In this week’s issue… WHDH loses court bid to keep Peacock – What next for WBZ weekend shift? – WROC’s Kucko moves on – MPBN adds Portland classical signal

By SCOTT FYBUSH

Jump to: MENHVTMARICTNYNJ PACanada

*The ruling last Wednesday from a federal judge in MASSACHUSETTS wasn’t quite as stark as the old Daily News headline, to be fair – but now that WHDH-TV (Channel 7) owner Sunbeam Television has lost its bid to stop Comcast from pulling the station’s NBC affiliation away at year’s end, the future of Boston’s second-oldest TV station is now in a little more doubt.

whdh-nbcThe ruling from U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns was about as unfavorable as it could have gotten for Sunbeam and WHDH. While acknowledging that Sunbeam has legitimate reasons to fear financial harm to channel 7 from the loss of the NBC affiliation it’s had since 1995, “absent any actionable harm attributable to Comcast, it is simply an indurate consequence of doing business in a competitive and unsentimental market place,” Stearns wrote.

Stearns pointed out that Comcast’s action is far from monopolistic in a broadcast market that also includes “ABC, CBS, FOX, PBS affiliates, local cable stations, Verizon, RCN, Charter, and the DISH Network…carrying a wide spectrum of programming content.” And his ruling notes that there’s ample precedent for allowing a contract to expire, as NBC’s does with WHDH on January 1, 2017, without forcing the parties to renew.

So where does that leave WHDH and Comcast now? Remarkably, still with plenty of uncertainty just over seven months before that deadline hits. Keep reading as we explore (for subscribers) what the next chapters are likely to bring for 7 News and NBC Boston…

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The unknowns (still!) about NBC Boston. For a major-market news operation that’s due to be on the air so soon, the pace of hiring announcements from NBC has been curiously slow. After its initial round of names were made public over the winter, almost no additional talent or management has been disclosed. Nor has Comcast made any official announcement about what signal the new station will even be using. While we’ve assumed Comcast-owned Telemundo affiliate WNEU (Channel 60) from New Hampshire will be the obvious option, rumors persist that Comcast has been negotiating with other owners, especially ion’s WBPX (Channel 68), for more centrally-located broadcast signals.

As we’ve noted, those negotiations are deeply tied up in the impending spectrum auction/repack process – and therein lies another potential issue for Ansin. As the court proceedings laid out perhaps too clearly, Ansin turned down a lowball $200 million offer from Comcast to buy out WHDH, which he valued at $500 million. That number, in turn, came in part from the FCC’s valuation of WHDH’s UHF spectrum at potentially more than $400 million.

But with the auction about to begin, and with plenty of third-tier stations likely willing to part with their own Boston-market spectrum more cheaply than Ansin, what happens if WHDH ends up not selling? For the octogenarian Ansin, is there a continuing appeal to running an independent WHDH – or is there another path?

Could NBC stay on 7 after all? Consider the numbers: Ansin will likely collect on the spectrum auction if, as is widely assumed, he’s putting the UHF spectrum of WHDH’s sister station WLVI (Channel 56/RF 41) into the pot. That’s likely to be well over $100 million in Ansin’s bank account, and there’s a path that could leave him even better off than that if NBC comes calling again.

Ansin’s other TV market, of course, is his hometown of Miami, where NBC’s WTVJ (Channel 6) struggles in a hyper-competitive English-language marketplace. Would NBC consider sweetening a new offer for WHDH by including WTVJ in a station swap? That swap would give Ansin a dominant position in Miami with both the NBC affiliation on WTVJ and the Fox affiliation on his existing WSVN (Channel 7). It would leave him with something else to cash in, too: NBC/Comcast doesn’t want to own property these days, and if it runs WHDH as “NBC Boston” from the NECN headquarters in Newton, how much value could Ansin unlock from a sale of the prime real estate under the current channel 7 building in Government Center? (Or, for that matter, the Newton real estate under and on the channel 7 tower?)

This is all, obviously, still highly speculative. NBC may well have other plans for a broadcast signal that it can’t yet disclose because of the auction’s “cone of silence.” Ansin may simply be so embittered against NBC that he wouldn’t consider a new offer to buy him out. But assuming money talks louder than history, it still seems at least plausible from where we sit that there may yet be a deal to be reached that will keep NBC on channel 7 and leave both Comcast and Ansin satisfied.

nbc-rioDid we mention the clock is ticking? While January 1, 2017 is the drop-dead date for whatever it is NBC ends up doing, August 5 is likely to be the more critical date to be watching. That’s when the Rio Olympics begin, and with them NBC’s biggest promotional push of the year.

If NBC is determined to launch NBC Boston as a new channel by then, we’d expect a barrage of promos to be filling Comcast’s feeds of the various NBC cable channels carrying the Olympics – and if NBC will end up staying with channel 7, the games would make a great way to get that announcement in front of Boston TV viewers.

As always, we’ll be following the twists and turns of this conflict closely…

*There’s an overnight change coming to weekends at WBZ (1030 Boston), where Jordan Rich has held court ever since 1996, when he took over the shift from the late Norm Nathan. The CBS Radio news-talker announced last week that Rich will do his last show in that slot next month, but he’ll stay on the WBZ airwaves with his “Connoisseur’s Corner” and “New England Weekend” segments. It’s not yet clear what will happen with those hours at WBZ, or at Minneapolis sister station WCCO, which had also been carrying Rich’s show.

The LPFM dial continues to fill up in greater Boston, including several new share-time entries at 102.9. In addition to Boston Praise Radio’s WBPG-LP, which signed on last fall and is on the air 2-9 AM weekdays and 2 AM to 6 PM Sundays, city-owned WBCA-LP signs on next month under the management of Boston Neighborhood Network, operating 6 PM to 2 AM daily. Over in Newton, Lasell College’s WLAS-LP will use 102.9 during the remaining daytime hours, with its sign-on coming any day now.

wguaIn the Merrimack Valley, WGUA-LP (98.1 Lawrence) filed for its license to cover last week, carrying Spanish-language Catholic programming as “Radio Catolica.”

And in Haverhill, soon-to-launch WHAV-LP (97.9) is getting ready to celebrate its LPFM debut with a reunion of Haverhill radio veterans from the old WHAV (1490) and WHAV-FM/WLYT (92.5). The event June 8 will include appearances by Bob (Douglas) Clinkscale, who signed on WHAV-FM in 1959 and went on to a career with Boston’s WCVB (Channel 5), as well as Paul Bellefeuille, Joe Clementi, Joanne Doody, Patricia Johnson, Marc Lemay, Dave “Mack” Macaulay, Bill “Maxwell” Macek, Eric Scott and Mark Watson. (There’s more information to be had at WHAV’s website, here.)

We reported a couple of weeks ago on Billy Teed’s arrival in mornings at WPLM-FM (99.1 Plymouth), and now we have more of the pieces of the shuffle there: Kevin Cronin’s departure from the morning/PD chair keeps him at “Easy 99.1” as afternoon jock, while production director/APD Scott Reiniche moves up to PD.

wkne3-mountain*In NEW HAMPSHIRE, Saga’s “metro signals” make a shuffle with the rebranding of W276CB (103.1)/WKNE (103.7-HD3) from “Keene Classics” to “The Mountain,” running a jockless classic rock format.

*MAINE Public Radio didn’t take long to find a Portland outlet for its new Maine Public Classical network, which launched May 9 on translators in Bangor and Waterville and a few days later on WFYB (91.5 Fryeburg).

Now the classical signal is on the air in the state’s biggest city via W281AC (104.1 Portland), the 50-watt signal that’s been relaying WMPG (90.9), the community station at the University of Southern Maine.

We don’t have any details yet on the terms of the transaction, which moves the translator from one arm of the University of Maine system to another; we do note with some interest that WMPG’s disappearance from the 104.1 frequency went completely unremarked on the station’s social media presence. (Monday morning update: The sale price for the translator is an eye-popping $251,000, plus an additional $34,840 in promotional consideration for USM on MPBN’s radio and TV services.)

wnez-exitos*There are more translators on the air in central CONNECTICUT, including W287CS (105.3), the new FM relay for Gois Broadcasting’s WNEZ (1230 Manchester). With the new FM frequency comes a new identity: “Latina 1230” is now “Exitos 105.3.”

*In central NEW JERSEY, Chris Edwards has retired after 25 years with Greater Media’s WMTR (1250 Morristown). Edwards had been the oldies station’s PD, operations manager and morning man, and as of Friday the 13th he’s now down in the Carolinas enjoying the ability to sleep in. WMTR part-timer Mark Mitchell goes full-time as Edwards’ replacement.

New calls in Hackettstown for the former WNTI: as it changes hands from Centenary College to Philadelphia’s WXPN, the signal at 91.9 is now WXPJ.

In translator news, W224CW (92.7 Franklin Township) has signed on with the South Asian programming that’s also heard on WWTR (1170 Bridgewater), WQHT-HD2 (97.1 New York) and two other translators in central New Jersey. Down south, Hope Christian Church of Marlton’s new W262CH (100.3 Cape May) has applied to shift down the dial to 89.7.

wjlpOn TV, PMCM got an answer from the FCC last week about where its WJLP (Channel 33) in the New York market will appear on several of the region’s cable systems. Unfortunately for PMCM, it wasn’t the answer the Bob McAllan-led group wanted: instead of appearing on its RF channel, 3, the FCC says its must-carry rules require WJLP to be considered with the virtual channel it ended up with following a fight with CBS and Connecticut’s WFSB. That’s “channel 33,” and because of the twists and turns of the must-carry rules, WJLP already gave up its lock on that channel on Time Warner Cable systems, where it will instead now appear somewhere up in the 1200s range. RCN systems will carry WJLP on channel 33, and the Service Electric systems at the western fringe of the market will carry WJLP on or below channel 33.

*Radio People on the Move in PENNSYLVANIA: Tommy McCarthy has retired after a 26-year run at CBS Radio’s WOGL (98.1 Philadelphia), most recently as music director.

*Quick, who’s the longest-serving TV newscaster in western NEW YORK? That’s easy: it’s WHAM-TV (Channel 13)’s Don Alhart, who joined the Rochester ABC affiliate (then WOKR) on June 6, 1966 and has been with the station ever since.

wroc-kuckoBut while Alhart prepares for his big 50th anniversary party next month, the longest-running personality in the history of crosstown WROC-TV (Channel 8) is stepping down from his post. John Kucko has been much more than just your typical sports director in his time at 201 Humboldt Street. At the corporate level, he’s become a fixture across the Nexstar station group with the live shots he files from big events such as the Super Bowl every year. Meanwhile, though, Kucko has also become a very accomplished photographer, an interest that’s taking more of his time lately. In a lengthy Facebook post over the weekend, Kucko told viewers he’s going to continue to be part of the WROC/Nexstar family and will keep covering Super Bowls and other big events; other parts of his new role have yet to be announced.

Elsewhere in the Rochester TV world, one of Kucko’s early WROC colleagues is moving on as well. Virginia Butler moved from channel 8 to the local cable company back in 1990 to host local Headline News cut-ins, a role that expanded to anchoring the nightly “WGRC-TV” news when it launched a year later. She’s stayed with Time Warner Cable ever since as an anchor at what later became GRC9, RNews, YNN and now Time Warner Cable News, but now she’s going to the Democrat and Chronicle as the director of its video studio in its new downtown Rochester building. There, she’ll be working with husband Dennis Floss, the paper’s director of marketing and communications – and she’ll get to give up a punishing commute to TWCN’s Buffalo studio.

And not to be left out, NBC affiliate WHEC (Channel 10) has had its share of recent changes, too. Meteorologist Josh Nichols recently exited, and now WHEC is about to replace the news set it’s had in use since 1995. After Thursday’s noon news, WHEC will do news for a few weeks from a temporary set in its annex building while its studio is rebuilt ahead of NBC’s Olympics coverage later this summer.

*Radio People on the Move: in Buffalo, Robby Bowen started last Monday as the new market president/chief revenue officer at the Townsquare cluster. Bowen had been general sales manager at CBS Radio’s KRLD-FM (105.3 the Fan) in Dallas.

At CBS Local Digital Media in New York, David Bialik is promoted from senior stream engineer to director of streaming operations. When he’s not deep in a streaming server, David’s widely known in the engineering community as the chair of the broadcast and streaming sessions for the Audio Engineering Society’s conventions (where we were privileged to work with him last fall at the Empire State Building!)

*Out at the tip of Long Island, iHeart is moving unbuilt W231CM (94.1 Southampton) down to Wilmington, Delaware, where it will shift to 92.9 as a translator of iHeart news-talker WILM (1450).

*Sad news from the worlds of both radio and TV: we’re learning (a bit belatedly) of the passing of John von Soosten, who went from engineering at WOR-TV (Channel 9) to programming at WNEW-TV (Channel 5), where he rose to become VP /director of programming before joining NATPE in 1985 as the syndication trade group’s president. Von Soosten later worked with Katz TV before starting a new career as a host of adult standards programming at WQEW (1560) and then WNSW (1430), then at Sirius XM satellite radio.

In retirement, von Soosten had been a program host at WNCK (89.5 Nantucket). He died April 13 on Long Island, at age 71.

ches*In CANADA, CHES (88.1 Erin) is once again on the move. The community station northwest of Toronto started a decade ago on 101.5, then was displaced to 88.1 in 2011, only to run into interference issues with Toronto’s co-channel CIND. Now CHES has been granted permission to shift to 91.7, jumping from 570 watts average/1.25 kW max DA/63 m to 850 watts average/2.5 kW max DA, still at 63 m.

My Broadcasting has pulled the “MyFM” branding from two of its Ontario stations: Canadian Radio News reports CIYM (100.9 Brighton) and CHMY-FM-1 (107.7 Arnprior) are now known as “Oldies 100.9” and “Oldies 107.7,” picking up the branding package from My’s recently-acquired CKWV (Oldies 96.7) in Peterborough.

*Iain Barrie’s career included not only broadcast work (at multiple stations in Montreal and Ottawa) but also a long run as a beloved professor in the broadcast department at Ottawa’s Algonquin College. Barrie died May 14 at 69; whatever else we could say about him, his protege John Mielke said much better in a touching tribute at his Milkman UnLimited site.

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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: May 25, 2015

*Heading into the Memorial Day weekend, the region’s biggest radio news came, once again, from WRKO (680 Boston), which is about to lose the Rush Limbaugh Show for the second time in six years. When the Entercom talker last parted ways with Limbaugh in 2010, it was at the hands of Limbaugh’s syndicator, Premiere Networks, which shifted the show to WXKS (1200), the new talk station being launched by its corporate sister, Clear Channel Radio.

“Rush Radio” became “Talk 1200” but never made much of a dent in the ratings, closing up shop in 2012 and sending Limbaugh back to WRKO, which itself hadn’t made much of a dent with its own attempts to fill the noon-3 timeslot. But Limbaugh’s return to WRKO hasn’t moved the ratings needle much either, and with the three-year deal between Premiere and WRKO running out next month, Entercom saw no compelling reason to pay for another Limbaugh contract.

Instead, WRKO is getting ready for another overhaul of its increasingly unstable schedule. The new lineup will shift current morning host Todd Kuhner to Limbaugh’s noon-3 slot, where he’ll lead in to the Howie Carr show that has itself departed WRKO only to return again for lack of a better Boston option. Barry Armstrong’s Money Matters programming will continue to lease the mid-morning hours before Limbaugh, and mornings on WRKO appear likely to become a co-production with the Boston Globe.

*A veteran RHODE ISLAND manager is out at Cumulus in Providence. Barbara Haynes was ousted Wednesday after 12 years at the helm of the cluster that includes WPRO, WPRO-FM and WWLI; before that, she’d worked in Providence radio since 1981, mostly at what’s now the iHeart Radio cluster across town. It’s not yet clear who’ll take over at the Salty Brine Broadcast Center, nor what might be next for the well-respected Haynes.

*In State College, PENNSYLVANIA, Forever Broadcasting has returned the news-talk format of WRSC to its longtime home at 1390 on the AM dial, reversing the move it made almost six years ago when it flipped the AM side to sports and moved WRSC’s news-talk to WRSC-FM (103.1 State College). The FM signal, which was the longtime home of top-40 WBHV, flipped on Thursday to classic hits as “Happy 103,” launching with a new morning show from Pat Urban, who’s been doing middays on sister station WBUS (93.7).

*In NEW YORK, Long Island’s legendary WLNG (92.1 Sag Harbor) is losing one of the air talents who helped make it legendary. Rusty Potz, the station’s longtime afternoon jock and a staple of its ubiquitous remote broadcasts, announced at the end of his Friday airshift that he’ll be leaving the WLNG airwaves after this Friday’s show. Potz choked up as he told listeners he’d stay with the station “behind the scenes, in our Florida office, but I’ll still be popping up on the air from time to time.” Potz has been with WLNG for more than 40 years, and on the radio for half a century, including a stint at Hartford’s WCCC before settling in on Redwood Causeway.

*There’s a TV affiliation swap coming this fall to two markets in CANADA. After 60 years as privately-owned affiliates of CBC television, Corus will shift CHEX-TV (Channel 12) in Peterborough, CHEX-TV-2 (Channel 22) in Oshawa and CKWS-TV (Channel 11) in Kingston, Ontario to CTV on August 31, shaking up the TV lineup between Toronto and Ottawa. While local Corus management isn’t coming right out to say so, referring only to a “change of direction” at the CBC, the end of CBC-TV’s hockey rights no doubt contributed to the move. The current local newscasts will stay in place on all three stations, though the late news at 11 will move to 11:30 to make room for CTV’s late-night national news at 11.

Five Years Ago: May 23, 2011

*Even if you weren’t accosted by someone on a city streetcorner holding a sign and thrusting a tract at you, it was hard to escape the headlines these last few days: “End of the World?”

And as you know – since you’re still here reading the column, and we’re still here writing it – Family Radio’s predictions of global earthquakes and rapture failed to materialize on schedule Saturday evening at 6. (The closest we could come to any evidence of the predicted devastation was the utter meltdown of the Red Sox bullpen later that evening, but that’s another story…)

It didn’t take long at all for the conversations to get going all over the radio landscape: after staking so much, including millions of dollars in billboards and other publicity, on the “guaranteed” end of the world, what happens now to Family Radio and its extensive network of stations, including its most valuable property, NEW YORK-market WFME (94.7 Newark)?

Here’s what we know so far: for all of the apocalyptic claims being made by Family Radio founder and leader Harold Camping on his nightly “Open Forum” show and on the Family Radio website (above right), the rest of the network’s programming carried on Saturday over WFME and Family Radio’s other stations in its usual phlegmatic fashion, with nary a mention of the 6 PM deadline as it drew near. And whatever Camping may have said about having no “plan B” (as he left his Oakland, California studio after his “farewell” show Thursday evening, he reportedly told colleagues he didn’t expect to ever be back there again), someone kept the network’s automation running, not only into Saturday evening but into Sunday as well.

*Elsewhere in the region, it was indeed “the end of the world” for CONNECTICUT‘s “Coast 96.7” just after midnight on Thursday (May 19), as Cox shut down the Stamford transmitter site of WCTZ (96.7 Port Chester NY) in preparation for the sale of the license to EMF Broadcasting.

Typical of Cox Radio, in six years on the air, the AC station never stopped being “The New Coast,” but in its last few months it had been running entirely on automation, serving little purpose other than to keep the license alive and some ad contracts fulfilled until the station can be transferred to EMF to become its new “K-Love” outlet for the New York market under the new calls WKLV-FM.

*There’s some sad news from Pittsburgh as well: John Cigna, veteran morning man on KDKA (1020) through the eighties and nineties, died Friday (May 20) after a battle with emphysema and a stroke.

Cigna came from Fort Wayne’s WOWO (1190) to Pittsburgh in 1969 to work at WJAS (1320), but four years later he was back with Westinghouse as the evening talk host on KDKA – and in 1983, he succeeded Jack Bogut in KDKA’s morning slot, a position he held until his retirement in 2001. “John Cigna and the K-Team” became a Steel City morning staple, complete with Cigna’s trademark spaghetti breakfasts for listeners and a series of comedic TV commercials for the show. Cigna had been in declining health in recent months, especially since the death of his wife in January. He was 75.

Ten Years Ago: May 22, 2006

It’s been an interesting week for WBAB (102.3) in Babylon, NEW YORK. First there was the flap over a morning-show comedy bit that we reported in our last issue, and now the station’s engineers are chasing a technically-adept prankster who interrupted the station’s “Roger and JP” morning show last Wednesday by overriding the station’s studio-to-transmitter link. For about 90 seconds, the pirate operator broadcast a rap song filled with racial slurs – and because the station’s transmitter control was also handled over the STL link, engineers weren’t immediately able to turn off the transmitter and silence the unauthorized broadcast. (Initial reports said the interrupting signal was also heard over simulcast WHFM 95.3 on Long Island’s east end, but we haven’t been able to confirm that.) “Clearly, someone has a bone to pick with WBAB, and understands the broadcast business well enough, to know how to hack into our signal, and has access to this equipment and obviously was able to gain access to our broadcast,” said a statement from the station, which offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to a conviction of the pirate.

Clear Channel is adding to its holdings in western MASSACHUSETTS, acquiring WRNX (100.9 Amherst) from Pamal in a trade for several yet-to-be-named stations elsewhere in New England. Pamal was left as a single-station operator in the Springfield market after its deal to buy WBEC-FM (105.5) from Vox fell through last year. The spinoff of adult alternative WRNX will give Clear Channel a fifth station in the market, adding to its existing cluster of news-talk WHYN (560 Springfield), sports WNNZ (640 Westfield), hot AC WHYN-FM (93.1 Springfield) and country WPKX (97.9 Enfield CT). What will Pamal end up with in exchange? It’s widely believed that the other end of the deal will be up in VERMONT, where Clear Channel’s small holdings in the Rutland-Randolph area are in competition with Pamal’s WJEN/WJJR.

Meanwhile at the other end of the Bay State, Steve Silberberg’s WXRV (92.5 Haverhill) got the FCC go-ahead late last week to change its city of license to Andover. As a grandfathered allotment dating back to before the current FM spacing rules were adopted in 1964, WXRV has no spacing restrictions against second-adjacent WBOS (92.9 Brookline) – but any moves it makes cannot increase its current interference to fellow grandfathered stations WPRO-FM (92.3 Providence) or WWYZ (92.5 Waterbury CT), so its ability to move closer to Boston is still somewhat restricted. Stay tuned; we’ll be keeping an eye on this one.

Several new stations are primed to take air in eastern CANADA. In Halifax, tests are now underway at Evanov’s new CKHZ (Z103.5), which will have a rhythmic top 40 format when it signs on officially next month, and we’re hearing tests are underway also at the new CHNS-FM (89.9), which will replace CHNS (960) later this year. And CFCY (630 Charlottetown PEI) says it will complete its move to FM, at 95.1, by July.

Fifteen Years Ago: May 21, 2001

The end came quietly for the English-language standards format on Long Island’s WLIM (1580) Friday night. The station signed off at 10 PM after an hour-long farewell show to mark the transfer of ownership from Jack Ellsworth to Polnet. (The folks at the Long Island Radio History page have a nice batch of pictures from the final night, should you be curious.) Polnet’s ethnic programming is expected to debut later this week on 1580, which is dark for the moment.

Back home in Western New York, we’re saddened to report the death of a 62-year veteran of the Buffalo and Rochester airwaves. Ed Little’s resume included stints at WKBW, WBBF and WBEN; he retired last year from WBEN on the same day the station left its longtime Elmwood Avenue studios (his was the last voice heard from the old location). Little had been hospitalized since suffering kidney failure in February; he was 78 when he died last Wednesday (May 16). Two days later came word of another death: veteran WOKR (Channel 13) Rochester anchor Dick Burt succumbed to a heart attack while on vacation on Cape Cod. Burt began at WOKR when the station signed on in 1962, and for many years was paired with Don Alhart as one of the Flower City’s best-known anchor teams. Burt retired from WOKR in 1987. He was 75.

Finally this week, best wishes to Glen Jones of WFMU (91.1 East Orange), who’ll spend next weekend trying to break the 73 hour, 33 minute record for longest DJ shift ever. Jones will begin broadcasting on WFMU at 9:00 Friday morning (May 25), and he’ll stay awake and on the air at least until 10:33 AM the following Monday, including his usual Sunday noon-3 shift.

Twenty Years Ago: May 21, 1996

Radio Equity Partners, parent company of WHYN AM-FM Springfield MA and WWBB-FM Providence RI/WWRX-FM Westerly-Providence, has been sold to Clear Channel Broadcasting for $235 million. Both are new markets for Clear Channel, whose only other New England operation is WELI(AM)/WKCI-FM/WAVZ(AM) in the New Haven market. NERW wonders how this will affect Clear Channel’s planned purchase of WPRI-TV Providence from CBS…

A few formats get cleared up: Our spies in northern New England tell me WVFM 105.7 Campton NH is on the air, simulcasting oldies WLKZ 104.9 down in Wolfeboro for now. And WRDX (ex-WRGW) 98.7 Somersworth NH, on the seacoast, is again running AC, after a brief stint as standards “Radio Deluxe.” Meantime in Rhode Island, the smooth jazz is dead on WOTB 100.3 Middletown-Newport. New owner Philip Urso is now using the station to simulcast his modern-rock WDGE 99.7 Wakefield-Peace Dale, “the Edge.” There’s a lot of overlap between those two signals in southern Rhode Island. The only remaining smooth-jazz outlet in the area now is WPLM-FM 99.1 Plymouth MA, which mostly runs SW Smooth FM, as does WKCD 107.7 Pawcatuck CT, which gets into some of the more remote parts of the former WOTB listening area on the seacoast.

WAMC swallows another one: The ever-growing WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network, based in Albany NY, has acquired another outlet which can be heard in New England. Control of WCFE-FM 91.9 Plattsburgh NY, which also serves the Burlington VT area, is being transferred from the Mountain Lakes Public Telecommunications Council (licensee of WCFE-TV 57 in Plattsburgh) to WAMC, and 91.9 will presumably become part of the WAMC network, allowing travelers to hear WAMC from the Canadian border pretty much all the way down to the northern New York City suburbs. Thanks to the main WAMC 90.3 transmitter on Mount Greylock in Adams MA, the station can already be heard from central Massachusetts most of the way to Utica NY.

5 COMMENTS

  1. It’s interesting what Ed Ansin (Sunbeam) is doing in Boston. This is a duplication of what he did in Miami in the 90’s. Virtually the same. Channel 7 had NBC and the local news as a joke, he depended on the Network to carry the freight. But lost the Network, and won the war. They put together the City’s top news operation, by far, and now make more than they did with NBC. Laughing all the way to the bank.
    Don’t sell Sunbeam short. They are smart BROADCASTERS. That’s Broadcasters, which means they know more than the bean counters.

  2. How does a station first licensed in 1982 qualify as “Boston’s second-oldest station”? By my count that’s not even Boston’s fifth-oldest station.

    • I knew someone would quibble about this even as I was writing it. While the FCC revoked RKO General’s license for WNAC-TV, they appear from all indications to have granted the same license to Mugar’s group for WNEV, which of course continued with the same staff and physical facility as WNAC-TV used. (Note also that the FCC callsign history for FID 72145 includes WNAC-TV as the prior callsign.) It’s a different scenario from the completely new channel 5 license that was issued to BBI for WCVB a decade earlier.

      • You could say come January… that “The New 7’s just begun?” lol That was a take off on… “The New Se7en’s just begun” slogan from 1982… but, you knew that.

      • I don’t think you can draw that much of an inference from the data in CDBS, which was translated in the ’90s from the old BAPS database — that may just be an artifact of how BAPS worked.

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