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In this week’s issue… Binnie’s WBIN leaves the air (sort of) – FM shuffle in Toronto? Carton out at WFAN – Coffey heats up WTHT – “Mod” in New Haven – WGHT’s fate remains unclear

By SCOTT FYBUSH

Jump to: MENHVTMARICTNYNJ PACanada

*The TV spectrum auction is beginning to claim its first signals, and it’s starting in NEW HAMPSHIRE, where Bill Binnie’s WBIN-TV (Channel 50) disappeared last week from the RF 35 digital perch it’s occupied since the DTV transition.

WBIN has been slowly fading away ever since the February announcement that Binnie would get $68 million in auction proceeds for its spectrum. Binnie immediately pulled the plug on his ambitious NH1 News operation, which had been programming evening newscasts on WBIN for the past year and change, leaving WBIN as a repository for syndicated reruns, an over-the-air home for several diginets including Antenna TV, and whatever value remained in its must-carry rights on cable and satellite across the sprawling Boston TV market.

Binnie unlocked that value in June with the announcement that he was selling WBIN’s license to Univision’s WUTF (Channel 66), which is paying just under $10 million, net, for the license. For viewers who can get WUTF’s RF 27 signal from its tower in Hudson, Massachusetts (and that’s a lot more viewers than could get the anemic WBIN signal from New Hampshire!), a rescan starting on Friday yielded up an SD “WBIN 50.1” over the WUTF transmitter, with at least one of WBIN’s subchannels moving to WUTF’s 66.5.

What does it all mean, and what happens next? More, for subscribers, over the fold…

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*First things first: the current incarnation of WBIN over the WUTF transmitter is only temporary. Once Univision completes its acquisition of the WBIN license, one of the provisions of the deal is that the callsign will change – and there’s probably not much value in the current syndicated lineup there, either.

What’s worth $10 million to Univision is the cable and satellite must-carry that goes with that license (once the various Boston-area providers reacquire the WBIN signal from the WUTF transmitter, which was taking some time over the weekend), and that value is likely to be unlocked by turning around and reselling the license. Who’s buying right now? Chicago’s Weigel Broadcasting, for one, which just last week picked up Azteca’s KAZA in Los Angeles and St. Louis religious station KNLC. Would Weigel want to add Boston to that lineup with the zombie remains of the old WBIN? Its MeTV network has a solid market-wide home on Hearst’s WCVB and WMUR, but it’s also pushing hard for better national distribution of its Heroes & Icons network, which would get prominent Boston cable play via the WBIN license.

And then there’s NBC Boston, which continues to struggle for viewers as it tries to figure out its post-repack OTA plans. It’s currently best seen by most viewers on “60.5,” a subchannel it leases from WMFP (Channel 62/RF 18), but WMFP sold its UHF spectrum and will go to a channel-share with WWDP (Channel 46) on RF 10 south of Boston, a signal few OTA viewers in the market can actually see. Could NBC pick up what’s now Entravision-owned WUNI (Channel 27/RF 29)? If it did, having two “stations” on WUTF’s signal would let Univision continue to serve Boston with both its main Univision network (now on WUNI) and the UniMas network (now on WUTF).

One more Binnie note: at least for now, the VHF low-power signals that carried WBIN in New Hampshire (including RF 3 in Nashua) continue on the air with the former WBIN multiplex programming.

*Connoisseur Media launched a new signal in New Haven, CONNECTICUT at 10:23 this morning: “Mod 102.3” is translator W272DO, which Connoisseur bought from Best Media for $275,000, and which it’s feeding from the HD2 of WPLR (99.1 New Haven). It’s doing alternative rock, programmed by none other than Connoisseur OM Keith Dakin, who was PD at the old WFNX in Boston.

*In MAINE, JC Coffey has landed on his feet: three weeks after leaving Townsquare’s WOKQ/WPKQ/”Shark” on the Seacoast, he’s been hired as PD/MD and afternoon jock on Binnie’s “Wolf” country in Portland, WTHT (99.9 Auburn). At WTHT, Coffey replaces Chris Clare, who’s now with Cumulus’ NASH in Cincinnati.

*We’re still waiting to see what sort of legal obstacles may get tossed up against the big RHODE ISLAND deal in which student/alumni-run Brown Broadcast Services sold the license for what was WBRU (95.5 Providence, now WLVO) to EMF Broadcasting for $6.3 million. In the meantime, Rhode Island Public Radio’s John Bender spent some time at WBRU in its last days and put together a nice audio piece, which you can hear here.

*What do you do with a tiny little AM in a big cluster in a big market? In eastern PENNSYLVANIA, the creative marketing folks at iHeart Philadelphia teamed up with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) to sponsor “Breakthrough Radio,” which debuted last week on WDAS (1480 Philadelphia) and the HD2 of WDAS-FM (105.3).

The format mixes upbeat pop music with informational segments produced by CHOP, and it replaces the smooth jazz “JJZ” format that had been on those signals for the last four years. “JJZ” continues as a stream, on WISX (106.1)’s HD2 and on iHeart’s 104.1 translator in Trenton.

Across town at Radio One’s WRNB (100.3), afternoon jock Lady B and DJ Touchtone are back home safely – they were vacationing on Sint Maarten in the Caribbean when Hurricane Irma hit last week.

*Across the state in Latrobe, Laurel Highland Total Communications is paying Calvary Chapel of Westmoreland County $45,000 for translator W250AU (97.9 Jeannette), which will rebroadcast WCNS (1480 Latrobe). Roger Rafson brokered the deal, which is WCNS’ second stab at a translator after a failed attempt to move a signal into Latrobe in last year’s window.

*It’s no surprise that Craig Carton is out of CBS Radio’s WFAN (660/101.9) in NEW YORK; the only real news that came from his official departure last week is that it came in the form of a resignation letter from his end, saving CBS any of the drama that would have resulted from having to fire the former morning host after the headlines surrounding his arrest on charges of running a Ponzi scheme. (And then there were the subsequent headlines reporting that his charity apparently hadn’t actually made any charitable donations…)

“For 10 years I’ve had the great privilege of showing up to work every day at my dream job,” Carton said in his resignation letter. “I have nothing but love and respect for my co-host, the show and the entire CBS Radio family and I’ve always tried to represent them in the best possible light. Unfortunately, the unfounded legal issues currently plaguing me will only be a distraction to everyone at WFAN and the show I helped build.”

Carton’s departure still leaves plenty of questions about what happens next at WFAN, where Phil Simms continues to serve as his fill-in replacement alongside Boomer Esiason – in particular, will afternoon institution Mike Francesa delay his planned December departure to help stabilize things as CBS tries to close the sale of the radio division to Entercom?

*In Buffalo, Entercom appears to have pulled back from its plans to build a third tall tower at the Grand Island transmitter site of WBEN (930) to become the new home of its WKSE (98.5 Niagara Falls). Instead, Entercom has applied for an STA to put a temporary WKSE antenna on one of the two existing WBEN towers while it demolishes and rebuilds the existing WKSE tower a few miles away. That aging tower sits at what was once the Staley Road studio/transmitter site for 98.5 and its former sister station WHLD (1270); WHLD has long since moved from Grand Island to the WDCZ (970) site south of Buffalo, leaving that Staley Road facility mostly vacant.

*Congratulations are in order to a few veteran New York broadcasters: Galaxy Communications CEO Ed Levine, a 1978 graduate of Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, was one of the inductees into the WAER Hall of Fame at SU last week, along with fellow WAER alums Marv Albert (who was at the station from 1960-63) and Scott McFarlane ’93, now with WRC-TV in Washington.

In Chenango County, Commerce Chenango (with longtime broadcaster Steve Craig at the helm) honored Jim Sargent last week for his lifetime achievement in broadcasting. Sargent, who’s now 75, still works both mornings and afternoons doing news for the Norwich cluster that includes WCHN (970), WKXZ (93.9) and WBKT (95.3) – and he has no plans to retire any time soon!

At the Radio Show in Austin, Texas, veteran station broker Dick Kozacko was honored by the National Association of Media Brokers for his 50 years in the business, much of it based in Elmira before he moved down to North Carolina a few years ago.

And at the New York State Broadcasters Association, head honcho David Donovan has had his contract renewed for another three years, which means the state’s radio and TV stations are in good hands in Albany for a while yet to come. Congratulations!

*Evanov is making some big changes to its plans for signal improvement in CANADA‘s biggest market. After making multiple stabs at getting more power into Toronto from CIDC (103.5 Orangeville), including a plan the CRTC rejected for a new tall 103.5 tower at the site of sister station CIAO (530 Brampton), Evanov now tells the CRTC it’s regrouping and focusing instead on improving the signal of its low-power central Toronto station, CIRR (103.9).

When it was licensed as “Proud Radio” in 2007, CIRR was just 50 watts, eventually jumping to 225 watts from the Sheraton Centre in downtown Toronto. But as Evanov explained last week to the CRTC, while CIRR “can’t get out” of downtown, CIDC “can’t get in” to the core of the urban area and is losing money as a result.

Evanov’s new plan is to move CIRR from 103.9 down the dial to 103.7, where it would run 3.3 kW average/10 kW max DA/325 m from the roof of First Canadian Place, one of the city’s two big FM facilities. To make room for CIRR’s expansion on 103.7 in Toronto, CIDC would pull back significantly, moving its transmitter site back into Orangeville and returning its focus to the northern suburbs instead of trying to serve Toronto. (Its new 48 kW average/100 kW max DA/137 m signal would still be no slouch, putting listenable coverage all the way from Barrie to Kitchener/Waterloo).

As for programming, Evanov is a little coy, not openly saying it will move CIDC’s present “Z103.5” top-40 over to the new CIRR on 103.7. Will that in fact be what happens? We’d bet on it; Evanov is also saying it will launch HD Radio on 103.7 to provide a dedicated HD4 service to the GLBT audience for which the “Proud” format on 103.9 was originally intended. That HD4 would partially simulcast the main 103.7, breaking away 5 hours daily for specific GLBT programming. (HD2 and 3 would be simulcasts of CIDC and CIAO, respectively.)

*Where are they now? Longtime Toronto morning man Gene Valaitis signed on today as the new morning man out in Vancouver at “Roundhouse Radio 98.3,” CIRH, a low-power local talk outlet.

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You don't have to stop reading here! Each week's NorthEast Radio Watch is packed full of exclusive, in-depth reporting and analysis from across the nine states and five provinces we've been serving since 1994. You won't find anything like it on any free site - and you can read the rest of this week's column for just $2.99 by clicking on the "Purchase Only" link below. 

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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: September 19, 2016

*We still don’t know with any certainty exactly where most over-the-air viewers in will see the new “NBC Boston” when the affiliation moves from WHDH (Channel 7) at the end of 2016 – but there’s a new signal on the air in greater Boston that may give us another clue into at least some of NBC/Comcast’s contingency plans.

wneu-wtmuWhile the station Comcast already owns in the market, Telemundo affiliate WNEU (Channel 60), can only be seen over the air in its home base of NEW HAMPSHIRE, WNEU has long had a low-power repeater in the Boston market. WTMU-LP had been on analog channel 32 from the Pru, then held a CP for digital operation on RF 46 from the towers on the Malden/Medford line. In 2009, it applied for more digital power (11.2 kW) from the 350 Cedar Street tower in Needham, home to many of the market’s full-power DTV signals (CBS’ WBZ and WSBK, Hearst’s WCVB and public TV WGBH/WGBX).

A CP for that move was granted in 2010 and was set to expire more than a year ago, on September 1, 2015. And that was that, right?

Not so fast…because that very facility signed on just last week from Needham, with a signal that’s being seen decently within much of Route 128.

WTMU-LP is far from a perfect solution for “NBC Boston,” if that’s what’s behind this surprise addition to the Boston DTV dial. Even if there’s some explanation for how the new DTV signal made it to air a year after CP expiration (and we suspect there’s some answer out there), its signal is still far inferior to the megawatt flamethrowers of WBZ, WCVB and WHDH. And there’s also the complicating factor that NBC/Comcast doesn’t actually own WTMU-LP, which is licensed to Spanish-language ZGS Broadcasting.

Monday midday update: We’re told the FCC suspended CP expiration dates for low-power stations as part of the DTV repack, which explains why the signal could be activated now – and Monday morning, Comcast filed a $100,000 deal to buy WTMU-LP from ZGS, with new calls WBTS pending.

*John R. Gambling has ended his rambling on NEW YORK radio, this time apparently for good. The third-generation Gambling hosted the family morning show, “Rambling with Gambling,” on WOR (710) from 1985 until 2000, then worked at WABC (770) from 2000 until 2008, went back to WOR until 2013, and had most recently been doing the 11 AM to 1 PM shift at Salem’s WNYM (970).

On Friday, Gambling told listeners to “970 the Answer” that because of health problems – a broken kneecap – he can’t even do the show from his home studio, as he’d been doing, and so he’s ended the show effective immediately. It’s not yet clear who’ll take over that slot at WNYM, which is mostly syndicated after Joe Piscopo’s morning show.

Five Years Ago: September 17, 2012

*There are few markets tougher than NEW YORK‘s Long Island to make a successful run as a mainstream class A commercial FM station. The geography’s all wrong, for one thing – you just can’t cover very much of an island that’s long and narrow with a 6 kW (or less) signal that goes out in a circle with barely a 20-mile usable radius, and that’s not even taking account of the massive short-spacing and summertime tropo ducting that can rip a signal to shreds much closer to the tower. And then there’s the little matter of the nation’s largest and most aggressive radio market just to the west, not only spraying strong signals over western Long Island but actively targeting Nassau and Suffolk counties, which are, after all, embedded in the larger New York City market.

Of all the class A signals in the orbit of New York City (leaving out, for the moment, the East End signals that make up an embedded market of their own), the Smithtown-licensed 94.3, sandwiched between co-channel signals in southern CONNECTICUT and the NEW JERSEY shore, has had the roughest time in recent years.

Under Barnstable Broadcasting, 94.3 ricocheted from beautiful music WCTO to adult contemporary as WMJC, then to country, back to hot AC, and then two years ago to 90s hits as WIGX, “94X.” Earlier this year, WIGX was part of Barnstable’s $23 million exit from broadcasting – and last week, new owner Connoisseur Media made its first move with its new Long Island cluster, flipping “94X” to active rock as “94.3 the Shark, Everything that Rocks.”

The new format launched Friday at noon, bringing with it new calls – WWSK – and thus far a jockless lineup of rock that’s heavy on the 1990s and 2000s. “The Shark” faces off against Cox’s venerable rocker WBAB (102.3), one of the few Island class A signals that’s found success over the long run, as well as Merlin’s revived WRXP (101.9) out of New York City, and we’ll be watching closely as it tries to find its groove. (We’re hearing 94X PD Jon Daniels will stay with Connoisseur doing social networking and websites, but the rest of the station’s airstaff is out, including morning man Ralphie Marino.)

*The breakup of MAINE‘s commercial classical network began on Thursday afternoon, as Mainestream Media took over WBQW (104.7 Kennebunkport) from bankrupt Nassau Communications, which had been using the signal as the southernmost link in its “W-Bach” chain. After a classy farewell from “W-Bach,” Mainestream took over at 5 PM as “Christmas 104.7,” stunting for a day before Friday afternoon’s launch of its permanent new format on the signal.

As we’d suspected, “Hot 104.7” picks up much of the DNA of the former WRED (95.9 Saco), playing rhythmic top-40 with Ryan Dillon as PD. The new station is playing 5,000 commercial-free songs before launching with an airstaff that’s yet to be announced.

Down the coast, Nassau’s still telling listeners that they can tune in to “W-Bach” on WBQX (106.9 Thomaston) and WBQI (107.7 Bar Harbor), but the new logo on the W-Bach website, showing only 106.9, is a reminder that the sale of 107.7 is already underway from Bill Binnie (who’s buying most of Nassau’s Maine signals) to Blueberry Broadcasting. And remember we told you that Blueberry had already applied for new calls of “WBKA” at 107.7? We’d be surprised, indeed, if 107.7 isn’t soon simulcasting Blueberry’s classic hits WABK (104.3 Gardiner)/WBAK (104.7 Brewer-Bangor).

*It’s already been a weird year for AM radio in French-speaking CANADA, and late last week it just got a bit weirder.

Even as the CRTC was deep into its hearings to determine the fate of Montreal’s CKGM (690) and the larger question of Bell’s proposed acquisition of Astral Media – and thus the future of much of the AM dial in Montreal – came word from Quebec City that the last remaining AM signal there is on the verge of shutdown.

CHRC (800) is the provincial capital’s oldest radio station, tracing its history back to 1926, but as listeners have moved to FM, the AM station has struggled for survival in recent years. Corus operated it as “Info 800,” a sister to its now-defunct CINF (690 Montreal), before announcing its own plans to walk away from the license in 2007. The Remparts minor-league hockey team stepped in to rescue the station, but rumors had been growing in the last few weeks that the money-losing signal was on its last legs, and Friday brought the official announcement that “Quebec 800” will fall silent at some point in the next few weeks. The move puts 15 people out of work and will send Remparts broadcasts over to CJMF (93.3) on the FM dial.

Ten Years Ago: September 17, 2007

*The radio dial in eastern PENNSYLVANIA was spinning like crazy last week – and nowhere more so than at CBS Radio’s WYSP (94.1 Philadelphia), where most of the remaining remnants of the failed “Free FM” talk experiment were wiped away on Thursday afternoon, replaced with a return to the rock format that has long defined the station.The move back to rock came abruptly, with the first rumors reaching print on Tuesday morning, followed quickly by talk of “being fired” by late-morning host Paul Barsky, who’s actually apparently still at the station in an off-air capacity.

Wednesday brought the final shows for afternoon talkers Matt and Huggy and night talkers Scotty and Alex, and Thursday found Opie & Anthony broadcasting from the WYSP studios (an already-planned appearance, promoting a local live show over the weekend) and dropping big hints about a 5 PM announcement. Best-of shows filled the remainder of the day until 5, when O&A and PM driver Kidd Chris kicked off the new format with Guns ‘n’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle.”

The revived rock format will continue to include the New York-based Opie & Anthony morning show, as well as Kidd Chris in afternoons (though without two of his producer/sidekicks, Brad Maybe and Monkeyboy, who are also out of work), with a new jock lineup to be announced soon.

The move gives Philadelphia no fewer than four rock stations – WYSP, Greater Media’s WMMR (93.3), Clear Channel’s modern-leaning WRFF (104.5) and Greater Media’s classic rock WMGK (102.9) – which may be explainable, at least in part, by the switch to the Arbitron people-meter and the renewed ability to measure young male listenership.

Will any of the rock players blink? Stay tuned…

*We’ll start our NEW YORK news, such as it is, on Long Island, where the sale of three Morey Organization stations has apparently fallen through. Michael Metter’s Connecticut-based BusinessTalkRadio.net was to have paid $5 million for WBZB (98.5 Bridgehampton), WDRE (105.3 Calverton-Roanoke) and WLIR (107.1 Hampton Bays), but the deal didn’t close.

Now WBZB is dropping BTRN programming and has reverted to its previous calls, WBON. Will the active rock “Bone” format return as well? And will BTRN find a new Long Island outlet? Stay tuned…

It should come as no surprise that when nighttime operation of AM HD Radio became legal at midnight Friday morning, New York’s WOR (710) was first in line to flip its exciter on – and it should come as no surprise, either, that the mailing lists were abuzz within minutes with reports that ranged from “no big deal” to “IBOCalypse Now!”

Within a day or two, WOR had been joined by WABC (770), WFAN (660), WCBS (880), as well as Hartford’s WTIC (1080), Schenectady’s WGY (810), Philadelphia’s WPHT (1210) and Boston’s WBZ (1030), WMKI (1260) and WXKS (1430 Everett) in running digital after dark.

Will stations like WYSL (1040 Avon) in the Rochester area experience the interference they’ve been fearing? Will HD supporters like WOR find that they’re getting the coverage they’re hoping for? Will cheaper, more sensitive radios ever appear on the market? We’ll be following the saga as it develops.

And in Geneva, Aaron Read is the new general manager of Hobart and William Smith’s WEOS (89.7). He comes from Boston, where he was a contract engineer for several stations and an audio engineer for the public radio show “The Infinite Mind,” and he replaces Mike Black, who’s now with WXXI in Rochester.

Fifteen Years Ago: September 17, 2002

There’s a new TV station on the air in CANADA – albeit with some familiar faces and programming. Rogers launched “OMNI.2” on Monday morning (Sept. 16) at 6, broadcasting to Toronto on channel 44 with 179 kW visual. Industry Canada (which regulates the technical aspects of Canadian broadcasting) doesn’t have a callsign listed for the station as of Tuesday; it’s shown as operating from a site north and west of downtown Toronto, not the CN Tower where the rest of the city’s TV stations are located.

“OMNI.2” is a sister station to Rogers’ established CFMT (Channel 47), which will eventually be rebranded OMNI.1, keeping the European, Latino and Caribbean portions of its multiethnic programming, as well as its English-language lineup, including David Letterman. That leaves OMNI.2 to pick up the African and Asian-language programming that had been seen on CFMT, including an English-language newscast at 8 PM, followed by “OMNI News” in Cantonese. The new service had cable carriage from the start (which is only fitting, since it’s co-owned with Rogers Cable), as far afield as London and Barrie. In most areas around Toronto, OMNI.2 is seen on Rogers channel 14, displacing Buffalo’s WKBW-TV to channel 18. That, in turn, sends PBS outlet WNED-TV (which IDs as “Buffalo/Toronto”) way up the cable dial from 18 to 61.

We’ll start the US side of things in MASSACHUSETTS, where the big changes are taking place at Greater Media’s WROR-FM (105.7 Framingham). The station is moving from 60s and 70s oldies towards classic rock, and it’s doing so in a big way: beginning this Friday and continuing all weekend, WROR will turn over its airwaves to a “Who’s Who” of Boston rock radio history. Among the jocks to be heard on the reunion weekend: Peter Wolf (who made his name on WBCN before the J. Geils Band ever hit the charts), Charles Laquidara, Ken Shelton, George Taylor Morris, Maxanne Sartori, Harvey Wharfield, Jeff Gonzer, Annalisa, J.J. Jackson and Tom “Tai” Irwin. And when WROR returns to its usual lineup the next Monday, several familiar voices will be missing, including middayer Stella Mars and night guy J.J. Wright. J.J.’s already landed elsewhere; he’s been heard this week doing fill-ins at WODS (103.3).

A familiar voice has returned to RHODE ISLAND’s airwaves, for a few months at least: Providence mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci, fresh from his conviction on corruption charges, began a stint co-hosting the mid-morning shift on WPRO (630 Providence) with Steve Kass on Monday. Cianci is due to report to federal prison in early December to begin serving a 64-month sentence, so don’t expect this to be as long a run as Hizzoner’s early-90s stint on talk competitor WHJJ (920)…

Twenty Years Ago: Sept. 18/19, 1997

American Radio Systems has a new owner, and it’s not the long-rumored Jacor. Late Friday afternoon, CBS announced that it’s paying $2.6 billion for ARS. Here’s how the deal will shake out in the Northeast:
Boston will be the one Northeast market where the combined CBS/ARS will have to shed stations. CBS already owns news/talk WBZ (1030), classic rock WZLX (100.7), oldies WODS (103.3), and modern rock WBCN (104.1). ARS has talker WRKO (680), sports WEEI (850), WNFT (1150, currently simulcasting WAAF), Worcester sports-talker WWTM (1440), 70s rock WEGQ (93.7 Lawrence), modern AC WBMX (98.5), and hard rock WAAF (107.3 Worcester). Both companies were already near the limit for station ownership in Boston; it will be interesting to see what gets shed. NERW suspects WNFT, WEGQ, and WAAF will be the first to get spun; likewise it’s a near-certainty that CBS will hang onto clear-channel WBZ, sports-rights-heavy WEEI, and FM powerhouses WBMX, WODS, and WBCN. We’ll keep you posted.

The rest of the roster: In the Portsmouth N.H. market, ARS brings standards WZNN (930 Rochester) and WMYF (1540 Exeter), modern AC WSRI (96.7 Rochester), and CHR WERZ (107.1 Exeter). In Hartford, ARS has newstalk WTIC (1080), hot AC WTIC-FM (96.5), classic rock WZMX (93.7), and AC WRCH (100.5 New Britain). In New York City, CBS has sports WFAN (660), all-news WCBS (880) and WINS (1010), modern rock WXRK (92.3), oldies WCBS-FM (101.1), and classic rock WNEW-FM (102.7). In Rochester, ARS contributes modern AC WZNE (94.1 Brighton), rock WCMF (96.5), CHR WPXY (97.9), and AC WRMM (101.3). And in Buffalo, ARS has standards WECK (1230 Cheektowaga), modern AC WLCE (92.9), urban WBLK (93.7), AC WJYE (96.1), and country WYRK (106.5).

It’s a sad week for local radio listeners along Long Island Sound, with two of the area’s AM stations shutting down within days of each other. We’ll begin on the NEW YORK side of the line, where the story of WVIP (1310) in Mount Kisco came to a close Saturday night. As we reported last week, WVIP’s historic round studio burned to the ground, prompting an outpouring of assistance from area engineers and from the Westchester community. As soon as WVIP was back on the air from a temporary studio, listeners and advertisers began showing up at the trailer with food, supplies, and entertainment, while WVIP’s air staff cranked out local programming through an old Radio Shack mixer.

It all came to an end on Saturday, though, with a phone call from the hospital bed of owner Martin Stone. Unwilling to keep losing money on the station, Stone ordered WVIP off the air at the end of the broadcast day, and after a farewell speech by phone from the hospital, WVIP broadcast a tape of its first broadcast, 40 years ago next month, and signed off, apparently for good. The WVIP license has not been returned to the FCC, and it’s possible someone may buy the license and put 1310 back on the air, but it won’t be Martin Stone. NERW salutes the WVIP staffers and volunteers who tried to keep the station alive; we hope someone finds a way to pull it off in the end.

Also silent is the 1260 frequency in nearby Westport, CONNECTICUT. After years of struggling as a stand-alone AM, owner Mark Graham announced late last week that he’s donating WMMM’s license and transmitter to Sacred Heart University. WMMM’s final broadcast came Monday morning, complete with a phone call from Chile from weekend DJ Jose Feliciano (of “Light My Fire” fame). After an emotional farewell from Graham, WMMM played “My Way” and left the airwaves. Sacred Heart will return 1260 to the airwaves around Thanksgiving, programmed by its existing WSHU (91.1 Fairfield)/WSUF (89.9 Noyock, N.Y.) public radio operation, and likely with news-talk programming similar to WSUF.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Jump to NJ yields nothing. (A headline about WGHT but no detail?)
    Most people would want to jump OUT OF NJ.
    Web site is slightly vague “WGHT Radio is not “going dark”. WGHT
    radio will continue on our path, serving the community”.
    That could mean a webcast, whether transmission on 1500 continues or not
    (I hope they do).

    • Something got lost in the editing, I think – I had written an entire story about the uncertainty about WGHT’s proposed donation to the borough and it seems to have gotten eaten. I’ll put it in next week!

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