The not so big one is the sale of Carter Broadcasting's WROL (950 Boston). NERW hears that WROL is being sold to Salem Communications, which will pair the station with its WEZE (590 Boston). This isn't the first time Carter has tried to sell WROL; the proposed sale of the entire Carter group (except WCRN Worcester) to Catholic Family Radio in 1999 fell through when CFR was unable to close the purchase. It's also not the first time WEZE has had a partner on the Boston dial; Salem paired it with WPZE (1260) for a year or so after WEZE moved from that 1260 spot to 590 in 1997. Could 950 become the "new WPZE"?
More on both sales next week...right here in NERW.
Fairbanks Broadcasting has filed to transfer its last station, WKOX (1200 Framingham) to "Capstar TX Limited Partnership," the name under which Clear Channel has been doing much of its acquiring lately.
WKOX has been at the center of Boston radio's rumor mill for the better part of the last decade, it seems; from an abortive attempt by what was then Westinghouse to pair the station with WBZ to a proposed sale two years ago to Edward Karlik's "B-Mass" partnership. WKOX's sister station, then known as WKLB (105.7), was sold to Evergreen and then to Greater Media back in 1996, leaving WKOX hanging with leased-time foreign language programming. With the death of station owner Richard Fairbanks last year, some sort of change was probably inevitable.
So what happens next? WKOX will join adult standards WXKS (1430 Everett), urban CHR WJMN (94.5 Boston) and CHR WXKS-FM (107.9 Medford) in the Clear Channel/Boston stable. Will WKOX begin running Clear Channel's Fox Sports Radio format, following in the path of other recent Clear Channel AM flips? Could WXKS(AM) join in as a simulcast? And what of WKOX's proposed move to Newton and the WUNR(AM) transmitter site?
These questions will no doubt be answered in the weeks to come...stick around and we'll bring you all the action!
Out west, UMass/Amherst student station WMUA (91.1 Amherst) could soon be getting out a bit better. The station has been granted a tower height increase, from 8 meters above average terrain to 39 meters, albeit with a power drop from 1000 watts to 450 watts. The new tower will be adjacent to the old one on campus.
Dennis Jackson's WZEN (106.5 Farmington) will soon be reaching out a little louder. It's applying for 2900 watts from 148 meters AAT, doubling its current power. The station would add a directional antenna, to protect the contours of WBQW (106.3 Scarborough ME). And if you soon hear this oldies station sporting a new set of calls that are truly an "oldie" -- well, you read about it here first!
Several NERW readers have checked in this week with questions about a station being heard on 88.7 in the Merrimack area, playing nonstop Christian contemporary music. It's unlicensed...and what was that we were saying a couple of weeks ago about how the curtailment of LPFM would bring about a resurgence of pirate activity?
They're checking the schedules carefully at Vox's Concord stations: at classic rock WNHI (93.3), Al Ponalet takes over afternoons and production director duties, moving across the hall from sister CHR WJYY (105.5). "Joey Malone" (aka Gary Brooks, formerly of WKCD Pawcatuck CT) takes over afternoons at WJYY, while morning person "Sammie" stretches to cover the midday shift formerly belonging to Lilian Afonso. And Steve Ouelette, formerly on nights at WJYY (and assistant PD of WJYY and WNHI) moves up to director of engineering for all of Vox's Concord cluster.
Way up north, the little community of Groveton could someday have not one, but two FM stations. There's already a vacant 93.7 allocation there, awaiting auction. Now a Linda A. Davidson has persuaded the FCC to consider adding a second allocation, a class A on 101.5.
On the other end of U.S. 4, we can now put a price on Clear Channel's purchase of Connriver's WMXR (93.9 Woodstock)/WCFR-FM (93.5 Springfield): $2 million is the tag on the "Bob Country" combo.
Another sale on the way at WDME (103.1 Dover-Foxcroft)? The station was sold to Richard Thau a few years ago; now we see a transfer being filed at the FCC to the "Zone Group." More next week...
Maine lawmakers are pondering the state's public radio network's request for an increase in funding next year. The Bangor Daily News reports that several legislators are getting bombarded with listener complaints, after Maine Public Radio's recent programming changes left classical music and opera fans out in the cold in favor of more news and talk shows. Maine Public Broadcasting is asking for a 2.5 percent increase in its $2.33 million state appropriation, money that's to be used to upgrade transmission systems and build new WMEP (90.5 Camden). A public hearing on the request will be held later in the spring; MPBC's own annual meeting takes place Tuesday afternoon in Bangor.
Some promotions to report in Providence: WHJY (94.1) afternoon guy John Laurenti adds music director to his title, as does WSNE (93.3 Taunton)'s Gary Trust.
The DEC bought the land from a group of friars called the Order of Minor Conventuals, which had leased space on the tower to WSIA for 19 years. The sale contract, though, specified that the tower could only be used for "religious, non-commercial broadcasts" -- so the DEC refused to allow Verizon to enter the property to fix the balky T1 line.
After more than a month of negotiations, the DEC finally relented last week, we're told -- but WSIA is still waiting for Verizon to get the T1 working again so that its broadcasts can resume.
At the other end of the Staten Island Ferry, it was the end of an era last week when Vin Scelsa did his last show on WNEW (102.7 New York). Scelsa's freeform "Idiot's Delight" was the last vestige of WNEW's old music format, and both sides agreed not to seek a renewal of his contract when it ran out. So while WNEW fills those overnight hours with talk-show reruns, Scelsa's reportedly headed to WFUV (90.7) to keep doing his thing in the noncommercial world.
It could be one of the biggest job openings in recent years in the Big Apple: Tom Poleman is giving up his post as PD of Z100 (WHTZ 100.3 Newark NJ) to focus on his corporate programming duties for Clear Channel, overseeing a region that stretches from Boston's Kiss 108 to Washington, Baltimore, and Detroit. The search for Poleman's replacement is already underway, and we're guessing there are a lot of resumes flying in the Clear Channel family and beyond.
One more note before we leave New York City: Steve Kingston, PD of WXRK (92.3), is making a lot of noise in the trades about having grabbed the rights to the "WINX" calls that recently departed the Washington DC area after forty years at the top of the AM dial there. The calls are now parked on AM 1080 in Murfreesboro, N.C.
Heading upstate, a belated correction to our December 25 mention of WLTB (101.7 Johnson City)'s transmitter move: we're reliably informed that the station is still using its old site near Owego, with the move up Ingraham Hill set to happen sometime this summer.
Way, way, upstate, there's been a petition to dismiss filed against the Palmetto Group's application for a new station on 650 kHz in Mooers, a tiny community along U.S. 11 a few miles south of the Canadian border and a few miles north of Plattsburgh. The station would use 50 kW day, 9 kW at night, from a nine-tower array pointed north at Montreal.
Our North Country correspondent, Michael Roach, checks in with some news of Watertown's 1410: although it's filed for the new calls WGME(AM), the station formerly known as WUZZ(AM) is now going by "WNER, the Winner" on the air. The Forever-owned station is still using the satellite-delivered urban oldies format it's been running for several years.
Down in Pittsburgh, public broadcaster WQED is trying again to sell its second TV outlet, WQEX (Channel 16). After the collapse of a plan to sell the station to religious broadcaster Cornerstone (which would then have sold its commercially-licensed WPCB Channel 40 to Pax TV), WQED is again asking the FCC to allow it to convert channel 16 to a commercial license. If that approval is granted, WQED would then sell WQEX to Shooting Star Broadcasting, owned by former Pittsburgh programmer Diane Sutter. Sutter would pay $20 million for the station if the deal goes through.
Just across the border in Ohio, Keymarket is trying to move another FM station a little closer to Pittsburgh. The broadcaster asked the FCC this week to change the community of license of WOGH (103.5) from Steubenville, Ohio to Burgettstown, Pennsylvania, about 20 miles from Pittsburgh. The transmitter site of "Froggy 103.5" wouldn't change right away, but it's not hard to imagine the station following Steubenville's WTOV-TV (Channel 9), which has a CP to move its transmitter (which now shares a tower with WOGH overlooking Steubenville) to a new site about halfway to Pittsburgh.
Dave Farough is the new PD at Toronto's CFNY (102.1 the Edge), taking over the job February 5 after 13 years out in Victoria, B.C., where he put CKKQ (100.3 the Q) on the air in 1987.
We think we know the calls for Milestone's new urban FM in Toronto: the trades are saying the new station on 93.5 will be "CFXJ." The CRTC being the CRTC, though, we'll wait until the official sign-on to be certain...
The CBC is adding to its network: the CRTC granted approval this week for a new 3 kw Radio Two outlet in Corner Brook, Newfoundland (on 91.1, relaying CBN-FM St. John's) and took an application for a new 2600 watt Radio One outlet in Shelburne, Ontario, on 102.5. That transmitter would fill in some gaps north and west of Toronto in areas that still aren't well served by the new transmitters in Wingham or Paris.
That's it for another week...don't forget to check out our Tower Site of the Week (coming on Wednesday: the WTIC/WFSB site in Avon, Connecticut), and to join our ongoing discussion of local broadcasting and The Rant. (There's still more new content coming to fybush.com -- but we'll have more on that next week.)
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See you next Monday!
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