USA Broadcasting, which flipped WHUB and three of its 12 other stations around the country from home shopping to indies over the past two years, announced Friday that it's selling all thirteen stations to Univision.
The $1.1 billion dollar deal, which also includes an interest in four more UHF stations, will turn most of the USA stations into outlets of a brand new "Univision Duo" network (although two stations, WHSP near Philadelphia and WHOT-TV near Atlanta, will become primary Univision affiliates instead.)
Why "Univision Duo"? It looks like an attempt by Univision to ensure its continued dominance of the Hispanic TV market against an impending challenge from the new "Azteca USA" network being created by Pappas Telecasting and Mexico's Azteca network, rival to Univision's Mexican partner, dominant Televisa.
The arrival of Univision Duo can't be good news for Azteca -- especially as word comes that an Azteca deal to buy WSAH (Channel 43) in Bridgeport is falling through, leaving Azteca with no New York City outlet against a potential three Univision outlets (the existing WXTV Channel 41, accompanied by USA's WHSE Channel 68 and, on Long Island, WHSI Channel 67).
It also can't be good news for the struggling Telemundo network, which already has trouble attracting even a quarter of the Hispanic viewing audience. Could an Azteca-Telemundo alliance be in the cards? We'll keep watching...
Clear Channel won a red-flagging from the FCC this week when it announced plans to add three more stations to its Utica group. For a reported $2.15 million, the Clear Channel folks are picking up three of Kenneth Roser's stations: dance simulcast "Wow FM" (WOWZ 97.9 Whitesboro and WOWB 105.5 Little Falls) and "Bug Country" WLFH 1230 Little Falls. Clear Channel already owns Utica rocker WOUR 96.9, CHR "Kiss" WSKS (102.5 Rome), soft AC "Warm" WRFM (93.5 Remsen), and the sports trimulcast of WRNY (1350 Rome), WADR (1480 Remsen), and WUTQ (1550 Utica).
Roser keeps his "Bug Country" trimulcast of WBGK (99.7 Newport Village), WBUG-FM (101.1 Fort Plain), and WBUG (1570 Amsterdam).
NERW suspects WLFH will join the "Sports Star" simulcast, since its role in Bug Country is now served by new FM arrival WBGK.
As for speculation that Clear Channel wants the WOWB half of the "Wow" pair to extend the reach of the weak Kiss signal deeper into the Mohawk Valley, and the future of the WOWZ signal, which shares a hilltop near Rome with WSKS? We'll be watching...
One more Clear Channel/Utica note: WRFM has applied for a license to cover for its move to Smith Hill, the main Utica tower farm, which jibes with our recent observation of a much better Utica signal for this longtime rimshotter.
Only a few more scattered notes from around the Empire State this week: Downstate, the FCC has dismissed the application from WRKL (910 New City) to add 800 watt night service from two additional towers (for a total of four) at its Rockland County site. Across the river in Westchester, WRNN-LP (licensed to Nyack, but transmitting from the Westchester County Jail) has been granted a move from channel 57 to channel 35. Up in Watertown, "George" is the new addition to Jay Donovan's WCIZ (93.3) morning show, replacing Mel Busler, who left Z93 a few months ago for full-time TV work.
Other Bay State radio people changing jobs: Damon Stewart is moving off Cape Cod, leaving behind mornings at CHR "Rose" WRZE (96.3 Nantucket) for nights and production at Springfield's country "Kix" (WPKX 97.9 Enfield CT). Stewart replaces Marc Spencer, who's headed to Binghamton and mornings at CHR WMRV (105.7 Endicott). And congratulations to Chris Hill, who moves up from general sales manager at WBZ (1030) to director of sales for both WBZ and WODS (103.3).
On the TV side, a network face is heading to Fox's WFXT (Channel 25): Jodi Applegate, last seen as a host of NBC's defunct "Later Today," will be joining the station in an as-yet-unspecified role.
A correction on last week's WRNX story: We're told the new facility on Mount Tom will be only an auxiliary site, with WRNX's main transmitter remaining above Route 116.
Best Media's application for a 91.5 translator in Stamford (to relay WSHU 91.1 in nearby Fairfield, or so the mysterious Best folks claim) has been dismissed.
Over at Southington's WNTY (990), Dr. Phillip Duncan, formerly of WNEZ (910 New Britain), has been named PD/MD of the leased-time "Blaze 990" urban format. The Blaze folks are now programming Caribbean music all day Saturday, and are reportedly talking to station owner ADD Media about leasing WNTY full-time.
A death to report this week: Roger Stafford, who reported on traffic for more than a decade, died Monday (Dec. 4) in Port St. Lucie, Florida, after a heart attack. Stafford started at WTIC-FM, then moved to WKSS and most recently to WWYZ. He was 60.
Borst and George Abraham were students at Brown in the late thirties when they put the Brown Network on the air to campus dormitories. Their belief in college radio led them to create IBS in the spring of 1940. The organization flourished in the years after the war, when the FCC authorized class D FM stations, and continues to serve college radio stations today.
Borst joined General Electric after college, staying with GE until 1961, when he left the company to move to California for a job at International Rectifier.
Borst was 82.
We now know how much Clear Channel is paying for Rockland's WMCM and WRKD: The Orne family will get $3.5 million for the stations.
Portland's WPOR (101.9) is getting a new PD and afternoon jock. Chris Duggan moves to the country station from CHR WERZ (107.1 Exeter NH), where he was assistant PD and music director. Duggan starts as PD today, and goes on the air January 4 from 3-7 PM. Duggan replaces Clint Marsh, who left WPOR last month to go back home again to Indiana and WMDH (102.5/1550 New Castle) in the Muncie market.
William Macek's Northstar Media is buying WMOO (92.1 Derby Center) and WIKE (1490 Newport) from Tom Steele, and we hear $1.1 million is the purchase price for the stations in the cow-patterned building way up north.
And our ears at WEQX (102.7 Manchester-Albany) tell us middayer Donna Frank will be leaving the building after the first of the year to be a mom. Best wishes! (and no replacement named so far...)
By combining BCE's transmission network with CTV's programming holdings, which include not only the broadcast network and its major-market affiliates but more than a half-dozen major cable channels, the CRTC seems to be reversing its earlier opposition to joint ownership of programming and distribution.
Next up for the CRTC: approval of media giant Quebecor's planned purchase of the French-language TVA commercial network, which looks like a slam-dunk after this deal. Quebecor has already agreed to sell its stake in competing network TQS.
One more Canadian note: We hear from our friends up near Ottawa that the end of CJET (Smiths Falls) on AM came a few months earlier than planned. It seems the AM 630 transmitter failed unexpectedly...and with FM 92.3 now on the air, the CJET folks decided the AM wasn't worth fixing!
And so it goes for another week. We'll be back with two more regular updates to close out 2000, on December 18 and 25. There will be no regular NERW on January 1, 2001; instead, we'll present the star-studded 2000 In Review spectacular that week.
A reminder for those of you who haven't visited <http://www.fybush.com> lately: be sure to stop by for this week's Featured Tower Site, the mighty Helderberg Mountain tower farm high above Albany. And if you want to read NERW faster than you can get it in e-mail, remember that each week's early edition, complete with pictures, logos, and links, is available in full HTML every Monday morning at the Web site. Hope to see you there!
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