We begin in NEW HAMPSHIRE, where Hearst-Argyle fulfilled the rumor mill's expectations by announcing a $185 million purchase of Manchester's WMUR-TV (Channel 9) from Imes Communications.
Why so much for a small-town ABC affiliate? (Imes paid just $5 million for the station back in 1981.) It should be well worth it for Hearst-Argyle, if only for the opportunity to control both ABC outlets in the Boston market. Expect to see some news coverage from Hearst-Argyle's WCVB (Channel 5) Boston on WMUR, as well as enhanced New Hampshire coverage from WMUR on 'CVB. The real prize, though, won't come around for another four years: the incredible amount of political advertising and national attention that flows into the Granite State's only commercial VHF station come primary time. There's a reason WMUR's spacious new studios in downtown Manchester are called "The House Steve Forbes Built," after all.
As part of the deal, Hearst-Argyle also gets WMUR's LPTV outlets in Littleton and Berlin, which carry Fox network programming and WMUR newscasts. (Expect some unusual FCC paperwork on this one, too, since it will actually be Emmis Broadcasting acquiring WMUR, then transferring it to Hearst-Argyle as payment for the three Phoenix radio stations Emmis is getting from Hearst...)
One more Granite State note: We hear New Hampshire Public Radio is testing a live audio stream at <http://www.nhpr.org>, which is about to undergo a redesign.
End of story? Not so fast...we also saw applications make their way to the FCC at week's end to transfer WCTB/WCME, WSKW, WABK (104.3 Gardiner), WKCG (101.3 Augusta), WTOS (105.1 Skowhegan), and WFAU (1280 Gardiner) to Clear Channel. More next week, we're certain...
Down in Portland, we hear WYNZ (100.9 Westbrook) is losing longtime morning man Dean Rogers to crosstown WHOM (94.9 Mount Washington). As of Sunday night, Rogers still appears on WYNZ's Web site, while WHOM's still shows Bill Thomas doing mornings. (Those in need of a good geographical laugh are invited to check out the Web site of WHOM's corporate parent, Citadel, which locates Portland somewhere way up on the Quebec border...)
Saga is changing the calls of WHMP-FM ("99.3 Rocks") to WLZX, and we're told the next step will be an active rock format similar to longtime Saga property WLZR (102.9) in Milwaukee. Scott Laudani arrives to replace Adam Wright as PD. (He's perhaps better known to New Hampshirites for his stints at WHEB and WXBB/WXBP in recent years.)
Worcester's WICN (90.5) suffered what the station calls a "catastrophic" transmitter failure September 1. The good news: While the station gets a full-power signal back on the air, listeners in Worcester and far beyond can check out the station's new Webcast at <http://www.wicn.org>.
Alumni of Boston University's student-run carrier-current station might want to check out a new page just for them. Alumnus Aaron "Bishop" Read put up the site at <http://www.friedbagels.com/wtbu.html>.
We're told Karl Stober, last seen at WHOB over in Nashua, N.H., is joining Brattleboro's WKVT (1490/92.7) as general manager.
Does Vermont need a new FM allocation? The FCC says yes; add 97.5A in Bristol to the table (though applications for that channel and the half-dozen others added in the region recently will have to wait for the present freeze to be lifted).
Over in Pawtucket, WICE (550) adds Mancow Muller's syndicated morning show (last heard in the market on now-defunct WXEX 99.7) to replace Mike Butts. (And this correction: WICE isn't the most northerly AM station in Rhode Island; that dubious honor goes to Woonsocket's WNRI 1380, as several alert readers couldn't wait to tell me...)
Back in our March 24 issue, we told you that Westport's WMMM (1260) was changing calls to WSHU, to match its public radio sister FM station on 91.1. It only took nine months, but now the call change is finally official, according to the FCC. (The change, alas, comes just a few weeks too late to make this year's National Radio Club AM Log, whose fearless fact-checkers first noticed that the March call-change announcement was never accompanied by any official notice to the FCC.)
Also changing calls: Vox's Olean AM station, from WMNS (1360) to WOEN. We only heard the calls mentioned once an hour, and fairly quickly at that, which was no great change from the station's practice under the old set of calls.
One of Buffalo's three country stations will flip to sports by October 1. WNUC (107.7 Wethersfield Township) was sold to Adelphia Communications, parent of the Empire Sports Network, last month, and it's no great surprise to find that the new sports outlet will feature Fox Sports Radio and the Adelphia-owned Buffalo Sabres. Former WGR (550) sports talker Art Wander will be the first local host to join the station, which is being billed as a "nicer" alternative to WGR.
Former WGR news director Ray Marks is returning to Buffalo after several months down in Jamestown at WJTN (1240). We're told he's taking Kevin Keenan's place as news director at WGR's Entercom sister station, WBEN (930).
A nice trop opening Thursday night allowed your editor to do some research without leaving the driveway here at NERW Central -- and we can now report that after signing off its old "Power 102" urban format at 6 PM Labor Day (9/4), WRDS (102.1 Phoenix) is stunting with country as "Big Cow," playing the same live version of Garth Brooks' "Friends in Low Places" over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. Assuming the country format sticks, WRDS will challenge top-rated Syracuse country station WBBS (104.7 Fulton).
Also booming into the Rochester suburbs: WLLW (99.3 Seneca Falls), which exited its LMA with George Kimble's Radio Group this week. Kimble closed on his $875,000 deal to buy WLLW and sister WSFW (1110) from Family Life Ministries, which just bought them from George Souhan last March (and which received WLLW's old 93.7 Clyde facilities, now WCOV, in return.)
One more Central New York note: Tom Mitchell, longtime OM of WNTQ (93.1 Syracuse) and WAQX (95.7 Manlius), gets to add OM duties for the other two Citadel stations in the Salt City (WLTI 105.9 and WNSS 1260). Mitchell is still programming WNTQ, but gives up his consultant duties for Citadel's WMME (92.3 Augusta ME).
Two sales to report in the Southern Tier: Binghamton's WBNG (Channel 12) changes hands from Gateway to SJL in a three-state deal that sees SJL take over the entire Gateway group (including WTAJ Altoona PA, WLYH Lebanon PA, and WOWK Huntington WV). An hour's drive east, Amos Finch's Delaware County Broadcasting Corp. is being bought by BanJo Communications, the small group that's already taken a commanding position in the Oneonta area with its four-station cluster (WKXZ/WBKT/WCHN Norwich and WZOZ Oneonta). BanJo gets to add WDLA AM-FM (1270/92.1) Walton, WDHI (100.3 Delhi), and WIYN (94.7 Deposit) to its holdings in the hilly rural areas off I-88 and route 17.
Up in Albany, we still don't know what format Ernie Anastos will put on his latest acquisition, WMVI (1160 Mechanicville) -- but we do know what it will be called. "The Sun" will complement Anastos' "Moon" (WUAM 900/WVKZ 1240) and "Star" (WQAR 101.3). It's possible Anastos has some bigger matters on his mind; the veteran New York City TV anchor announced this week that he'll jump to WCBS-TV (Channel 2) when his contract at WWOR (Channel 9) is up at year's end.
In the Hudson Valley, it's another new format for WEOK (1390 Poughkeepsie) and WALL (1340 Middletown), as Rush, Dr. Laura, and "NewsTalk 13" give way to ESPN sports. Also flipping: translator W292CM (106.3 Poughkeepsie) picks up the AAA sounds of WDST (100.1 Woodstock); it had been running country WTHN and AC WCTW.
Speaking of 106.3, we hear WFAF (106.3 Mount Kisco) will get a new format when Nassau Broadcasting takes over. Despite the withdrawal of a recent planned IPO, Nassau was able to raise enough private funding to complete the purchase of the Aurora group that includes WFAF, its simulcast parent WFAS-FM (103.9 White Plains), WFAS (1230), and six other stations. The deal should close by month's end, with the WFAF format change to happen in early 2001.
Anyone reading NERW down around Port Jervis? We hear WDLC (1490) has gone silent...
Charley Connolly gets to make the big move down the Long Island Expressway to Manhattan. The PD and morning man at WKJY (98.3 Hempstead) has been tapped to become PD of Emmis' smooth jazz WQCD (101.9 New York).
It started the last week in August, when Metromedia CMR announced that it will sell its four-station group to Shaw spin-off Corus Communications for C$185 million. Metromedia had been struggling from the difficult launches of "Info 690" CINF and "940 News" CINW, neither of which made any impact on the ratings despite expensive launches in the spring. Now it will be up to Corus, which has never owned an all-news station, to figure out what to do with the 50kw stations. Corus also gets English soft-rocker CFQR (92.5) and French companion CKOI (96.9 Verdun).
Just a week later, Montreal's radio world was rocked again, as Standard Broadcasting announced Friday (9/8) that it's buying rocker CHOM (97.7) and oldies CKGM (990) from CHUM Ltd. Standard already has dominant AM news-talker CJAD (800) and "Mix 96" CJFM (95.9), and it's not hard to see the kind of pressure the four-station group will be able to bring to bear on CFQR and, especially, struggling CINW.
There's no word yet on how much CHUM gets for the stations, which it has owned since 1985. In addition to cash, the deal has CHUM acquiring Standard's CFWM (99.9) in Winnipeg.
Meanwhile, radio listeners in southern Ontario are finding two new formats on the dial. CIWV (94.7 the Wave) took to the air in Hamilton with Canada's first smooth jazz format on September 1 at noon, just hours after the CHUM folks launched their latest station an hour away in London. CHST (102.3) is playing adult contemporary music as "Star 102.3." (Which, NERW notes, must be fun when the trop is up around Hamilton, where listeners can no doubt switch from Star 102.3 to Star 102.5, WTSS in Buffalo, to Star 103.7, WRTS in Erie...)
Windsor's CIDR (93.9) said goodbye to "The River" and AAA last week, going to soft rock as "Lite Rock 93.9," in competition with Detroit's WNIC (100.3 Dearborn) just a few miles away.
And back out in the Maritimes, the CRTC gave the go-ahead to yet another new station. "Joy FM Network" was granted 23 watts on 96.5 in Fredericton, N.B. for a new religious station. (And speaking of New Brunswick, a correction: in addition to the AMs we mentioned last week, CFAN 790 Miramichi-Newcastle and CKHJ 1260 Fredericton remain on the medium-wave dial!)
That's it for this double issue; see you next weekend as we recount our Pennsylvania and Ohio adventures!
|NERW's Northeast Television Index||102.57|