In this week’s issue… Maine launches second public radio network – Boston translator stalemate breaks – PA FM rebrands – Radio mourns Prince – NAB Show recap



*If we seem a little sleepy and jet-lagged this week, blame our annual excursion westward to the NAB Show in Las Vegas. It was great to see so many of you at our third-annual pre-show Radio Gathering Sunday night high atop the MGM Grand – we’re already looking forward to making the fourth edition next year even bigger and better.

As for the show itself, we find ourselves with surprisingly little to write about this year in this space. While the show floor was busy and full of familiar faces, there wasn’t much that was revolutionary this year. On the TV side, the impending spectrum auction/repack left most broadcasters and vendors in hurry-up-and-wait mode; nobody knows yet just what their RF needs will be in a year’s time, after all. In radio’s space in the North Hall, there were plenty of incremental improvements in areas such as audio-over-IP networking and ever more efficient solid-state transmitters.

On the regulatory front? More of the waiting game, especially with an election year promising change of some sort at the FCC in just a few months. Commission officials attending the show promised action soon on the latest round of the “AM revitalization” proceeding, among other pending matters.

And of course the other piece of the radio waiting game involved some of the industry’s biggest players: nobody knows yet just how the finances will shake out at troubled iHeart Media or Cumulus, and what may become of CBS Radio’s talk of selling its station assets or spinning off into a separate company. With all those potential deals landing on the market in months to come, the immediate deal-making scene over at Encore and the Bellagio was slower than usual this year.

(Looking for more from the show floor? Stay tuned – we’ll have videos up soon of the interviews we did with our partners at Wheatstone…)

mpbn-big*Back home, MAINE Public Broadcasting announced a move that had long been rumored: effective May 9, it will split its programming into two networks, creating a full-time classical service alongside a main network that will go full-time news/talk.

MPBN CEO Mark Vogelzang made a similar move a few years ago at his old job in Vermont (and we were pleased to be of assistance there, as we’ve been to MPBN). This time out, Maine Public Classical will make its debut over a network of translators, HD2 signals and streaming. In Waterville and Bangor, the classical stream has already soft-launched on translators at 99.7 and 106.1, respectively; those will be joined in western Maine by WFYB (91.5 Fryeburg), which MPBN is buying from Light of Life Ministries. In Portland, listeners will have to tune to the HD2 channel of MPBN’s WMEA (90.1), at least for now, but Vogelzang says MPBN is seeking to buy new signals there and in other parts of the state.

Maine Public Classical will be the new home for Robin Rilette’s 9-noon classical show, which will move from the main Maine Public Radio network. The rest of the classical lineup, at least initially, will come from Classical 24 and other syndicated offerings.

On the news-talk network, Diane Rehm will now get a live 10-noon clearance for her final few months on the air. “On Point” will also air live at 9. At noon, Maine Public Radio will carry “Here and Now,” followed at 1 by the statewide “Maine Calling,” which expands to five days a week.


We have shipped piles of our 2021 Tower Site Calendar, and we’ll keep on shipping until it’s gone.

This is the 20th year we have been publishing our calendar. In addition to the beautiful cover shot of WEJL, we have photos from New Jersey, Nebraska, Texas, and much more!

You can get the regular calendar, or you can order a storage bag for it if you keep them, or you can get it signed by Scott (and get a complimentary bag).

And when you’re purchasing your calendar, don’t forget to take a look at the other great products in our store.


*In MASSACHUSETTS, we’ve been watching and waiting for several months now as Radio One’s WILD (1090 Boston) and Salem’s WROL (950 Boston) sat on a mutually-exclusive pair of applications to move translators to the Hub on 106.1. That stalemate finally broke last week when Salem filed an amended application that will instead move W254BR (98.7 Lincoln ME) to 100.3, using 250 watts from the top of the Pru but now with a directional antenna to protect iHeart’s WHEB (100.3 Portsmouth NH). Salem’s move, which was immediately granted, left the field open for Radio One’s 106.1 application to be granted as well, moving W231BR (94.1 Utica NY) to the Pru with 99 watts, non-directional.

Will the Salem move get to finality without an objection from Brandeis University’s WBRS (100.1 Waltham), a long-established class D signal that lacks official protection from interference? (Disclaimer: your editor is an alumnus of WBRS – and Fybush Media handled a third application for 106.1 back in January for WJIB, which exited the MX group with an immediate amendment to 101.3.)

*Near Springfield, Dwight Chapel’s application to move WAIY-LP (97.9 Belchertown) to 107.7 has been turned down; the move violated mileage spacing to a CP for another 107.7 in Holyoke.

*VERMONT Public Radio’s translator sales continue, this time with the handoff of unbuilt W242CE (96.3 Rupert), which goes to Pamal for $70,000 to become a relay of WMML (1230) in Glens Falls, N.Y. (Fybush Media was VPR’s broker for this sale; Beth Griffin handled the purchase for Pamal.)

wycr*In PENNSYLVANIA, it’s no great surprise that Forever is continuing to rebrand the stations it’s buying in the York market. WYCR (98.5 York-Hanover) has been “The Peak” for many years, but starting this morning it becomes “Rocky 98.5,” matching sister “Rocky” signals in Altoona, Johnstown and Cumberland, Maryland. WYCR’s move follows the January rebranding of new sister station WGTY (107.7 Gettysburg) as “Froggy”; former WYCR jock Davy Crockett has moved over to WGTY as, yes, “Davy Croakett.”

*In NEW YORK, as everywhere else around the country, the radio dial turned abruptly purple on Thursday as news broke of the death of Prince. Few artists in recent memory crossed so many format lines, and so it was no surprise to hear his music suddenly in hot rotation everywhere from AC to classic hits to rock to urban.

But if just about everyone played at least a little Prince (here’s how RadioInsight covered the dial in Minneapolis), a few stations went far above and beyond, often with the advantage of local ownership and all the extra flexibility it can provide to make big format moves on short notice.

In the Twin Cities, of course, the purple edge went to Minnesota Public Radio’s adventurous AAA outlet “The Current” (KCMP 89.3), which went nonstop Prince almost immediately and then garnered national attention with a 26-hour marathon of his music from A to W. (Did you know Prince had no songs that started with X, Y or Z? We didn’t either.)

wdkx-purpleRatings guru Chris Huff tallied up all the monitored airplay of Prince at week’s end, and his statistics gave us a bit of hometown pride here, too: of all the stations Mediabase tracks around the country, the two that spun the most Prince tunes Thursday and Friday were XHRM in the San Diego market…and WDKX (103.9) here in Rochester. The locally-owned urban station went all-Prince as soon as the news broke and is still in “purple mode” as we write this on Sunday night.

*Fans of modern rock in the New York area in the 1970s and 1980s may not have known the name “Elton Spitzer,” but they certainly knew the station he ran. Spitzer operated WLIR (92.7 Garden City) from 1973 until well into the 1980s, transforming the mainstream rock station into one of the standard-bearers for punk and New Wave, with an impact far beyond its relatively anemic class A signal. Spitzer died April 17 at age 84, in Baltimore.

*Radio Vision Cristiana has revised its application to move WWRV (1330 New York) from its current diplex with WNYM (970 Hackensack NJ) northward to a new diplex with WZRC (1480 New York). The original plan to use 10 kW day and night ran afoul of skywave interference issues (at least on paper) with WENA (1330) in Yauco, Puerto Rico; for now, WWRV plans to use 3800 watts at night from WZRC’s site near Bogota, N.J., though upcoming changes in the FCC’s interference rules might allow WWRV to power up in the near future.

Craig Fox’s plans to give WOLF (1490 Syracuse) a new FM translator have shifted: instead of moving W288AR (105.5 Ithaca) to 92.7 in Mattydale, he’s now revised the application to instead move the translator to 92.5 at his WOLF tower near Onondaga Lake. Fox has also shuffled calls, changing his newly-acquired 92.1 in Baldwinsville from WNDR-FM to WOLF-FM and parking the WNDR calls on what had been WMBO (1340 Auburn).

1220sc*In CANADA, the CRTC is reviving the defunct 1220 AM frequency on the Niagara Peninsula. Sivanesarajah Kandiah applied last year for a fulltime 10 kW signal on 1220 in St. Catharines, using the former transmitter facility of the defunct CHSC, which has been gone since 2012. Kandiah’s application, which calls for a classic hits format as “Grapevine Radio,” was the second try for a 1220 revival. An attempt in 2013 was denied after the CRTC decided the new station would be trying to serve Toronto instead of St. Catharines.

for a new commercial Class B AM station on 1220 in St. Catharines, Ontario was approved today. The new station will operate with 10,000 watts fulltime and will utilize the transmitting equipment from the now defunct CHSC 1220 in St. Catharines. The station will have a Classic Hits format and will be branded as Grapevine Radio.

Meanwhile, the CRTC turned thumbs down on an application for a new 5-watt signal on 1110 in Mississauga. The agency says Said Afrajy’s plans for a station broadcasting mostly in Arabic and French didn’t meet its criteria for a low-power developmental license.


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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 27, 2015

*How many markets are there where a single broadcast license is probably worth more than every other broadcaster – or even print media – in the market, combined? Last week’s $10.25 million sale of WAGM (Channel 8) in Presque Isle, MAINE reminded us that New England’s northernmost market is one of those rare places – and that WAGM’s longtime ownership group is a pretty interesting company, too.

wagmGray Television’s purchase of WAGM marks the exit of “NEPSK, Inc.” from the scene, which means the end of an ownership history that goes back to 1984, when Diversified Communications sold channel 8 to what was then simply called “NEP Communications.”

In 1991, Peter Kozloski bought out his partners in what had by then become “NEPSK” (“S” was for WNEP heir Tom Shelburne, the driving force behind NEP’s production business, “K” was for Kozloski), and it’s been Kozloski and his family running WAGM ever since. (Kozloski also owns Polaris Cable, a small cable/internet/phone company in Houlton, Maine.)

Along the way, WAGM has been through some big changes for such a small station. Originally a three-network affiliate (primary CBS, secondary ABC and NBC), channel 8 added some Fox content in the 1990s and then gradually dropped its remaining ABC and NBC shows. With the advent of DTV, WAGM became a two-network outlet, and despite its long relationship with CBS, it’s now Fox on WAGM’s standard-def 8.1 channel and CBS in HD on 8.2.

For Georgia-based Gray, WAGM will be its first station in the northeast. Aside from geography, though, WAGM is a good fit with Gray’s business model: the company specializes in small markets, some even tinier than Presque Isle. In many of those markets, Gray is in a similar position to northern Maine: it’s the only operator of network affiliates, carrying multiple networks on DTV subchannels and low-power stations. Could NBC or ABC (now provided on cable or satellite from Bangor) be in the future for WAGM?

*Western MASSACHUSETTS is back to being a two-TV-newsroom market, now that Meredith has combined its recently-purchased WGGB (Channel 40) with “CBS 3” (WSHM-LD 21), whose 2005 launch of local news led to a decade of three-way competition in the Pioneer Valley.

wggb-wshm-westernmassnews“Western Mass News” is the new umbrella branding for newscasts on WGGB’s ABC and “Fox 6” channels and on “CBS 3,” and its launch at noon on April 21 meant the closure of the former WSHM newsroom/studio in downtown Springfield’s Monarch Place building. The entire “Western Mass News” operation is now at the WGGB studios on Liberty Street, and here’s how it shakes out: in mornings, when WSHM wasn’t doing local news anyway, the local news will continue to be seen on WGGB (5-7 AM) and on “Fox 6” (simulcasting with ABC from 5-7 AM and with fresh Fox-only content from 7-9 AM). WGGB’s existing noon show continues as well. WSHM’s 4 PM newscast is now “Western Mass News at 4,” still exclusively on “CBS 3.” WGGB has “Western Mass News at 5” and 5:30, and “Western Mass News at 6” and “Western Mass News at 11” are being simulcast on both WGGB and CBS 3. The “Fox 6” newscast at 10 continues as “Western Mass News at 10,” and weekend newscasts will be exclusively on WGGB and Fox, except for an 11 PM simulcast on CBS 3.

*Congratulations to some of our favorite small-market broadcasters, Port Broadcasting’s Pete Falconi and Carl Strube, on signing an LMA deal that puts them in control of two more signals in addition to their existing AM/translator pairs, WNBP (1450/106.1 Newburyport) and WWSF (1220/102.3 Sanford). While we were away at the NAB Show, Port announced that it’s taking over operations of Aruba Capital’s WXEX (1540 Exeter, NEW HAMPSHIRE) and WXEX-FM (92.1 Sanford ME). Those stations simulcast an classic hits mix that Falconi and Strube say will make a nice complement to the 60s/70s oldies “Legends” format they run on WNBP and WWSF. (And yes, this deal reunites the two halves of the Sanford pair that were long co-owned before Steve Mindich split them up a few years back.)

Falconi notes that the combination of the Port and Aruba stations “gives us a strong radio signal footprint from the north shore of Massachusetts right up the coast to Portland, Maine, and inland to Dover and Rochester, New Hampshire.”

Five Years Ago: April 25, 2011

For the last few months, we’ve been closely following the peregrinations of a new FM translator as it’s migrated around NEW YORK City and vicinity, and now it appears to have found its permanent home.The translator owned by Michael and Tammy Celenza (as “Apple 107.1, Inc”) started out as W296BT (107.1) in Brooklyn, then slid across the East and Hudson rivers to become W293BU (106.5) in Union City, New Jersey, operating only long enough from that location to get a license to cover – and to file for its ultimate move, back across the Hudson to the top of Four Times Square and down one notch on the dial to 106.3.

Now the FCC has granted that move, and speculation is running rampant on the future of this new 99-watt signal from midtown Manhattan. Will the new W292DV continue to relay the country format from the HD2 channel of Clear Channel’s WLTW (106.7), or will it become the home of a new format sourced from a different HD subchannel or AM outlet?

(Those HD-sourced translators are becoming big business: in Detroit, veteran border broadcaster Tim Martz just launched two of them, programming rock and smooth jazz formats “originating” on the leased HD2/HD3 channels of the local urban signal, WGPR 107.5.)

And as long as the speculation is floating around out there, it’s worth noting that another new Big Apple FM signal is moving closer to the airwaves: after months of preparation, it appears that EMF Broadcasting is getting pretty near to launching the relocated 96.7 signal it’s acquiring from Cox.

In its current incarnation as WCTZ, “96.7 the Coast” is telling listeners to adjust their dials to another Cox station in CONNECTICUT, WFOX (95.9 Norwalk), and we’re told an antenna is now in place atop the Trump tower in New Rochelle for the new 96.7 “K-Love” signal, for which the WKLV-FM calls were requested back in January.

Ten Years Ago: April 24, 2006

The end arrived Friday for one of the most publicized morning shows in recent history. After less than five months on the air, CBS Radio pulled the plug on the floundering David Lee Roth show (heard in NERW-land on “Free FM” flagship WFNY-FM 92.3 New York, WBCN 104.1 Boston and WYSP 94.1 Philadelphia). It’ll be replaced with a sanitized three-hour simulcast of XM Radio’s Opie and Anthony, the duo who brought down the company’s last attempt at FM talk when they were in afternoons at WNEW (102.7 New York) a few years back. The show’s final two hours will be heard only on XM.

From the sounds of Roth’s show recently, the move was little short of a mercy killing, allowing Roth to escape the battles he’s been fighting with CBS management and head out on tour, while giving the former Howard Stern affiliates a more proven commodity in mornings.

Out on Long Island’s east end, the AAA sounds of WEHM have returned – sort of – to their original home. Cherry Creek Radio’s been doing some shuffling of its signals in the Hamptons, and it recently moved WHBE (96.7 East Hampton) to 96.9, from a new site about 12 miles west of its original location. With more signal over portions of Suffolk County that can’t hear WEHM on the 92.9 Southampton facility (where the calls and format moved a few years ago, flipping 96.7 to WHBE with Bloomberg business news), Cherry Creek decided last Tuesday to pull the plug on the business news at 96.9, in favor of a simulcast with 92.9.

Fifteen Years Ago: April 23, 2001

A call swap in PENNSYLVANIA is in the works, with the new CP in Cooperstown getting WHUG-FM, the longtime calls across the state line at 101.9 in Jamestown, New York. Jamestown gets the WMHU calls that were on the Cooperstown CP; we’ll have to get down that way to hear whether a format swap is also taking place.

There’s a low-priced station sale to lead off our NEW YORK report: Barnstable is transferring WFOG (1570 Riverhead) to Five Towns College for the lordly sum of $72,000. The station on Long Island’s East End has been on and off the air for the last few years; we heard it in February simulcasting rock sister WRCN (103.9 Riverhead). Five Towns apparently plans to change the calls to WFTU, and we presume it will become a student-run station. That’s good news for the students at Five Towns, but we’ve got to wonder: with the price that low, did the folks at Polnet make any attempt to add 1570 to their just-purchased WLIM 1580 down the road in Patchogue? The stations did simulcast years ago (as WPAC and WAPC), and the 1570 reaches a considerably larger Polish community than the 1580 signal (which cost Polnet $850,000!)

Going way upstate, we hear a Tuesday format change is planned at Utica’s “Wow FM” (WOWB 105.5 Little Falls/WOWZ 97.9 Whitesboro), now that the stations are owned by Clear Channel. PD J.P. Marks stays with former owner Ken Roser, helping to run “Bug Country” (WBGK 99.7 Newport Village/WBUG-FM 101.1 Fort Plain/WBUG 1570 Amsterdam). As of late Monday night, WOWB and WOWZ were simulcasting Clear Channel’s CHR “Kiss” (WSKS 102.5 Rome); we’ll let you know if that turns out to be a permanent move.

Twenty Years Ago: April 23, 1996

A few weeks ago, I wrote about now-dark WRPT 1050 Peterborough NH, which according to the Commission had applied to “change city of license and power.” What we didn’t know until know was just how much of a change. It seems WRPT’s new owner, Alexander Langer, wants to move the station more than a hundred miles to the southeast, specifically to Foxboro, Mass. (M Street had this erroneously as “Foxboro NH”) Langer’s application calls for the new WRPT to move to 650 kHz, with 250 watts DA-D, diplexed from the Norfolk MA transmitter/studio site of WDIS 1170. This will be a somewhat tight directional, since Norfolk is just barely north of the 0.5 mv/m contour for WFAN 660 New York. And giving protection to WNNZ 640 Westfield MA and WPRO 630 Providence RI means WRPT’s 250 watts will be pointed mostly northeast…which, how about this, just happens to be the direction of Boston! Clever fellow, this Alexander Langer. (He also owns the license for currently-dark WBIV 1060 Natick MA, which has applied for 50kw ND-D, something that can only be possible with WRPT off 1050.) As for the 650 frequency, there was a longstanding CP for WBSO Clinton MA on that frequency. It was to have been a 10kw DA-2 operation, with a decent signal into Boston and a tight null towards NYC. The CP was granted in 1984 and revoked about a year ago, making this possible.


  1. Scott – that 100.3 translator is not from the Pru, it’s from the same tower WMBR is on in Kendall Square.

  2. Would like to mention that a new translator has come on the air here in Southington, CT.
    It’s the mate to WNTY 990 AM . It’s KOOL RADIO and it’s at 96.1 FM
    Its from the WOLF broadcasting company . They also put a FM in Rhode Island at 104.3
    They both sound very good. Just a Little note to you.

    Thanks for reading it.

  3. Scott – Unless my compass is really messed up, moving WWRV from the 970 site to the 1480 site is more south than north. 970 sits in the swamp north of Route 4 east of Kinderkamack Road behind the mall in or almost in Teaneck, whereas 1480 is still – I believe – at its longtime site adjacent to N. J. Turnpike south of U. S. Route 46.

    Also, I remember Elton Spitzer as a super nice, super intelligent and soft-spoken gentleman. Had not had contact with him – I’m sorry to say – in years, but he worked for me in sales at WRFM NYC in early 1970’s.


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