In this week’s issue… Antennas picked for World Trade Center – Fire rips through Boston studio – WZUN absorbs WSEN format, talent – Remembering Roselle, Garagiola
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*Now that it’s signed its first few tenants, NEW YORK‘s 1 World Trade Center has ordered TV antennas to be mounted on the distinctive spire that rises 1776 feet above lower Manhattan.
The order goes to RFS, which conducted testing last year in conjunction with the Metropolitan Television Alliance and the Durst Organization, which manages the site. Last week, RFS announced that it will install a circularly-polarized VHF antenna (model 662-16D), as well as a PEP40E UHF antenna that will allow for variable polarization. That means that the UHF stations that end up at 1WTC will have a choice of operating either with the usual horizontal polarization or with a combination of horizontal and vertical, which many experts consider preferable for mobile and indoor reception.
The multi-million dollar question, of course, remains just who’ll be using those antennas. On VHF, we know so far that public broadcaster WNET (Channel 13) have signed deals to use the new 1WTC site. So has NBC, which is currently operating on UHF with WNBC (Channel 4/RF 28) and WNJU (Channel 47/RF 36), and CBS, which operates on UHF with WCBS-TV (Channel 2/RF 33).
Those RF channels are likely to change, of course, once the FCC works its way through the upcoming spectrum auction and repack – and the final configuration atop 1WTC will also depend on who else joins CBS, NBC and PBS up there. ABC (WABC-TV 7) and Tribune (WPIX 11) would be on the VHF antenna if they move; Fox (WNYW 5/RF 44 and WWOR 9/RF 38), ion (WPXN 31) and Univision (WXTV 41/RF 40 and WFUT 68/RF 30) would presumably go on UHF…assuming they don’t either auction some of those signals off or agree to move any of them down to VHF.
And there’s another wrinkle in that whole auction question now: New York City revealed last week that contrary to expectations, it won’t put the spectrum of its noncommercial station, WNYE (Channel 25/RF 24) in the auction. WNYE is already a Durst tenant uptown at 4 Times Square; now that it’s committed to staying on over-the-air TV, will “NYC TV” join the crowd downtown at the World Trade Center too?
More to the point – will the city turn out to have made the right choice in passing up an auction windfall that the FCC initially estimated at more than $700 million? The Commission acknowledged all along that those were rough estimates, and that the actual numbers will go significantly lower depending on how the “forward” part of the auction goes. That phase of the auction, in which potential buyers bid on what they’ll spend for former TV spectrum, is underway now – and it looks as though there are fewer bidders than expected, which means stations like WNYE that opted out may indeed have picked correctly.
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*In Syracuse, today’s the day for a big shuffle in FM formats – and some of the moving pieces appear to still be in motion.
Here’s what we know so far: with Family Life Ministries taking over WSEN-FM (92.1 Baldwinsville) and WMCR-FM (106.3 Oneida) from Leatherstocking, the oldies format on WSEN-FM disappears from 92.1 sometime today. The WSEN-FM intellectual property migrated up the dial last Monday at 3 PM to Galaxy’s WZUN (102.1 Phoenix), which has merged its previous AC “Sunny 102” format in a pretty remarkable way, keeping all of the WSEN-FM airstaff on board alongside its own existing crew.
That’s making for a fairly crowded studio at Galaxy’s Armory Square headquarters. In morning drive, WZUN’s “Big Mike” Fiss and Cindy Humble are now sharing the mike with WSEN’s Gary Dunes. Humble then takes 10-noon on her own, followed in the noon-3 spot by former WSEN middayer Diane Wade. In the 3-7 PM slot, WZUN’s Rick Gary is now working alongside WSEN’s John Carucci.
A temporary simulcast on 102.1 and 92.1 will end today, when 92.1 is expected to begin carrying Family Life’s religious programming. The WSEN-FM calls are apparently moving to 102.1, though nothing’s been filed with the FCC as of Sunday night. We think today’s also the day WMCR-FM begins carrying Family Life programming. And as for the remaining Leatherstocking stations, it appears that they’ll carry on with their present formats – syndicated talk on WFBL (1390 Syracuse)/WMCR (1600 Oneida) and 50s/60s oldies on WSEN (1050 Baldwinsville) – for now, though we’d imagine a sale of those AMs is inevitable down the road.
In the meantime, the consolidation of WSEN-FM and WZUN takes the oldies/classic hits/soft AC battle in Syracuse from three players down to two, with Craig Fox’s “Dinosaur” (WNDR 103.9 Mexico and translators) as the other big competitor.
*Our news from western New York is largely about career longevity. In Buffalo, Roger Christian marked a remarkable 40 years at the same spot on the dial last week. 102.5 was WBEN-FM when he started there in 1976, and he’s been a part of the airstaff there through many years of “Rock 102,” then “Q102” as WMJQ and now “Star 102.5,” WTSS, where he holds down middays. Over at WIVB (Channel 4), chief meteorologist Don Paul retired Wednesday after 28 years with the station. Here in Rochester, WHAM-TV (Channel 13) is planning a huge party in June to mark Don Alhart’s 50th anniversary with the station – more on that in the weeks to come.
And then there’s Jamestown, where Jim Roselle was a community institution in his remarkable 61-year career at WJTN (1240). Roselle was still working six days a week at the station right up until his death last Wednesday at age 89.
“We are truly mourning the loss of not just one of the best radio broadcasters the business has ever known, but one of the best citizens the Jamestown area has had the honor to call one of their own,” said station manager Rick Brodowski. Roselle was most recently hosting a three-hour talk show weekdays from 9 AM until noon, and then returning on Saturdays to co-host “The Times of Your Life” with another community institution, Russ Diethrick.
Roselle was inducted into the New York State Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2010, just one of many honors he received in his long career. Starting in 1974, he was a fixture each summer at the Chautauqua Institution, broadcasting live each morning from a studio there. Chautauqua honored him in 2014 with a “Jim Roselle Day.”
Community Broadcasters is moving a translator from Elmira up I-86 to Olean. What’s now W228AT (93.5) in Elmira will shift to 107.1 when it moves to Community’s WHDL (1450), running 250 watts from the tower of sister station WPIG (95.7 Olean).
Here in Rochester, there’s a new lineup at Entercom top-40 WPXY (97.9): Chris Debbins (on-air, he’s just “Debbins”) moves from nights to afternoons now that Emily Wild has moved down the road to Buffalo sister station WLKK. Middayer Chris “CK” Konya moves to nights, and middays will now be tracked from Norfolk, Virginia sister station WNVZ by that station’s PD, Natalia Soniak. On weekends, WPXY adds Mike Kerr, who’s also been doing weekends and swing at Buffalo sister station WKSE (Kiss 98.5).
Two new LPFMs are on the air in Rochester: New Day Global Mission’s WARI-LP (98.5) is running Spanish-language religious programming on a very weak signal from the city’s northeast side; Rochester Community TV’s WXIR-LP (100.9) signed on Wednesday as “Extreme Independent Radio,” playing what sounds mostly like R&B and jazz so far.
And we can’t let the death of Joe Garagiola on Wednesday at age 90 go unmentioned. While he didn’t work on local New York radio, Garagiola was a New York fixture during many years at NBC, including hosting “Today” from 1967-1973 and 1990-92, “Monitor” on NBC Radio in 1969 and 1970, guest-hosting the “Tonight Show” for Johnny Carson in the 1960s and 1970s, and of course his many years calling baseball’s Game of the Week.
WOBM is one of two Jersey Shore FMs marking anniversaries this year: it’s turning 48, and WJRZ (100.1 Manahawkin) will be turning 40 on July 4.
*A PENNSYLVANIA FM station is about to be on the move again. CBS Radio’s WOGL (98.1 Philadelphia) has been rather nomadic this century, leaving behind its longtime home in the WCAU-TV building on City Line Avenue for a new home in Bala Plaza, then moving into Center City two years ago as part of a CBS facility shuffle that saw WOGL and sister station WPHT (1210) taking over space at 400 Market Street that was formerly home to KYW (1060).
Now WOGL is returning to Bala, with plans to move by year’s end into the 555 City Ave. studio space CBS picked up with its acquisition of Beasley’s WXTU (92.5)/WRDW-FM (96.5, now WZMP). The move will mark the first time ever that 98.1 has been separated from its longtime sister station on 1210, and it will consolidate all of CBS’ FM music stations at the 555 City Avenue location. WPHT and sports sister WIP (94.1) will stay put on Market Street, and KYW remains at the KYW-TV (Channel 3)/WPSG (Channel 57) studios it’s called home for the last couple of years.
Over at WBEB (101.1 More FM), Philly veteran Logan returns to town to take Dave Moore’s former afternoon shift. Logan had been in Fort Walton Beach, Florida recently, but he spent a dozen years before that at iHeart’s WISX (Mix 106.1) and WIOQ (Q102).
*A venerable MASSACHUSETTS studio facility was severely damaged by a three-alarm fire on Friday. Back in 1996, WBUR (90.9 Boston) moved out of its longtime home at Boston University’s College of Communications building at 630 Commonwealth Ave. to a new home up the road at 890 Comm. Ave., leaving behind its old studios to BU student station WTBU, which was mostly on carrier-current AM back then.
(photo: Boston Fire Department)
WTBU’s been at the 630 Commonwealth Avenue facility ever since, doing student-run radio from the same rooms where “Car Talk” got started. It’s not yet clear what started Friday’s fire, which left the studios covered in soot and silenced WTBU for the time being. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more about the cause of the fire and the extent of the damage to WTBU and other BU facilities in that 1950s-era building.
*On Cape Ann, the FCC has granted UMass Boston a construction permit for its new 91.5 signal in Gloucester now that WWRN in Rockport has completed its move from 91.5 to 88.5.
*In MAINE, Chris Clare starts as the new PD at WTHT (99.9 the Wolf) on April 11. Stan Bennett stays with Binnie Media as OM of its Portland cluster and as PD and morning man on sister station WFNK (107.5 Frank FM).
*The RHODE ISLAND Radio Hall of Fame named its class of 2016 last week, and it’s another good one. Former WPRO jock, talk consultant and avid-user-of-hyphens Holland Cooke, WWBB (101.5) afternoon jock/WHJJ (920) PD Bill George, Celtics play-by-play man Mike Gorman (formerly on WPRO and WPRI-TV) and WWFX (100.1 Southbridge/Worcester) morning man “Crusin’ Bruce” Palmer are still active in the industry. Bob DeCarlo, former PD of WICE (1290 Providence) who went on to a long career in radio management, is now living in Florida; veteran newscaster Debbie Rich now works as a political communications director.
The ceremony May 12 at Twin River Event Center in Lincoln will also present the Shepard Award to Karen Kutniewski, the Distinguished Service Award to Denise Laprise and a “Legacy Station of the Year” award to the old WPJB (JB105), now WWLI.
*At WEBE (107.9) in CONNECTICUT, Beth Foster is the new co-host alongside morning man Jay Michaels. In the afternoon, Mike McGowan now has a co-host, too; Andy Madison is now doing traffic in that daypart.
WNTY (990 Southington) has signed on its new 96.1 translator from West Peak in Meriden. It’s part of some big changes for Red Wolf’s “Kool” oldies network: WSKP (1180 Hope Valley RI) has turned on its 104.3 translator serving southern Rhode Island, and up in Springfield, Mass., “Kool” is moving from WACM (1490 West Springfield) to WSPR (1270 Springfield) effective April 1, swapping spots with “Bomba” Spanish hits so that the Bomba format can get first crack at an FM translator spot in Springfield. The 1270 signal will be off the air for much of April while the transmission site undergoes upgrades, but is slated to return with “Kool” by May 1.
WONH-LP is the new callsign in New Haven for Pequenas Ligas Hispanas de New Haven’s construction permit at 103.5.
And in Bridgeport, WDJZ (1530) has fallen silent after losing access to its leased tower site.
*The biggest media news of the week from CANADA was probably the acquittal of former CBC “Q” host Jian Ghomeshi on charges that he sexually assaulted several social acquaintances. (There’s another trial yet to come in June involving a former co-worker.) If you want to read more about that whole sordid story, the CBC itself offered excellent coverage of the verdict and its aftermath.
North of Toronto, there’s a new community station coming to Aurora, Ontario. The Voice of Aurora Community Radio has been granted a permit for CHRA (101.5), which will run 16.4 watts average/50 watts max ERP/8 meters.
In Halifax, the former CBC building on Sackville Street is coming down, two years after the CBC moved to a new home in a former department store in the city’s West End. The four-story building the CBC had occupied from 1944 until 2014 is being replaced by a new YMCA.
And we note the death of George McLean, who was a CBC fixture from 1956 until his retirement three decades later, including time spent as host of “The National” on CBC-TV. McLean was 92 when he died last week in a Toronto hospital.
We’re a community.