One, as we've known for a while now, will be on channel 23. That's the former public TV WNEQ, which is now in the process of being taken over by LIN Broadcasting's CBS affiliate, WIVB-TV (Channel 4). At the moment, WNEQ programming consists of just a slate advertising the January 29 debut of the WIVB-produced 10 PM newscast, along with the station's new call letters, WNLO. (Check out the Web edition of NERW at fybush.com to see the WNLO slate.)
But while WIVB was making its plans to launch WNLO next week, one of its competitors decided there was no point waiting. We knew Gannett was working on a news alliance with Pax affiliates in its markets (NERW, 10/23/2000), but we didn't realize it would result in a 10 PM show on WPXJ-TV (Channel 51), the Batavia-licensed Pax outlet that covers Buffalo and Rochester.
That's just what WPXJ and Gannett's WGRZ-TV (Channel 2) decided to do, though, with the show launching last Friday (Jan. 18) on just a few hours' notice. WGRZ anchor Victoria Hong, sportscaster Ed Kilgore and meteorologist Kevin O'Connell anchor the new broadcast. Hong is also the co-anchor at 6 and 11, though WGRZ officials say they'll decide this week whether she'll keep all three shifts permanently.
As for WIVB and WNLO, here's what we know so far: WIVB weekend anchor Lisa Flynn will anchor WNLO's 10 PM news, with meteorologist Don Paul adding the 10 o'clock show to his duties. WNLO will rebroadcast WIVB's morning "Wake Up!" show from 8-9 AM weekdays, followed by Martha Stewart. "Access Hollywood" will kick off WNLO's evening schedule at 7, followed by "Entertainment Studios," "Queen Latifah" and "Oprah" (a rebroadcast of the afternoon WIVB showing).
After the news at 10 will come a replay of "Inside Edition," "Three Stooges" reruns," "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," a repeat of the 10 PM news, and then into home shopping overnight.
The 10 PM wars leave two contestants on the sidelines: ABC affiliate WKBW-TV (Channel 7), which was to have bought UPN affiliate WNGS (Channel 67) last year, and the Sinclair duopoly of WUTV (29, Fox) and WNYO-TV (49, WB). Will either one try to enter the market with news at 10 now? This promises to be most interesting to watch...
(Special thanks to NERW reader Sean Healy for grabbing that WNEQ/WNLO slate for us to pass along to you at fybush.com...)
The WHAM folks tell the local papers that the Bills wanted too much for the rights, and NERW suspects WCMF was willing to pay the extra fees to add another NFL team to Mel Karmazin's growing collection of FM football outlets.
The Bills are already on FM (Citadel's WGRF 96.9) in their hometown, and they've had plenty of prior contact with WCMF; the station had a heavy promotional presence at Bills training camp here in Rochester last summer.
On the TV side of things in Rochester, another longtime relationship is being disrupted: veteran news anchor Gabe Dalmath and WHEC-TV (Channel 10). Dalmath, whose quarter-century run at WHEC puts him behind only WOKR's Don Alhart in the longevity race, was moved off the 5:30 and 11 PM newscasts last week, with relative newcomer Brian Martin taking over the anchor chair for those shows. Dalmath remains on the 6:00 show with longtime co-anchor Janet Lomax, and he's telling other local media outlets that he's happy to have the chance to do more reporting -- but to NERW, it sure looks like a move towards a younger anchor presence to go with WHEC's crop of young reporters.
Dalmath started at WHEC, by the way, as a weekend anchor in the mid-seventies, moving up to the weekday chair a few years later when Mark Wolf left WHEC for WROC-TV (Channel 8). Sportscaster Rich Funke has been on the set with him almost all that time (save for a brief departure for bigger markets), and Lomax has also put in two decades at 191 East Avenue. Think Rochester's resistant to change?
(It looks like one long-anticipated change could be happening soon: a visit to the Ackerley corporate Web site turned up a new logo for WOKR. The site had earlier displayed a WOKR logo done up in the beige, black and red of Ackerley's WIXT Syracuse, WIVT Binghamton and WUTR Utica, but that logo was never put into service at WOKR. This red, white and blue version looks like it's for real, though it's yet to make an on-air appearance. While we were at it, we turned up "new" logos for a few more recent Ackerley acquisitions: WETM Elmira; WBGH-LP Binghamton, whose current logo reflects its LPTV on-air assignment of channel 8, soon to be displaced to 20, while the "new" version shows cable channel 5; and WWTI Watertown. As far as we know, none of the new ones are in use on the air right now.)
One big radio move this week in the Flower City: After four years at Infinity, Dave Symonds is making the trip across Chestnut Street. The former WRMM (101.3) PD joins Entercom/Rochester today (Jan. 22), serving as operations manager of all four stations (oldies WBBF AM-FM, country WBEE-FM and 80s WBZA) and as program director for WBZA. In his role as OM, Symonds replaces Fred Horton (who still hasn't been replaced on the WBEE morning show, though we hear 'BEE veteran Bill Coffey was back for a visit last week). In his role as "Buzz" PD, he'll get to turn the station from a jukebox into, well, an actual station. Best of luck!
Next stop: Syracuse, and a peculiar filing from the Syracuse Community Radio folks. Remember them -- the ones trying to get into the Salt City by way of rimshot FMs and translators, feeding their one station (WXXE 90.5 Fenner) by a cruddy-sounding mono phone line? Seems their other full-power CP, WXXC 88.7 Truxton, was expiring last week (Jan. 14). Sure enough, an application was filed with the FCC for a license to cover for the station on January 16.
There's just one problem: as best NERW can figure out, WXXC hasn't actually been built yet. We'll be piloting the NERW-mobile out that way later this week to see what, if anything, now exists at the site in northern Cortland County, but we know that WXXE's not mentioning anything about WXXC on the air (at least not during our Webcast listening over the weekend), nor has anyone out that way heard a signal on 88.7.
Did SCR in fact submit a license to cover for a station that hasn't been built yet? This has the potential to get very complicated indeed, and we'll be here with updates as soon as we learn more.
A few more radio notes before we leave the Finger Lakes: NERW was listening to the Bush inauguration on the car radio Saturday afternoon, and we were mighty pleased to hear the broadcast on one unexpected source: in addition to the usual AM news-talk and NPR suspects, the religious Mars Hill network (WMHR 102.9 Syracuse, WMHN 89.3 Webster-Rochester, WMHI 94.7 Cape Vincent) broke format to take the feed from Washington.
And how's this for irony: a minute or two before noon, Rochester's WXXI (1370) broke into the NPR feed for a quick station ID. It's nice to see a station going the extra mile to obey the rules...except that, first of all, the ID rules contain a very clear exception for long-form programming and event coverage that runs over the top of the hour; and, second, the ID that ran was the same one WXXI always runs ("WXXI AM Rochester and WXXI-dot-o-r-g"), which isn't, technically speaking, legal! ("AM" is not part of WXXI's calls, and the only things they're supposed to be inserting between "WXXI" and "Rochester" would be the station's frequency or the name of the licensee.)
Technicalities? Yeah...but that's what we're all about here at NERW!
A few stations that we'd have thought would be carrying the Bush festivities stayed with regular programming instead, including the Finger Lakes News Network (WGVA Geneva et al) and Ithaca's WHCU. Wonder why?
One more Syracuse note: Geoff Miskinis is out as promotions director at Cox CHR WWHT (107.9).
Up in Watertown, Tiger Eye Broadcasting is selling WBQZ-LP (Channel 34) to Anthony DiMarcantonio. We wonder if Tiger Eye has any plans for Rochester's W47BM, which was on the air about three years ago with color bars, very briefly, and has been dark ever since.
In the Mohawk Valley, there's been a petition to deny filed against the sale of WLFH (1230 Little Falls) and WOWZ/WOWB to Clear Channel.
The big news in Albany is in mornings at WPYX (106.5), where the five-month experiment with a two-city morning show is over. Bob Wolf and John Mulrooney had been doing their show from Cleveland's WMMS (100.7) since the summer, trying to serve listeners in both cities at once.
This past week, Wolf (real name, Bob Wohlfeld) returned home to Albany as a solo act. The reason? According to the Albany Times-Union and media reporter Mark McGuire (one of the best in the region, by the way), Wolf is reuniting with the wife he divorced two years ago. The couple remarried New Year's Eve, and now Wolf is back home at WPYX, while Mulrooney stays in Cleveland at 'MMS.
WPYX is now trying to sort out what becomes of the sidekicks: Ellen Z., who moved from Albany to Cleveland, is expected to stay there with Mulrooney.
Three more Albany tidbits, with thanks to McGuire: WPYX PD John Cooper adds operations manager duties at new sister station WGY, while WRVE (99.5 Schenectady) OM Randy McCarten takes on the same duties at WTRY-FM (98.3) to replace Cooper there. And there are four finalists for Donn Rogosin's old job running public broadcaster WMHT: Carole Cartwright (late of WYCC-TV 20 in Chicago), Richard Lehner of WUFT in Gainesville, Florida, Russell Peotter of Maine Public Broadcasting, and Deborah Onslow, GM at Springfield PBS station WGBY (and an alumna of WXXI here in Rochester).
Up in the Saratoga Springs/Glens Falls area, WNYQ (105.7 Queensbury) has filed to make the move from its current transmitter site on Grant Mountain, where it's been fighting a lengthy battle with the neighbors. WNYQ will be (or may in fact already be) operating from Prospect Mountain to the north of town, home to WCKM (98.5 Lake George) and WKBE (100.3 Warrensburg). The Vox-owned AC station added a new air talent: Jackie Donovan joins "Wink" for middays, from the same shift at crosstown WQAR (Star 101.3).
WHAI will give Saga a northern arm to its Pioneer Valley cluster, which now includes Springfield rocker WAQY (102.1), news-talk AM duo WHMP (1400 Northampton) and WHNP (1600 East Longmeadow), and active rock WLZX (99.3 Northampton). We suspect a WHMP simulcast is in the cards for AM 1240 once this deal is complete. As for the FM, it faces off against Vox's WRSI and WPVQ, which are just a week or so away from their big frequency swap. More on the Saga/WHAI deal in next week's NERW...
We can tell you much more about two of the deals that broke just in time for last week's issue. Mark down $11 million as the price Salem is paying for Carter Broadcasting's WROL (950 Boston)...and we'll call it a nice reward for the quarter-century or so that Ken Carberry and family have tended the 5 kW (90 watts after dark) signal from the Saugus marshlands. (And indeed, we hear the senior Carberry is taking a well-deserved Florida vacation!)
Carter keeps WCRN (830 Worcester) with its new big signal and swing format, as well as WRIB (1220 Providence) and WACE (730 Chicopee), at least for now.
Clear Channel, meanwhile, is paying $10 million for Framingham's WKOX (1200), though Mays & Co. will no doubt be spending a bit more to build out the station's CP to go to 50 kW from the WUNR site in Newton, not to mention the cost of fighting community opposition to the construction of new towers in that very residential area.
Disney's WMKI (1260 Boston) has been granted its CP for a slight move of its towers -- though we were quite amused to note that the grant, at least in the FCC's CDBS database, still carries a rather major typo: the day facility is shown at "41" degrees north instead of 42, which puts it in the Atlantic Ocean somewhere off Martha's Vineyard instead of in the Quincy marshes.
The Allston-Brighton Free Radio folks checked in to let us know they're now streaming live audio at their Web site in addition to their on-air offerings at 1630 and 1670 AM and their Saturday night WJIB (740 Cambridge) broadcasts.
TV news: Chet Curtis is leaving WCVB (Channel 5) after a career there that began the same day the station did, March 19, 1972. The veteran anchor isn't going very far, though: just around the corner to New England Cable News, where he takes over the anchor spot for "NewsNight." (NECN is part-owned by WCVB parent Hearst-Argyle, so the move is all in the family.)
NERW notes that the "NewsNight" chair is becoming something of a landing pad for Boston anchors: former WHDH-TV anchors R.D. Sahl and Margie Reedy have both spent time there as well!
An overdue correction: when we said Hartford's WHCT was the last remaining call from the pioneer UHF days in New England, we forgot two things. First, WHCT wasn't the original call on channel 18 (it was WGTH initially), and second, Springfield's WWLP actually holds pride of place for keeping the same call on UHF the longest. It's had the same call letters since day one back in 1953, though it's migrated down the dial from channel 61 to channel 22 in the intervening years.
NHPR officials say the change comes for two reasons: first, because the network is New Hampshire's only statewide radio voice and needs to be more attentive to state issues, and second, because classical music is becoming widely available through satellite radio and the Web.
The new schedule, at least as it appears on NHPR's Web site, remains incomplete, but it looks as though the big changes will be the new program at 6:30 nightly, the replacement of afternoon classical with Talk of the Nation and The World, and the replacement of NPR's Performance Today with Diane Rehm. The weekend Folk Show will continue, NHPR says.
MPR officials say 58 members have cancelled since the changes were announced, and comments from the public so far are running at 1500 against and just 91 in favor of the changes. The trustees say they're reluctant to interfere with programming matters, but MPR executives say they're reviewing all the comments.
A few more quick notes from up north: $175,000 is the price Richard Thau's Mid-Maine Media gets for WDME-FM (103.1 Dover-Foxcroft), and the buyer? We should have remembered that "Zone Corp." is the name under which Stephen King does radio business, which means WDME will join Bangor's WZON (620) and WKIT (100.3 Brewer) in the King empire.
A big Granite State apology to "Sammie" of WJYY (105.5 Concord) fame, who is of the female persuasion, no matter what pronoun we used in last week's issue. While we're at the Vox cluster, we'll note that Ouellette is the correct spelling of Steve's last name, and Al Ponelet remains production director at both WJYY and WNHI (93.3 Belmont).
We're hearing that Vox will be buying WLPL (96.3 Walpole NH), which is simulcasting the oldies of WWOD (104.3 Hartford VT). We're also hearing that WWOD's PD and morning guy, Ted Bilodeau, is looking for a sidekick.
After decades as the top-40 giant in Toronto, CHUM went to oldies, largely automated, a few years back. Now reports in the Toronto papers say the station will flip to sports in April, challenging Telemedia's "Fan 590" CJCL for the format. (And guess who already has Blue Jays broadcast rights?)
LATE UPDATE: Just hours after this week's NERW was posted to fybush.com Sunday night, CHUM announced that there will indeed be a switch to sports in a few months -- and not just at 1050 CHUM. The CHUM Group will flip most of its AM properties to the new "Team" sports network, including CKLC (1380) in Kingston (where several staffers were laid off this week), CKPT (1420) in Peterborough, and more.
Much more on the big changes there -- and perhaps at a Toronto rival -- in next week's NERW!
It looks like music on AM is rapidly becoming a thing of the past in Canada; just east of Toronto, Corus is planning to dump the satellite oldies on CKDO (1350 Oshawa) next month in favor of news and talk, at least partially local, while out in Vancouver, we understand "LG73," one of the last big AM top-40 stations out there, will soon change calls from CKLG to CJWX. The format will flip to talk, to complement Rogers sister station CKWX (1130), which is all-news. Truly the end of an era...
That's it for another seven days here at NERW. See you next week!