In this week’s issue… NYSBA counts the pirates – Boston gets “Alt” – Maine gets a new “Capital” – Niagara Falls gets “Juice” – Vaughn Harper, RIP
By SCOTT FYBUSH
Jump to: ME – NH – VT – MA – RI – CT – NY – NJ – PA – Canada
*Here’s the least shocking news you’ll read all week: there are a lot of pirate radio stations on the airwaves all over NEW YORK City and nearby portions of NEW JERSEY.
But while that may come as no surprise to loyal NERW readers (who know it’s equally true of the Boston area and, increasingly, Hartford and Springfield), it’s still a set of facts that need documenting if regulators and law enforcement are going to do anything about it. That’s where the New York State Broadcasters Association comes in: in addition to pushing lawmakers to make unlicensed broadcasting a state-level crime, NYSBA has funded several ongoing surveys to identify just how much of the FM dial is filled by pirates in the greater New York area.
The most recent survey, conducted in March in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Newark and Paterson, is the first one NYSBA has released widely – and it’s well worth downloading it and reading it. It identified more than 70 pirate signals on the air in the region and tracked down the locations of many of them in an attempt to determine just how much they interfere with licensed broadcasters.
Again, this will come as no surprise to NERW readers – but the study found pirates sitting on first-adjacent frequencies to several of the stations that serve as EAS LP-1 outlets such as New York’s WNYC-FM (93.9) and New Jersey’s WNSH (94.7). (Perhaps less meaningfully, it also found pirates co-channel to WHFM 95.3, which is an EAS outlet for eastern Long Island, more than 80 miles away from the pirates in the city.)
The study also looked at potential interference to air traffic control and other public-safety communications (including a pirate operating in close proximity to the East Orange, NJ police radio tower) – and, for the first time, at the potential for high levels of RF energy from pirate antennas mounted on balconies and near residential areas.
The study concludes with a rather understated observation: “it appears more resources and a new enforcement strategy is necessary to address this growing problem since current efforts do not appear to be effective.”
Will the new data help NYSBA make its case to state lawmakers and to the FCC to put scarce resources into a more concerted effort to get pirates off the air?
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*Speaking of WNYC, it’s losing its longtime local “Morning Edition” host. Soterios Johnson is headed west to a new post at UC Davis to join his husband, who’s been out on the West Coast for a year and a half now. Richard Hake is anchoring for now, but no permanent replacement has been named yet.
*Entercom Buffalo has added another live airshift at its “Alternative Buffalo” (WLKK 107.7 Wethersfield), as Brandi takes a new 11AM to 2 PM shift. That rearranges the rest of the schedule, cutting morning host Emily Wild back to 6-11 AM, afternoon host Nik Rivers to 2-6 PM and night guy Axe from 6-midnight.
At Entercom here in Rochester, the axe fell Friday afternoon on “Radio Press Box,” the local sports show that veteran sportswriter Scott Pitoniak and Dan Borrello co-hosted on “ESPN Rochester” (WROC 950/W239BF 95.7).
While the show offered a welcome level-headed approach compared to today’s typical sports-talk shouting, it had a hard time getting attention on the number-two sports signal in town (behind iHeart’s WHTK 1280). With its demise, there’s now no local weekday content to be heard on ESPN Rochester.
Where are they now? Danie B, late of Albany Broadcasting’s WAJZ (96.3 Voorheesville), has announced her post-Jamz home: she’s now doing afternoons for CBS Radio at WQMP (101.9 AMP Radio) in Orlando.
*Vaughn Harper was one of the signature voices of “The Quiet Storm” at night on WBLS (107.5) from 1976 until 1993, the most prominent feature of a four-decade radio resume that ended with his death July 9 at 71. Harper played basketball for Syracuse and was drafted by the Pistons, but it was in radio that he really excelled as part of Frankie Crocker’s nighttime mix of R&B classics and smooth currents.
After a stroke took him off the air at WBLS in 1993, Harper battled back, later working at WWRL (1600), WTJM (105.1) and WBGO (88.3), as well as a return gig at WBLS from 2002-2008. (And as David Hinckley noted in a comprehensive Huffington Post obit, Harper was also a radio voice in “Grand Theft Auto IV”!)
And we note, too, the death of Joe Pasternak. The Syracuse University graduate was “Joe Simpson” on Syracuse’s WYYY (Y94), worked at WHCN (105.9) in Hartford, CONNECTICUT and later went on to become a Columbus, Ohio fixture as “Joe Show” in afternoons on WLVQ (Q96.3). Pasternak spent 27 years at the Columbus station, and it was a shock to colleagues and listeners there when he died suddenly on Thursday. He was just 66.
*A veteran VERMONT broadcaster is back on the airwaves over Lake Champlain. After the collapse of the Musicheads.us “Album Station” LMA of RadioActive’s WZXP (97.9 Au Sable NY), the Plattsburgh-area signal has re-emerged with classic country as “97.9 the Moose.”
It’s a venture that includes John Nichols (who co-founded WXXX in South Burlington in the 1980s and later helped put WFFF-TV 44 on the air) and New York engineer Aaron Ishmael.
*In eastern MASSACHUSETTS, Greater Media has completed a rebranding of WBOS (92.9 Brookline-Boston), which transitioned last week from “Radio 92.9” to “Alt 92.9.”
“We are passionate about delivering our content in a non-cluttered, non-controversial, pure play music environment by playing the most music,” said WBOS PD Ken West in a statement. “In doing so, we are offering the ALT 92.9 Promise: 60 Minutes of Music after every commercial break.”
*Meanwhile on the AM dial, Bob Bittner quietly restored AM stereo broadcasting on his WJIB (740 Cambridge), perhaps in preparation for the addition next year of a stereo FM translator.
Antonio Gois’ Spanish-language stations are adding more translators. Contracts filed by Gois last week show he’s now planning to buy $390,000 worth of translators from Northeast Gospel Broadcasting (six translators at $65,000 each). We already knew about three of those translators – W234AL (94.7 North Adams) is headed to WLLH (1400 Lawrence), W278AN (103.5 Tupper Lake NY) has moved to WNEZ (1230 Manchester, CONNECTICUT) as W287CS (105.3), and W254AM (98.7 Berlin NY) is moving to WKND (1480 Windsor CT) on 97.5.
The others are W244BG (96.7 Lanesborough MA), W230AO (93.9 Speculator NY) and W271BQ (102.1 Coxsackie NY), which will presumably be linked up with Gois’ remaining stations, WAMG (890 Dedham), WORC (1310 Worcester) and WLAT (910 New Britain CT).
*In MAINE, Townsquare has closed on its $85,000 purchase of W247CD (97.3 Worcester) from UMass Amherst. It’s now W240DH (95.9 Augusta), and it’ll be relaying WJZN (1400 Augusta), which drops “Kool AM” oldies to become “Capital 95.9” with classic rock.
The new classic rocker challenges Blueberry’s WTOS (105.1 Skowhegan) in the rock arena; for now, it leaves former AM simulcast WTVL (1490 Waterville) alone with “Kool AM.”
The plan right now is to run “Capital” jockless outside of morning drive, where it’s carrying the syndicated “Free Beer and Hot Wings” show.
*In Machias, the University of Maine has completed the upgrade of WUMM, the student station that has moved from 91.7 to 91.1, boosting power from 100 to 250 watts.
WUMM had to abandon its previous tower site atop Kimball Hall when that aging building was slated for demolition, which forced engineer Rob Sobczak to make some quick choices.
Moving WUMM to a new site next to Reynolds Gym (left) would have created short-spacing to Light of Life’s WRNM (91.7 Ellsworth) – but Light of Life offered to help with WUMM’s frequency change, which also cleared the way for more power for WRNM.
Rob reports the new tower went up in just a week, and the station signed on at 91.1 at 6:20 PM on June 30.
*In RHODE ISLAND, Paul Giammarco is the new afternoon jock at Providence’s WWLI (Lite Rock 105), starting a week from tomorrow. Giammarco had previously been OM/PD down the hall at WPRO (630), and had owned WNRI (1380 Woonsocket).
*Radio People on the Move in PENNSYLVANIA: veteran programmer Laura St. James is out at Cumulus’ WLEV (100.7 Allentown). She’d been there since 2010 (and spent a decade and a half before that over at WAEB-FM).
In Erie, Mark Richards is the new morning host/APD at the ERIE Radio Company’s WEHP (Happi 92.7).
New LPFMs are hitting the air around Philadelphia: Dana Puopolo’s WZML-LP (92.9 Bryn Mawr) has begun testing from a site overlooking Valley Forge. And we hear tests have also been underway at Philadelphia Community Access Media (PhillyCAM)’s WPPM-LP (106.5).
*Right at the edge of CANADA, Vista has split its FM simulcast in Niagara Falls. At 6:13 Friday morning, CFLZ (101.1 Fort Erie) dropped top 40 “2Day FM” to go to a sort of variety hits as “Juice FM,” a brand Vista uses mainly out west. “2Day” remains on sister station CJED (105.1 Niagara Falls). Chris Barnatt moves to mornings on the new “Juice,” with former Calgary jock Joe Moniz handling afternoons there; the two flip roles on “2Day,” with Moniz doing mornings and Barnatt tracking afternoons.
In Mississauga, Elliot Kerr is hoping the third time will be the charm for CKNT (960), the news-talk format he’s hoping to launch west of Toronto. After deciding two previous sites were unusable, Kerr is now proposing a site at 1137 Lorimar Road in Mississauga, where he hopes to run 2 kW days, 280 watts at night.
Meanwhile, two broadcasters are hoping to put new signals on the air around Toronto. North of Newmarket in Georgina, at the southern end of Georgian Bay, My Broadcasting is asking to use 93.7 with 1.6 kW average/3 kW max DA. Closer in, in Aurora, Bhupinder Bola wants 91.7 with 45 watts average/150 watts max DA. The CRTC has issued calls for comments on the ability of both markets to support new signals.
In Ottawa, there’s a new morning host coming to CJOT (Boom 99.7): Tim Morgan is taking over there, moving from his current gig at Q107 in Calgary.
*And in the Maritimes, we share the sad news of the death of Jeff Cogswell, who became a fixture at several stations in Saint John and Halifax during a career that was cut short by illness. Cogswell was just 43 when he died July 7.
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