In this week’s issue… Seven-figure translator deal over NYC – WBUR on the move? – New signal in eastern Mass. – Baseball on the Radio: The AA Leagues

By SCOTT FYBUSH

Jump to: MENHVTMARICTNYNJ PACanada

*One of the newest translators to put a signal over parts of NEW YORK City is selling for a near-record price.

w248cg
W248CG atop 101 Hudson in Jersey City

W248CG (97.5 Jersey City NJ) is a 110-watt signal that Ted Schober’s City Commons LLC put on the air last year. For the last few months, he’s been leasing the signal to Erick Salgado’s Cantico Nuevo Ministries, which has filed to convert that lease to a $1.6 million purchase.

Cantico Nuevo has been using the translator as a relay of WJDM (1530 Jersey City), which it’s been leasing from Multicultural Broadcasting, but its sale filing indicates that it will instead run the translator off an HD subchannel it will lease from Pillar of Fire’s WAWZ (99.1 Zarephath NJ).

The deal includes $350,000 in cash and a $1.25 million note held by the seller – and while it’s a huge sum for a translator, it’s dwarfed by the $3.5 million that Big Apple Broadcasting LLC agreed to pay last year to buy W292DV (106.3) from Michael Celenza’s Apple 107.1, Inc.

What’s the difference? For one thing, the 97.5 signal serves a smaller area and population than 106.3 would reach if it could operate at its licensed facility: while 97.5 blankets Hudson County, New Jersey and reaches some of lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, 106.3 would reach much more of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

On the other hand, 97.5 has been operating without objection since last fall, while 106.3’s operations have been tied up in legal battles for years now. Next month marks the fifth anniversary of 106.3’s initial tests from Four Times Square in Manhattan, which prompted immediate interference complaints from Press Broadcasting’s WKMK (106.3 Eatontown NJ). The Press objections sent 106.3 back to Queens, where it’s been running with just 4 watts under an STA from Long Island City. Press also objected to that $3.5 million sale last year, and while the FCC allowed the sale to go through, it still hasn’t closed nearly a year later. In February, Apple 107.1 asked for another extension of consummation, telling the FCC “the buyer is working on certain financial matters to close the transaction.”

Assuming the Cantico Nuevo deal does go through, it’s that $1.6 million price that will set the standard now for valuing translators in market number one – and that other buyers and sellers will be looking at for other big-market deals, too.

(Usual disclaimer here: your editor also assists buyers and sellers through TranslatorSale.com, a service of Fybush Media…)

*Are you heading to the NAB Show in Las Vegas? So are we! And before the show opens next Monday morning, we hope you’ll join us Sunday night, April 17 for our Vegas Radio Kickoff Party, presented with RadioInsight, Radio Rescue and the support of Wheatstone and several additional sponsors. Either link below will take you to more information – and we’d love to see you there!

kickoff party

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*There’s a new noncommercial FM with a familiar name coming to the North Shore of MASSACHUSETTS. “WVCA” was the identity of Simon Geller’s quirky little local FM at 104.9 in Gloucester from the 1960s through the late 1980s, and now the callsign will be used on a new share-time signal at 88.3 in Newbury.

wbmtThe new WVCA belongs to the New England Broadcasting Educational Group, which is tied in with the McDonough family and thus (though not in a legally attributable fashion) to WXBJ-LP (94.1 Salisbury). How did they get a new full-power (500 watts/33′) signal in 2016? The answer lies in the FCC’s arcane share-time rules: if an existing noncommercial station, in this case the Masconomet Regional School District’s WBMT (88.3 Boxford), operates for fewer than 12 hours daily, it can be forced to share time with a new licensee.

This share didn’t happen easily: WBMT protested against the Newbury grant, pointing out that the McDonoughs had been involved with unlicensed stations in the area; Joseph McDonough, meanwhile, filed a lengthy protest against WBMT, alleging that the station lacked EAS gear, was missing public file material, and that the FCC should review the school’s fitness as a licensee.

After years of fighting each other, going back to McDonough’s attempt to get the FCC to deny WBMT its license renewal back in 2006, both sides have reached a settlement that drops all of their claims against each other. Under the deal, WBMT will operate from 10 AM until 10 PM weekdays from September to June, while WVCA will operate from 10 PM until 10 AM weekdays, all day on weekends and 24/7 during July and August. For its part, Masconomet enters into a consent decree under which it will establish a compliance plan – and while the FCC would normally have imposed a $1200 “voluntary payment,” it notes that WBMT already paid $1500 for a late renewal filing.

*Veteran broadcaster Alex Langer is paying UMass $120,000 for two translators: W266CK (101.1 Great Barrington) will go to WSRO (650 Ashland), where he’s applying to move it to 102.1; W278BT (103.5 Lee) will head to Cape Cod, where he’s applying to move it to 101.5 as a relay of WBAS (1240 West Yarmouth).

WBUR-FM (90.9 Boston) wants to put a better signal over Worcester, and it wants to change towers to do it. After three decades at the “FM128” site in Newton Upper Falls, WBUR has filed an application to move over to the WBZ-TV tower in Needham, where it would install a new directional antenna that will send just enough extra signal westward to put 60 dBu over Worcester for the first time. Instead of its present 12 kW/1000′ DA from FM128, WBUR would run 8.6 kW/1174′ DA from Needham. It would be the second FM at that site, joining Greater Media’s WKLB-FM (102.5 Waltham).

Speaking of WKLB, Hannah Byrom is the new morning co-host at the country station, joining newcomer Jeff Miles. Byrom starts April 18, moving north from WPST (94.5 Trenton NJ), where she’s been doing middays. She’s also been doing weekends at WPLJ (95.5 New York).

The new Catholic LPFM in Framingham wants to change channels. WBNU-LP (96.5) is applying to shift to 102.9 with 8 watts.

wxrg-river*A call change in Concord, NEW HAMPSHIRE: WWHK (102.3) is now WXRG, better matching the “River” AAA format it shares with sister station WXRV (92.5 Andover MA) to the south. It’s been almost two years since Steve Silberberg’s Devon Broadcasting took over operation of the station.

In Laconia, Binnie Media has shifted its WEMJ (1490) translator from 107.5 to 107.3; the former W298BH is now W297BS as it slides down the dial to alleviate any interference with WTPL (107.7 Hillsborough).

*In CONNECTICUT, University of Northwestern – St. Paul completed its deal with EMF on March 29, turning the former WCCC (1290 West Hartford) into WNWW, “Faith Radio 1290.” EMF had been running the AM station as a simulcast of its Hartford K-Love outlet, WCCC-FM (106.9); it donated the AM signal to Northwestern in exchange for Northwestern’s agreement to pay $1000 a month in tower rent for the AM and its purchase of a translator from EMF.

*One more piece of the Family Life/Craig Fox deal in central NEW YORK: Family Life’s translator W207BH (89.3 Baldwinsville) has been granted a move to 100.1 – and it’s headed to Fox’s ownership, along with the former WSEN-FM (92.1 Baldwinsville) that’s now WOLF-FM.

Up in the Adirondacks, Saranac Lake’s WNMN (Channel 40) quietly changed calls to WYCI on March 9.

*Back to NEW JERSEY we go, where WSOU-FM (89.5 South Orange) has a stellar alumni roster, and it’s now added two more names to its hall of fame. The Seton Hall University station will induct Bernie Wagenblast (class of ’78) and Bob Picozzi (class of ’72) in a ceremony on Thursday. Wagenblast is the voice of Total Traffic, and Picozzi is closing in on two decades at ESPN. The ceremony will also honor WSOU’s first “distinguished young alumna,” Stephanie Wightman ’08. After working for Air America and WNYC, she’s now a producer at MSNBC.

wlpa925*Hall Communications has changed formats on a central PENNSYLVANIA AM/translator combination. WLPA (1490 Lancaster)’s contract to carry “America’s Best Music” ran out at the end of March, and now the AM signal and its FM translator at 92.5 are simulcasting ESPN Radio with sister station WONN-FM (92.7 Starview). The simulcast alleviates some of the interference that existed between the 92.5 translator and the 92.7 signal, which was formerly WLPA-FM.

In addition to all of Family Life Ministries’ big Syracuse moves last week, the religious network signed on a new signal in Butler. Translator W257DK moved from 99.3 to 88.7, where it’s fed from WCOH (107.3 DuBois). And in Cambridge Springs, Family Life has changed calls on WCGF (89.9) to WCOB.

In Scranton, Doc Medek returns to mornings at Entercom’s “Froggy” WGGY (101.3), where he ran “The Doc Show” from 1999 until 2010, when he headed south to do mornings at WXTU (92.5) in Philadelphia. Medek left WXTU a few weeks back, and now he and former middayer Jessie Roberts replace former Froggy morning hosts Eric Peterson and Selena Robertson. In additional shifts, Bryan Thompson is the new 7-midnight jock at WGGY.

And in Philadelphia, Greater Media’s WPEN (97.5 the Sports Fanatic) has signed a deal to broadcast the rest of the Philadelphia Soul’s arena football season, except when there’s a conflict with the Flyers.

*Up north in CANADA, on Ontario’s Manitoulin Island, Timmermans Broadcasting has realigned its lineup. CHAW (103.1 Little Current) launched at noon April 1 as “Country 103, Great Lakes Country,” reports Canadian Radio News; sister station CFRM (100.7) dropped country at the same time to go dance-CHR as “Glow 100.”

*And as we head west for our pre-NAB Show travel, we continue our annual look at Baseball on the Radio with the AA Eastern League, which started its season on Thursday.

In Maine, the Portland Sea Dogs continue on WPEI/WTEI (95.9 Saco/95.5 Topsham). Next door, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats play on WGIR (610 Manchester) and its simulcasts, WPKX (930 Rochester) and WTSL (1400 Hanover).

It’s the first year for the Hartford Yard Goats, the former New Britain Rock Cats – but they won’t open at home until June at the earliest because of construction delays at their new Hartford park, and so radio broadcasts via WPOP (1410 Hartford) will keep future Yard Goats fans connected to the team until it actually comes home.

The Binghamton Mets stay put on WNBF (1290) – and appear to be staying put in Binghamton for a while longer, despite persistent rumors of a move out of town.

In Pennsylvania, the Erie SeaWolves also just announced they’re staying put in town until 2020; they appear to have games on WFNN (1330) when there’s no conflict with basketball coverage. The Harrisburg Senators are back on WTKT (1460) for another season. The Reading Fightin Phils are on WIOV (1240) and its translator at 98.5, and the Altoona Curve stay put on WVAM (1430) and WTRN (1340 Tyrone), and this year they also add WWGE (1400 Loretto) to the network.

The Trenton Thunder are once again on WTSR (91.3), the College of New Jersey’s noncommercial station.

And the single-A South Atlantic League has that one team in NERW-land, the Lakewood (NJ) Blue Claws, who are heard on WOBM (1160)/WADB (1310) along the shore.

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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: April 13, 2015

LAS VEGAS, Nevada –  It’s springtime in the desert, and that means it’s time for many radio and TV folks from across NERW-land and far beyond to gather for the annual NAB Show. We’ll be out here all week, bringing you regular updates here on fybush.com as well as on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds and over at those of Radio World. We’ll be following some big story threads: a brewing controversy about whether the methods used for PPM ratings encoding unfairly penalizes news and talk stations, the FCC’s slow march toward TV spectrum repacking and (maybe) new rules for the AM band, all the latest new gear from the show floor, and much more.

wbz-katicBack home in the Northeast, though, it was a busy week indeed in the industry, with new formats in Pennsylvania and more. Before we get to those stories, we start in Boston, where our old colleagues at WBZ (1030) lost a valued colleague last week and prepared for the departure of another. Mark Katic, who died Friday after a battle with cancer, came to WBZ in 1999 as a sports reporter after working in RHODE ISLAND at WHJJ (920 Providence). After two years on the sports desk, Katic moved to news, and for a decade and a half became an important part of the WBZ newsroom as both a reporter and an anchor, winning several AP and Murrow awards for his work. Katic had been out of the newsroom for several months as his health declined.

Just a few days before Katic’s death, there was another big piece of news from Soldiers Field Road: after 36 years at WBZ, afternoon anchor Anthony Silva will retire in June as he gets ready to turn 65. This is one of those stories your editor can’t be impartial about – in the 1990s, I had the privilege of writing for Anthony and his on-air partner Diane Stern on the WBZ Afternoon News, and there are few as professional as they are in the industry.

wbz-silvaSilva came to WBZ in 1979 after a career that included stops at WMLO (1570 Beverly), where he started at age 15 by buying two hours a week to program “The Folk Review” on Sunday afternoons. He was later hired by WMLO and then at WNBP in Newburyport and at Boston’s WEZE and WMEX. As news director at WMEX, he hired a young Diane Stern, beginning a radio partnership that’s continued for many decades. After a few years outside the radio business, Silva joined WBZ as the replacement for Susan Wornick. Silva’s afternoon shift was the first incarnation of news radio on WBZ, starting as “60 to 6,” then “90 to 6,” and eventually expanding to four and then finally five hours of the station’s all-news wheel once it started in 1991. Along the way, he picked up the business beat, producing and hosting business reports that also air in morning drive and hosting the “Business Breakfast” at which he interviewed prominent local business leaders.

We asked Silva about his favorite memories, and he recalled: “Providing play by play for WBZ, ABC and Armed Forces Radio around the world for the Papal Mass on Boston Common in the driving rain! I was called into action when another reporter got sick. Anchoring breaking news from 9-11 to the Boston Marathon bombing week, for which we got a Peabody Award. Traveling and reporting from Hanoi, New Orleans after Katrina, where I joined a crew rebuilding houses. And reporting from the chopper for the Marathon.”

Five Years Ago: April 11, 2011

*The latest front in the “FM news-talk” offensive is in western NEW YORK, where Entercom’s struggling “Lake” (WLKK 107.7 Wethersfield Township) finally sank beneath the waves (or at least over to the obscurity of an HD2 subchannel) at midnight last Tuesday, replaced by a simulcast of the market’s leading talker, WBEN (930 Buffalo).

As with many of the recent additions of FM signals to AM news-talkers, the issue in Buffalo wasn’t signal: WBEN has arguably the best AM coverage of any signal in town, with a centrally-located tower site on Grand Island and full-market penetration day and night. But there’s a sense out there (and we’re hearing a lot about it here in the hallways at NAB) that even the best AM signal is no longer a guarantee that younger audiences will find the programming being offered there, which is why we’ve seen a significant number of AM news-talk and sports stations adding FM signals, including recent flips in Syracuse (WSYR-FM 106.9) and Albany (WGY-FM 103.1).

*A second local newscast is returning to Utica, where Smith’s WKTV (Channel 2) has had the market all to itself since the shutdown of local newscasts at WUTR (Channel 20) eight years ago. Under new owner Nexstar, news is coming back later this spring at WUTR and its sister stations, which announced the move at a celebration of the 25th anniversary of Fox affiliate WFXV (Channel 33). When the new newscasts launch this fall, they’ll air at 6 and 11 PM on WUTR, 7 PM on MyNetwork outlet WPNY and 10 PM on WFXV.

*When Gary LaPierre announced his departure from one of the top radio news jobs in MASSACHUSETTS five years ago, WBZ (1030 Boston) probably didn’t expect that it would need to fill the job twice in just half a decade. But after the departure of LaPierre’s replacement, Ed Walsh, the CBS Radio all-newser is hoping for a longer run for its next morning news anchor. Joe Mathieu hasn’t yet turned 40, and while most of his recent work has been in Washington, DC, where he’s been doing news for XM/Sirius and programming its POTUS talk channel, his roots are in New England, where he started his career in eastern CONNECTICUT before working on Cape Cod (WXTK/WCOD) and at Boston’s WRKO. A 1996 graduate of Emerson College, Mathieu starts his new job early next month.

Ten Years Ago: April 10, 2006

A lot has changed in MASSACHUSETTS radio since 1964. By our count, there are just two stations on the Boston AM dial still using the same calls and frequency they used back then. One is WILD (1090), and the other, of course, is WBZ (1030). It was way back in 1964 that a young reporter from Shelburne Falls named Gary LaPierre joined the station’s news staff. Just two years later, LaPierre became WBZ’s morning news anchor, and for forty years, that’s where he’s been, through changes of ownership (Westinghouse to CBS to Infinity and back to CBS) and format (top 40 to AC/news-talk to all news).

Last week, LaPierre announced that he’ll retire at the end of 2006, closing out the 42-year run at WBZ that began with his very first assignment, covering the Beatles’ arrival for their first Boston concert. (Back then, LaPierre recalled, he looked so young that station management wouldn’t allow his picture to be distributed.) The station hasn’t announced who’ll replace LaPierre in 2007; his presumptive successor for many years, anchor/reporter Jay McQuaide, left the station last year to join Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

(And on a personal note, if I may: your editor had the great good fortune to work alongside Gary for several years as his newswriter. Much of what I know about writing for broadcast came directly from Gary, and I’ll long be in his debt for the education I received during those years.)

Just south of Boston, WBET (1460 Brockton) is changing hands. Joe Gallagher’s Aritaur group (doing business, in this case, as KJI Broadcasting) bought WBET and WCAV-FM from their original owner, the Brockton Enterprise, in 1997, then sold WCAV (now WILD-FM) to Radio One two years later.

RHODE ISLAND’s NBC owned-and-operated station is changing hands, as Media General pays GE $600 million for four of its stations, including WJAR (Channel 10) in Providence, along with stations in Raleigh-Durham, Birmingham and Columbus. WJAR will be Media General’s first TV property in the region, joining its existing group of small- and medium-market stations clustered in the southeast and midwest. (NBC says it’s shedding the stations to focus its resources on expanding the reach of its Telemundo division.)

A veteran CONNECTICUT broadcaster is retiring. Dick Ferguson came to prominence heading Park City Communications, then joined Katz Broadcasting as its president when it acquired Park City in 1981. In 1986, Ferguson led the management buyout of the Katz stations that created the NewCity group, with prominent holdings that included WPLR and WEZN in Connecticut and WSYR/WYYY in Syracuse. And when Cox Radio bought NewCity in 1997, Ferguson remained with the company, becoming executive vice president there in 2003. Ferguson’s retirement will take effect at the end of May.

Fifteen Years Ago: April 11, 2001

The Boston Celtics are near the end of another lackluster season, but as the team watches another year run down amidst memories of the glory days of Auerbach and Bird, it’s able to offer fans at least one guaranteed change for next year. When the 2001-2002 preseason starts in October, the Celts will be heard on a new radio home. Instead of WEEI (850), the team will migrate up the dial to Sporting News Radio’s WWZN (1510) for the next five seasons, in a deal announced late last week. The deal will give WWZN an opportunity to promote itself to an audience that hasn’t been paying much attention to the upstart sports signal, whether in its earlier incarnation as One-on-One’s WNRB or its more recent makeover under Sporting News.

Next stop, VERMONT, where the big flip at Clear Channel’s Burlington cluster happened this morning (April 9). As we reported here last week, the smooth jazz that had been on WXPS (96.7 Willsboro NY) has moved for good to the WLCQ (92.1 Port Henry NY) facility, something of a rimshot from the southern end of Lake Champlain. 96.7 is now doing talk as “the Zone” (and we hear the WXZO calls are on the way), simulcasting with WEAV (960 Plattsburgh NY). The 96.7/960 format kicks off with Don Imus in the morning, and the rumor around Burlington is that Clear Channel will eventually move Premiere’s Dr. Laura and Rush Limbaugh from their current homes at WVMT and WKDR over to the new talk simulcast.

Twenty Years Ago: April 10, 1996

Mega-opoly has arrived on the shores of Cape Cod, just in time for tourist season. Car dealer Ernie Boch is buying adult contemporary WCOD 106.1 (a Hyannis-licensed full B) and simulcast modern-rockers WUNZ 101.1 Falmouth and WUNX 93.5 Harwich (both class A’s, which together cover the Cape.) Boch already owns talker WXTK 94.9 (a West Yarmouth-licensed full B), as well as sports WUOK 1240 West Yarmouth. It’s not yet known how much Boch paid to acquire the stations from J.J. Taylor, or what changes he might make. WCOD is one of three ACs on the Cape, in competition with WQRC in Barnstable and WCIB in Falmouth, while WUNX/WUNZ have the modern-rock market to themselves.

WKSS 95.7 Hartford, known to its fans as CHR “Kiss 95-7,” is being sold to Multi-Market Radio for $18 million. Kiss will become part of a Connecticut Valley group that includes modern rock WMRQ 104.1 Waterbury-Hartford, rock WHCN 105.9 Hartford, news-talk WPOP 1410 Hartford, classic rock WPLR 99.1 New Haven, urban AC WYBC 94.3 New Haven (operated under an LMA), country WPKX 97.9 Enfield CT-Springfield MA, modern-rock WHMP-FM 99.3 Northampton MA, and talker WHMP 1400 Northampton MA.

1 COMMENT

  1. Just a note that today( MONDAY APRIL 11th) I tune in to Kool radio on Southington’s WNTY 990 and heard that they are now broadcasting on FM at 96.1 in the Southington area .The FM sounds good .

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