In this week’s issue… Seven Mountains grows in Southern Tier – New year, new WFAN lineup – WBZ-TV’s next-door move – CTV veterans exit Ottawa
By SCOTT FYBUSH
(A programming note before we get started: our December has been disrupted, once again, by family health issues. Everything’s better now, but we’re a little behind schedule on NERW Year in Review, which will begin appearing in this space on Tuesday, Dec. 24, with installments continuing through the new year. There won’t be a new NERW on Monday, Dec. 30; we’ll update as needed here and on Facebook and Twitter as news breaks, and we’ll be back with the first regular NERW of 2020 on Monday, Jan. 6. Thanks again for all of your understanding and support, and we wish you the happiest of holidays while we take a much-needed break at this end!)
*Seven Mountains Media began 2019 by entering NEW YORK‘s Southern Tier with the purchase of Community Broadcasters’ stations in Elmira-Corning and Olean. It’s ending the year with a second deal that will cement its status as one of just two big radio players in the Elmira market.
For a total of $2 million, Seven Mountains is buying out the station group that’s been held under various names by George Hawras and Kevin Fitzgerald – and it will start 2020 with an LMA that’s likely to include a bunch of format changes to shake up this usually quiet market.
For $1.25 million, Seven Mountains gets Hawras’ Europa Communications group, led by his original signal in the market, classic rock WMTT (94.7 Tioga PA). This part of the deal also includes a big roster of translators that have been relaying “95 the Met”: W226AP (93.1 Hornell), W228DN (93.5 Elmira), W236AK (95.1 Corning), W239BK (95.7 Bath), W239BQ (95.7 Elmira), W250BI (97.9 Mansfield PA), W269BK (101.7 Horseheads), W284BX (104.7 Alfred) and W300BX (107.9 Wellsboro). Also included are two more translators: W236CP (95.1 Hornell, relaying WZHD 97.1 Canaseraga) and W277DW (103.3 Elmira, “Hot 103.3” relaying WPHD 96.1’s HD2).
For $600,000, Equinox Broadcasting sells classic hits WZHD (97.1 Canaseraga) to Seven Mountains, while a final $150,000 piece of the deal transfers classic hits “Cool” sister WPHD (96.1 Elmira) and its translators W300DH (107.9 Corning) and W226BA (93.1 Elmira) to Seven Mountains.
We know there will be at least some format changes immediately: the contract filed with the FCC says the 93.5 Elmira signal will switch to a new HD4 from WPHD, while 101.7 Horseheads will switch to HD3 from WPHD. WPHD’s HD3 is currently running alternative as “93.1 the Drive,” feeding the 93.1 translator.
The former Hawras/Fitzgerald cluster adds to a group of stations that Seven Mountains has changed rather less than we’d have expected back in January. There’s top-40 “Wink” WNKI (106.1 Corning), classic rock “Wingz” WNGZ (104.9 Montour Falls), country “Wolf” WPGI (100.9 Horseheads), talk WWLZ (820 Horseheads, plus a 101.3 translator) and classic country WRCE (1490 Watkins Glen).
If we’re counting right, the new Seven Mountains group may end up with 11 FM signals in Elmira – the full-power signals on 95.1 and 96.1 from Hawras, plus the existing full-power 100.9, 104.9 and 106.1 signals, plus HD- or AM-fed translators on 93.1, 93.5, 95.7, 101.3, 101.7 and 103.3. Will 2020 be the year the company rolls out its flagship “Bigfoot Country” format in the market? How will the format overlap between “the Met” and “Wingz” get resolved? And how many trips will we be making down I-390 in early 2020 to hear what’s new? Stay tuned…
We have a great lineup of podcasts here on our site. While you’re catching up with your summer reading, don’t forget about your summer listening. Now is the time to make sure you’re up to date with Top of the Tower.
Our latest one features Donna Halper discussing her life in radio, from her time at WMMS when she helped Rush get US airplay, to what she learned from Arnie “Woo Woo” Ginsburg.
Don’t forget you can still visit our store to check out our other great products. We’ll be taking preorders for the 2021 calendar soon. Stay tuned!