North East RadioWatch: October 23, 2000

WNSS Gets Funny, Utica Gets Buggy, Dodge Gets Arrested

by Scott Fybush

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!

As of market close, October 20, 2000
NERW's Northeast Television Index 89.10

Previous issues of North East RadioWatch

The Boston Radio Archives
The Upstate New York Radio Archives