The new station will operate from the Hornby transmitter site that was home to the original Toronto 740, the CBC's flagship CBL, from the 1930s until the station moved to FM last year. But while CHWO is paying the CBC for the use of the Hornby site, it could soon be writing those checks to someone else.
The CBC issued a "Request for Information" last week to begin exploring the possibility of selling its huge network of transmitter sites across Canada to a private operator, which would then lease transmission services back to the CBC. For tower-management companies, the deal would provide access to a huge amount of vertical real estate in both rural and urban Canada, while for the CBC, the deal would provide plenty of cash for the conversion to digital radio and TV -- and a guarantee that CBC services will retain priority use of the sites.
Meanwhile on 740, we're now told January 8 is the target date to move the adult standards from little CHWO (1250 Oakville) to the big 740 signal, and we expect to be hearing more tests on the 50 kW clear channel over the next three weeks or so.
(A note about those call letters: CHWO had requested CFPT as the new 740 calls. But at press time, NERW learned that the CRTC had rejected that request, so CHWO will instead move its existing calls to 740 from 1250. That, in turn, means 1250 will become CJYE, "Joy 1250," when it goes all-religion in January.)
Elsewhere in CANADA, Telemedia is bolstering its sports-radio franchise against the possibility of new competition from Corus' CFYI (640 Toronto) or CHUM Group's CHUM (1050). CJCL (590) is now the Eastern flagship of "The FAN Radio Network," which will supply sports talk to other stations around the country, including the newest "FAN," CKST (1040 Vancouver), which flipped from adult contemporary to sports this week.
While Corus decides what to do about CFYI, it's made some moves at Hamilton's "Y95" (CJXY 95.3). After blowing out most of the station's staff a few weeks back, Corus has hired Alan Cross as the new PD. Cross has been the afternoon guy at Toronto's "Edge" (CFNY 102.1) for over a decades.
Looking for Cornwall's new CJUL (1220) on the Web? You can find it at <http://www.seawayvalley.com/jewel/jewel.html>.
In Quebec, CKFL (1400 Lac-Megantic) has been granted a move to FM. The station will use 4250 watts on 106.7 when it makes the transition next year. And we hear Astral Media, which owns Quebec's "Energie" group of stations (such as CHIK in Quebec City), is buying little CFOM (102.9 Levis) near the provincial capital.
The ax is falling for about a dozen employees at Binghamton CBS affiliate WBNG (Channel 12), as new owner SJL prepares to take over from Gateway Communications this week. The Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin reports SJL officials interviewed all 80 employees at WBNG, and expect to make job offers to about 68 of them. No on-air talent is expected to be affected by the cuts, which are also hitting former Gateway stations in Huntington, W. Va. (WOWK) and Altoona, Pa. (WTAJ).
The Binghamton area could soon have a new FM station, thanks to the FCC. The agency received two petitions to amend the table of allocations to add a class A channel on 93.3 in northeast Pennsylvania. One, from Montrose Broadcasting (WPEL AM-FM), would have put 93.3 in Hallstead -- but the one the FCC approved will put the channel in Susquehanna, Pa., already the nominal city of license for WCDW (100.5), which is itself trading its Conklin, N.Y. city of license to WKGB (92.5).
Confused? Just drive an hour south to Scranton, where the FM dial went topsy-turvy this week. First, Citadel ditched the country "Cat" simulcast on WCTD (93.7 Dallas) and WCTP (94.3 Carbondale), flipping WCTD to an automated countdown and WCTP to a bizarre mix of personal ads as "Love Radio." But if Citadel was thinking of picking up the 80s format on one or both, it was late to the punch, as Entercom flipped its soft AC simulcast of WSHG (102.3 Pittston) and WWFH (103.1 Freeland) to 80s as "The Buzz" midweek. WCTD resurfaced Friday as "New Rock 93-7 X," with WBSX calls said to be on the way, while WCTP is now simulcasting Citadel's CHR WBHT (97.1 Mountaintop) into the northern reaches of the Scranton market. (We believe WEMR-FM on 107.7 in Tunkhannock also continues the WBHT simulcast.)
A few more quick northern PA notes, as long as we're hanging out south of the border: WPKK (97.5 St. Mary's) has filed to change calls to WDDH, which doesn't seem to fit its "Elk" nickname any better than WPKK did. Two new FM allocations are coming to the Clarion area, which needs more radio stations the way Alex Rodriguez needs a few more dollars in his paycheck. 101.3A is being proposed for Strattanville, while 106.1A will go to Farmington Township, though both will serve Clarion and Brookville instead. And south of Erie, Keymarket is flipping WMDE (94.3 Saegertown) to WHUZ and WZPR (100.3 Meadville) to WGYY, which is prompting speculation that the former will go classic rock as "Wuzz" and the latter will be the next country station to go "Froggy."
Returning to the Empire State, it sounds as though the WPHD translator in Elmira has moved from 95.1 (as W236AA) to 95.5 (as W238AI). We'll check for sure when we drive through next weekend, if we remember to flip away from the new WEHH-1600.
Up in Albany, Tom Parker is saying goodbye to the Capital Region after more than a decade in radio there. Most recently station manager at WGY (810 Schenectady) and WOFX (980 Troy), Parker is getting a promotion within Clear Channel, moving to Atlanta to be PD of WGST (640) and the Georgia News Network. It's no coincidence that WGY sister station WRVE (99.5 Schenectady) is losing morning co-host Lisa Reichwein at the same time; she's Parker's wife, and she's heading to the Peachtree State as well. Filling her shoes at the River will be Randi Tyler, who moves over from mornings at WCPT (100.9 Albany).
Down in the Hudson Valley, Sunrise Broadcasting is trying again to move its WGNY (1220 Newburgh) to 1200. The station did move to 1200 for a few years in the 1990s, but was forced back to 1220 when its most recent Special Temporary Authority expired. Now Sunrise is applying for a "new station" in Kingston on 1200, with 2000 watts day from 2 towers and 400 watts night from 5 towers. (Actually, NERW thinks it's possible WGNY might be able to continue its current operation on 1220 even if the new 1200 is built...)
To nobody's great surprise, Howard Stern is staying with Viacom. We almost believe the erstwhile King of All Media when he says he wasn't sure until Thursday night that Mel Karmazin would renew his contract -- but we don't believe for one minute that Karmazin would have let Stern go.
There's a bit more suspense down the FM dial at 91.5, where the ethnic program producers who lease time from WNYE are putting up enough of a fight about the possibility of the station's management being handed over to WNYC (820/93.9) that the deal just might be dead. We'll keep you posted!
Radio People on the Move: Howard Simon added radio to his Empire Sports Network TV duties this week, when he took over the vacant morning shift on sister sports-radio outlet WNSA (107.7 Wethersfield Township.) Also in Buffalo, Jack Mahl will end his broadcast career December 29, when the 74 year old retires from his job as a newscaster at WNED (970). Mahl started at Niagara Falls' WHLD in 1946, but is best remembered for his years doing weather on WGR-TV (Channel 2) in the 1960s. Tom McDonald moves from Binghamton's WHWK/WAAL to overnights on WLTB (101.7 Johnson City) down the road. And Susan Browning goes full-time as the night jock on Poughkeepsie's WSPK (104.7) after a few months of part-time work.
Former WNBX (1480 Springfield) proprietor Brian Dodge now faces yet another charge from police in Springfield: he's accused of violating a restraining order by asking his minister to contact his wife, Phyllis. Dodge is still awaiting trial on charges that he assaulted his wife earlier this fall. Meantime, WNBX has returned to the air full-time under the management of a group of local pastors.
We hear WBTN (1370 Bennington) is back up and running with Christmas music, with a new full-service format presumably to debut after the holidays.
More TV news: WBZ-TV (Channel 4) will bring on its new morning anchor January 8. Kerry Connolly will join the CBS O&O from Hartford's CBS affiliate, WFSB (Channel 3), where she's currently the morning anchor. Connolly replaces Suzanne Bates, who leaves WBZ 4 News for real life and the ability to sleep late (we at NERW sympathize!)
Down in Portland, things are looking ugly for BroadcastAmerica.com, which has been streaming the audio of hundreds of radio and TV stations for the last couple of years. The Portland Press Herald reports company officials told employees Friday that there was no money left to pay them. Only 40 or so employees were left at BroadcastAmerica following recent layoffs, and a few of them are continuing to work without pay. BroadcastAmerica says it's trying to work out a deal with a possible partner to bail out the bankrupt operation.
(Of course, the recent rulings on additional licensing fees for streaming audio might make the whole question moot, if many stations decide to shut down their streams instead of writing bigger checks to ASCAP and BMI...)
It's a short column this time around...which means we have space to recap our trip to beautiful Indianapolis Thanksgiving week. Ride along with us, won't you?
After fighting our way through the snowstorm that paralyzed Buffalo, we arrived in Fort Wayne Tuesday night to pick up Indiana Radio Watch colleague Blaine Thompson for the 90-minute ride south to Indy.
First order of business: checking out the city's TV newscasts. Six stations have news, but only four newsrooms originate the programming. In addition to the full slate of newscasts on WRTV (6, ABC), WISH (8, CBS), and WTHR (13, NBC), and the 10 PM and morning shows on Fox affiliate WXIN (59), there are 10 PM shows on UPN affiliate WNDY-TV (23) and WB affiliate WTTV (4), produced respectively by WTHR and WRTV. The rest of the dial: PBS affiliates WFYI (20) and WTBU (69), religious WHMB (40), and low-power outlets W53AV and WALV-LP (27), the latter operated by WTHR.
Our tour of the city began with Wednesday morning visits to several of the big clusters in town. Clear Channel owns sports WNDE (1260), classic rock WFBQ (94.7), and modern rock WRZX (103.3), and originates the syndicated Bob & Tom show from the WFBQ studio. The whole cluster is at the WNDE transmitter site on the city's northeast side, and it's seen a lot of additions since the days when it was solely home to the 1260 transmitter (originally WFBM, one of Indy's oldest stations).
The next stop, just a mile or so away along the I-465 beltway, was the Susquehanna group. Top-rated country station WFMS (95.5) simulcasts a morning show with "hot country" WGRL (93.9 Noblesville, "The Bear"), and oldies WGLD (104.5) rounds out this trio. (You can see more pictures of this cluster in the January 6 issue of Radio World!)
The third cluster on the agenda: MyStar Broadcasting's trio, which includes CHR WZPL (99.5 Greenfield), AC WTPI (107.9), and adult standards WMYS (1430).
From there, we drove down Meridian Street, the main north-south thoroughfare in Indianapolis, past what must be one of the most concentrated clusters of TV studios in America. A block east of Meridian on Illinois Street sits the building that was once home to Indy's WIBC (1070) and now houses Butler University's WTBU-TV 69. Then, clustered within ten blocks on Meridian, sit the studios of WISH-TV (with a huge addition being built on the south side), WXIN (in the original home of WISH-TV), WFYI (in the original home of WLWI-TV, the predecessor of WTHR), WRTV (in the building constructed in the 1950s to house what was then WFBM AM-FM-TV), and WTHR.
Another few blocks brought us to the heart of downtown Indianapolis, Monument Circle. It's there that Emmis Broadcasting has built a massive headquarters facility, which we spent some time exploring. Corporate headquarters sit on the top floor, with the next few floors devoted to individual stations: urban WTLC-FM (105.7) and gospel WTLC (1310), news-talk WIBC (1070), AC WENS (97.1 Shelbyville), and CHR WNOU (93.1 "Radio Now.") On the ground floor, two showcase studios allow any of the stations to put their jocks and talk hosts in full view of the pedestrians passing by.
Crossing to the south side of town, we saw the studios of WTTV (which is actually licensed to Bloomington, 50 miles south) and the WTLC(AM) towers nearby, as well as the single tower of Spanish WSYW (810) a mile or so away.
From there, we headed north and west, passing outside the 465 loop on I-65 until we reached the six towers of WIBC. There's a New England connection here: WIBC was owned for many years by Fairbanks Broadcasting of WKOX-WVBF fame.
Heading back inside 465, the city's northwest corner is dominated by a cluster of tall TV towers. WTHR (and WALV-LP) sit just north of 465, about three miles from the rest of the group. WRTV and WFYI-TV (and public radio stations WICR 88.7 and WFYI 90.1) occupy the two northernmost towers in the cluster. Just to the south is an FM stick that's home to WFBQ, WRZX, and WTPI. WHMB is just to the west of the FM tower and just north of WISH-TV. The southernmost stick in this group belongs to WXIN.
Moving south again, we passed the industrial park that's home to the Radio One cluster of stations: rhythmic CHR WHHH (96.3), smooth jazz WJYZ (100.9 Lebanon), and urban AC WBKS (106.7 Greenwood). Radio One bought the group from veteran Indy broadcaster Bill Shirk, who still does middays on WBKS, and whose original station sits just a mile or so to the south. WXLW (950) was Indy's top-40 outlet in the sixties, and now programs religion from its three towers behind a shopping mall on W. 56th Street.
WMYS transmits from two towers near the Butler University campus, and we were amused to see that its transmitter building is now leased out by a church. This 1430 outlet has a long history in Indianapolis; it was best known as WIRE, another top-40 legend, and later as WCKN and WFXF, among other calls. (The studio building at the transmitter site was home to 1430 and 103.3, ex-WMJC and WFXF, until just a few years ago when the stations were split off to separate owners.)
Two more stops awaited us in Indianapolis: across the river on the Butler campus, the tower of WTBU and WGLD, which was a Butler-owned noncommercial outlet (as WAJC) for decades before being sold to Susquehanna; and on the city's northeast side, the three towers of WBRI (1500). The religious station is co-owned with Christian contemporary WXIR (98.3 Plainfield), "Love 98."
With all that, we still didn't see quite everything the city had to offer, radio-wise. On the FM side, several high schools program noncommercial outlets: in Indianapolis itself, there's WJEL (89.3) on the north side at the J. Everett Light Career Center; WBDG (90.9) programming rap from Ben Davis High School; WEDM (91.1) on the east side at Warren Township High School ("Ed 91," playing country when we heard it); and WRFT (91.5), "The Flash" from Franklin Township High School. North of town, WHJE (91.3 Carmel) runs 24/7 with automation and student programming, while out in Greenfield, WRGF (89.7) is the newest high school station in the area.
We didn't get out to Greenfield, alas, which means we also didn't get to see the east side towers of WTLC-FM (along I-70), WENS (way out to the southeast), or the group tower that's home to WNOU, WFMS, and WZPL. Also outlying, and thus beyond the reach of the NERW-mobile, were Bloomington's WTTS (92.3, playing AAA) and Danville's modern rock WEDJ (107.1, formerly classical WSYW-FM).
On the AM side, we missed out on gospel WNTS (1590 Beech Grove) and on WKWH (1520 Shelbyville) south of town...maybe next time!
Leaving Indy behind us, we headed north to Anderson and Muncie, where Michael Schwartz (remember Wilks-Schwartz Broadcasting? That's him!) has combined five small stations into a regional presence as part of Indiana Radio Partners. Anderson's WHBU (1240) is the news-talk AM, while Muncie's WERK (104.9) and Elwood's WURK (101.7) simulcast oldies and Alexandria's WHTY (96.7) and Hartford City's WHTI (93.5) do hot AC as "Max." Any of the five can - and do - break off for local sports or Sunday-morning religion. (Thanks to chief engineer Sean Mattingly for showing us how it's all set up!)
From the Indiana Radio Partners studios in Daleville (near I-69 between Anderson and Muncie), we chased the remaining daylight into Muncie, with just enough time to see the mini-tower farm that's home to hit radio WLBC (104.1), sports WXFN (1340), Ball State's public TV WIPB (Channel 49, once commercial WLBC-TV), and noncomm WWHI (91.3). We also heard the former WERK(AM), now WLHN on 990, and now operating with just 60 watts from a longwire in the back yard of its religious programmers.
And after a few days in Fort Wayne (about whose radio scene, the less said, the better!), it was back home to Rochester and NERW-land...
[You can see our pictures from Indianapolis on the Web site version of NERW all week!]
Finally this week, our condolences to family, friends, and colleagues of ABC Radio's Tim O'Donnell. He began his career at Watertown's WOTT (1410, now WUZZ), but made it to the network by his mid-twenties, reporting on events that ranged from the assassination of Robert Kennedy to Y2K. O'Donnell suffered a heart attack December 5, and died Wednesday morning (Dec. 13) at a hospital in Ridgewood, N.J. O'Donnell was just 57; he's survived by wife Eileen and sons Tim and Kevin.
A few programming notes as we approach the end of the year: The final regular issue of NERW will be published sometime next Monday (Dec. 25) on <http://www.fybush.com>, and will go out Dec. 27 to those on the mailing list. Our annual Year in Review special, complete with this year's Rant, will be posted to fybush.com first thing January 1, with distribution to the mailing list January 3. (It's not too late to reserve advertising space in this special issue at our low charter-advertiser rates; just e-mail for details.)
As we near the holidays, our sincere thanks to all of you who have sent in your checks and electronic payments to help ensure the financial future of NERW and fybush.com. If you haven't done so yet, please take a moment to visit our Support page and find out why your contribution can make a difference!
Whether you're celebrating Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, the end of the millennium, or Howard Stern's contract renewal, our very best holiday wishes to all of you. We'll see you next week!
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