In this week’s issue… Garabedian, McVie launch Cape CHR – Boston translator app seeks waiver – News director moves in Rochester – WHOU drops second format – NYC applicant seeks multiple new signals
By SCOTT FYBUSH
(This week’s NERW comes to you, for the thirteenth year running, from the floor of the NAB Show in Las Vegas. We’re eager to see NERW-land broadcasters who’ll be at the show – especially if Fybush Media’s consulting services can be of service to you as you look to expand your signal reach or make strategic acquisitions. Drop us a line if you’d like a free initial consultation…or if you’re here in Las Vegas and would just like to say hello.
Stay tuned right here at fybush.com for ongoing coverage, live from the show floor – we’ll have daily updates tomorrow and Wednesday for NERW subscribers only. Don’t want to miss out? Sign up now for as little as $5.95!)
*The latest format flip in MASSACHUSETTS is more than just your average format flip. When Codcomm debuted top-40 “Y101” on WHYA (101.1 Mashpee) at 11 AM on Thursday, it marked the return of some of the format’s top practitioners.
Codcomm, of course, is owned by John Garabedian, who’s been doing top-40 since the 1960s as PD of Boston’s WMEX (1510, now WUFC), founder of influential video channel WVJV (V66) and as the creator and longtime host of the syndicated “Open House Party.” So when he bought the former Nassau stations on Cape Cod last year and set the ball rolling to split the “Frank” simulcast between WFRQ (93.5 Harwich Port) and then-WFQR (101.1), it seemed very likely that he’d be the man to bring the hits back to the market after the demise of the last top-40 on the Cape, the former WRZE (96.3, now sports WEII).
And then Garabedian began assembling a staff that included station manager Steve McVie, who’s been “the man” for top-40 on the Cape for years, right back to the day four years ago when he was the last voice heard on WRZE. It all amounted to one of the worst-kept secrets in radio for a few weeks running, culminating last Monday night in the end of the “Frank” simulcast on 101.1 and the start of two and a half days of a computerized countdown interspersed with speech-synthesized snark.
“Party Rock Anthem” kicked off the real format on Thursday morning, and it comes with an airstaff already in place. Jessica (late of WXLO in Worcester) handles middays, McVie is doing afternoons, Jackson Blue (tracked from WXKS-FM in Boston) handles nights, and mornings are the province of the syndicated Elvis Duran show from New York’s Z100.
Now Garabedian and McVie and the staff at Codcomm can get busy preparing for the fourth signal in their cluster: WKFY (98.7 East Harwich) is currently a construction permit, and when it hits the air, it appears they’ll need a new sign outside the company’s Hyannis studios.
*Much of this week’s column – and much of the questioning that will be aimed at FCC staffers this week at the NAB Show in Las Vegas – has to do with the Commission’s attempts to clean up the huge mess that resulted from the “Great Translator Invasion” filing window back in 2003.
After being overwhelmed by applications when the window opened, the FCC froze processing of some 7,000 applications for nearly a decade before finally making an attempt to clear them out this year. As NERW readers know, March brought a processing window for several hundred “singleton” applications in smaller markets – and April brings the filing window for a smaller number of “singleton” applications in larger markets where the need to provide space for new low-power FM signals is also a concern.
And that brings us to a rather audacious attempt to revive a long-frozen application for a new translator that would serve Boston’s western suburbs…if the FCC can be persuaded to waive one of its translator rules.
Back in 2003, Steven Silberberg’s Northeast Broadcasting Company (NEBCO) applied for a 10-watt translator signal on 96.5 from the “candelabra” tower in Needham, relaying WXRV (92.5 Haverhill, now Andover) to the Mass Pike/128 area where the 92.5 signal can be easily overwhelmed by the strong FMs that transmit from Newton and Needham.
When that application came out of deep freeze, it was ungrantable under the current translator rules, because that 96.5 channel is the only one potentially usable for LPFM in much of the Boston area. But NEBCO, understandably, doesn’t want to abandon the application it’s been pursuing for more than a decade – and so it’s asking the FCC to allow it to modify its 2003 application to instead specify 106.1 as the translator’s new frequency. That channel can’t be used for LPFM anywhere in greater Boston (at least not legally; it has, of course, long been used by prominent Dorchester-based pirate “Touch”), and Silberberg’s California-based engineering consultant, Fred Volken, says it would work for a translator in Needham.
Simple, right? Not so much: the rules for the April filing window are pretty clear about the limits placed on applications hoping to modify their “tech box” submissions from back in 2003. Applicants can specify a new transmitter site, so long as the 60 dBu contours of the new signal would overlap the originally-proposed signal. They can also specify a different channel, but only one that would be considered a minor change – up or down 3 channels (0.8 MHz) or to an IF spacing channel 10.6 or 10.8 MHz away.
Silberberg says NEBCO’s specific case, however, merits a waiver of that restriction for several reasons. Without the waiver, he argues, no translator at all will be grantable out of the 2003 window in the Boston market, and that wouldn’t serve the public interest as well as a new 106.1 translator. NEBCO also argues that it’s been a good corporate citizen, playing by all the FCC’s rules as it’s pursued the translator for more than a decade – and that only the WXRV translator, of the various signals proposed for Boston, would serve as a fill-in for a local station instead of a “satellator” relay for an out-of-state network.
Will the FCC risk setting a complicating precedent by granting the waiver request at a time when it’s trying to simplify the disposal of all those lingering translator applications? It seems unlikely from where we sit, but they’ve done stranger things in the past…stay tuned!
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*Congratulations to WBUR-FM (90.9 Boston) chief engineer Michael LeClair – he was honored Saturday with the “Engineer of the Year” award at the Public Radio Engineering Conference here in Las Vegas, a reflection of his hard work on WBUR’s expansion as well as in the greater public radio engineering community and as editor of Radio World Engineering Extra. (Disclaimer: your editor is a freelance writer for sister publication Radio World.)
*Long before Silberberg applied for his Needham translator, Steven Wendell began his attempt to put a new signal on the air at AM 540 in southern NEW HAMPSHIRE. Wendell’s efforts eventually did yield a construction permit in Jaffrey, with callsign WXNH – but as of late last week, it appears that CP is good and truly dead. Back in 2006, the FCC tolled the CP, giving Wendell extra time to wait out the outcome of litigation over a zoning issue that he told the FCC was holding up construction of WXNH’s transmitter site. But in October 2007, after someone tipped off the FCC, Wendell acknowledged that the litigation didn’t concern the originally-proposed transmitter site, but instead related to a different site where he was attempting to relocate the transmitter. And because of that, the Commission last week denied Wendell’s appeal of its decision to terminate the tolling and thus allow the CP to expire unbuilt. Wendell claimed that action was “arbitrary and capricious,” but his argument didn’t find much traction with the Commission, and so the never-built WXNH joins another Wendell CP, WKNJ (550 Lakeside NJ) in the “never was” category.
*In MAINE, Fred Grant’s Northern Maine Media has ended its LMA with Allan Weiner’s WBCQ (94.7 Monticello). In a note to listeners, Grant says “Classic Country on WBCQ has been a popular format with listeners; however, in recent months Mr. Wiener [sic] and his staff have had challenges keeping the station broadcasting on a consistent basis.” Grant says he’s focusing his resources on his flagship station, WHOU (100.1 Houlton) as his company “invests its resources in a new direction.” It’s not clear what – if anything – is on 94.7 now that the LMA is over.
The federal budget sequester is having an effect on Maine’s statewide public broadcaster. MPBN announced last week that it’s putting its weekly “Maine Watch” TV news broadcast on a summer hiatus due to a projected $400,000 budget shortfall, the result of a $100,000 cut in federal funding and a $260,000 state budget cut. MPBN says it will have to lay off as many as 10 employees, at least temporarily.
And the classical “W-Bach” network is returning to the air in Portland: Binnie Media is now promoting “96.9 Portland” in addition to the last remaining full-power frequency on what was once a four-station network, WBQX (106.9 Thomaston). That 96.9 signal is W245AA, the 250-watt translator that now augments the signal of Binnie’s WTHT (99.9), which does country as “The Wolf.” Will Binnie use HD Radio on WTHT to feed programming to the translator?
*In central CONNECTICUT, the changes at WCCC-FM (106.9 Hartford) have claimed one of the rock station’s best-known jocks: Mike Picozzi is out after 15 years there, most recently as PD and morning co-host. Music director Mike Karolyi moves up to the PD chair; Raven and Miss Klonk remain in place in morning drive, and afternoon jock Craig Edelson adds the title of music director.
The translator thaw has unfrozen two applications dating back to the 2003 window: Sacred Heart University is moving forward on 96.1 in Danbury (which will presumably relay one of the HD subchannels of parent WSHU-FM 91.1, carrying the “Fairfield Public Radio” news-talk service to northern Fairfield County), while Dennis Jackson pushes ahead on 103.7 in Georgetown, which will relay his yet-to-debut WJZZ (90.1 South Salem NY).
*Radio People on the Move in upstate NEW YORK: After two stints as news director at Clear Channel’s WHAM (1180 Rochester), Randy Gorbman says goodbye to commercial radio at week’s end. He’s headed across town to public radio WXXI (1370), where he’ll take the news director job that’s been vacant since Julie Philipp’s departure back in December. WHAM is already advertising for a replacement for Gorbman. (Usual disclaimer applies: your editor does some work for WXXI, and is looking forward to having Randy as his new boss there!)
Down the Thruway, Jeff Gordon is out at Cumulus’ Buffalo cluster after two decades in the production room at WGRF (97 Rock) and WEDG (103.3 the Edge). Gordon’s most recent title at the cluster was creative services director before the stations let him go on Good Friday.
In Albany, Erin “Charlie” Buchwald departs Pamal’s WAJZ (Jamz 96.3) at the end of the week. She’s headed south to become music director/midday jock at WYOY in Jackson, Mississippi, leaving an opening for PD and afternoons at WAJZ.
Over at public radio WAMC (90.3), there’s a series of staffing changes in the works: Katie Britton moves up from news director to “program and outreach director,” which means producer Ian Pickus gets promoted to news director and Patrick Donges moves up from assistant news director to associate news director.
*ESPN Radio has returned to the Hudson Valley. Last heard on WEOK (1390 Poughkeepsie)/WALL (1340 Middletown), the sports network has reappeared on WGNY (1220 Newburgh). The “Fox Oldies” format formerly heard on the AM signal is still airing up the valley on WGNY-FM (98.9 Rosendale) and on the HD3 of WJGK (103.1 Newburgh). On 98.9, meanwhile, Hudson Valley radio veteran Gene Slater starts today as afternoon jock.
News from the translator window: River Vale Media Foundation is pushing ahead with three 2003 applications for new translators within the New York city limits. In Manhattan, it would run 10 watts on 101.5 from Four Times Square; just over the far end of the Brooklyn Bridge, it would run 10 watts on 98.3, and out in Flushing, it would run 10 watts on 101.5 as well. All three translators are proposed as relays of WLJP (89.3) up in Monroe.
On Long Island, Tammy Celenza’s application for 92.9 in Coram has been thawed out and accepted for filing; if granted, the translator would relay WLIX-LP (94.7 Ridge). Meanwhile, Connecticut-based Sacred Heart University is moving ahead with its application to move its W277AB (103.3 Noyack) to 107.5, filed as a major change back in the 2003 window.
Edgewater Broadcasting has modified its Buffalo transmitter application: instead of calling for 99.9, it’s now requesting 100.3, where it would relay Family Life’s WCOU (88.3 Attica), at least until a buyer is found.
*Back upstate, there’s a license transfer of sorts at tribally-owned WGWE (105.9 Little Valley) south of Buffalo. The commercial station filed an application last week to shift its license from Seneca Holdings LLC to the parent Seneca Nation of Indians. There’s no real ownership change, but the station says it was asked by the FCC’s Office of Native Affairs to clarify the ownership picture at WGWE.
And there’s an obituary to report: veteran Rochester radio newsman Bob Bohrer died March 28. Over the years, Bohrer was heard on WBBF (950), WHAM (1180) and WVOR (100.5); he also served as president of the Rochester chapter of AFTRA in the 1960s.
*It’s all about the translator thaw in NEW JERSEY, too, and mostly down south. In Pennsauken, a stone’s throw across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, “Broadcast Learning Center Inc.” has had its application for 95.3 unfrozen. If granted, it would relay “K-Love” WKVP (89.5 Cherry Hill), as would a co-owned translator proposed for 106.5 in Hammonton.
Also in Hammonton, Ted Schober’s application for a 104.1 translator of WGLS (89.7 Glassboro) is moving forward, as is Schober’s application for 95.3 in Lawnside, which would relay WBZC (88.9 Pemberton). Schober’s application for 99.1 in Rio Grande, planned for a WGLS relay, has undergone a big (but still technically “minor”) modification: it’s hopped the ferry and is now an application for 99.7 in Denton, Maryland, where it would relay WKDI (840 Denton).
And there’s late word, via AllAccess.com, of some “significant” staff cutbacks at Press Communications’ Monmouth-Ocean cluster. Station manager/PD Mike Fitzgerald is out, as is “Breeze” (WWZY/WBHX) morning host Randy Davis, news director Al Brooks and WWZY/WBHX night jock Shelli Cole.
*Our PENNSYLVANIA news starts at Radio One in Philadelphia, where “Old School 100.3” launched on schedule Tuesday at WRNB (100.3 Media). For now, the new format is running jockless, but the syndicated Tom Joyner morning show and local airstaff are expected to be back on the air fairly soon. Down the hall at WPHI (Hot 107.9), there’s a new morning show: Shamara Alfa, late of Beasley’s WRDW-FM (Wired 96.5) and Lalya St. Clair team up as “PMS: Philly’s Morning Show,” taking over from the syndicated Ricky Smiley.
Down the road in Harrisburg, J.T. Bosch is packing his bags after a successful run as ops manager/regional program manager for Clear Channel’s Harrisburg, Reading, Allentown and Williamsport clusters. Starting in two weeks, Bosch will be down in Texas, serving as PD for Clear Channel’s KASE (101.1) and KVET (98.1) in Austin.
A strange story from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton market: WDMT (102.3 Pittston) night jock Mark Thomas is out on bail after being arraigned on charges of taking more than $25,000 in unemployment payments – even though he was working not only at “102.3 the Mountain” but also at a local car dealership. Thomas is free on bail while he awaits a trial.
Translator news from the Keystone State: Kevin Fitzgerald’s W290BA (105.9 Palmerton) has applied to move to Germansville on 106.5; for now, still as a relay of WVIA (89.9 Scranton). At the other end of the state, Bible Broadcasting Network’s 2003 application for 92.1 in Connellsville has been thawed out, proposing to relay WYFU (88.5 Masontown).
*An obituary from CANADA: Don Robinson was known for years as host of “All That Jazz” on CFLY (98.3 Kingston), which ran until 1998 locally and in syndication. Robinson, who worked as a corrections officer when he wasn’t doing radio, died Thursday, of complications from diabetes, reports CKWS-TV.
And a staffing change in Montreal closes out this week’s NERW: Mark Bergman’s been off the air for almost three years, serving as brand manager (aka “PD”) of CJFM (Virgin Radio 95.9) – but now he’s back behind the mike at the Astral-owned top-40 station, handling the 3-6 PM shift there starting today. That shifts Andrea Collins from afternoons the 9 AM-noon shift, which displaces Nikki Balch to weekend on-air work, though she’ll also be producing web content during the week.
*It’s 2013! Do you have your 2013 Tower Site Calendar yet? It can be on your wall in just a few days, if you order right now!
This is the 12th edition of our annual calendar, which features photos of broadcast towers taken by Scott Fybush on his travels.
The 12-month wall calendar boasts a full-color photo each month of a well-known broadcast transmitter site.
This year’s edition includes sites in Florida, Wisconsin, Kentucky, California, Iowa, Idaho, Las Vegas, Colorado, Boston, Cleveland, Albuquerque, upstate New York and western Massachusetts. We’ve also redesigned the calendar to make it more colorful (don’t worry; the pictures are still pristine) and make the spiral binding our standard binding — your calendar will hang even better on your wall now! And of course, we still have the convenient hole for hanging.
Order 20 or more for a 10% discount! And while you’re at the Fybush.com store, check out the new National Radio Club AM Log and the final stash of FM Atlas editions.
For more information and to order yours, click here!
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 9, 2012 –
*In CANADA, the week’s big news came from the CBC, which responded to federal budget cuts ($115 million over three years) by announcing plans to cut 650 staffers and eliminate some of its programming services and transmitters.
The most dramatic cuts come at Radio Canada International, which will shutter its shortwave transmitter at Sackville, New Brunswick after seven decades and will end its newscast services and all its Russian and Brazilian programming.
For domestic audiences, the cuts will include some of CBC television’s original programming – and some TV transmitters that now carry CBC-TV and Radio-Canada TV to remote communities. The CBC’s plan calls for the shutdown of hundreds of analog transmitters at the end of July instead of keeping them on the air for an additional year, and that would mean the end of English-language CBC service anywhere in Quebec outside of Montreal – and in much of the Maritimes as well.
Francophones outside Quebec would lose even more Radio-Canada service, with transmitters in Windsor, London, Kitchener and Sarnia (and in even bigger cities such as Calgary) shutting down, leaving viewers forced to use pay TV services, either cable or satellite, to receive CBC/Radio-Canada programming.
And then there’s this: CBC executives say they’ll apply to the CRTC to sell commercial time on CBC Radio Two and Radio-Canada’s Espace Musique network. If approved, it will be the first time since the 1970s that the CBC has carried commercials on its radio networks. (CBC-TV and Radio-Canada TV have always competed for ad dollars with Canada’s commercial TV broadcasters.)
The CBC says the addition of ads to the second radio networks will allow them to keep the main networks, CBC Radio One and Radio-Canada’s Premiere Chaine, commercial-free – and they say plans for the addition of new local radio service to areas such as Hamilton and Kitchener-Waterloo will continue to move forward, albeit with some delays.
*As CBS gets busy launching its new independent station in the NEW YORK City market, WLNY-TV (Channel 55), it’s put a general manager at the helm with solid independent TV experience. Betty Ellen Berlamino was the general manager at WPIX (Channel 11) until the turbulence at Tribune sent her packing in 2010; since then, she’s been working for CBS as senior VP and director of sales for CBS Television Stations.
Under Berlamino, WLNY will launch local news in June in two slots not presently occupied by sister station WCBS-TV (Channel 2): a 7-9 AM local morning show will run opposite the CBS network morning news on Channel 2, and in prime time WLNY will have a 9-10 PM local newscast anchored by Chris Wragge and Erica Tyler.
*Remember Jon Grayson? The overnight talk host based at CBS Radio’s KMOX (1120 St. Louis) made a big splash in MASSACHUSETTS a few years back when CBS pulled veteran WBZ (1030 Boston) overnight talker Steve LeVeille off the air in favor of a syndicated version of Grayson’s “Overnight America.”
That didn’t last long, thanks to pressure from WBZ listeners and advertisers who persuaded the station it was better off staying local and returning LeVeille to the air. But now Grayson is back in the Boston market on one of WBZ’s competitors, Greater Media’s WTKK (96.9 Boston). WTKK had been carrying the California-based John and Jeff Show in its weekday overnight slot; on Friday and Saturday nights (or Saturday and Sunday mornings, if you prefer), it’s the syndicated Phil Hendrie show in the overnight hours.
*Moving over to the TV side of things, we remember Walt Sanders, one of the mainstays of WBZ-TV (Channel 4)’s long era of ratings dominance in the 1970s and 1980s. Sanders came to Channel 4 in 1968 as one of the station’s (and the city’s) first African-American TV reporters, and he stayed at WBZ until his retirement in 1995. Sanders died last Monday (April 2) at his home in Spring Hill, Florida. He was 81 years old.
Five Years Ago: April 7, 2008 –
*If you still believe there’s such a thing as a safe job in broadcasting these days, we’d sure like to know about it. The latest evidence that times are hard – not that we really needed any further evidence – comes from CBS’ local television stations, which went through a painful round of staffing cuts last week everywhere from Los Angeles to Boston.
The cuts were especially severe at Boston’s WBZ-TV (Channel 4)/WSBK (Channel 38), where initial reports indicated that as many as 30 staffers lost their jobs. We still haven’t been able to confirm that number (and the company’s not saying), but there’s no question there were significant cutbacks on the TV side at Soldiers Field Road.
The most prominent cutbacks involve three veteran on-air personalities: sports director Bob Lobel, arts correspondent Joyce Kulhawik and sportscaster-turned-news anchor Scott Wahle.
Lobel has been with WBZ since 1979, Kulhawik since 1981 and Wahle since 1989, most recently as co-anchor of the 9 PM newscast on WSBK. The station isn’t saying how much longer any of the departing air talent will remain, but it sounds as though they’ll be gradually eased out as their contracts are bought out, with Steve Burton likely to replace Lobel as sports director.
Behind the scenes, many of the dismissed employees didn’t get the same luxury, with some being escorted out the door as soon as the news was announced. The list of job cuts included veteran engineer Fred Boudreau, commercial producer Roger Lyons, writer Casey Sherman and managing editor David Kaplar.
*In other news, Clear Channel has flipped its Worcester translator, W235AV (94.9 Tatnuck) from relaying WJMN (94.5 Boston) to relaying WTAG (580 Worcester). The move gives WTAG some new coverage at night.
Springfield’s new Fox affiliate launched on schedule last Monday morning at 5. “Fox 6 Springfield” operates as a subchannel of WGGB-DT (Channel 55), replacing Hartford’s WTIC-TV (Channel 61) on western Massachusetts cable systems, where it’s seen on channel 6 on Comcast systems and channel 10 on Charter systems. (WTIC remains available in Comcast areas on a higher digital tier.)
The promised WGGB-produced 10 PM newscast won’t debut until the middle of this month, but there is some new-to-the-market programming on Fox 6 – it’s also a secondary My Network TV affiliate, carrying My programming from 11:30 PM-1:30 AM weeknights.
A former WAXQ (104.3) morning host who made a brief splash in the market a decade ago has died. Darian O’Toole (real name Karen Begin) came to the US from Nova Scotia, working first in Atlantic City and then at WMMR in Philadelphia before heading west to San Francisco, where she spent most of her radio career.
In late 1997, fresh off a format change that ended her run in morning drive at KBGG-FM (98.1) in San Francisco, O’Toole came to Q104 for what proved to be an unsuccessful stint in morning drive that lasted only nine months. O’Toole eventually returned to San Francisco, where she was last heard on “Free FM” KIFR (106.9).
In recent years, O’Toole had been struggling with health problems. She died last Monday (March 31) of complications from a broken leg, at the age of 40.
A format change in Syracuse today wasn’t much of a secret – CNYRadio.com broke the story last week that Buckley is shuffling formats on its three-station cluster in the Salt City. The simulcast of WSEN-FM (92.1 Baldwinsville) and WSEN (1050 Baldwinsville) will shift from its present oldies format, heavy on 60s and 70s tunes, to a classic hits format that’s focused on the 70s and 80s. Fans of the Beatles and Beach Boys won’t be disenfranchised, though – Buckley will flip its other AM, WFBL (1390 Syracuse), from talk to 50s and 60s oldies this morning.
WFBL has failed to catch ratings fire through several incarnations of the talk format. Most recently, it’s carried a lineup of shows from Buckley’s WOR Radio Network, plus Bob and Sheri (more commonly heard on FM AC stations) in morning drive and TRN’s Michael Savage at night. Savage already has a new home in Syracuse – he moves to the 10 PM-1 AM slot on Clear Channel’s WSYR (570 Syracuse) last filled by Mike McConnell. (The station has been rerunning Glenn Beck’s morning show in that slot as a temporary measure.)
The existing WSEN airstaff stays in place, and WFBL will have local jocks as well. Bob Brown will do a local morning show on 1390, followed by voicetracked shifts from WSEN air talent: John Carucci in middays, with a live noon request hour, Gary Dunes in afternoon drive and Diane Wade at night. (Lots of jingles and reverb, too!)
*There’s a new radio station in Keene, NEW HAMPSHIRE, as Great Eastern completes its move of the former WVRR (101.7 Newport) down to the Keene area. Now on 101.9, licensed to Westminster VT, it’s relaunching as “K-Rock,” with new calls WKKN and a lineup that will include the “Greg and the Morning Buzz” show from WGIR-FM in Manchester.
The new WKKN will also pick up selected games of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, who just extended their contract with flagship WGIR through the 2010 season, as well as adding another new affiliate, WTSL (1400 Hanover).
There weren’t a lot of clever April Fool’s pranks this year, but one of the better ones created a link between NEW JERSEY and California, as anarchic freeform WFMU (91.1 East Orange) and even more anarchic freeform KFJC (89.7 Los Altos Hills) swapped programming all day on Tuesday. Both stations have large and enthusiastic online followings, and those listeners found themselves at KFJC’s website and stream when they typed in wfmu.org, with a similar switcheroo for KFJC aficionados at kfjc.org. The on-air programming was switched, too, with only a quick WFMU legal ID interrupting the flow of Northern California oddness over 91.1 (and 90.1 in the Catskills.) Listener reaction was, shall we say, a bit mixed – check it out at WFMU’s Beware of the Blog.
*One of CANADA‘s biggest AM signals goes silent this morning. CBA (1070 Moncton NB) will shut off its 50,000-watt transmitter at 7 AM Atlantic time (6 AM Eastern), 69 years after the station first took to the airwaves.
It’s being replaced by CBAM (106.1 Moncton), at least in the local area, but it leaves behind many CBC Radio fans in the northeastern US who will lose their last on-air link to CBC’s programming.
Ten Years Ago: April 7, 2003 –
(No issue while NERW was at NAB in Las Vegas.)
The fallout continues from the April Fools stunt in which WAAF (107.3 Worcester-Boston) afternoon jocks Opie and Anthony announced the “death” of Boston mayor Tom Menino.
Instead, an angry mayor reportedly faxed a letter to the FCC on city letterhead, asking the commission to investigate the incident. The letter comes at a very bad time for WAAF owner American Radio Systems, which just last week received Justice Department approval to sell its stations to CBS (although WAAF is one of several stations that must then be spun off). It’s now up to the FCC to approve the sale, and an angry mayor can’t help matters much. This week, ARS fired Opie and Anthony, suspended WAAF general manager Bruce Mittman for a month, and placed program director Dave Douglas on a one-month suspension. No permanent replacement has been named for the PM drive slot.
Elsewhere in MASSACHUSETTS, commercial digital TV came one step closer this week, as WHDH-TV (Channel 7) applied for a license for WHDH-DT on Channel 42. Channel 7’s longstanding refusal to lease space on its Newton tower is finally paying off; it’s one of the few major-market TV stations that won’t have to make expensive modifications to its tower, evict other tower occupants, or build a new tower to accomodate the weight of a DTV antenna.
Could one of the oldest construction permits in the northeast finally be coming to the air? NERW notes that WEIB (106.3) in Northampton has applied for a license to cover…and we hope to hear soon from our Western Massachusetts readers about the status of 106.3. That frequency’s been in FCC limbo for literally decades.
In CONNECTICUT, there are new calls for the dark 1510 in New London. The longtime WNLC will become WWJY when it returns to the air; the WNLC calls and standards format live on over on the FM dial at 98.7 in East Lyme.(2008 update – It never returned on AM.)