A year and a half after buying WCAT (700 Orange) and WCAT-FM (99.9 Athol), Jeff Shapiro is selling the stations to Citadel for $875,000, a $25,000 profit from his August 1998 purchase price. While the stations sat at the southern arc of Shapiro's broadcast group in Vermont and New Hampshire (most of which was sold to Vox last year), they're at the northern end of Citadel's growing Worcester market, which includes WXLO (104.5 Fitchburg), WORC-FM (98.9 Webster), and WWFX (100.1 Southbridge). WWFX is the interesting piece here; another former Shapiro station, it's limited from moving its transmitter site northward (and closer to Worcester) by -- WCAT-FM! Do we see site moves (or at least a simulcast) on the horizon?
As for the AM daytimer: it's never been much of a player in the market since moving to 700 from 1390 in the 1980s, and now runs mostly Talk America product.
Just to the east in Winchendon, WINQ (97.7) is also getting new owners, as Central Broadcasting sells the station to Joe Gallagher's Aritaur Broadcasting. Aritaur sold its Pittsfield group (WBEC AM-FM, WZEC) to Tele-Media last July, and ironically, Gallagher's KJI group sold the other 97.7 in Massachusetts, WCAV Brockton (now WBOT), to Radio One last June. There's no word yet on Aritaur's plans for WINQ, or on the purchase price.
Proof this week that you don't have to be a religious broadcaster to be a spectrum hog: UMass/Boston's WUMB (91.9) is getting some bad press in the town of Maynard, as it pushes forward with its application for a new station in Stow on 91.7.
That application is mutually exclusive with one by WAVM Maynard, also on 91.7, to boost power from 16 watts to 150, moving from an unprotected class D license to a protected class A. That's something the FCC encourages the remaining class D licenses to do, no matter how much WUMB head honcho Patricia Monteith may claim it's "illegal."
NERW's editorial take on the matter: WAVM has been on 91.7 since April 1974. While some high school stations are, frankly, better suited to closed-circuit or cable FM, WAVM is one of the best we've ever heard. The folks in Maynard are committed to using the station as more than just an opportunity to let kids "play DJ." WAVM provides true community service through sports and news programming -- in fact, WAVM student staffers produce occasional reports on student opinion for no less than CNN!
WUMB, meanwhile, squeezed onto the Boston FM dial in 1982, taking advantage of the breakdown of the old class D allocations to edge 91.7 stations at Northeastern and Brandeis into the commercial band. Since then, WUMB has missed nary a trick in its attempt to turn a Boston-only frequency into a regional service. Some of those moves -- adding 91.9 transmitters in Worcester (buying out a religious CP) and Falmouth -- were justified and legitimate. Others -- forcing Winchester High School's WHSR off 91.9 (and ultimately off the air) and cramming up against Salem State's WMWM (91.7) with a co-channel application in Newburyport -- smack of greed.
Sorry, Pat: WAVM was there first. NERW loves the music WUMB plays as much as anyone, but the FM dial in the Maynard area was full before WUMB ever signed on, and trying to eliminate a true community voice is just plain greedy. Go apply for a translator in Twin Falls, Idaho, instead...you'll be in good company.
A few more bits of Bay State news: WESX (1230 Salem) has a new morning team to replace the retired Al Needham. Kendall Buhl, who does WESX's mid-morning talk show, will do news, while former Marblehead selectman Tom McNulty will be the host.
Sean Casey, erstwhile news anchor at the old WHDH (850), has found a new gig. He's moving from Shadow Traffic, where he was operations director, to the PD chair and morning drive at "Easy 99.1," WPLM-FM Plymouth. Casey replaces Jack Brady, who leaves WPLM after many, many years overlooking Route 3.
And the Boston Globe is forming a new TV alliance. WBZ-TV (Channel 4) will offer a preview of the next morning's Globe front page (presumably for those who can't read the tiny type!) each weeknight during the 11 o'clock news. The Globe and WBZ will also cooperate on "News Conference," a Sunday morning revival of the old "Eyewitness News Conference" (complete with John Henning as host) each week at 11. The Globe says its alliance with all-news cable channel NECN will continue for now as well.
From Green to White: A few weeks after unloading his WENY-TV (Channel 36) in Elmira, Howard Green is selling his Elmira radio stations as well. White Broadcasting LLC is the new owner for talker WENY (1230) and AC WENY-FM (92.7); no word yet on price or any format plans.
It hasn't been sold yet, but Binghamton's first TV station is on the market. Gateway says it wants to sell WBNG (Channel 12), along with WTAJ (Channel 10) in Altoona PA and WOWK (Channel 13) in Huntington WV, leaving the company with just WLYH (Channel 15) in Lancaster PA. WBNG is the only VHF in the otherwise all-U Binghamton and Elmira markets, and is consistently the top-rated news operation in the Binghamton market.
On the religious front, Pensacola Christian College is applying for a new station on 89.9 in Amsterdam; Living Way has been denied 91.9 in "Oceanside," which would have been a New York City squeeze-in; and that 89.5 in Macedon we mentioned last week would be a station, not a translator, which sets up a mutually-exclusive battle with the WEOS (89.7 Geneva) application to raise power and move to...89.5.
From the "Not A Useless Pile of Junk, After All" file: NERW will finally have something worthwile to do with the six AM stereo receivers lining the shelves of NERW Central, when WLGZ (990 Rochester) goes stereo in March. We're hearing that all the Crawford AM stations are adopting stereo, which is a nice change from groups like Clear Channel turning off the stereo generators around the country (rendering the aforementioned radios useless last year when WHAM went mono!)
Congratulations to Bill Cloutier, GM of Entercom's Rochester group (WBEE-FM, WBBF, WQRV, WEZO). He's leaving radio behind to become executive VP/sales director of RegionalHelpWanted.com. Best of luck...
The Toronto morning scene is changing again: John Derringer is headed back to his old afternoon slot at CILQ (Q107), leaving behind the morning gig at sports CJCL (Fan 590). Derringer quit Q107 a few years ago when he was denied the morning spot, which later went to Howard Stern...but now rumor (wait, this is Canada -- "rumour") has it that the license (oops -- "licence") transfer of Q107 from WIC to Corus (the broadcast group formerly known as Shaw) could go faster if Stern is off the air. Pat Marsden is handling mornings on Fan 590 in the meantime.
That's all for this week; more next Friday!