In this week’s issue… Honor for Rochester rocker – Translator CPs go to auction – Remembering Erie’s Findlay – New FM in Ontario
By SCOTT FYBUSH
Here in Rochester, WCMF (96.5) was one of the stations that shaped your editor’s radio listening as an impressionable youth back there in the haze of the 1980s. Even then, the rock station seemed like a local institution – but that status was confirmed Sunday night when WCMF became one of the newest inductees into the Rochester Music Hall of Fame.
The honor coincided with WCMF’s 50th anniversary as a rock station, one of only a handful from the late 1960s blossoming of album-oriented rock to still survive today, having outlived compatriots such as New York’s WNEW and Boston’s WBCN. (The Hall of Fame proclaimed WCMF one of “just five” stations around the country to still have the same calls and music format for over 50 years; we count more like a dozen, but it’s an impressive run nonetheless.)
“Kane-O” paid tribute to many key figures in WCMF history in his speech, from former station owner Ted Nixon (in WCMF’s days under Sconnix ownership) to early jocks such as Tom Teuber and Chuck Ingersoll, with a particularly loud round of applause for “Unkle Roger” McCall, the beloved overnight jock who was murdered in 2004. (McCall was himself inducted into the hall in 2017.)
Another round of applause greeted Kane’s tribute to his former co-worker Brother Wease, the morning institution who started on WCMF in the 1980s and jumped to what’s now iHeart’s WAIO (95.1) a decade ago. And then it was time to rock, with an all-star band that included members of Whitesnake and Guns ‘n’ Roses playing some of their hits.
WCMF enters the hall five years after WDKX, the locally-owned urban radio institution that was inducted when it turned 40 back in 2014. Other inductees this year included Al Jardine of the Beach Boys (he spent much of his childhood in Rochester) and folksinger Christine Lavin, who lived near Rochester as a teenager and graduated from SUNY Brockport.
How many other cities honor their radio stations this way? Not enough, we’d venture…
Did you hear the latest Top of the Tower Podcast? In our newest edition, we feature an extended conversation with Phil Redo, who’ll step down next year as general manager of WGBH Radio in Boston. The intense competition with crosstown rival WBUR, the state of radio in the digital age, and Redo’s long and varied career across the commercial and public radio worlds – it’s all part of our discussion. Listen here – or subscribe anywhere you get your podcasts!
BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND….
It’s the annual Tower Site Calendar!
This is the 23rd edition of our popular wall calendar, featuring gorgeous full-color photos of tower and transmitter sites from around the country, and sometimes the world. Our photos capture the sites throughout the day and throughout the year.
This makes a great gift for the tower enthusiast in your life — or a special treat for yourself!
Because it’s not yet off the press, we’re offering a pre-production price of $20. Once the calendar is printed, the price will go up to our regular price of $21.
Don’t wait – order yours today!
We have the Radio Historian’s Calendar again this year, too. There are only 25 in stock and they sell fast, so don’t wait to order.
*A NEW YORK AM station that’s been silent for more than a year and a half is finally back on the air. Alexander Broadcasting’s WRCR (1700 Ramapo) lost the lease on its longtime transmitter site in Nanuet and went streaming-only in August 2017. It’s been back on the air only sporadically since then, just long enough to keep its license alive.
But as of Saturday, it’s back on, more or less permanently, from a wire antenna strung up a tower up in the hills south of Haverstraw, where it’s now running 2500 watts day, 250 watts at night under STA. WRCR tells the FCC it plans to file soon to convert the site to fully licensed operation, returning to its previous power level of 10 kW days/1 kW nights. (photo: WRCR.com)
*Where are they now? Jeff McKay is taking his “McKay Way” from New York to Washington, where he’ll be working with Westwood One News starting next month. McKay’s a familiar traffic voice in the New York market at stops that have included WINS, WABC and the short-lived “FM News 101.9,” WEMP. McKay’s been heard in the DC market before, too, on WRQX (107.3) by way of the old US Traffic Network.
*A different McKay is also making a move, this one in MASSACHUSETTS – Jim McKay, who’s been anchoring mornings on the SiriusXM Fox News Headlines channel, will join iHeart’s WBZ (1030 Boston) May 1, where he’ll do street reporting and some midday anchoring.
Even though the second set of AM-on-FM translator applications last year was designated as “Auction 100,” the reality is that the FCC’s procedures were designed to avoid most stations having to actually bid against each other for available slots on the FM dial. By allowing applicants to modify their applications or reach settlements with competitors, hundreds of applications were able to be granted as “singletons,” leaving just a dozen situations around the country where competitors couldn’t reach a deal and will end up having to bid against each other.
One of those is on 104.5, where Candido Dias Carello’s WFNW (1380 Naugatuck) and Red Wolf Broadcasting’s WSNG (610 Torrington) both applied for the channel and weren’t able to reach a technical settlement to allow them both to use it. The FCC set a starting bid of $20,000 for their auction.
On Long Island, it’s a $10,000 starting bid for the two competing applicants who want 99.1: Universal Stations’ WTHE (1520 Mineola, for a translator in Hempstead) and Immaculate Heart Media’s WNSW (1430 Newark NJ, for a translator in Manhasset).
Will any of these run up bigger numbers during the auction? We’ll be watching.
(And while we’re talking translators, the FCC is preparing for a May 9 vote on new rules meant to simplify the murky rules that govern interference disputes between full-power FM stations and translators. Want to peer through the murk? Read our latest Radio Insight Tech commentary, where we try to untangle the changes the Commission is planning.)
*The FCC has dismissed a 2016 application to move a NEW JERSEY translator. W264BT (100.7 Edison) wanted to move west to Franklin Township, serving New Brunswick – and it wanted to change frequency to 104.7. But translator owner Rahul Walia needed a bit of cooperation to make that happen, because the move was linked to the translator’s status as a relay of WWTR (1170 Bridgewater). But WWTR’s owner, EBC Radio, withdrew its permission to rebroadcast the South Asian station’s programming – and so the FCC ruled last week that Walia’s application for 104.7 is no longer acceptable for filing. There’s more at stake here, as you might have guessed: WWTR itself can now move forward with its own application for a 104.7 translator in Somerset, while Walia’s translator, still on 100.7, is now relaying rival South Asian broadcaster 8K Radio via an HD subchannel of WPRB (103.3 Princeton).
And while we’re on the subject of Walia, 104.7 and translators, a belated note that Walia’s W284BW, the directional 104.7 way up high on 1 World Trade Center, has switched from Radio Vision Cristiana programming to a Russian-language broadcast being fed from an HD subchannel of WXNY (96.3 New York).
*One of our favorite quirky radio stations to listen to when we’re on the road is an FM that serves a huge swath of eastern PENNSYLVANIA, WAVT (101.9). It’s licensed to Pottsville, but it’s audible everywhere from Wilkes-Barre almost to Philadelphia.
And now “T102” has been around long enough to celebrate its history with a reunion, which will happen on the air next Saturday (May 4), starting with veteran weekend morning man Jay Behr and his co-host JZ. They’ll be joined by former PD Skip Carr and former news guy Steve Degler, who’s now in the booth for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Jackie Hoffman and Frank Jordan will take over at noon (he’s one of the Jordan Brothers who was on “American Bandstand” way back in the fifties), followed at 2 by former T102 voices Gene Werley and Travis Sparks, and then at 4 by Nikki Todd and Mike Ebersole, who’s now at WRFY in Reading.
(And big thanks to longtime NERW reader Sparks for letting us know about the event!)
*At the other end of the state, they’re mourning one of the most prolific voices in Erie radio and TV. Mark Guy Findlay was a native of nearby Meadville and an Army veteran, learning broadcasting while stationed in Vietnam in the early 1960s. By 1966, he was back in Erie, working at WICU radio and TV.
Over the years, he was an announcer, DJ and talk host up and down the dials in Erie, working in TV at WJET and WSEE and in radio at stations that included WLKK and WRIE. Findlay also worked as a car salesman, a writer for the Erie Morning News, a political consultant, a mobile DJ and owned a spiral staircase company.
In recent years, Findlay had divided his time between Erie and Bonita Springs, Florida. He was 76 when he died last Monday.
*In CANADA, where so much commercial radio is now in the hands of just a few giant owners, it’s nice to see a new signal headed to one of the little guys. That’s Five Amigos Broadcasting, which runs CKXS (99.1) in Wallaceburg, east of Windsor – and which now has CRTC approval to launch a sister station up in Listowel, north of Stratford and northwest of Kitchener.
The new 8 kW/83 m station will operate on 100.1 with an AC format, and Canadian Radio News reports it will carry the callsign CHLP.
We’re a community.