In this week’s issue… FCC shuts down Dodge – Binnie buys in NH – Nexstar adds in RI – Bell grows up north – Neil Chayet, RIP
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*Say you’ve flouted every imaginable FCC rule for decades. And say the Commission somehow decides to give you one last chance to restore your imperiled licenses and even to pocket a six-figure sum for selling some of your translators. For most of us, it’s an opportunity we’d grab with both fists – and we’d be sure to comply with every bit of the FCC’s conditions, right?
And then there’s Brian Dodge in NEW HAMPSHIRE, VERMONT and MASSACHUSETTS, who got just that chance handed to him last year, and who now appears to have lost it all again for failure to follow the Commission’s directions about what needed to be done in order to salvage what was left of the radio group he once held across a big swath of New England.
Last week, the FCC sent Dodge’s Harvest Broadcasting a letter reminding him of the terms of the consent decree that he reached with the Commission back in October: by April 25, Dodge had to submit documentation showing that he was in compliance with all of the FCC’s rules for seven translators that had largely been off the air for years, or else he’d lose those licenses.
Dodge was able to sell one of those translators, W228AU (93.5 North Bennington VT), to WBLQ (1230 Westerly RI), and it now holds a valid CP to move down there. The other six, though? The only correspondence Dodge sent the FCC appears to have been a request in June, two months after the deadline, for extended special temporary authority to stay silent.
That wasn’t enough to keep the FCC happy, and now those translators have at long last been officially deleted. (The six were W240AK 95.9 Lebanon NH, W259AB 99.7 Marlboro VT, W232AJ 94.3 Greenville NH, W288AN 105.5 West Brattleboro VT, W288AZ 105.5 Bernardston MA and W257AU 99.3 St. Johnsbury VT.)
That last translator, W257AU, had an application pending to move to 93.3 in Madbury, where it would have become an FM relay for Dodge’s last remaining AM station, WWNH 1340 Madbury. WWNH, as NERW readers well know, had its own long strange saga that started with a construction permit back in 1990 but never actually included a full-fledged license, eventually ending with years of silence and the loss of the transmitter site. The FCC was (rather remarkably) willing to reinstate WWNH’s CP and let the little AM finally get licensed, if Dodge could show the FCC that “the WWNH facilities at present are consistent with the facilities authorized in the WWNH construction permit.”
He couldn’t do that, either – and so WWNH, too, has been deleted for good.
So what now for Dodge? The FCC’s consent decree last year still allowed him to walk away with $125,000 of the $225,000 he’d tried to raise from selling transmitters in the 2016 “250-mile move” windows, and the sale of the translator to WBLQ added another $40,000 to that total, making $165,000 as Dodge’s bottom line at what would appear to be the end of his career as a broadcast owner.
If nothing else, the consent decree and this subsequent follow-up have at least made it clear that Dodge’s filings will no longer be welcome at the Commission, whether under his own name or alter egos such as “Pastor Tim Allen.” Will he in fact stop making filings on his own (or against other broadcasters, as he’s done often in the past?) As we’ve been doing for 23 years now, we’ll keep watching.
NOT TOO LATE TO BUY THE CALENDAR!
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.
*Dodge’s latest adventures were hardly the only news out of the Granite State last week; to the north in Concord, Binnie Media made headlines several days running as it flipped formats, entered an LMA with a semi-competitor, and then filed to buy that station.
This story starts with WNNH (99.1 Henniker), which Binnie had been operating as a news-talk station under its “NH1 News” brand even after abruptly ending its NH1 News television product on WBIN-TV (Channel 50) earlier this year. That ended on Monday when WNNH flipped back to its previous oldies format as “True Oldies 99.1,” using Scott Shannon’s syndicated True Oldies format.
But Bill Binnie (himself a former candidate for the U.S. Senate) isn’t exiting the talk arena in the state capital: he immediately began operating talk competitor WTPL (107.7 Hillsboro) under an LMA with Lakes Media, which had just recently acquired “The Pulse” and two other stations from Great Eastern. And no sooner did that hit the trades than Binnie filed to buy WTPL outright, for $1.3 million. (Lakes, we’d note, belongs to Dirk Nadon, who’s Binnie’s VP of engineering; it paid $2.6 million for WTPL and two sister stations last year.)
*The FCC has released the full list of nearly 1100 applications filed for new AM-on-FM translators during the window that was open July 26-August 2. We’ll list them state by state as we work our way through this week’s issue; note that at this point, there’s no guarantee that any of these are grantable, and that applicants will have the chance to make minor modifications to these applications down the line. Very few of these appear to fall into mutually-exclusive groups that will have to undergo technical settlements or be decided at auction; for the grantable “singletons,” it should be only a few weeks before the FCC starts taking long-form applications that will generate construction permits.
*Here are the applications filed for NEW HAMPSHIRE: WKDR (1490) Berlin for 92.5, WMOU (1230) Berlin for 107.9, WXEX (1540) Exeter for 107.5 Chester, WTSV (1230) Claremont for 94.3, WTSL (1400) Hanover for 97.5, WZBK (1220) Keene for 102.3, WEZS (1350) Laconia for 103.3, WLTN (1400) Littleton for 107.5, WBNC (1340) North Conway for 105.3, WPNH (1300) Plymouth for 92.9.
For VERMONT: WKVT (1490) Brattleboro for 106.9, WIKE (1490) Newport for 103.1, WRSA (1420) St. Albans for 100.3, WSTJ (1340) St. Johnsbury for 104.1, WTWN (1100) Wells River for 105.1.
For MAINE: WMDR (1340) Augusta for 100.9, WBAN (1400) Veazie for 95.1 Bald Mountain, WGUY (1230) Veazie for 96.1 Bangor, WCYR (1340) Veazie for 102.9 Bangor, WJTO (730) Bath for 105.3, WWSF (1220) Sanford for 93.5 Biddeford, WGIN (1400) Biddeford for 93.5, WCME (900) Brunswick for 99.5, WEZR (1240) Lewiston for 95.9, WSYY (1240) Millinocket for 102.5, WXME (780) Monticello for 98.3, WVOM (1450) Rockland for 95.1, WTME (780) Rumford for 98.3.
*In MASSACHUSETTS, Neil Chayet always described himself as a lawyer who just happened to be dabbling in radio – but the news of his death Friday made it clear that he was a valued member of the radio community, too, after four decades and tens of thousands of “Looking at the Law” segments. Chayet started the segment in the 1970s on WEEI (590), but its flagship for most of its run became WBZ (1030), where Chayet also hosted a weekend “Looking at the Law Live” talk show for many years.
Chayet’s segments were syndicated to other stations, too, including WCBS (880) in New York, making his voice and expertise familiar to listeners across the country right up until his retirement in June. At the time, he said he was fighting an aggressive form of prostate cancer but hoped to remain active writing a book; sadly, the disease moved too quickly.
Chayet was 78.
*Radio People on the Move: At Beasley, Dawn Santolucito has been promoted from promotions director to music director, replacing Ginny Rogers; she’ll also continue to manage the country station’s marketing.
*Out west, Saga wants to move its “Lazer” translator in Springfield. What’s now W286DB (105.1 East Longmeadow) relays WLZX (1600 East Longmeadow), which in turn relays the rock format of WLZX-FM (99.3 Northampton). Saga tells the FCC it had originally asked to shift the translator to a better signal on 95.3, but only because its preferred channel of 98.5 was blocked by a “sham” LPFM signal on 98.7.
With its usual aggressive research, Saga tells the FCC it determined that the LPFM, WYHV-LP, never actually built out its facility before the construction permit expired – and so now it’s asking the Commission to waive its rules and allow another modification application that would take the Lazer translator down the dial to 98.5.
*Translator window applications: WHTB (1400) Fall River on 93.7, WGAW (1340) Gardner on 98.1, WIZZ (1520) Greenfield on 101.3, WZBR (1410) Dedham on 98.1 Medford, WVBF (1530) Middleborough Center on 99.7, WESX (1230) Nahant on 92.1, WNBP (1450) Newburyport on 92.1, WNAW (1230) North Adams on 94.7, WHMP (1400) Northampton on 101.5, WFPB (1170 Orleans) on 105.3, WESO (970 Southbridge) on 101.1, WHLL (1450 Springfield) on 98.1, WGFP (940 Webster) on 99.3, WNEB (1230 Worcester) on 99.1.
*Nexstar is growing its reach in RHODE ISLAND with the purchase of the “non-spectrum assets” of Providence-market CW affiliate WLWC (Channel 28). The station, licensed to New Bedford, Mass., gave up its UHF spectrum in the auction earlier this year, netting owner OTA Broadcasting $125.9 million and leaving the WLWC license as a so-called “zombie station,” one that still had programming and must-carry rights but needing to strike a deal with another broadcaster to find spectrum to share.
Enter Nexstar, which had operated WLWC from 2009-2011 for then-owner Four Points; WLWC and the other Four Points stations then went to Sinclair before being sold to OTA, while Nexstar later ended up getting Providence CBS affiliate WPRI (Channel 12) and Fox/My affiliate WNAC (Channel 64) when the company acquired the former Media General/LIN station group.
Nexstar’s $4.1 million deal for WLWC is essentially a purchase of the CW affiliation for the market; we’d expect CW to end up on a subchannel of WNAC at some point before WLWC has to turn off its own transmitter in early 2018, and we’d expect Nexstar to use its cable leverage from the CBS and Fox affiliations to ensure that CW stays on WLWC’s existing cable channel positions across the Providence market.
*On the radio, WPMZ (1110 East Providence) has signed on its new translator at 102.1. The 99-watt signal from the AM site is the former W244AS (96.7), which moved from Oakhurst, N.J.
*Translator applications: WADK (1540 Newport) on 101.1, WOON (1240 Woonsocket) on 99.3.
*Here’s a happy-ending story from CONNECTICUT, where Marshall Miles’ Robin Hood Radio suffered a catastrophic transmitter failure at its WHDD (1020 Sharon) last week. The station immediately launched a GoFundMe appeal for the $30,000 it needed to replace the transmitter (which was the original from when then-WKZE signed on 31 years ago), and its audience responded just as immediately. As of our deadline Sunday night, WHDD listeners had already pledged over $27,000 for the new transmitter, which will get AM 1020 back on the air in the next few days.
*Translator applications: WCUM (1450) Bridgeport on 103.3, WINE (940) Brookfield on 102.3, WXLM (980) Groton on 101.9, WHDD (1020) Sharon on 97.5 Kent, WMRD (1150) Middletown on 105.5, WYBC (1340) New Haven on 105.5, WINY (1350) Putnam on 97.1, WWCO (1240) Waterbury on 106.3, WSHU (1260) Westport on 93.5.
Tony Bennett and Paul Shaffer performed, and WCBS anchors and reporters past and present shared stories and interviewed prominent newsmakers from the station’s long history. That’s WCBS’ Paul Murnane and Brad Heller shown in this station photo interviewing former Mets manager Bobby Valentine, who shared the story of how he was thrown in jail many years ago in Stamford, Connecticut while trying to chase prostitutes away from the sports bar he was running (the very one where he claims to have invented the wrap!)
Valentine told the crowd he called Stamford’s mayor and told him he’d arrange an interview with WCBS’ Fran Schneidau about the unsavory characters on the street unless he was sprung – and sure enough, he said, he was free not long afterward.
Anthony Mason of CBS News ended the night interviewing Bennett, in what could turn out to be one of the last bits of co-owned synergy before CBS hands off WCBS and its CBS Radio sister stations to Entercom later this year.
(Over at the CBS Broadcast Center, we note that the former “CBS Radio News” is now “CBS News Radio,” reflecting its status as a continuing part of the CBS operation and not the CBS Radio unit that’s going to Entercom – and we salute Frank Settipani, the veteran anchor who just hung up his headphones after a long run with the network radio division.)
*After a year and a half at Townsquare’s country giant WGNA (107.7 Albany), Marissa Lanchak has departed her midday shift. Lanchak had also worked across town at Albany Broadcasting’s WFLY.
In Syracuse, WFBL (1390) is reportedly back on the air with a music loop; it’s in the process of being transferred from Leatherstocking to Craig Fox’s cluster of signals in town.
*Translator applications: WICY (1490) Malone for 103.5 Akwesasne, WCJW (1140) Warsaw for 100.9 Alden, WCSS (1490) Amsterdam for 106.9, WPTR (1240) Schenectady for 97.1 Ballston Spa, WBTA (1490) Batavia for 106.1, WBBF (1120) Buffalo for 98.9, erroneously filed with “WBBF” as city of license, WHAZ (1330) Troy for 105.1 Cambridge, WCGR (1550) Canandaigua for 100.1, WABY (900) Watervliet for 94.1 Clifton Park, silent WCBA (1350) Corning for 99.9, WDNY (1400) Dansville for 99.9, WSDE (1190) Cobleskill for 100.1 Duanesburg, WDOE (1410) Dunkirk for 101.5, WGVA (1240) Geneva for 106.3, WHLI (1100) Hempstead for 104.7, WLEA (1480) Hornell for 106.9, WHVW (950) Hyde Park for 107.9, WJTN (1240) Jamestown for 101.3, WKNY (1490) Kingston for 107.9, WVOS (1240) Liberty for 92.5, WIXT (1230) Little Falls for 101.5, WMSA (1340) Massena for 92.9, WPDM (1470) Potsdam for 93.3 Massena, WDLC (1490) Port Jervis for 95.3 Middletown, WCDO (1490) Sidney for 92.3 Norwich, WMCR (1600) Oneida for 101.1, WEBO (1330) Owego for 98.5, WALK (1370) Patchogue for 95.1, WYLF (850) Penn Yan for 93.9, WCHP (760) Champlain for 100.3 Plattsburgh, WRIV (1390) Riverhead for 105.7, albeit dismissed for paperwork issues, WRNY (1350) Rome for 96.5, WBRV (900) Boonville for 103.3 Rome, WKAL (1450) Rome for 103.3, WKAJ (1120) St. Johnsville for 106.9, WENU (1410) South Glens Falls for 96.9, WECK (1230) Cheektowaga for 100.5 Tonawanda, WALL (1340) Middletown for 96.7 Warwick, WNER (1410) Watertown for 97.9.
*Central PENNSYLVANIA is one of the areas where the proposed Sinclair-Tribune merger would create an ownership-cap issue – Sinclair’s CBS affiliate WHP-TV (Channel 21) and Tribune’s Fox affiliate WPMT (Channel 43) can’t be commonly owned under current rules – and it’s produced an objection to the deal that has roots back to the earliest days of TV in the market.
Remember the “Steinman Stations,” which owned the ad space on the front cover of the Broadcasting Yearbook for many decades? Back then, Steinman owned not only WGAL-TV (Channel 8) in Lancaster but also the local newspapers, and while it’s long since sold off the TV station, the company still owns the paper (now known as LNP), as well as the Delmarva Broadcasting radio cluster to the southeast in Delaware.
Last week, Steinman weighed in against the proposed license transfer of WPMT from Tribune to Sinclair, and it did so with some interesting reasoning: at some point, Steinman argued, it would very much like to get back into TV ownership in the Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York market, but if Sinclair offers up either WHP-TV or WPMT for a quick sale to get back under the ownership cap, Steinman isn’t an eligible buyer so long as the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule remains in place.
And so, Steinman argues, the FCC should either move expeditiously to finally get rid of the outdated newspaper-broadcast restriction – or it should refuse to allow Sinclair to acquire WPMT. Will Steinman’s argument win the day? We’re guessing there will be more powerful arguments both for and against the controversial deal, but if nothing else it’s interesting to see the newspaper-broadcast rule get pulled into the conversation. (And we’d note that Tribune is no longer affected by that rule, since it spun its newspaper holdings into the separate Tronc operation a couple of years ago.)
*Radio People on the Move: Up in Wilkes-Barre, Tom “Ferg” Ferguson is the new afternoon jock at Entercom’s WMQX (102.3 Pittston); he’d been working across town at Shamrock’s WFUZ (92.1 Nanticoke). And in Lewistown, Craven is the new morning host and music director at WCHX (105.5); he moves over from WCAT/WIOO/WHYL in Carlisle.
*Translator applications: WHOL (1600) Allentown for 106.9, WKMC (1370) Roaring Spring for 96.1 Altoona, WTRN (1340) Tyrone for 96.9 Altoona, WRTA (1240) Altoona for 98.5, WWOW (1360) Conneaut PA for 103.3 Avonia, WBVP (1230) Beaver Falls for 99.3, WBFD (1310) Bedford for 98.7, WAYC (1600) Bedford for 106.5, WBWX (1280) Berwick for 96.3, WESB (1490) Bradford for 107.5, WCDL (1440) Carbondale for 107.9, WIOO (1000) Carlisle for 107.3, WVCH (740) Chester for 103.3, WWCH (1300) Clarion for 94.1, WFRM (600) Coudersport for 96.5, WCED (1420) DuBois for 99.7, WEEX (1230) Easton for 103.7, WEST (1400) Easton for 104.9, WPDC (1600) Elizabethtown for 102.1, WMCE (1530) Union City for 103.3 Erie, WJET (1400) Erie for 96.7, WZSK (1040) Everett for 102.9, WFRA (1450) Franklin for 98.1, WGRP (940) Greenville for 92.7, WPSN (102.5) Honesdale for 102.5 Hawley, WAZL (1490) Hazleton for 100.1, WYCK (1340) Plains for 104.9 Hazleton, WBAX (1240) Wilkes-Barre for 106.9 Hazleton, WEJS (1600) Jersey Shore for 104.1, WCRO (1230) Johnstown for 102.9, WNTJ (1590) Johnstown for 104.5, WTYM (1380) Kittanning for 103.7, WQTW (1570) Latrobe for 97.9, WBCB (1490) Levittown-Fairless Hills for 107.3, WBPZ (1230) Lock Haven for 96.9, WGLD (1440) Manchester Township for 107.3, WMGW (1490) Meadville for 100.7, WJUN (1220) Mexico for 107.5, WMLP (1380) Milton for 94.5, WMNY (1150) New Kensington for 95.1 Monroeville, WWGE (1400) Loretto for 104.5 Nanty Glo, WZMF (730) Nanticoke for 99.5 Nescopeck Pass, WLYC (1050) Williamsport for 102.3 New Columbia, WKQW (1120) Oil City for 104.1, WFYL (1180) King of Prussia for 92.1 Philadelphia, WPHB (1260) Phillipsburg for 104.1, WPGR (1510) Monroeville for 99.1 Pittsburgh, WWNL (1080) Pittsburgh for 103.9, WIOV (1240) Reading for 98.5, WPIC (790) Sharon for 97.9, WEEO (1480) Shippensburg for 100.9, WNTI (990) Somerset for 103.5, WQWK (1450) State College for 103.7, WHLM (930) Bloomsburg for 93.5 Stillwater, WVPO (840) Stroudsburg for 103.1, WTIV (1340) Titusville for 105.3, WTTC (1550) Towanda for 107.7, WNAE (1310) Warren for 97.1, WCBG (1380) Waynesboro for 100.9, WANB (1210) Waynesburg for 106.3, WCHE (1520) West Chester for 95.3.
*Translator applications in NEW JERSEY: WPGG (1450) Atlantic City for 95.5, WWTR (1170) Bridgewater for 103.9 Edison, already dismissed, WJDM (1530) Elizabeth for 107.9, WSNJ (1240) Bridgeton for 99.9 “Millmay”, WMVB (1440) Millville for 96.1, WCTC (1450) New Brunswick for 93.5, WIBG (1020) Ocean City for 101.3 Palermo, WYNY (1450) Milford PA for 98.3 Sussex.
*CANADA‘s Bell Media is growing again, picking up four small-market signals in Ontario from Larche Communications. For a yet-to-be-disclosed price, Bell will pick up “KICX Country” outlets CICX (105.9 Orillia) and CICS (91.7 Sudbury) and classic hits “Dock” outlets CJOS (92.3 Owen Sound) and CICZ (104.1 Midland).
In Sudbury, Bell adds CICS to its existing CTV television operation, CICI-TV (Channel 5); it will compete with two-FM clusters owned by Rogers and Newcap.
We’re a community.
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: August 15, 2016
*We start our headlines in MASSACHUSETTS, where Ed Ansin’s Sunbeam reached a deal on Saturday to return WHDH-TV (Channel 7) and WLVI (Channel 56) to DirecTV viewers before the end of the Olympics.
The terms of the deal, as ever, were not disclosed, but it appears DirecTV parent AT&T was able to get a reduced carriage fee, in no small part because it’s increasingly clear that WHDH will in fact lose its NBC affiliation at year’s end.
*When John Saunders died Wednesday (Aug. 10) at 61, the headlines focused on his long run at ESPN – but we note, too, his earlier career in his native CANADA. Before going to Baltimore’s WMAR-TV in 1981 (and to ESPN in 1986), Saunders had worked at CHOO in Ajax, Ontario, CKNS in Espanola, CKNY-TV in North Bay and then CITY-TV in Toronto.
In London, Bell pulled the plug on CKSL (1410) Sunday night at midnight. (Which was, of course, just before we were due to pass through on Tuesday…) Bell says bits and pieces of the former “Funny 1410” comedy format will resurface on sister station CJBK (1290), likely at night or on weekends.
In Montreal, Dave Fisher wrapped up his long career as weekend host at CJAD (800) with a broadcast before a live audience on Sunday morning. Fisher had become a CJAD fixture in 32 years at the station.
Five Years Ago: August 13, 2012
Clear Channel may be exiting talk in Boston – but it’s entering the arena in a big way in New York City, where it’s buying WOR (710) from Buckley Broadcasting a year after the death of Rick Buckley. The sale was announced to WOR employees in a meeting this morning, with terms yet to be announced. It’s a big shakeup for the world of New York talk: a Clear Channel-run WOR is almost certain to become the new home of Clear Channel’s Premiere Radio Networks talent, most notably Rush Limbaugh. And Limbaugh, of course, is the staple personality just up the dial at Cumulus’ WABC (770). Big changes ahead…and we’ll be on top of them right here at fybush.com, and on our Facebook and Twitter feeds.
*Clear Channel had big hopes for WXKS (1200 Newton) when it launched the station as eastern MASSACHUSETTS‘ newest big-ticket talker back in 2010. By pulling Rush Limbaugh over from Entercom’s WRKO (680 Boston) and building a new “Rush Radio” around him, Clear Channel would take its Premiere Radio Networks talent in-house in a top-ten market, carving a hole out of the talk landscape that it hoped would drive either WRKO or Greater Media’s WTKK (96.9) out of the crowded format.
But despite the “expert” predictions at the time that WRKO would suffer a “a slow and painful demise” without Limbaugh, Entercom’s talker just kept on going, locking disgruntled afternoon host Howie Carr into a series of contract renewals and somehow surviving questionable hires like former state House speaker Tom Finneran. And by hanging on, WRKO has now thwarted Clear Channel’s plans for 1200, forcing the newcomer out of the talk format and apparently into a comedy format beginning this morning.
The story played out in installments all last week, beginning with the news that Limbaugh’s show would be returning to WRKO along with Premiere’s “Coast to Coast AM,” followed by the news that the local staff at WXKS – morning man Jeff Katz, afternoon host Jay Severin and PD Paula O’Connor – was history.
With Katz and Severin off the schedule, “Talk 1200” (which had dropped the “Rush Radio” name after it failed to catch fire in the market) briefly rolled out an interim lineup of third-tier syndicated talent, but that turned out to be a smokescreen for a bigger change: on Friday, 1200 began stunting as “Gaffe 1200,” playing a ten-minute loop of political mishaps.
And that turns out to be a prelude to a truly new format launching this morning on the 1200 signal: “Comedy 1200” is the result of Clear Channel’s taking control of the “24/7 Comedy” network, which has achieved surprising ratings success as a niche format in markets such as Norfolk and Kansas City.
Ten Years Ago: August 13, 2007
*Is there any other commercial station in MASSACHUSETTS that’s been in the same hands as long as WCAP (980 Lowell)?The station signed on June 10, 1951, owned by Maurice Cohen and his two brothers, and while the brothers have since passed on, the station has remained under Cohen’s control for all this time.
That’s about to change, as Cohen announced this morning on WCAP’s morning show. He’s selling the station to a group of local investors led by Chelmsford real-estate agency owner Sam Poulten, local developer Brian McMahon and Andover radio consultant Clark Smidt, under the “Merrimack Valley Radio, LLC” banner.
“It’s been almost a two-year courtship,” Smidt told NERW, describing his long negotiations with Cohen for the purchase of the station.
Smidt says he’s known Cohen since the early seventies, but it was only in recent years that he began exploring a purchase of WCAP.
“A good friend gave me the idea that rather than looking for stations in northern New England, this makes sense because it’s right next door to me,” Smidt said.
*It’s been in the works for a while, but now the demise of another Bay State AM station has become reality. WPEP (1570 Taunton) disappeared from the airwaves last week, clearing the way for former sister station WNSH (1570 Beverly) to make a big jump in power.
The latest version of the WNSH upgrade, for which a construction permit was granted in June, calls for 30 kW days, non-directional, from the present transmitter site on the Endicott College campus. WNSH’s present 85-watt night signal will be unaffected.
The elimination of WPEP will allow WNSH to drop the three-tower daytime directional pattern that must now null co-channel WPEP to the southwest (and even then, limits WNSH to 500 watts); it also removes a source of local programming for the Taunton area, which gets most of its “local” programming from Providence and Boston stations these days.
*In NEW YORK, we’re still waiting for the official confirmation of the new morning team on WFAN (660) – but it sounds like it’s pretty much a done deal that former football star Boomer Esiason and WKXW (101.5 Trenton NJ) afternoon host Craig Carton will be the permanent replacement for Don Imus on the radio side. We don’t expect Esiason and Carton to be simulcast on MSNBC – that slot will likely stay with Joe Scarborough, who’s been filling in on an interim basis – but we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see YES Network end up carrying the show, just as it does the Mike and the Mad Dog afternoon show.
*One of the MAINE FMs being spun off by Citadel has found a buyer. WCLZ (98.9 Brunswick) will join Saga’s Portland cluster, which was already near the market cap with four AMs (WGAN, WZAN, WBAE/WVAE) and three FMs (WMGX, WYNZ and WPOR). No sale price has been announced yet – and there’s still no buyer for the other Citadel spinoff, WCYI (93.9 Lewiston).
Fifteen Years Ago: August 19, 2002
The steady decline of standards formats – and the growth of all-sports radio – is about to claim another convert in central PENNSYLVANIA. NERW has learned that Clear Channel is readying a format flip that will shift WLAN (1390 Lancaster) from standards to sports as “The Ticket.” If the format and the nickname already sound familiar to listeners in the region, it’s no surprise: Clear Channel flipped WWKL (1460 Harrisburg) from oldies to standards two years ago as “The Ticket,” WTKT, with a programming lineup (heavy on Fox Sports offerings) very similar to what will be heard on WLAN after the flip takes place in the next few weeks. The new “Ticket” won’t have a couple of key sports franchises: the Phillies air in Lancaster on Hall’s all-sports WLPA (1490), while NASCAR is over on the FM dial at WIOV-FM (105.1 Ephrata).
Next stop, NEW YORK, where noncomm WFUV (90.7), still embattled in a fight over its unfinished tower in the Bronx, has won one fight to improve its signal in the Big Apple. The FCC rejected protests from second-adjacent WFMU (91.1 East Orange NJ) and granted WFUV permission to put on-channel booster WFUV-FM2 on the air from the old WRVR (106.7, now WLTW) tower atop the Riverside Church in upper Manhattan. The 600 watt booster will be very directional, aimed south into Manhattan while avoiding the Bronx and upstate areas that already receive a decent WFUV signal.
Still more good news for ‘FUV fans: after several months of repeats, Pete Fornatale has settled his dispute with the station and returned to his Saturday “Mixed Bag” show. Fornatale’s beef with WFUV stemmed from some comments he made over the winter that station management felt were too political; in the meantime, he had been doing some work with WBJB (90.5 Lincroft NJ) down in Monmouth County.
NEW HAMPSHIRE’s public radio network has a new voice, as of 5 PM last Wednesday. That’s when WEVJ (99.5 Jackson) signed on as the latest addition to the statewide web, bringing a stronger NHPR signal to the Mount Washington Valley, where NHPR has been heard only weakly via WEVC (107.1 Gorham) on the other side of the mountain. WEVJ’s running 4700 watts from 141 feet above average terrain, at a site just north of North Conway. (WEVJ’s debut ends a long struggle to get this frequency on the air; an earlier CP expired a few years back, and it ended up in NHPR’s hands as the settlement to a contested application process.)
Twenty Years Ago: August 14, 1997
This was a big week in MAINE radio, and that’s where we’ll start this edition of NERW, with the news that Tim Martz’s Martz Media is adding yet another station along the US-Canadian border to its portfolio. Presque Isle’s WOZI (101.7) is the new addition to the Martz family, joining “Hot Country 97” WBPW (96.9) and hot AC “Q96.1” WQHR in the Martz stable in Aroostook County. Rumors are already flying about a possible change to WOZI’s country format.
Northern Maine will be a busy place this weekend, as 50,000 fans are expected to fill the former Loring Air Force Base in Limestone for “The Great Went,” a weekend-long concert event organized by the band Phish. You won’t hear many Phish songs on AC “Channel X” (WCXU 97.7 Caribou and WCXX 102.3 Madawaska), but the station is nonetheless going all-out with remotes and live simulcasts of the concert. What’s more, newspaper stories about the “Great Went” have been claiming that Phish has obtained an FCC license to use 88.9 for on-site broadcasts during the event. License or not, it sounds like that will be the frequency to listen to (and, we hope, aircheck) if any NERW readers are headed up that way.
In MASSACHUSETTS, we’re trying to sort out the FCC’s latest pronouncement on little WNSH (1570 Beverly). It seems a CP to go to 500 watts DA-1 from three towers off Summit Street in Peabody has been cancelled (we didn’t even realize it was there in the first place!) What’s interesting is that WNSH is listed in the FCC database as running 500 watts DA-2 from *two* towers on Clinton Street in Danvers (near the Liberty Tree Mall). This was, of course, the original two-tower WMLO site…but one of the towers has been gone for years, and the other is unfenced and appeared to have damage to the doghouse at the base when last NERW was up that way. The old WMLO studio building was heavily damaged by fire a few years ago and is quite vacant. We’ve heard rumors of an STA for 125 watts nondirectional, but there’s nothing to that effect in the online FCC database that we can find.