It was, of course, a stunt (borrowed from "Quick FM" on Syracuse's WHEN-FM, circa 1996) -- and it ended Friday morning (4/7) when the stations became "93.9, 93.5 Bob Country." The buzz in Upper Valley radio circles says the name is a tweak at Bob Frisch, the owner of the market's existing country station, WXXK (100.5 Lebanon NH).
NERW's listening to "Bob" as we write this, and it's sounding live and local, complete with the "Turn your knob to Bob" liners originated a few years ago at the now-defunct "Bob Country" WBOB 100.3 Minneapolis (is there nothing new under the sun?)
"Bob" also has a new Web site and a new studio, as owners Conn River Broadcasting move the station back to the Vermont side of the river, where former owners Bob and Shirley Wolf started WMXR a decade ago. The Wolfs had moved the station to West Lebanon, New Hampshire in 1997; now it moves to a renovated farmhouse at 24 West Bridge Road, off Route 131 in Ascutney.
No change to the calls yet, but we wouldn't be surprised to hear one sooner or later. (The Bob sales staff might need a reminder about what the calls are anyway -- the coverage map on their Web site lists WMXR as 93.5 and WCFR as 93.9, with no mention at all of the W232AP translator on 94.3 in West Lebanon!)
Across the market, we hear WXPS (96.7 Willsboro NY) is ditching country for smooth jazz.
Down in the Rutland market, Jay Gadon (late of WZRT/WSYB) takes on a new role: he's now the general manager of "Express 101" (WEXP 101.5 Brandon), helping the new CHR settle in at its new Rutland studios. Congratulations!
The march of the satellite translators continues: Pensacola Christian College (WPCS) applies for 88.1 in Skowhegan and another 88.1 in Brewer.
Thanks to WBZ's Steve LeVeille, the current occupant of Glick's old overnight slot, we can now report that Larry Glick will be back on the air at WBZ for one night. Steve will be talking to Larry beginning at midnight, Thursday April 27 into Friday April 28, presumably for as long as Larry wants to go. Set those tape decks now...
Down the hallway and around the corner, 17 year old Rob Pirraglia joins oldies WODS (103.3) for weekend nights, becoming the latest addition to Oldies 103 from WWBB (101.5 Providence).
Who's the channel 24 LPTV one of our North Shore correspondents was asking about? Seems it's W24CM "Boston," running 26 kilowatts visual from the "FM128" tower in Newton with home shopping. Yep, that would be first-adjacent to full power WFXT (Channel 25) -- but we'll need to get used to that in this brave new world of DTV, won't we?
Pirate Alert: A reader is hearing someone doing gospel on 90.1 in the Brockton area, somewhere between North Main Street and Montello.
The station, silent for nearly a year already, has been granted a boost to 5 kilowatts day, 170 watts night, directional from the Lake Road towers of LMA sister station WELM (1410 Elmira). One more thing...it won't be on 1590 when it returns. According to at least part of the buggy FCC database, the new WEHH diplex operation will be on 1600 kHz. No word yet on whether the standards format that was on the old WEHH until its tower came down will return on the new WEHH.
Up in Buffalo, Entercom made a format change Monday morning -- but not, as rumor had it, on WWKB. Instead, it was AC WMJQ (102.5) dropping its "Q102" moniker for two commercial-free hours, followed at 9 AM by the debut of "Star 102," a hot AC incarnation of the format. New calls followed later in the week: WTSS (shouldn't that be "Tsar 102"?), last seen in the region at the long-gone AM 1320 in Scranton. The new address, by the way, for WTSS and its Entercom cousins (WGR, WBEN, WWWS, WWKB, and WKSE) is 500 Corporate Parkway, Suite 200, Buffalo NY 14226. New phone: 716-843-0100.
NERW's hoping to someday see the WMJQ calls return to the Rochester market, where they're still fondly remembered from their days in the 1970s and 80s on what's now WBEE-FM (92.5) -- which, coincidentally, is also an Entercom station.
Vox Broadcasting just keeps buying and buying, expanding beyond its New England base this week to buy clusters in two Empire State markets. As rumored, Vox is picking up the Glens Falls clusters of Bradmark and Starview Media:
From Bradmark: talk WBZA (1410 South Glens Falls), standards WENU (101.7 Hudson Falls), and AC WNYQ (105.7 Queensbury, the only facility here better than a class A).
From Starview: sports WMML (1230 Glens Falls), country WZZM-FM (93.5 Corinth), and oldies WHTR (107.1 Hudson Falls). WHTR was granted a CP this week to boost power from 270 watts to 2850 watts, dropping height from 257 meters AAT in the Luzerne Mountains west of Glens Falls to 147 meters AAT from the WZZM tower a bit to the south.
But that's not all: Vox is also heading way west to stake out a claim to the Jamestown market, as far to the west as you can go in New York State. Again, the company assembles a cluster from two groups:
From North Country Broadcasting: oldies WDOE (1410) and country WCQA (96.5) in Dunkirk, on the shore of Lake Ontario.
From Derrick Publishing Company: oldies WKSN (1340) and country WHUG (101.9) in Jamestown.
And that's still not all: Vox is also moving across the state line for its first Pennsylvania stations, WCED (1420) and WOWQ (102.1) in Du Bois, along I-80 between Nowhere and West Nowhere, or Clearfield and Clarion, if you prefer...
Whilst on the PA side of the line, we note that the standards have vanished from their longtime home on WEJL (630 Scranton) and simulcast WBAX (1240 Wilkes-Barre), replaced by sports from ESPN. Standards live on in the market on Nanticoke's WNAK (730).
In Albany, April Fools' Day came one day early on WPYX (106.5), where the morning crew played off the rumors that the Clear Channel spinoff would take 'PYX Spanish by...taking 'PYX Spanish. All morning Friday (3/31), they spun Spanish pop hits, played spots en espanol, and finally owned up to the prank about 9:45 AM. Sure beats claiming the mayor's dead...
A few corrections from last week: WBDI/WBDR in the Watertown market are owned by David Clancy, not Craig Fox. Fox does own the WOLF/WWLF stations in Syracuse, along with George Kimble. Could there be a fourth station joining the two AMs and one FM with Radio Disney? Sounds that way. Kimble's partner in the Radio Group in the Finger Lakes, by the way, is Bob Martin, not "Jim" as we reported a few weeks back. (We knew better, really...) Bob and Greg Cotterill will soon be doing news on a new morning show, "Finger Lakes Today," to be heard on all of the group's AM stations, WCGR (1550 Canandaigua, relayed on WRSB 1310 there as well), WGVA (1240 Geneva), WSFW (1110 Seneca Falls), and WAUB (1590 Auburn). Hosts for the show, to debut in May, will be Doug Finch and Donna Henderson. And we hear that the new transmitter location proposed for WLLW (99.3 Seneca Falls) will be the site in Junius (just north of the Thruway on NY 414) occupied by the former WLLW, now WCOV (93.7 Clyde). (Or is it still WSFW-FM on 99.3 and WLLW on 93.7? The FCC database isn't much help, of course...)
Translator Watch: "Family Worship Center" (aka WJFM Baton Rouge LA, aka Jimmy Swaggart) applies for 89.9 in Bath and 90.1 in Medina. We hear the Medina application will be opposed by co-channel WGMC in Greece, which has a decent signal and a loyal audience in Orleans County -- and which is about to apply for a tower height increase itself. (Hmmm...out of state translator abuser vs. very local station with jazz and unique ethnic programming...who should NERW root for?) Down in the New York City market, the FCC has dismissed Best Media's application for 88.1 Woodsburgh. We're still waiting to hear from anyone who has any idea who Best Media are, and why they filed such blatantly abusive applications last year.
Jason Bereza at Hudson Valley Radio Guide checked in with some programming notes downstate: WGNY (1220 Newburgh) returns to ABC's satellite oldies format from AP all-news, while "The Cat" (WCTW 98.5 Catskill and WCTJ 96.1 Poughkeepsie) heads to live and local AC from the bird feed. Translators W231AG (94.1 Newburgh) and W293AE (106.5 Newburgh) go from relaying WBWZ (93.3 New Paltz) and WRWD-FM (107.3 Highland) to relaying religious WAWZ (99.1 Zarephath NJ), we're told.
On the Web: There are interesting new Web presences from Rochester-market WYSL (1040 Avon) and from New York's WEVD (1050), the latter with a live audio stream, which is nice for those of us in the null between WEVD and Toronto's CHUM.
It turns out Staten Island's WSIA (88.9) will carry the SI Yankees again this year, after all.
Finally this week, a few more notes about LPFM in the wake of all the response last week's Rant generated:
Several of you pointed out, quite correctly, that one of the concerns about relaxing third-adjacent protection is IBOC (in-band, on-channel) digital radio. Those of you who subscribe to the DX Audio Service will have heard this month's presentation of the "buzzing" noise generated on first-adjacent channels by the IBOC testing at New York City's WNEW (102.7).
Preserving spectrum for eventual IBOC use is a legitimate concern, no doubt. But we remain unconvinced that IBOC is the best digital solution for US radio. We're truly worried about the US moving away from the Eureka system that seems to be on the verge of becoming a global standard. It's bad enough that channel-spacing disparities make many digital receivers unusable in Europe and Asia for analog radio. It's even worse to think that the radio that works just fine in Niagara Falls, New York could be useless for hearing the signals of Niagara Falls, Ontario, and vice versa.
NERW's also not convinced that IBOC solves any real pressing problems for broadcasters and listeners. Audio quality on FM doesn't promise to be that much better than it already is, and there's no evidence to suggest that listeners want to spend a few hundred dollars on a new receiver just to hear the same 18 minutes of spots an hour that they can already hear with their old radio -- especially when that same money could be spent on a Sirius receiver (satellite digital radio), with better audio quality and no commercials.
Once again, it's the status quo protecting itself for the short term, with no ability to see the long-term picture. We're not surprised.
That's it for this week...see you next Friday with much more from the wide world of radio!