In this week’s issue… O’Shaughnessy family exits Westchester – New Ontario signals launch – Applicants position ahead of LPFM window – Remembering Sommers, Skibenes
By SCOTT FYBUSH
(Programming note: We’re back, for now, with what I hope will be a weekly schedule for the next few months. I’m still figuring out the long-term future of NERW. Stay tuned, and thanks for your patience.)
*It’s been a long time since WVOX (1460) and WVIP (93.5) in New Rochelle, NEW YORK were the full-time community voices that longtime owner Bill O’Shaughnessy fervently promoted, and perhaps they were never quite as big as he passionately proclaimed them to be.
But in the suburbs north of New York City, the O’Shaughnessy family’s Hudson Westchester Radio hung on with its long tradition of local ownership long after other nearby stations such as WFAS in White Plains and the original WVIP in Mount Kisco had sold out to larger companies and eventually become relays of programming from far away.
After O’Shaughnessy’s death in May 2022, WVOX and WVIP held on for a while under his children. WVIP’s entire broadcast day continued to be leased out to a combination of several programmers aiming at the Haitian and Caribbean community, with three more HD Radio subchannels carrying Jewish, Haitian and Russian programming. WVOX’s schedule was also mainly leased, carrying a mix of talk shows hosted by local leaders and other music and ethnic programming, all flowing out of the studios at O’Shaughnessy’s beloved “One Broadcast Forum” at the AM transmitter site in New Rochelle.
Now it’s all over, and rather abruptly. We knew earlier in the summer that WVIP had found a buyer, the Hope Media Group, which paid $8.15 million for its class A FM signal transmitting from the Bronx to about half of New York City and a big chunk of Westchester and north Jersey. With almost no fanfare, the start of September brought a midnight flip to 93.5, which became WNVU and began transmitting a loop of Spanish-language Christian pop on its way to becoming the New York-market outlet for Hope’s “Vida Unida” network.
That left WVOX, O’Shaughnessy’s crown jewel ever since his 1968 purchase of the cluster from his father-in-law, Jock Whitney. (At one time, O’Shaughnessy had sold airtime for Whitney when he operated multiple suburban stations as a radio network attached to the now-defunct Herald Tribune.)
With just 500 watts by day and 122 watts at night, along with a tiny translator (15-watt W252DX on 98.3 over in New Rochelle), the WVOX license didn’t have much market value, apparently; at the end of August, the O’Shaughnessy estate announced that it was being donated to the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC Broadcasting), which in turn sold the licenses to West Coast broadcaster Jeff Chang for $20,000.
On September 7, WVOX signed off from One Broadcast Forum, closing the books on 55 years of O’Shaughnessy operation and leaving its programmers looking for new radio homes. The deal with MMTC and Chang included only the WVOX AM transmitter and ATU. Whatever he has planned next for 1460 and 98.3 will require a new studio and likely a new transmitter location, since the O’Shaughnessy estate retains the studio/transmitter site and the rest of the stations’ equipment. It’s very likely that the property will be more valuable for development than for radio, leaving Chang the difficult task of finding somewhere else in Westchester County to transmit the AM signal.
There won’t be another broadcaster quite like Bill O’Shaughnessy, of course, with his steadfast dedication to the First Amendment and his unique skill for self-promotion (as well as his support of this column over the years.) We were saddened by his death last year, and it’s sad to see his stations go out with a whimper.
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.