In this week’s issue… How does a long-dark AM get renewed? – More CBS cuts in Philly – Big downgrade for a Boston AM – Jolly Joe, RIP
By SCOTT FYBUSH
Jump to: ME – NH – VT – MA – RI – CT – NY – NJ – PA – Canada
*How does someone who seemingly doesn’t even exist get a license transfer approved on a radio station whose transmitter site doesn’t exist? It’s just another day in the life of Brian Dodge and his affiliates, at least where WCKL (560 Catskill NY) is concerned.
Dodge’s name, of course, doesn’t actually appear anywhere on the WCKL license renewal that was inexplicably granted a week ago. That went to “Family Broadcasting and Media,” which told the FCC in a 2014 ownership report that it was controlled by Tamara K. Thayer (who is, or was, married to Dodge) and one “Tim Allen,” who listed the same Brattleboro, Vermont address as Thayer.
Why was the grant “inexplicable”? As NERW readers know, WCKL was evicted from its longtime transmitter site on Route 9G back in 2013 after the station failed to pay rent to its then-landlord, Clear Channel Radio. The FCC knew WCKL had been evicted, too, when Clear Channel filed to put a translator on the site (still used by Clear Channel/iHeart’s WCTW 98.5) and had to explain that there was no concern about disrupting WCKL’s pattern because there was no more WCKL. In early 2014, the FCC wrote to WCKL seeking clarification, getting a letter in reply in June that claimed the station was indeed on the air.
It wasn’t until April 2015 that WCKL bothered to request an STA, which it was supposed to have done within 30 days after going silent from its licensed site. The April STA still didn’t request use of the longwire site from which WCKL has been intermittently operating (without authorization) for the past two years. Instead, WCKL’s “Tim Allen” requested silent status in typically-incoherent Dodge fashion: “DUE MANY FACTORS INCLUDING THE HARD WINTER THE GREATEST BEING ELECTRIC FAILURE OF TRANSMITTING UNIT. WE HEREBY REQUEST A STA WHILE ALL THE PROBLEMS ARE WORKED ON.”
And yet, despite all of that, the FCC granted WCKL a license renewal on July 24 – which was followed a few days later by an application to transfer the station’s license from Family Broadcasting and Media to Ebony Media. Here’s the entire transfer agreement, as submitted: “FAMILY BROADCAST LICENSEE OF WCKL AGREES TO TRANSFER TO EBONY MEDIA WCKL AND ALL EQUIPMENT FOR 1.00 NO WRITTEN AGREEMENT!”
Who’s Ebony Media? That would be one “Bishop Tim Allen,” with an address in “Renssellear, New York” (sic), who tells the FCC that he has “no other radio interests.”
Which is interesting, indeed, because over in another FCC office, the Media Bureau staffers who handle low-power FM received two identical semi-incoherent documents from a “Dave Reed” on July 21, one filed as a “petition for reconsideration” and the other as an “application for review” of the deletion of a construction permit for an LPFM on 104.7 in Huntington, Massachusetts. We’ve written about the many Dodge-related LPFM apps in western Massachusetts before; what’s of interest here is that the documents (which you can read here) claim that permittee “WHAM for BB, Inc.” (“Women, Handicap Americans and Minorities for Better Broadcasting,” misfiled with the FCC as “WHAB for BB” at one point) built and is operating the signal despite the CP having been cancelled – and that WHAM for BB has a pending deal to transfer the CP to River Valley Community Church for, yes, one dollar. And who filed the original Huntington application? “Tim Allen,” of course…
It’s been more than 18 years now since the FCC first fielded a detailed petition about Dodge’s antics (which even now has never been acted upon); at what point, we wonder, will current FCC staffers catch up to “Tim Allen” and “Dave Reed” and finally pull the plug?
(But then, we hear from someone who’s been doing the counting that there were no fewer than 18 pirate FM stations on the air in Boston over the weekend, most of them in plain view with just a little direction-finding, which further calls into question the FCC’s plan to cut back on its enforcement budget.)
We’re a community.
*It’s been a busy decade or so for AM station moves in eastern MASSACHUSETTS: the construction of the unusual WXKS (1200)/WRCA (1330)/WUNR (1600) triplex in Newton, the diplexes of WAZN (1470) on WWDJ (1150) and WILD (1090) on WKOX (1430), the relocation of Brockton’s 1410 to Hyde Park – and now a proposal to significantly downgrade WNTN (1550 Newton) after 47 years at the same site.
That’s 143 Rumford Avenue, an industrial spot near the Waltham city line, and it’s the spot WNTN has called home since it signed on as a 10,000-watt daytimer back in 1968. More recently, the ethnic outlet added 3 big watts of night service, which doesn’t go very far. On Friday, WNTN applied to move from the Rumford Avenue site to the tower of WJIB (740 Cambridge), where it would run just 750 watts by day and still drop to 3 watts at night. WNTN would also change its city of license from Newton (now served by WXKS as well as by Boston College’s WZBC 90.3) to Cambridge.
Up there at the top of the dial, 750 watts doesn’t go very far; WNTN’s service area would shrink considerably from its present 10 kW, though it would at least shift eastward to cover more of the Boston area’s ethnic communities.
Why make the move? It could be that even in the nondescript area where it’s now located, WNTN’s Newton real estate is worth more than the station itself, a recurring theme for AM in the 21st century. We’ll keep you posted as this next Boston AM shuffle makes its way through the FCC…
*Over at Entercom, Tim Benz didn’t last long as part of the midday lineup at WEEI-FM (93.7). After just over a year with the station, he’s headed back to Pittsburgh for an as-yet-undisclosed new challenge.
The Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame released its Class of 2015 inductee list over the weekend, and it’s another stellar crew. This year’s inductees include Phil Balboni, who created “Chronicle” at WCVB and founded New England Cable News; longtime WCVB reporter Amalia Barreda; veteran WBZ radio reporter Don Batting; Red Sox voice Joe Castiglione; WCVB/ABC medical editor Dr. Timothy Johnson; WBCN founding program director Sam Kopper; WATD founder/GM Ed Perry; 1960s-era WBZ night jock Dick Summer and JJ Wright, veteran DJ on WRKO, WXKS-FM, WODS and elsewhere in Boston. This year’s class will be inducted September 25th at the Boston Marriott Quincy, and tickets are on sale at massbroadcastershof.org.
*There’s a format change coming in NEW HAMPSHIRE: at RadioInsight, their new exclusive “Domain Insight” feature picked up on a registration last week that points the way for Tri-Valley Broadcasting’s WYRY (104.9 Hinsdale) to shift from “New Country 104.9” to “NASH Icon,” picking up Cumulus’ syndicated country format.
*We now know where Amber (Huyghe) Stone is headed for her next act after departing VERMONT and WZRT (97.1 Rutland): she’ll be the new midday host at Adams Radio Group’s WJFX (Hot 107.9) in Fort Wayne, Indiana…which means we’ll probably be hearing her in just a few weeks when we’re next out that way to visit the family.
*We’re glad everyone’s OK in MAINE, where someone peppered the front doors of the One City Center office tower in downtown Portland with a pellet gun early Friday morning. It happened just before the morning crews at Townsquare’s stations were coming into work, and they’re grateful to security guard Mike Conicelli for chasing the shooter and keeping him pinned down until police could arrive. Conicelli took several pellet shots but is doing fine, and Townsquare’s WHOM has dubbed him “Portland’s new hero.”
*Is there much more to be said about CBS Radio’s budget cuts? In PENNSYLVANIA there sure is: despite sitting at the top of the ratings, WOGL (98.1) cut station manager Jim Loftus, night jock Bob Charger and, perhaps most dramatically, morning man Ross Brittain last week. The Philadelphia Business Journal reports Loftus was offered transfers to either Pittsburgh or Seattle but chose to take early retirement instead. Brittain, who’d been on the morning shift at WOGL since 2004, at least got a farewell show on Friday before his departure; up the road at WCBS-FM in New York, Brittain’s old Z100 morning partner Scott Shannon got a “multi-year” contract extension from the company.
(Brittain’s wife, Rasa Kaye, stays with CBS Radio as a reporter for KYW.)
*It’s the radio equivalent of the “Popemobile”: CBS Radio in Philadelphia has launched the “Popecast,” a 24/7 HD subchannel devoted to all things Pope Francis in advance of the pontiff’s visit to Philadelphia next month. Produced by KYW (1060)’s news staff, the channel will air on WZMP (96.5)’s HD3 through the papal visit on September 27th.
*”Jolly Joe” Timmer was a polka legend in the Lehigh Valley, producing live shows and hosting a local cable access show long before he became a radio owner there in 1992. The former owner of WGPA (1100 Bethlehem) died Monday in a nursing home in Nazareth, just a few months after his trustees filed to sell his radio station after Timmer was stricken with dementia. The $95,000 sale of WGPA to CC Broadcasting LLC hasn’t closed yet. Timmer was 85.
*A follow-up to one of our NEW JERSEY stories from last week: WPDI (103.9 Hazlet) isn’t just carrying “Radio Cantico Nuevo” – it’s being sold by original licensee WVRM, Inc. to Cantico Nuevo Ministries for $130,000.
*Sorry to report the passing of “Radio Rohn” Stephens, aka Ron Stekeur, who died Monday at a hospital in Roanoke, Virginia. Stekeur managed and programmed WBHX (99.7 Tuckerton) when it launched in the 1990s, and also worked at WJRZ (100.1) in Ocean county and at WMID (1340) and WOND (1400) in Atlantic City, among other stops.
*In NEW YORK, the latest part of Cumulus’ staffing shuffle finds Brian Thomas exiting the PD chair of WNSH (94.7), en route to Chicago and WLS-FM (also 94.7), where he’ll fill the chair vacated by Jan Jeffries’ move to Washington. No replacement has been announced yet at WNSH.
On Long Island, Cox’s morning team at WBAB (102.3) is expanding: Roger and JP will now be heard in the Tampa market on WHPT (102.5) as well.
We don’t remember seeing a “maximum capacity” sign on the air studio at New York’s Z100 (WHTZ 100.3) when we were last there a year or so ago, but J.J. Kincaid was testing the room’s limits on Friday when he turned his departure from afternoon drive into an afternoon party that ended with an emotional on-air goodbye to the strains of “Empire State of Mind.”
In addition to the friends and Z100 staffers (and iHeart New York colleagues such as WOR’s Todd Schnitt) who packed the studio to say goodbye, J.J. shared his departure with the rest of us on Periscope, which is where we grabbed the still you see at left.
No permanent afternoon replacement has been named yet at Z100; J.J. starts next week at his new morning gig in Denver at iHeart’s KBTP (Party 95.7).
In Syracuse, Hunter Scott is out at Galaxy Broadcasting’s “K-Rock” (WKRL 100.9/WKRH 106.5), where he’d been co-host of “The Show” with Josh Grosvent for the last three years. Scott and Grosvent took their morning show to Galaxy back in 2012 after a contract dispute with their previous station, Cumulus’ WAQX (95X); they won a New York State Broadcasters Association award for “best on-air personality and team” just a few months ago.
*What’s happening at Entercom’s cluster here in Rochester? At market-leading country WBEE (92.5), they’re looking for a new morning co-host after moving veteran Terry Clifford to middays, which in turn shifts Justine Paige to the evening shift. And down the hall at WBZA (98.9), a stealth format change over the last few weeks has transformed “The Buzz” from “Everything that Rocks” to “Everything. All The Time.” To our ears, it sounds like a variety-hits attack at former Entercom sister station WFKL (Fickle 93.3), now part of the rival Stephens cluster; PD Mike Danger tells us that from where he sits, it’s now “straight-ahead classic hits.”
*In CANADA, something’s up at Corus’ Q107 (CILQ 107.1 Toronto), where Kim Mitchell is the latest jock to depart. The rock guitarist had been doing afternoons on Q107 since 2004 when he abruptly tweeted his last show on Friday; his exit follows the dismissals earlier in the week of jocks Dominik Diamond, Nails Mahoney and Jeff Woods.
Dan Sys’ Canadian Radio News picks up on a pair of call changes in Quebec: CKLX (91.9 Montreal) is taking the CFSI calls from the recently-deleted station out on Salt Spring Island, BC; the CKLX calls will replace CFTX on 96.5 in Gatineau/Ottawa.
CALENDARS ON CLEARANCE
If you don’t have your 2023 Tower Site Calendar yet, now is the perfect time to get it. Because we have lowered the price to just $14.
The calendar has great photos of broadcast sites near and far (everywhere from Navajo Nation on the cover to Boston to Toronto to Texas, and beyond), plus a lovely “centerfold” you can keep on your wall for 2024.
It’s still shipping regularly, and you can have yours in just a couple of days!
Order your copy and you’ll see what we mean.
If you have already ordered your calendar, make sure you check out the other items in the store, too!
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, fifteen and – where available – twenty 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: August 4, 2014
*It’s been a bad year for independent radio in CONNECTICUT‘s capital city. Hartford started 2014 with three vibrant independent competitors lined up against the big Clear Channel and CBS clusters: Buckley Broadcasting’s WDRC-FM (102.9) and its AM talk quadcast sisters, Marlin’s rocker WCCC-FM (106.9) and its classical “Beethoven” AM sister, WCCC (1290 West Hartford), and Red Wolf Broadcasting’s modern rock WMRQ (104.1 Waterbury) and its Spanish-language translator/HD sister, “La Bomba.”
As of Friday afternoon a little past 5, as Pantera’s “Walk” faded out on WCCC-FM (hear it on our sister site FormatChange.com), the roster of independent commercial FM owners in Hartford is down to just John Fuller’s Red Wolf group, thanks to the sales of WDRC to Connoisseur and now of WCCC-FM/WCCC(AM) to EMF Broadcasting, which has flipped both signals to its national “K-Love” contemporary Christian format.
To Marlin’s credit, it gave fans and staffers of WCCC-FM a chance to say goodbye, devoting the station’s last five hours on Friday afternoon to an emotional on-air reunion hosted by Mike Karolyi and featuring many years’ worth of former WCCC’ers, including a call-in from one of the most famous, Howard Stern, who called the station home in the late 1970s.
The final hours of WCCC-FM included something else, too: plenty of ads from Connoisseur’s new classic hits version of WDRC-FM, seeking to pick up listeners who’d been attached to the more classic direction in which WCCC’s rock format had been trending over the past year or so. It’s become somewhat traditional in situations like that for the surviving competitor to at least offer a salute to the departing rival, and so it felt a little raw to a lot of listeners that WDRC’s ads instead appeared to be rubbing it in, especially after the very recent dismissal of most of WDRC’s former airstaff, replaced by voices from New Haven sister station WPLR. (Did we mention it’s been a weird year for Hartford radio?)
Connoisseur was reportedly a bidder for the WCCC stations as they were quietly shopped around over the last few months, and losing out to EMF leaves it in a challenging position: it’s all alone with WDRC-FM now (and the weak AM quadcast) against the much bigger portfolios of its corporate competitors, three big FMs and powerhouse AM WTIC (1080) for CBS, and four FMs plus an AM for Clear Channel.
For K-Love, as we noted in our Thursday update, WCCC-FM fills the gap between its existing signals in the New York area (WKLV 96.7 Port Chester, formerly a Connecticut commercial license) and in southern Rhode Island (WKIV 88.1 Westerly), and it will mark the chain’s first big urban entry into New England, traditionally a tough region for religious broadcasters.
*Just to add to the overall depressing month in Connecticut radio, they (and we) are mourning Samantha Stevens, who died last Monday, far too young. Stevens, whose real name was Nicole Loban, was a Shelton High School and Southern Connecticut State University graduate whose post-college career included a long run at WKCI (101.3 Hamden) in the New Haven market, as well as on-air and programming stints at WEFX/WFOX (95.9 Norwalk) and the former WKHL (96.7 Stamford), a stretch as PD/middays at WEZN-FM (99.9 Bridgeport), part-time work at WEBE (107.9 Westport) and an impending gig with WRCH (100.5 New Britain), where she was to have returned to the air in September after what appeared to be a remission from cancer. She was just 44 years old.
*Now that Bob McAllen’s PMCM group has successfully launched one of its cross-country TV move-ins, Philadelphia-market KJWP (Channel 2), it had hoped to be broadcasting this week in NEW YORK City as well. But the launch of KVNV (Channel 3), the license PMCM is moving from Ely, Nevada to “Middletown Township, New Jersey,” is delayed, thanks to a complaint from Connecticut’s WFSB-TV. The Hartford CBS affiliate has been on “channel 3,” first physically and then virtually, ever since 1957, and because it counts Fairfield County as part of its home turf, it’s seen on 3 on the Cablevision systems all the way down to the New York state line. With KVNV poised to launch on RF channel 3 from 4 Times Square in Manhattan this summer, PMCM had already filed the paperwork to claim must-carry on channel 3 on Cablevision and Time Warner systems throughout the New York metro area, which threatened to displace WFSB in Fairfield County.
That would be a big blow to WFSB, whch sells local ads for a Fairfield-only custom version of its signal. So it went to the FCC asking to have KVNV forced to a different virtual channel, preferably “33,” which is WFSB’s physical RF channel (and also that of WCBS-TV in New York, but we digress.) If KVNV is moved off virtual 3, it loses the right to claim that prime “3” spot on cable, nestled neatly between WCBS and WNBC, which would dramatically reduce the new station’s visibility.
For now, the FCC (which resisted McAllen’s attempts to move the stations east in the first place until a court ruling forced its hand) is punting on the matter: at the request of Time Warner and Cablevision, it’s imposed a stay on KVNV’s channel 3 must-carry request until it can get around to ruling on WFSB’s petition to change KVNV’s virtual channel to 33. And while PMCM presses for a quick decision so it can be on the air by the time the fall ratings period starts, there’s no telling how long the virtual channel decision might take, or what appeals might slow it down. In the meantime, KVNV remains in limbo (and Connecticut viewers continue to see MeTV programming on Bridgeport’s WZME, channel 43, which will lose the affiliation once KVNV signs on.)
*Our news from CANADA starts out east in Saint John, New Brunswick, where Newcap wasted no time relaunching CHNI (88.9) after closing on its purchase from Rogers. Gone is “News 88.9,” and in its place is “Rock 88.9,” with 30 days of commercial free classic rock, leaving toward a heavier blend than most classic rockers.
Five Years Ago: August 2, 2010
Regulators in CANADA don’t often revoke a broadcast license, but the case of Pellpropco Inc. and CHSC (1220 St. Catharines) has been an unusual one for the CRTC. Ever since Pellpropco took over the station in 2002, it’s been in the CRTC’s crosshairs for a series of what appeared to be pretty serious violations of Commission policies, most notably an unauthorized shift of format from the English-language music format specified on its license to Italian-language programming aimed not at St. Catharines and the Niagara region but rather at the much larger Toronto market just up the QEW. The CRTC has been patient with Pellpropco, issuing short-term license renewals while waiting to see if CHSC would correct the violations, but now the agency’s patience has run out. After calling CHSC to two hearings (one in Orillia in 2008, then in Toronto earlier this year), the CRTC has denied CHSC’s license renewal, ordering the station to be off the air by August 31. In denying the renewal, the Commission said that it is not convinced that Pellpropco and its owner, Domenic Pellegrino, have “the ability and capacity to put its house in order and, generally, to operate its station responsibly and to fulfil its regulatory obligations and conditions of licence.”
While CHSC fades out, there’s a new station on Nova Scotia’s south shore. CJHK (100.7 Bridgewater) signed on last week as “Hank FM,” with a country format complementing sister station CKBW (98.1), which was itself a country signal back in its AM days. The launch of “Hank” comes with a studio move, too, as both stations relocate to new digs at 135 North Street.
PENNSYLVANIA has never been a hotbed of Spanish-language radio, but a fast-growing national Spanish network is getting cleared on Philadelphia radio beginning today, as Beasley pulls the business talk format off daytimer WWDB (860) in favor of ESPN Deportes. The arrival of ESPN Deportes will bring a second Spanish-language signal to Philadelphia, complementing Clear Channel’s “Rumba 1480” (WUBA), which is itself the remnant of an earlier failed experiment with Spanish-language radio on a full-power FM signal (WUBA-FM 104.5, now WRFF).
There’s a new station moving into the Erie market as part of a sale. Frank Iorio’s Iorio Broadcasting struck a deal last week to sell WNAE-FM (102.7 Clarendon) to Family Life Ministries, which has become one of the biggest broadcast groups in western New York and northern Pennsylvania. But there’s an interesting twist: the $400,000 sale of the class A station hinges on FCC approval of an application that’s yet to be filed. The application would move 102.7 from the Warren area west to Wattsburg, Pennsylvania, which sits right at the corner where the New York/Pennsylvania state line turns from north-south to east-west, less than 20 miles from downtown Erie. Assuming the FCC approves WNAE’s move, it would give Family Life its first full-power signal into Erie, which has long been served by Family Life translator signals.
There are some nervous programmers in NEW YORK, and around the country, awaiting the aftermath of the settlement between state attorney general Elliot Spitzer and Sony Music over payola charges. While Sony’s $10 million payment, coupled with an assurance that it will change its practices, gets the company off the hook with Spitzer’s office, the e-mails that Spitzer’s office dug up as part of its investigation will likely lead to more investigations, both by the FCC and by some of the broadcasters accused of accepting payola.
Among the stations whose call letters appeared in the e-mails were Boston’s WXKS and WBCN (where Sony apparently paid for a staff dinner for former PD Oedipus), Albany’s WFLY and WKKF (where Sony supplied a $1400 laptop to former PD Donny Michaels), Hartford’s WKSS, Buffalo’s WKSE (where PD Dave Universal was ousted earlier in the payola investigation, and where the e-mails suggest that even Sony was finding Universal excessively greedy) and Rochester’s WPXY (where an e-mail from PD Mike Danger admits “i’m a whore this week. what can i say?”)
In MASSACHUSETTS, Qantum Communications announced a $10 million spinoff of three Cape Cod stations that it can’t keep because of ownership caps. Nassau will enter the Cape market with the purchase of classic rock WPXC (102.9 Hyannis) and oldies WDVT (93.5 Harwich Port)/WTWV (101.1 Mashpee) – and that starts the rumor mill spinning, since Nassau’s not a company that tends to be happy with just three signals in a market.
In Boston, former WBIX (1060 Natick) owner Brad Bleidt pleaded guilty to mail fraud and money laundering charges last week, which will land him behind bars for 11 years when he’s sentenced October 25.
Fifteen Years Ago: August 7, 2000
As (WBCN’s Charles Laquidara) says goodbye, a new TV station says “hello.” WHUB-TV (Channel 66) Marlborough made its debut with a “Cheers”-heavy lineup of syndicated shows on Tuesday (August 1); expect the USA Broadcasting outlet to get heavily into the bidding wars for local sports in the months to come.
In NEW YORK’s Southern Tier, Vox is growing yet again (with the rumor mill hinting that it’s preparing for an eventual sale). The latest additions to Vox’s growing cluster down that way are Magnum’s WMNS (1360) and WMXO (101.5) in Olean, and just across the state line, the former WRLP (103.1 Russell PA), newly renamed WQFX.
We hear Clear Channel will step in and buy Binghamton’s WINR (680) from dentist Paul Titus, now that Titus’ deal to sell the standards station to Citadel is no more. CC already has four FMs in the market, plus sports AM WENE (1430 Endicott); we wonder what the strategy behind the (reportedly $2 million) purchase will be? (Late word is that an LMA kicked in August 1, with the deal to close this fall.)
Radio people on the move: Ellis B. Feaster has packed the moving van and he’s on the way out of Rochester for the second time in a few years. Feaster leaves the morning show at oldies WBBF (98.9) for a job at Cox country giant WWKA (92.3) in Orlando, Florida. Down in New York City, former WNEW (102.7) jock Dennis Elsas has resurfaced at the low end of the dial, where he’s signed on for afternoon drive at Fordham University’s cool AAA WFUV (90.7).
The word from VERMONT is that, yes indeed, country WLFE-FM (102.3 St. Albans) has LMA’d AM 1070 across the lake in Plattsburgh NY and is operating it as WLFE(AM). The irony here? Former WLFE owner John Kimel checked in to remind us that back in the early 80s, he flipped the FM to country in an attempt to steal the market share of…AM 1070 in Plattsburgh, then known as WKDR. (Burlington’s 100kw 98.9 spoiled the fun a few years later when it switched from CHR as WQCR to country as WOKO.)
Twenty Years Ago: August 8, 1995
WLYT, 92.5 in Haverhill MA, has taken a dive into “The River.” That’s the station’s new nickname as of Monday morning, 8/1. Format for the 35kw powerhouse 35 miles north of Boston is the AAA-80s pop sort of mix they’ve been using for the last few weeks. A call letter change is reportedly in the works. This is an exciting breath of life for a station that’s been largely ignored, despite a solid class B signal that rimshots Boston and is solid in the Merrimack Valley area along the Mass-NH border, where the other FMs (WSSH 99.5 Lowell, WEGQ 93.7 Lawrence) are now operating out of Boston, at least as far as studios are concerned.
The big media deals of the last two days are having their aftershocks in New England. The ABC-Disney deal won’t change much, since ABC has been busy selling its properties here. WPRO AM-FM Providence went to Tele-Media a year or so ago, and CapCities/ABC’s several newspapers in Connecticut have been sold off as well. CBS/Westinghouse is another story. The deal creates an immediate AM-FM-TV combo in Boston – Group W’s WBZ AM-TV and CBS’s WODS FM. Look for “Oldies 103” to move from downtown Boston to BZ’s newly-expanded building. Westinghouse also ends up in line to get WPRI-TV 12 in Providence, which CBS has applied to buy from Narragansett Broadcasting. Since WPRI-TV and WBZ-TV have significant overlap, a waiver will be needed.
Layoffs at WGBH: Boston’s public broadcasting behemoth is laying off 25 staffers, citing budget problems. Meanwhile, listeners upset over planned schedule changes that will reduce daytime classical programming in favor of news are forming a listeners’ group to protest the move. The big issue: the planned cancellation of Ron Della Chiesa’s afternoon “MusicAmerica” program.