Spinning the dial while crossing the Mohawk Valley (about which more in a moment), we noticed high school football on 99.7. The Utica WJIV translator? Nope...that's now on 99.1. How about an AM simulcast? Sure enough, also on 1230, WLFH Little Falls. A commercial break confirmed our suspicions: WBGK Newport Village is on the air.
When it's not doing high school football, WBGK is part of what's now the four-station "Bug Country" simulcast, which also includes WBUG-FM (101.1 Fort Plain) and WBUG (1570 Amsterdam). With the WBGK signal, Bug Country now reaches from Utica (where 99.7 is listenable but not strong) all the way to the Schenectady area.
NERW tuned in 1260 as we passed through the Salt City Saturday morning, and ended up leaving the dial there for about 40 minutes. All-comedy radio hasn't worked on a local level the last few times it's been tried, but you know what? This service sounds pretty good. Imagine a talk format with comedy bits sprinkled in where a typical morning show might play a song or two, and you're pretty close to the concept.
One more from Syracuse: We heard the city's new urban outlet on 106.9 using a new set of calls. The FCC database doesn't show it yet, but "WPHR Auburn-Syracuse" was what we caught on the former WHCD. (The WPHR calls have been on a new CP in the Ashtabula, Ohio area, near where the calls had their heritage run a decade ago on Cleveland's 107.9.)
Downstate, a reader checked in to let us know that Port Jervis' WDLC (1490), which we'd heard was dark, is on the air and simulcasting sister station WTSX (96.7), so update your logs accordingly.
And what did we hear in the Catskills? Read on...
In Boston, Mark Berryhill leaves his post as GM of upstart talker WMEX (1060 Natick) to return to his TV roots. He's headed to the West Coast and KRON (Channel 4) in San Francisco to help that station make the transition from an NBC affiliate to a Young Broadcasting-owned indie.
The Berlin Daily Sun reports that the Mt. Washington Summit Commission is studying ways to replace the services WMTW provides at the summit, including the two diesel generators that supply all the power for the TV station, the two FMs (WHOM 94.9 and WPKQ 103.7), and the Mount Washington Observatory. WMTW's lease on the mountaintop, which is owned by Dartmouth College, expires in 2010.
Maine's NBC affiliates are joining forces with the Pine Tree State's Pax outlet. WCSH (Channel 6) in Portland, along with WLBZ (Channel 2) in Bangor, are part of a group agreement between owner Gannett and the upstart network. The deal means WMPX (Channel 23) in Waterville will operate from WCSH's Portland studios, rebroadcast WCSH's news on a time-shifted schedule, and sell air time jointly with WCSH. NERW expects that the deal will also cover Buffalo's WGRZ (Channel 2) and Pax outlet WPXJ (Channel 51) in Batavia, which means we'll be able to watch WGRZ's news at NERW Central.
Dodge, 44, who owns WNBX (1480 Springfield), was charged with simple assault after allegedly attacking his wife, according to published reports in Vermont and New Hampshire newspapers.
The Springfield police department says Dodge wrapped a towel around his wife's neck, squeezed it, then began punching her and slamming her head into the wall. A restraining order prohibits Dodge from making contact with his wife.
Dodge was convicted in 1989 of negligent operation of a motor vehicle in connection with a fatal accident. He was charged, but not convicted, in a 1997 assault case.
Dodge will appear in court December 5.
No call letters yet, but there's a Web site for the new urban outlet in Toronto, due to launch next year on 93.5. Check it out at <http://www.milestoneradio.com>.
A belated Montreal note: CBME (88.5) and CBM-FM (93.5) were off the air overnight for several months due to tower work on Mont Royal. The good news for fans of Radio One Overnight and "Brave New Waves" on Radio Two is that the work is done and both stations are again on the air 24 hours.
So what did we do on our little jaunt to the Catskills? Glad you asked! First stop: Oneida, where we found the single stick of WMCR (1600) without incident, but couldn't spot WMCR-FM (106.3) in the hills south of town. Herkimer, 30 or so miles to the east, was more of a challenge -- it took us half an hour or so to find the right road up the hill to WNRS (1420) and WXUR (92.7), which share a stick (despite the data in the FCC database, which puts the FM across the road). A few miles away sits the very tall tower of Utica's WKTV (Channel 2), which is forced to operate from so far out of the city to avoid short-spacing with Buffalo's channel 2.
Passing through Little Falls, it was up into the hills again, to the dirt roads that led to WBUG-FM (101.1), then down to US 20 and into Cherry Valley, where we found the wonderful old WJIV (101.9) site. A relic of the old Rural Radio Network, the WJIV tower is a near-duplicate of the 95.1 South Bristol (now WNVE) facility, complete with the two-story house-like building that once housed a live-in engineer.
Through the northern Catskills we drove, arriving 90 minutes or so later at the Rip Van Winkle Bridge across the Hudson, offering a superb view of the three tall towers of WCKL (560 Catskill) that command the eastern bank of the river. The middle tower also holds WCTW (98.5 Catskill). A few miles north sits the short tower of sister stations WHUC (1230) and WTHK (93.5) in Hudson.
Back up, and up, and up, and up -- and finally we'd arrived in the quaint mountain town of Windham, our destination and home of WRIP (97.9).
Dennis Jackson's little FM is a wonderful model of the way community radio should be. It's housed in a building that was once home to a bowling alley owned by the father of WRIP morning man Guy Garraghan, and it programs a steady diet of local news and information for the otherwise unserved Greene County area.
More to the point, it celebrated its first anniversary with a big party Saturday night -- and even if the actual anniversary was two months ago, we were flattered to be invited and delighted to get a half-hour or so to spin the oldies live from Jimmy O'Connor's bar, across the street from the station. (Airchecks may turn up eventually...)
Sunday found us driving home through the splendid scenery of the Catskills, with a quick stop at the WBUG (1570) transmitter just south of Amsterdam before jumping on the Thruway for home.
On the way through Syracuse, we heard a bit more of the market's changes. A note to Galaxy Broadcasting's new WRDS (102.1 Phoenix): check that clock on your computer, guys! We heard the "top-of-the-hour" ID at :28 past said hour -- and you know you're listening to a voicetracked jock when he then comes on with "it's just after ten o'clock." We also heard Syracuse Community Radio's WXXE (90.5 Fenner) as we drove between Utica and Syracuse, and while we admire the committment to bring another radio voice to the Salt City, we just can't imagine anyone, even within WXXE's very limited listening area, wanting to hear SCR's programming over the single phone line that serves as the studio-transmitter link. It's not up to us, we know, but if it were, we'd spend less time and money on those frivolous translator applications and the sniping at other noncomms (the legal ID we heard was especially nasty), and a little more on something like a Comrex Hotline that could make that phone line somewhat listenable. (Better yet, we'd hope for an LPFM spot for the SCR folks...)
And that will do it for this week's NERW; back next weekend with much more!
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