Text and photos by SCOTT FYBUSH
One of the things we look forward to every year is a visit from our colleague Mike Fitzpatrick, proprietor of the most awesome NECRAT.us site, which is even more jam-packed with tower pictures than we are.
Over the years, we’ve made it a point to try to visit pretty much every site within a few hours of our home base in western New York, and we cleaned up a bunch of missing pieces when Mike visited in the fall of 2022, including some sites very close to home that we hadn’t seen before.
We started our first day on the road with a very new site indeed: Family Life Ministries had just flipped the switch on its new signal in Bath, New York. Bath is Family Life’s home base, but its original flagship WCIK (103.1) moved north a few years ago to nearby Avoca, leaving a little coverage hole that Family Life filled in in 2022 by signing on WCIN (88.3), up on a hill just north of Bath at a site that’s also home to two translators. W239BK (95.7), just below WCIN’s new Shively antenna, is part of the Seven Mountains Elmira/Corning cluster, relaying “The Met” (WMTT 94.7), while W293CE (106.5) on the other side of the tower had been a Family Life translator but is headed to Tower Broadcasting, which owns Bath’s commercial stations.
WVIN (98.3) is up in the hills west of Bath, and its tower now also carries the antenna for translator W262CX (100.3), which rebroadcasts sister AM station WABH (1380).
It’s just a short drive on I-86 into Corning, where we start with a few Things That Aren’t There Anymore. Just southeast of downtown Corning, a drive up Davis Road takes us to what had long been the studio and transmitter site of WCBA (1350), one of Corning’s original two AM signals. After many years of being on and off the air and mostly simulcasting other stations, WCBA surrendered its license in 2022, but the Davis Road site isn’t gone: for the last few years, it’s also been the diplex home of Corning’s other heritage AM station, WENI (1450, ex-WCLI), which remains on the air from this site originating Seven Mountains’ “Bigfoot Country Legends” format.
Corning lost another signal in 2022, when Corning Community College surrendered the license for WCEB (91.9), an old class D facility that had been off the air for the last few years. The WCEB antenna was still sitting atop one of the college buildings when we drove up the hills south of Corning to have a look.
We’d been up Higman Hill, the big TV/FM site just southwest of Corning, fairly recently – but Mike hadn’t, and so we happily Jeeped our way up the rutted road to that fascinating site to see what’s new.
The tall tower on Higman, as we noted last year, carries only TV (Elmira/Corning’s ABC/CBS, Fox, PBS and My outlets) and one public radio translator (WSKG’s classical signal on 90.7), while most of the FM here comes off the older, shorter tower next to it.
Mike is a master at identifying every single antenna on a tower, so we can say a little more about what’s what on this stick, starting with the two-bay antenna at the top that carries full-power 97.7 (now Family Life’s WCIG) and 98.7 (Seven Mountains’ classic hits “Cool” WPHD), seen in the middle photo above in the container at the base of the tower. At the top of the left rack are two translators combined into an antenna near the base of the tower: Seven Mountains’ W277DG (103.3) repeats “Bigfoot Legends” from WENI (1450), while W294BU (106.7) carries “Magic” from what was then WENY (1230 Elmira, now WMAJ).
There’s a two-bay below that that has four signals all combined into it from a single rack in the container (at the right side of the left photo above): Family Worship Center’s W208BC (89.5, fed by satellite from WJFM in Baton Rouge, Louisiana); Seven Mountains’ W236AK (95.1, carrying “The Met” from WMTT 94.7) and W281BA (104.1, carrying rock “Wingz” from WCBF 96.1-HD4) and religious WLRG-LP (107.5).
The other side of that rack has still more translators: Tower’s W244EC (96.7, relaying what was then WEHH 1600) and W273AC (102.5, relaying country WOKN 99.5) are combined into one antenna lower down on the tower, below the antenna of W228DN (93.5, also relaying “Wingz”). At the top of the rack is Seven Mountain’s W300DH (107.9, relaying “Jamz” from WCBF 96.1-HD2), feeding an antenna near the bottom of the tower.
Back down in Corning, we pass through the historic downtown and head over to the east side of town, where one of the oldest tower sites in the market sits up at the very top of Denmark Hill, overlooking Corning from the northeast.
This site hit the air in 1947 as WKNP (95.1), owned by the Corning Leader, but soon took the WCLI-FM calls and moved to 106.1 as it added WCLI (1450) from this same tower. As we noted earlier, the AM has long since moved over to Davis Road and the old WCBA site, while 106.1 continues to boom out from Denmark Hill as Seven Mountains’ WNKI (Wink 106), the only class B signal in the Elmira-Corning market, and it shares this tower with one more Seven Mountains translator, W267CJ (101.3), which also relays “The Met.”
Where to next? After a few Elmira updates, it’s off to a nifty small market that straddles the New York/Pennsylvania border, where we’ll show you Dave Radigan’s stations in next week’s installment.
CALENDARS ON CLEARANCE
If you don’t have your 2023 Tower Site Calendar yet, now is the perfect time to get it. Because we have lowered the price to just $14.
The calendar has great photos of broadcast sites near and far (everywhere from Navajo Nation on the cover to Boston to Toronto to Texas, and beyond), plus a lovely “centerfold” you can keep on your wall for 2024.
It’s still shipping regularly, and you can have yours in just a couple of days!
Order your copy and you’ll see what we mean.
If you have already ordered your calendar, make sure you check out the other items in the store, too!
And don’t miss a big batch of Southern Tier IDs next Wednesday, over at our sister site, TopHour.com!
Next week: Elmira and on to Waverly and Towanda