AM transmitter sites that are tightly clustered there. In addition to knocking CBS Radio’s all-news WINS (1010) off the air for several days, the storm caused even more severe damage across Polito Avenue at the Lyndhurst site of WLIB (1190), which remains silent, and a few miles south in Kearny at the site shared by Salem’s WMCA (570) and public radio WNYC (820). For the first time anyone can remember in that site’s nearly 70-year history, water rose into the transmitter building, severely damaging both stations’ transmitters as well as ripping apart the boardwalk and transmission lines that led out into the water where the stations’ three-tower array sits.
WMCA remains off the air as Salem engineers from around the country attempt to rebuild the site; WNYC came back on the air late Friday with a temporary 1 kW transmitter running non-directionally into a single tower. There’s word that a temporary transmission line will be installed to diplex both WMCA and WNYC while the walkway and permanent transmission lines are rebuilt.
Also still silent is independent freeform station WFMU (91.1 East Orange), which suffered water damage to its studios in Jersey City (where a makeshift streaming operation is now up and running) and to both its main WFMU transmitter on First Mountain and to its Catskills relay, WMFU (90.1 Mount Hope NY). WFMU cancelled its big “Record Fair” fundraiser this past weekend because of power problems making the venue unusable, and it won’t be able to reschedule this year’s event.
Public jazz station WBGO (88.3 Newark) was also forced out of its studios by the storm; there’s word that it spent some time broadcasting from a staffer’s basement until power could be restored.
Down the shore, everything’s decidedly not all right. The rebuilding of the shore towns, and especially along the barrier islands, will be a long process, and broadcasters were affected by the damage, too. New Jersey Public Radio’s WNJO (90.3 Toms River) simply no longer exists: its transmitter site just north of Seaside Heights was washed somewhere out to sea when the winds and rain hit, and for now the area remains largely inaccessible to even begin thinking about rebuilding. We’re still awaiting word on the fate of some of the other sites poised closest to the shore damage; we know transmitters were destroyed at WOND (1400 Pleasantville), among others.
*There was also storm damage in more distant areas: power outages in Rhode Island knocked out signals there when the storm hit, sending Rhode Island NPR’s WELH (88.1 Providence) to a low-power backup at its studios and to a temporary simulcast on Providence College’s WDOM (91.3), and in South County the signal is still out at WRIU (90.3 Kingston).
The Lehigh Valley was also affected, knocking out power to Clear Channel’s Allentown cluster, among others, for several days.
We’ll keep following the storm damage and recovery in the weeks to come here at NERW; please check in with your report, if you haven’t had a chance to do so yet!
*The week’s other big New York City story happened Thursday night at 11:57, when Merlin signed off rocker WRXP (101.9), handing over the signal to CBS Radio in a $75 million deal that resulted, seconds later, in the launch of WFAN-FM, the city’s second FM sports station after ESPN’s WEPN-FM (98.7).
WFAN paid tribute to its original AM launch back in 1987 by using the same voice to launch its FM signal. Suzyn Waldman was a sports update anchor back then; now she’s John Sterling’s partner on Yankees broadcasts over at CBS sister station WCBS (880), and of course the WFAN move to FM reignites speculation that CBS will be making a bid before long to move the Yankees over to the new WFAN-FM.
For now, CBS is making good on its vow to keep a full simulcast going between WFAN’s established AM signal at 660 and its new 101.9 FM signal; it’s still widely expected that CBS will put its new national CBS Sports Radio network on 660 once it launches in January, making the local WFAN programming FM-only.
(Listeners with HD Radio receivers found some changes as a result of WFAN’s FM move – gone is WXRK’s 92.3-HD3, which had been simulcasting WFAN, freeing up bandwidth to allow for stereo on “K-Rock 2″ on 92.3-HD2. There’s no HD at the moment on 101.9, which had been running smooth jazz on its HD2.)
*In Syracuse, Galaxy’s WZUN (102.1 Phoenix) is traditionally one of the first stations in the country to go all-Christmas, and 2012 is no exception: WZUN made the flip right on schedule last Thursday. This year, sister station WUMX (102.5) in Utica is holding back, waiting a few weeks to make its own flip. (Meanwhile, Galaxy has won the early rounds of its legal fight with Cumulus to keep the former WAQX morning team of Hunter Scott and Josh Grosvent on its WKRL/WKRH/WKLL; while a judge ruled that the duo can’t use one of its signature characters or refer to their show as “The Show,” two courts have now denied Cumulus’ bid for an injunction to keep Hunter and Josh off the air at Galaxy. The next court date in the case is November 21 in Syracuse.)
CNYRadio.com reports that a Utica television veteran is getting ready to sign off. Bill Worden started his broadcast career almost fifty years ago at Utica’s WBVM (1550, now WUSP) and WRUN (1150, now WUTI), later working in TV in Wichita and Columbus before returning to Utica in 1977 to become 6 and 11 PM anchor at WKTV (Channel 2). Worden has been there ever since, also anchoring WKTV’s 10 PM CW newscast and serving for a time as news director. Worden announced last week that after his November 29 newscast, he’s leaving TV and pursuing his other passion, music: he’s joined the Mark Bolos Band as a percussionist.
Don Shipman will move from WKTV’s morning newscasts to anchor the 5, 10 and 11 PM broadcasts; sports director Jason Powles will move to mornings; and weekend sports anchor Mike Levin will take over as sports director. Station manager/news director Steve McMurray, who now co-anchors the 5 PM show, will move to the 6 PM anchor slot alongside Kristen Copeland, who also anchors at 5.
*Looking for more syndicated content on your morning radio dial? Look no farther than central PENNSYLVANIA, where more wakeup hours are now being filled by content from Michigan and Ohio. The Michigan component comes from Hall’s WKZF (92.7 Starview), which brought the Grand Rapids-based “Free Beer and Hot Wings” show to the Harrisburg/York area in late October. As for Ohio, that’s the “Dave and Jimmy Morning Show,” which originates at WNCI in Columbus and has just been added to Clear Channel’s WVRT (97.7)/WVRZ (99.7) in the Williamsport market, replacing local operations manager Eric White in that slot. (Dave and Jimmy are also heard in the region on Clear Channel sister station WHKF in Harrisburg.)
In the midst of the storm, one long-silent AM signal actually returned to the air: WPAM (1450 Pottsville) had been entirely silent since April, and technical issues had taken the classic rock station on and off the air as far back as November 2011.
Our unexpected trip through central Pennsylvania late last week reminded us that a new signal had signed on this summer at the northern end of the US 15 corridor: WTIO (88.3 Mainesburg) runs just 48 watts/848′, but it brings the NPR programming of Scranton’s WVIA (89.9) to an area around Mansfield and Troy where public radio reception is shaky at best. (The calls stand for “TIOga County, where the station is located.)
And we note with sadness the passing of longtime Susquehanna Radio top executive Art Carlson, who presided over the company’s expansion from its original base in central Pennsylvania at WSBA in York and WARM in Scranton into a much bigger footprint beyond the region. Carlson had started with Susquehanna at WARM in 1958, and retired from the company as its president in 1994. He died Saturday (Nov. 3) in Jacksonville, Florida at age 82.
*On the CONNECTICUT-New York line, Marshall Miles’ Tri-State Public Communications is making good on its name. WHDD-FM (91.9 Sharon)/WHDD (1020 Sharon) already expanded north into the Berkshires with a western Massachusetts simulcast on WBSL (91.7 Sheffield), and now WHDD’s “Robin Hood Radio” programming is being heard in more of the Hudson Valley via Bard College’s WLHV (88.1 Annandale-on-Hudson), which began test transmissions last week at half-power. When it reaches its full 910-watt licensed power, WLHV will reach Kingston and Rhinebeck with a usable signal, adding about 150,000 potential listeners to the WHDD audience.
*Go as far north as you can go in VERMONT and you find yourself looking at a radio station painted like a spotted cow. That’s WIKE (1490 Newport) and WMOO-FM (92.1 Derby Line), and it’s about to have another new owner. WIKE/WMOO had ended up as part of Nassau’s massive northern New England holdings, and Nassau’s bankruptcy auction then sent those signals to Jeff Shapiro’s Vertical Capital Partners. Now he’s turning around and selling the stations to another big owner in the region, Bruce James’ Vermont Broadcast Associates. James’ cluster in the Northeast Kingdom already includes WSTJ (1340 St. Johnsbury), WGMT (97.7 Lyndon), WKHX (105.5 St. Johnsbury) and WMTK (106.3 Littleton NH); he’s spinning WQJQ (100.3 Barton) to Capital Broadcasting Associates for $25,000.
In Brattleboro, they’re mourning the co-founder of community station WVEW-LP (107.7). Larry Bloch was an entrepreneur-turned-social activist known for his involvement in building the “jam band” music scene in the 1990s, when he owned the influential Wetlands nightclub in New York. In 1996, Bloch sold the club and moved to Vermont, where he became involved in putting the unlicensed Radio Free Brattleboro on the air. Many of the RFB staff moved over to WVEW when it launched in 2006, and Bloch became WVEW’s program director. He died October 28 of pancreatic cancer, at just 59 years old.
*As of last Thursday, the CBC no longer holds a license for its Radio CANADA International shortwave transmitters at Sackville, New Brunswick. At RCI’s request, the CRTC revoked the license, which held the (never-announced) callsign CKCX. Most transmissions from Sackville ceased earlier in October, and RCI engineers have reportedly begun dismantling the massive antenna arrays after the CBC failed to find a buyer for the facility.
The last remaining transmission from Sackville is the CBC’s Northern Quebec Service, operating on 9625 kHz and aimed northwest at the remote native villages that dot the frigid landscape up there. The CBC is in the process of building out a network of small FM signals to replace the shortwave service, but in the meantime it appears “CKCX” will remain on the air a while longer, even without an official license, in order to serve northern Quebec.
*The CBC is also in the process of completing a facility change in Windsor, Ontario, where the transmitter site for its Radio-Canada service, CBEF (540), was reportedly in need of expensive repairs. Instead of fixing up that site, the CBC asked the CRTC if it could move the CBEF license to the facility on 1550 last used by its English-language service, CBE. That service has moved to FM (as CBEW 97.5), but the old 1550 transmission facility was in decent repair – and so as of last week, CBEF is being heard transitionally both on 540 and 1550 before the 540 signal is silenced for good.
Five Years Ago: November 3, 2008
*It was supposed to be a joyous week in upstate NEW YORK – the debut of the airstaff at Ithaca’s new top-40 station, Finger Lakes Radio Group’s WFIZ (95.5 Odessa). In the course of just a few months, PD/morning man Tommy Frank had arrived from Indiana, assembled a crew that included morning co-host Heather B., assistant PD/night guy Justin Wright and the syndicated Ryan Seacrest in afternoons.On Wednesday, “Z95.5” closed out its inaugural 10,000-song commercial-free stunt with the debut of Frank’s morning show, followed later in the day by Wright’s on-air debut.
And then the joy gave way to tragedy: early Thursday morning, Frank was found dead in his apartment, felled by a heart attack at the age of 42 (or possibly 43, if the dates shown on WFIZ’s website tribute are correct), leaving behind a young son.
The Bangor native (whose real name was Thomas Foley) had a long list of call letters on his resume: morning co-host (“Frank & Stein”) at WRFY in Reading, then PD at the short-lived WSKS in Scranton, WAYV in Atlantic City, WWHT in Syracuse, WKRQ Cincinnati, WAZY Lafayette, Indiana, WJFX Fort Wayne, WNDV South Bend and WTBT/WGER in Saginaw before returning to the northeast a few months ago.
In the wake of Frank’s sudden death, WFIZ GM Frank Lischak has named Wright to serve as PD and morning co-host, which means the station is once again looking for an APD/night jock.
Meanwhile, a memorial fund in Frank’s name has been established at his alma mater, the New England School of Communications (NESCOM), at 1 College Circle, Bangor ME 04401.
*In NEW YORK CITY, the CBS Radio cluster has promoted Mark Chernoff to vice president of programming, giving him oversight over WCBS, WCBS-FM, WINS, WXRK and WWFS in addition to his existing role as operations manager at WFAN and VP of sports programming for CBS Radio.
It’s getting hard for us to even keep complete track of all the talented radio people displaced by job cuts across the industry, but we know we can add several more at Cumulus’ Hudson Valley cluster. Those out of work there include WRRV/WRRB morning co-host Diane (replaced by Brandi Hunter), night guy Tigman (a 10-year veteran) and overnight jock Scott Perry at WPDH, and 16-year WCZX morning veteran Brian Jones.
Over at Clear Channel, Paty Quin returns to middays at WRWD (107.3 Highland) after a two-year absence; her return sends Krista Jones to middays at sister station WBWZ (93.3 New Paltz).
Mark down a new address for Stephens’ three Rochester-market stations (WRMM, WZNE and WFKL), as they vacate the 17th floor of the HSBC Building for new digs on the eighth floor of the First Federal Building on the other side of downtown Rochester. The new mailing address is 28 E. Main Street, 8th floor, Rochester NY 14614.
Stephens’ move allows Clear Channel to begin gutting the HSBC Building studios in preparation for the move of its cluster from the now-closed Midtown Plaza across the street, where the radio stations will be the last tenants remaining when they move out before year’s end.
In TV news, Tribune’s continuing rebranding of its owned-and-operated stations is coming to New York, where WPIX (Channel 11) will drop its “CW11” identity soon, in favor of a modified version of the “circle 11” logo that it used on and off from the seventies until the launch of The WB in the mid-nineties. The CW itself isn’t going away – at least not right away – but it’s nice to see one of the nation’s foremost independent stations regaining its local identity.
*Just across the state line in VERMONT, there’s a new morning man and production director at WEQX (102.7 Manchester), as Darwin (aka Brian Bushner) returns to his old stomping grounds after several years at Albany’s WZMR. Darwin’s return to mornings at EQX sends Amber Miller back to middays after her interim morning shift.
*Most of our PENNSYLVANIA news comes from Philadelphia – and not just from Citizens Bank Park, home of the world champion Phillies (with hearty congratulations to legendary Phils broadcaster Harry Kalas, who finally got to call a Series win live after almost four decades with the team; while he was the Phillies announcer for their last – and only other – championship back in 1980, the broadcast deals back then didn’t allow local announcers to call the Series, even on the teams’ flagship stations.)
At Greater Media’s Philadelphia cluster, WNUW (97.5 Burlington NJ) has a new PD and – temporarily – a new format. Don Gosselin moves down the hall from WBEN-FM (95.7 Philadelphia) to take the PD reins at “Now 97.5,” which flipped to all-Christmas music late last week before usuall all-Christmas stalwart WBEB (B101) could beat it to the punch.
Gosselin’s move opened up a PD vacancy at Ben-FM, which was promptly filled by Jules Riley. The former operations manager at Citadel’s Scranton cluster returns to the Keystone State from St. Louis and the PD chair at WARH and the now-defunct WMVN.
On the corporate level, Peter Smyth adds a new Greater Media title: in addition to being president/CEO of the group, Smyth is now the chairman of the board as well, succeeding the late John Bordes, who died Sept. 25.
Over at CBS Radio, the rumors are apparently true – Danny Bonaduce is headed east from Los Angeles to take over mornings on WYSP (94.1 Philadelphia), effective next Monday.
Meanwhile at the CBS Radio cluster in Pittsburgh, the budget axe was in full swing last week, claiming at least seven jobs. Most prominently, longtime PD Ryan Mill is out at WBZW (93.7), after a 15-year career that’s included several stints programming that station. Cluster PD Keith Clark will handle B’s programming duties. At KDKA (1020), production director Dennis Elliot and producer Jim Amato are out, as well as two general sales managers and two promotions directors at the CBS FM stations.
In Scranton, Ryan Seacrest’s “On Air” show has landed yet another new affiliate: he’s taking the noon-3 slot on Entercom’s WKRZ (98.5 Freeland)/WKRF (107.9 Tobyhanna), displacing Kelly K to the 9 AM-noon shift.
*A quiet week in MASSACHUSETTS, which means we can catch up on at least one item we’d been neglecting to mention: it appears that Barry Armstrong’s Money Matters Radio has flipped WESO (970 Southbridge) from its “Spirit 970” classic country format to a simulcast of the business talk heard on WBNW (1120 Concord).
Out west, there’s a new morning man at WPKX (97.9 Enfield, CONNECTICUT), as Mike Tyler returns to the region from Pittsburgh’s WDSY. That moves Marc Spencer to afternoons and Bob Martin to middays at “Kix.”
*Just one story from CANADA this week, but it’s a pretty big one: as CHUM (1050) and CHUM-FM (104.5) prepare to move out of their longtime studio home at 1331 Yonge Street, they’re opening the doors to the public one last time in a couple of weeks.
The farewell CHUM open house will take place Saturday, November 15, from noon-4 PM, including tours of the building and the CHUM Museum within – and Milkman UnLimited reports there will be a “special CHUM souvenir” available to visitors with a donation to the CP24 CHUM Christmas Wish charity.
(Yes, NERW plans to be there, weather and border delays permitting, so expect full coverage in the November 17 issue!)
The 1331 Yonge Street site, which has been home to CHUM since 1959, has been sold to a developer, and the stations are moving downtown to 250 Richmond Street West over the next few months. The landmark neon sign is already gone from Yonge Street – it was dismantled in early September so it can be refurbished before being installed at the new studios on Richmond.
Ten Years Ago: November 3, 2003
*Two years and six weeks after the World Trade Center was destroyed, New York City once again has DTV service from all the major English television networks. WABC-DT (Channel 45) signed back on the air last Thursday (Oct. 30) from the newly-completed Four Times Square mast, restoring ABC digital service to market #1. ABC was the last of the major nets to get DTV back on the air; CBS and Fox had been operating their digital signals from the Empire State Building even before 9/11, and the ESB would later become home to low-power signals for WNBC-DT and WPIX-DT (WB). (UPN service was restored on a subchannel of Fox’s WNYW-DT, and PBS was restored by WNET via a low-power transmitter on the roof of its studio building.) With the arrival of WABC-TV at 4 Times Square, the building begins a new era as a major primary site in New York. In addition to ABC, Univision has signed a lease for space in the building, and is already broadcasting a low-power Telefutura signal there for WFUT-DT (Channel 53).
*Another hopeful note in the ongoing restoration of full TV service to New York: Pax’s WPXN (Channel 31) moved its signal from Eagle Rock Avenue in West Orange, N.J. to Empire last week.
*Three proposed call letters and several rumored target dates later, the new talk station in MASSACHUSETTS finally launches this week. Salem’s WTTT (1150 Boston) began stunting over the weekend with an all “Danny Boy” format, which will end Tuesday (11/2) at noon when it launches its conservative talk format, anchored by Don Feder, moving over from sister WROL (950 Boston).
*A long-running LMA in MAINE has come to an end: Mountain Wireless is once again programming WSKW (1160 Skowhegan), WHQO (107.9 Skowhegan) and WCTB (93.5 Fairfield) on its own, after years of leasing them to Clear Channel’s Augusta-based cluster. No word yet on programming changes; WSKW was running a sports simulcast with CC’s WFAU (1280 Gardiner), WHQO was simulcasting news/talk with CC’s WCME (96.7 Boothbay Harbor), and WCTB was doing AC.
*WWRX (103.7) in Westerly, RHODE ISLAND is breaking away from its parent network at Boston’s WFNX; it’s just launched a new morning show with Jay Ferreira, formerly of WAAF in Worcester and WCCC in Hartford, and now takes only a few weekend shows from Boston.
Fifteen Years Ago: November 6, 1998
*An upstate NEW YORK radio station is making the move to a new frequency. Watertown’s WCIZ (93.5) began telling its listeners last week to get ready to adjust their dials to 93.3, and NERW’s ears up in the North Country tell us the change has now happened. The classic hits station known as “Z93” jumps from 4000 to 6000 watts with the change, and moves from a tower north of Watertown to a site shared with sister station WFRY (97.5) in the hills east of town.
*Meantime in the Buffalo area, WHLD (1270 Niagara Falls) wants to move its transmitter some 30 miles south. The ethnic outlet is currently 5000 watts day, 144 watts night from a two-tower array on Grand Island, halfway between Buffalo and Niagara Falls. An application filed this week with the FCC would move WHLD to the WNED (970) site in Hamburg, on the shore of Lake Erie south of Buffalo. WHLD’s new 5000/143 watt DA-1 operation would blanket Buffalo and Niagara Falls by day, and would be fairly solid in the ethnic neighborhoods on Buffalo’s south side at night as well. Could a city of license change, perhaps to Hamburg, Lackawanna, or Orchard Park, be next?
*Craig Fox is making some call-letter changes at his central New York stations. WNDR (103.9 Mexico) has applied for WVOQ, presumably to match simulcast partner WVOA (105.1 DeRuyter), and WMBO (1340 Auburn) has applied for WKGJ — and we have NO idea what that stands for! WMBO’s been simulcasting WOLF (1490) Syracuse and WOLF-FM (96.7) Oswego. Continuing the lupine theme, WOLF-TV in Scranton, Pennsylvania also has new calls — it’s returned to the “WSWB” that was on its construction permit years ago (and which later spent years on the CP for channel 64 there, now a Pax TV outlet). The WOLF-TV calls move to the sister station on channel 56 in Hazleton, until now known as WWLF. And Fox isn’t letting his heritage calls disappear in Central New York — his W60BY Syracuse becomes WMBO-LP, and W18AL becomes WNDR-LP.
*In the Rochester area, Jacor has filed formal applications to shuffle transmitter sites for WNVE (95.1 Honeoye Falls) and WMAX-FM (107.3 South Bristol). As expected, “the Nerve” files to move its 50,000 watts from Bristol Mountain some 30 miles north to Baker Hill in Perinton, within sight of downtown Rochester, while “Jam’n 107” flees from Bloomfield up to Bristol Mountain, where its whopping 650 watts will barely reach Rochester on a good day (but should cover the central Finger Lakes quite nicely). NERW wonders whether a reshuffling of some of Jacor’s Rochester-area formats will follow, both to accomodate the new coverage areas and to account for the still-unbuilt CP for 102.1 Albion.
*In MASSACHUSETTS, one of the founders of “The River” in Haverhill is heading south. Mike Mullaney was the founding music director when WLYT (92.5) became WXRV back in 1995, and was the station’s morning guy for the last two years as well. Now he’s gotten an offer he can’t refuse, to become assistant program director at WBMX (98.5) in Boston. He’ll start later this month; no replacement has been named yet.
*Brockton’s WCAV (97.7) wants to move north; it’s applied to move from its current facility alongside route 24 south of the city to a 150-meter tower on North Quincy Street, at the northern edge of Brockton (and, of course, a few miles closer in to Boston). WCAV would go from its current 3000 watts at 84 meters AAT to 2700 watts at 150 meters AAT. Also moving is WCRB (102.5 Waltham), which has been granted FCC approval to move across the highway from the WBZ-TV tower in Needham to the FM128 tower in Newton.
*Two new calls in VERMONT this week, and one’s an oldie-but-goodie. The WNBX calls date back to the very dawn of radio in the Connecticut River Valley in the twenties, and later spent years on the FM side of WKNE in Keene (now WKNE-FM 103.7). More recently, they’ve been attached to the 100.5 in Lebanon NH. Now Bob and Shirley Wolf have laid claim to this piece of history, attaching it to their AM 1480 in Springfield, formerly WCFR. Up the valley a bit in White River Junction, WKXE (95.3) becomes WWSH-FM, joining “Wish” sister stations WSSH (101.5 Marlboro) and WZSH (107.1 Bellows Falls). The WWSH calls used to be in Pittston, Pennsylvania.