In this week’s issue: “Shark” sighting on Long Island – Quebec City’s last AM says goodbye – Barrie broadcaster lands Toronto’s 88.1 – W-Bach breaks up – Langer sells Philly’s WFYL
*There are few markets tougher than NEW YORK‘s Long Island to make a successful run as a mainstream class A commercial FM station. The geography’s all wrong, for one thing – you just can’t cover very much of an island that’s long and narrow with a 6 kW (or less) signal that goes out in a circle with barely a 20-mile usable radius, and that’s not even taking account of the massive short-spacing and summertime tropo ducting that can rip a signal to shreds much closer to the tower. And then there’s the little matter of the nation’s largest and most aggressive radio market just to the west, not only spraying strong signals over western Long Island but actively targeting Nassau and Suffolk counties, which are, after all, embedded in the larger New York City market.
Of all the class A signals in the orbit of New York City (leaving out, for the moment, the East End signals that make up an embedded market of their own), the Smithtown-licensed 94.3, sandwiched between co-channel signals in southern CONNECTICUT and the NEW JERSEY shore, has had the roughest time in recent years.
Under Barnstable Broadcasting, 94.3 ricocheted from beautiful music WCTO to adult contemporary as WMJC, then to country, back to hot AC, and then two years ago to 90s hits as WIGX, “94X.” Earlier this year, WIGX was part of Barnstable’s $23 million exit from broadcasting – and last week, new owner Connoisseur Media made its first move with its new Long Island cluster, flipping “94X” to active rock as “94.3 the Shark, Everything that Rocks.”
The new format launched Friday at noon, bringing with it new calls – WWSK – and thus far a jockless lineup of rock that’s heavy on the 1990s and 2000s. “The Shark” faces off against Cox’s venerable rocker WBAB (102.3), one of the few Island class A signals that’s found success over the long run, as well as Merlin’s revived WRXP (101.9) out of New York City, and we’ll be watching closely as it tries to find its groove. (We’re hearing 94X PD Jon Daniels will stay with Connoisseur doing social networking and websites, but the rest of the station’s airstaff is out, including morning man Ralphie Marino.)
*Radio People on the Move: Michael Doyle’s rise through the ranks of Entercom management continued last week, when the veteran Rochester-based manager was promoted from regional VP to regional president, overseeing markets that now range as far afield as Memphis and Gainesville, Florida. Within NERW-land, Doyle’s in charge of Entercom’s clusters in Rochester, Buffalo and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. In Albany, Dylan Rudsill is out as morning co-host at Pamal’s WZMR (Cat Country 104.9), leaving Dana Race solo until a new co-host comes on board.
And back here in Rochester, WYSL (1040 Avon) talk host Bill Nojay moved one step closer to Albany last week when he won the Republican primary in the 133rd state Assembly district. Nojay’s daily hour (2-3 PM) remained on the air during the primary campaign after WYSL offered equal time to opponent Richard Burke; after losing the primary, Burke said turning down the offer of equal time “might have been a mistake” on his part. For his part, Nojay says he’ll stay on the air “until the lawyers tell me I can’t do it anymore”; WYSL has already offered equal time to his general-election opponent.
*Translator news from the state’s southwestern corner: Chadwick Bay Broadcasting is paying Family Life Ministries $20,000 for W236BJ (95.1 Dunkirk); the translator is redundant now that Family Life has put big-signal WCOM (89.3 Silver Creek) on the air, and Chadwick Bay needs it to provide an FM home for oldies WDOE (1410).
And one bit of “we’ve been remiss in not noting” news from Long Island: WLIX-LP (94.7 Ridge) flipped just before Labor Day from religion to “The Penthouse.” That’s the standards format developed first as a streaming service by Bob Perry, who also gave us the first streaming incarnation of “Jack FM” all those years ago. The LPFM was the birthplace of the “WLIX Voice of Hope” Christian network that now makes its primary home at WLIR (107.1 Hampton Bays) along with a network of five translators extending its coverage westward down the island.
*Our PENNSYLVANIA news starts with station sales: in the Philadelphia suburbs, Alex Langer is selling WFYL (1180 King of Prussia) to a new entrant, Trinity Associates Broadcasting, LLC (Alan and Susan Loch), for $262.500. The little daytimer has been carrying a conservative talk lineup.
With WFYL’s sale (and last week’s return of an unbuilt Minnesota construction permit to the FCC), Langer’s holdings are now concentrated in his home base of Boston (about which more in a bit), as well as an unbuilt CP for WFNX (1120 Coral Springs) in south Florida.
Calvary Chapel of Russell is in buying mode at the other end of the state: it’s paying Inspiration Time, Inc. (WCTL in the Erie market) $75,000 for WYVL (88.5 Youngsville) and translator W264AT (100.7 Warren) and will flip them to a simulcast of its WTWT (90.5 Bradford). Calvary is also buying a Jamestown translator, W254AQ (98.7), for which it’s paying $100.
The news out of Pittsburgh is a station sale that’s not happening: the McKeesport Daily News‘ Pat Cloonan ran down a report that veteran Steel City DJ Terry Lee was getting ready to pay $75,000 for WLFP (1550 Reserve Township); Cloonan talked to WLFP owner Michael Metter, who derided his own little daytime AM signal as a “cockamamie station” and suggested that “if anyone wants to buy it, they can buy it,” presumably for less than his original $225,000 asking price.
*The breakup of MAINE‘s commercial classical network began on Thursday afternoon, as Mainestream Media took over WBQW (104.7 Kennebunkport) from bankrupt Nassau Communications, which had been using the signal as the southernmost link in its “W-Bach” chain. After a classy farewell from “W-Bach,” Mainestream took over at 5 PM as “Christmas 104.7,” stunting for a day before Friday afternoon’s launch of its permanent new format on the signal.
As we’d suspected, “Hot 104.7” picks up much of the DNA of the former WRED (95.9 Saco), playing rhythmic top-40 with Ryan Dillon as PD. The new station is playing 5,000 commercial-free songs before launching with an airstaff that’s yet to be announced.
Down the coast, Nassau’s still telling listeners that they can tune in to “W-Bach” on WBQX (106.9 Thomaston) and WBQI (107.7 Bar Harbor), but the new logo on the W-Bach website, showing only 106.9, is a reminder that the sale of 107.7 is already underway from Bill Binnie (who’s buying most of Nassau’s Maine signals) to Blueberry Broadcasting. And remember we told you that Blueberry had already applied for new calls of “WBKA” at 107.7? We’d be surprised, indeed, if 107.7 isn’t soon simulcasting Blueberry’s classic hits WABK (104.3 Gardiner)/WBAK (104.7 Brewer-Bangor).
*While we’re Down East, we send congratulations to Joe McMillan, who picks up mornings on WRMO (93.7 Milbridge), beginning today.
*In MASSACHUSETTS, there’s a new programmer with a familiar name at CBS Radio’s new “AMP 103.3” (WODS) in Boston. Dan Mason, Jr. went to school at Boston’s Emerson College, and he made his name in recent years launching Clear Channel’s “Kiss” (WAKS) in Cleveland and programming Entercom’s KDND (107.9 the End) in Sacramento. Now he’s bringing his top-40 chops to “AMP,” where his boss (market manager Mark Hannon) ultimately reports to another Dan Mason, CBS Radio head honcho Dan Mason, Senior.
*Alex Langer’s new Brockton acquisition is changing tower sites. WMSX (1410 Brockton) told the FCC last week that it’s lost the lease on the station’s longtime transmitter facility on Linwood Street and will be moving to a new location. WMSX had already filed for a silent STA; now it’s asking the FCC for permission to run reduced power (250 watts day/39 watts night) from a longwire antenna until it can complete its move to a new site.
Where are they now? Former WZLX (100.7 Boston) jock Annalisa made the move out west to San Francisco’s KFOG (104.5) in the 1990s, settling in nicely as the middayer at the popular AAA station – but last week she abruptly announced her departure from Cumulus-owned KFOG, and she’s rumored to be heading for Entercom’s crosstown KUFX/KUZX (98.5/102.1) to replace Greg Kihn in morning drive there.
*Program director Kwame “KD” Dankwa is moving on from VERMONT, a year and a half after arriving at Pamal’s WZRT (97.1 Rutland). Where’s he headed? A bigger market, we hear…and we’ll know more soon.
*In CONNECTICUT, Stan Priest is moving on from Clear Channel’s WKSS (95.7 Hartford) and WKCI (101.3 Hamden/New Haven); he’s on his way to Philadelphia in a few weeks to take Tim Herbster’s old PD job at WIOQ (102.1).
*It’s already been a weird year for AM radio in French-speaking CANADA, and late last week it just got a bit weirder.
Even as the CRTC was deep into its hearings to determine the fate of Montreal’s CKGM (690) and the larger question of Bell’s proposed acquisition of Astral Media – and thus the future of much of the AM dial in Montreal – came word from Quebec City that the last remaining AM signal there is on the verge of shutdown.
CHRC (800) is the provincial capital’s oldest radio station, tracing its history back to 1926, but as listeners have moved to FM, the AM station has struggled for survival in recent years. Corus operated it as “Info 800,” a sister to its now-defunct CINF (690 Montreal), before announcing its own plans to walk away from the license in 2007. The Remparts minor-league hockey team stepped in to rescue the station, but rumors had been growing in the last few weeks that the money-losing signal was on its last legs, and Friday brought the official announcement that “Quebec 800” will fall silent at some point in the next few weeks. The move puts 15 people out of work and will send Remparts broadcasts over to CJMF (93.3) on the FM dial.
Will a buyer step forward to save CHRC? Montreal blogger Steve Faguy, our go-to guy for Quebec radio (his coverage of the CRTC Bell-Astral hearings has been phenomenal), says it’s remotely possible, especially if Bell gets the go-ahead to flip CKGM to French-language sports and is then looking to launch the new “RDS Radio” elsewhere in the province. Faguy suggests that the Tietolman-Tetreault-Pancholy group that’s launching talk AM signals in Montreal might also be interested.
If CHRC does go away, it will leave Quebec essentially an AM-free province outside Montreal; there are 13 other full-power AM stations now on the air in Quebec, ten of them in the Montreal area, two in Gatineau-Ottawa relaying Montreal specialty FM signals, and one remaining outlying commercial AM (CFLM 1240 La Tuque) that’s waiting to hear whether the CRTC will approve its plans to move to FM. (And we credit Dan Sys’ Canadian Radio News for noting that CHRC’s disappearance, if it comes to pass, will make Quebec City the largest market in Canada with no AM stations, a dubious honor now held by Halifax.)
Back to the Bell/Astral hearings: the week’s big news from Montreal included Bell’s release of a list of ten stations it plans to sell in markets where the combination would put the company over the CRTC’s ownership caps. In Ottawa, Bell says it would part with the current Astral English-language cluster, “Bear” classic rock CKQB (106.9) and “Boom” classic hits CJOT (99.7), retaining the existing Bell four-station cluster in English and Astral’s French-language CIMF (94.9) and CKTF (104.1) in French. In Toronto, Bell would keep its own CHUM (TSN Radio 1050) and CHUM-FM (104.5) as well as Astral’s CFRB (1010) and CKFM (Virgin Radio 99.9), shedding Astral’s classic hits “Boom” CHBM (97.3) and Bell’s rhythmic top-40 CFXJ (Flow 93.5).
*Which brings us to the CRTC’s other big news last week: the lone open space on the Toronto FM dial, 88.1, drew 23 applicants after the license for Ryerson University-affiliated CKLN was revoked, and the big winner turned out to be Doug Bingley’s Barrie-based Rock 95 Broadcasting.
Reading through the CRTC’s fairly lengthy decision, the agency appears first to have decided which of three categories of applicant would move forward. The agency appears to have determined fairly early in the process that the tiny Francophone community in Toronto was already served well enough by Radio-Canada’s CJBC (860)/CJBC-FM (90.3) and community station CHOQ (105.1), and that disposed of the applications from CJBC for a nested FM repeater for the AM signal and from CHOQ for a signal upgrade. (The CRTC actually made mention of HD Radio subchannels as a possible solution for expanding those stations’ coverage areas.) A pile of applications for new ethnic stations was similarly dismissed, with the CRTC finding that “the Toronto market’s diverse population is currently well served by the existing nine commercial ethnic stations and one community ethnic station, which represent 25% of the stations operating in the market.”
That cleared the way for a new mainstream station, and among that group of contenders, the CRTC liked Rock 95’s status as a new entrant into the Toronto fray, as well as what it called the company’s “innovative proposal for an eclectic, Indie music format FM station focusing on emerging, independent artists from Canada,” a format that it says “will add to the musical diversity of the market.”
Rock 95, which owns Barrie’s CFJB (95.7) and CKMB (107.5), will commit just over C$2 million over seven years to Canadian content development – and we get spared a “phase two” of speculation that might have followed if the CRTC had instead granted 88.1 to any of several applicants seeking to upgrade their existing facilities, including Evanov’s “Pride Radio” CIRR (103.9) and Fitzroy Gordon’s CKFG (98.7). And of course there’s Ryerson University, which put together an application for a new 88.1 facility to replace the revoked CKLN.
The new “Indie 88.1” will have to be on the air by September 2014 or seek an extension; given Rock 95’s already-extensive development of the format, which is streaming in a prototype version on a fairly comprehensive website, and the existence of the former CKLN transmitter facility on First Canadian Place, it’s entirely possible it could launch much sooner.
*The CRTC’s flood of decisions also brought good news (and some bad, too) to other southern Ontario applicants: its 88.1 decision also disposed of proposals for two lower-power AM ethnic signals, a daytime-only 1190 in Brampton and a split-frequency signal in Markham that would have used 1480 by day and 1490 at night. Applicant Bhupinder Bola did win approval for a new ethnic FM signal in Markham, on 105.9 with 1600 watts (max DA)/618 watts (average). And the fast-growing My Broadcasting won approval for another link in its chain of small-town community AC signals around Ontario: it will operate on 92.1 from Alliston, north of Toronto, with 3.75 kW (max DA)/2 kW (average)/30 m.
In Ottawa, Fiston Kalambay has applied for a new French-language Christian station on 92.7, running 51 watts/23.5 meters. The proposed “Vie Nouvelle Radio” would be mutually exclusive to Evanov’s 92.5 application in Clarence-Rockland to the east, and so it will be considered as part of the CRTC’s review of that application and another mutually-exclusive 92.5, the power upgrade of CKBE Montreal.
And in London, Rogers won CRTC approval for a power boost at CHST (102.3 Bob FM): it will go from its present 12.1 kW (max DA)/5.9 kW (average) to 100 kW (max DA)/20 kW (average) from its existing spot on the CFPL-TV (Channel 10) tower.
*You can be one of the first readers to own the 2013 Tower Site Calendar!
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!