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 and – where available – fifteen 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: April 25, 2011 –
For the last few months, we’ve been closely following the peregrinations of a new FM translator as it’s migrated around NEW YORK City and vicinity, and now it appears to have found its permanent home.The translator owned by Michael and Tammy Celenza (as “Apple 107.1, Inc”) started out as W296BT (107.1) in Brooklyn, then slid across the East and Hudson rivers to become W293BU (106.5) in Union City, New Jersey, operating only long enough from that location to get a license to cover – and to file for its ultimate move, back across the Hudson to the top of Four Times Square and down one notch on the dial to 106.3.
Now the FCC has granted that move, and speculation is running rampant on the future of this new 99-watt signal from midtown Manhattan. Will the new W292DV continue to relay the country format from the HD2 channel of Clear Channel’s WLTW (106.7), or will it become the home of a new format sourced from a different HD subchannel or AM outlet?
(Those HD-sourced translators are becoming big business: in Detroit, veteran border broadcaster Tim Martz just launched two of them, programming rock and smooth jazz formats “originating” on the leased HD2/HD3 channels of the local urban signal, WGPR 107.5.)
And as long as the speculation is floating around out there, it’s worth noting that another new Big Apple FM signal is moving closer to the airwaves: after months of preparation, it appears that EMF Broadcasting is getting pretty near to launching the relocated 96.7 signal it’s acquiring from Cox.
In its current incarnation as WCTZ, “96.7 the Coast” is telling listeners to adjust their dials to another Cox station in CONNECTICUT, WFOX (95.9 Norwalk), and we’re told an antenna is now in place atop the Trump tower in New Rochelle for the new 96.7 “K-Love” signal, for which the WKLV-FM calls were requested back in January.
The new 96.7 signal, whenever it finally signs on, will blanket southern Westchester, the Bronx, much of Queens and Fairfield and at least the northern half of Manhattan – and surely we’re not the only ones noticing that it would mesh nicely with the reach that the 99-watt 106.3 sigal from Times Square will have. That directional signal will go mainly east-west, serving much of Manhattan and portions of Brooklyn, Queens and north Jersey.
*In NEW JERSEY, there’s a new ownership structure taking shape at Atlantic Broadcasting: on April 8, the bankruptcy court handling the Atlantic case approved a transfer of ownership to a new entity called “Boardwalk Radio, LLC.” The new owner is controlled by the Northwood Ventures/Northwood Capital Partners group and Henry T. Wilson, who’d held 89.5% of Atlantic after the bankruptcy and who now end up with a total of 99% of the equity in Boardwalk. (Much of the remaining 1% goes to Atlantic CEO John Caracciolo, while the sale wipes out the remaining equity interests held by former Atlantic founders Mike Ferriola and Brett DeNafo.)
The deal is valued at $3 million – but it’s not quite final yet. The FCC filings for the transfer to Boardwalk note that it’s still dependent upon the outcome of a bankruptcy auction for the Atlantic assets. The court has designated the Boardwalk proposal as the “stalking-horse bid” in that auction, setting the baseline that competing bids, if any, would have to exceed. Those competing bids are due Thursday, and would be followed by an auction on May 4 if there’s competition for the stations and real estate.
*A deleted RHODE ISLAND noncommercial FM station remains very much deleted, says the FCC, which has tossed out an attempt by Educational Radio for the Public of the New Millennium to get the Commission to reconsider its cancellation of the station’s license. In March, station president Carlos Vasquez filed a packet of materials with the FCC to support his contention that “we feel as though there is (sic) people working against our favor in order to gain access to our freqency,” and arguing that sabotage from Verizon and others prevented WRJI (91.5 East Greenwich) from broadcasting for more than a year, from November 2, 2009 until November 25, 2010.
But the FCC says it can’t do anything to help WRJI: it notes that the prolonged outage exceeded the one-year statutory limit after which Congress mandates that a silent station’s license should be deleted, and that the petition for reconsideration arrived long after the deadline for such filings to be made. And the FCC says WRJI’s application to relicense from East Greenwich to Providence won’t work, either, since it would create impermissible overlap with Providence College’s WDOM (91.3) and several pending station applications. So the Commission has reaffirmed its deletion of the WRJI license, adding a reminder that any operation of the station is “unauthorized and must cease IMMEDIATELY” (their caps, not ours!) Will 91.5, which we’ve been told is indeed operating from its Providence studio location, in fact go silent – or will it join the substantial ranks of unlicensed signals in eastern New England?
Five Years Ago: April 23, 2007 –
*It was a rough weather week all over the region, but no broadcast facility was hit worse than the 445-foot tower of WCFE-TV (Channel 57)/WCFE-DT (Channel 38) in NEW YORK‘s Adirondacks, on Lyon Mountain about 10 miles west of WCFE’s city of license, Plattsburgh.The tower, built in 1976, collapsed shortly after 7 on Wednesday morning (April 18), taking WCFE (known on-air as “Mountain Lake PBS”) off the air just as the station was about to launch into its Art Auction, its biggest fundraiser of the year.
Early reports suggest that a combination of heavy icing and high winds brought the tower crashing down, damaging the transmitter building at the base of the tower as well.
WCFE had recently spent about $1.5 million to reinforce the tower and to build out its DTV signal, and the station says insurance won’t cover the full amount of the rebuilding effort, particularly because of the remote Lyon Mountain location, more than 3600′ above sea level and unreachable by car or truck.
(We’d never been up there ourselves, so we’re grateful to fellow tower hunter Rick Lucas, who hiked up there a few years ago, for sharing his “before” pictures.)
To make matters worse, unlike many TV stations that are now connected by fiber or microwave to most of the cable and satellite companies in their viewing area, WCFE depended on its on-air signal to reach the bulk of its viewership across Lake Champlain in northern Vermont and across the border in Quebec.
At press time Sunday night, WCFE was being seen only on the Charter Cable system in Plattsburgh, which gets a direct feed from the station’s studio; it’s working on ways to restore the feed to the other systems while it works on rebuilding. And NERW wonders – with just 22 months remaining for analog television, will WCFE even bother to rebuild the Channel 57 signal that will go dark for good in February 2009, or will this be the cue for Mountain Lake to go DTV-only on 38?
The storm did some damage elsewhere in the region, too – WGHT (1500 Pompton Lakes) in northern NEW JERSEY was silenced for a while when its low-lying transmitter/studio site was flooded, and WLIB (1190 New York) was at low power because of flooding that topped the base insulator at one of the towers of its Meadowlands transmitter site. We hear there was flood damage as well at the shared site of WWDJ (970 Hackensack) and WWRV (1330 New York), and power outages all up and down the Eastern Seaboard left many stations running on generator power at the height of the storm.
*In other NEW YORK news, Don Imus vanished quickly from the headlines last week as the tragic news from Virginia Tech took over the nation’s attention, but behind the scenes, things kept percolating at his former home base of WFAN (660 New York). Imus’ producer Bernard McGuirk, who instigated the series of remarks that doomed the show, has now also lost his job with WFAN, but newsman Charles McCord, who was with 660 (then WNBC) before Imus ever arrived, has also outlasted his former boss; he’s still being heard as part of the morning version of “Mike and the Mad Dog.”
The duo are being heard on at least some of the former Imus stations, but not all of them – WXUR (92.7 Herkimer), for instance, is taking ESPN’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning” for now, but says if Imus ever returns to the air, it’ll gladly put him back on the air in the Mohawk Valley. And we neglected to mention WHEN (620 Syracuse) as part of the network – it’s now taking Fox Sports Radio in morning drive.
There’s a new owner coming for Clear Channel’s TV group, which includes WHAM-TV (13, ABC) and its CW subchannel in Rochester; WSYR-TV (9, ABC) in Syracuse; WIVT (34, ABC)/WBGH-LP (20, NBC) in Binghamton; WETM (18, NBC) in Elmira; WXXA (23, Fox) in Albany; WWTI (50, ABC) in Watertown and WHP-TV (21, CBS)/WLYH (15, CW) in Harrisburg. Providence Equity Partners will pay $1.2 billion for those and the rest of the 56-station group.
*In MASSACHUSETTS, WBCN (104.1) is making headlines with its decision not to carry the “best-of” shows that Opie and Anthony are feeding their affiliates during their two-week vacation. Instead, WBCN will move afternoon team Toucher and Rich to mornings, and coupled with O&A’s recent cancellation in Dallas, that’s got the rumor mill working overtime about the duo’s future in national syndication.
*In CANADA, AM radio in Kingston, Ontario will be a thing of the past if Corus’ CFFX (960) and CHUM Ltd.’s CKLC (1380) get their way. CFFX is applying to move its oldies format to 104.3, with 8 kW DA/248 m, while CKLC is again applying to move to 98.9, with 15 kW DA/132 m.
They’re not the only applicants for new FM signals in Kingston: CIKR (105.7) wants a second FM to add to its existing “K-Rock” outlet, and it’s applying for a 6.5 kW DA/113 m signal on 93.5 to broadcast a “new country” format.
The CRTC will consider the applications at a June 18 public hearing at its Gatineau, Quebec headquarters.
In Toronto, “Proud FM” (CIRR 103.9) had its official launch last Monday (April 16), billing itself as the world’s first commercial over-the-air station devoted to gay, lesbian and bisexual listeners. (There was at least one earlier attempt we know of, on two small AM signals in the Seattle market a few years back.)
Ten Years Ago: April 22, 2002 –
It’s been a quiet week stateside, but a busy one for at least one media company in CANADA. Telemedia won permission from the CRTC late last week to spin off most of its radio holdings around the country, which is good news for NewCap, Standard Broadcasting, and Astral Media. While NewCap gets the Telemedia stations out west, Standard gets nearly 30 stations from Telemedia in Ontario, including Toronto’s CJEZ (EZ Rock 97.3), which will be paired with Standard’s existing CFRB (1010) and CKFM (Mix 99.9). Standard also gets three in Hamilton – country CHAM (820), oldies CKOC (1150) and AC CKLH (K-Lite 102.9) – and three in St. Catharines – full-service CKTB (610), rock CHTZ (97.7, once owned by Standard) and CHRE (EZ Rock 105.7). The company also keeps Telemedia’s London foursome – country CJBX (92.7), talk CJBK (1290), AC CKSL (1410) and CIQM (EZ Rock 97.5).
Standard is spinning off much of the remainder of the Telemedia group in Ontario to Rogers, which picks up CJCL (Fan 590), the Prime Time Sports network and the Standard stations in Orillia (CICX), North Bay (CKAT/CKFX/CHUR), Sault Ste. Marie (CHAS/CJQM/CIRS), Sudbury (CIGM/CJRQ/CJMX) and Timmins (CKGB/CJOQ). Meanwhile in Quebec and the Maritimes, Astral Media gets the former Telemedia properties, including some of the biggest stations in Montreal and Quebec City. The catch? The company will be required to boost the amount of local news on the stations, as well as selling CFOM (102.9 Levis) in the Quebec City market.
Moving down to NEW YORK, the uneasy relationship between veteran jock Pete Fornatale and Fordham University’s WFUV (90.7 New York) frayed last week, as the public radio station announced a “temporary leave” for Fornatale as host of the Saturday-evening “Mixed Bag” show. Fornatale, best known for his many years at the old WNEW-FM, had sparred with WFUV management several times in recent months over political comments made during his show. WFUV will run “best of” programs for now; the station says it still hopes to get Fornatale back on the air soon.
Sorry to report the passing of a newsman who woke up millions of New Yorkers for more than two decades; Jim Donnelly died Saturday (4/20) of complications from Parkinson’s disease. Donnelly joined WCBS (880) in 1972, after a career that included KYW in Philadelphia and WNEW(AM) in New York; for most of the time from then until his retirement in 1992, he handled morning co-anchor duties on “Newsradio 88.” Donnelly was 69.
Fifteen Years Ago: April 17, 1997 –
Crankin’ out FIFTY THOUSAND WATTS OF POWER!!!: That could be the slogan of Koor Broadcasting’s new station in Hanover NH, if Bob Vinikoor gets his way. We’ve finally seen the FCC filing for the 720 kHz application, and wouldn’t you know, it’s for 50 kilowatts by day, 500 watts by night, separate patterns, using 3 towers by day and 4 by night. The transmitter site would be in Lebanon, just north of the town center and east of route 120. It goes without saying that the new 720, if approved, would be by far the strongest AM signal in the Granite State. This should be interesting…stay tuned.
Some big shakeups on the radio dial here in Upstate New York, and most of them are at Heritage Media’s Rochester properties. Oldies WKLX (98.9) dumped most of its airstaff last weekend, and is now all satellite outside of morning drive, where market veteran Mike Vickers is now working. Down the hall at classic rock WQRV (93.3 Avon, “The River,”) Chris Wittingham has replaced Coyote Collins as morning jock. Collins returns to his duties at country WBEE-FM (92.5). Still no word on a possible buyer for the Heritage radio/TV properties, which also include WPTZ-TV (Channel 5) in Plattsburgh.
New call letters are in place at ARS’s modern AC “The Zone” (94.1 Brighton-Rochester). WZNE replaced WAQB last Friday. Over in Buffalo, meanwhile, “Alice at 92.9” is still hiding the old WSJZ calls at the top of each hour.
There’ll be a new AM signal on the air at night in the Rochester area soon. We’ve now seen it with our own eyes; Bob Savage has built three additional towers at the Avon NY transmitter site of his WYSL, as he gets ready to move the station from a 500-watt daytimer on 1030 to a fulltime facility on 1040, with 2500 watts by day and 500 at night. We’ll see whether he beats another new AM to the air; Canandaigua’s WCGR has built a new three-tower facility for its 1310 kHz construction permit, replacing the daytimer on 1550 kHz.
Speaking of new stations, there’s word from way up North that WYUL (94.7 Chateauguay) is about to hit the airwaves. Owner Tim Martz is no stranger to the Canadian border — he runs WQHR and WBPW in Presque Isle ME. His 50kW directional signal from Lyon Mountain, the WPTZ-TV (Channel 5) transmitter site near Plattsburgh, will head straight for Montreal, and the “YUL” in the calls is also the airport code for Montreal. Word has it that Martz is hiring bilingual DJs for the new station.