We told you a few weeks ago that Vox's purchase of WPVQ from Cardwell Broadcasting would mean the move of WPVQ's country from the Turners Falls 93.9 signal to WRSI's Greenfield-licensed 95.3, with WRSI's "River" format drifting downstream to 93.9 and its translators, W246AM (97.1) in Amherst and W287AK (105.3) in South Hadley. And indeed, the switch happened right on schedule at midnight, accompanied by days of reminders on both stations (though, oddly, very little on either station's Web site.)
But as country listeners move over to 95.3 (now known as "The Bear"), River fans have still one more frequency to check for their station. In addition to the former WPVQ outlets, Vox also put the River on what had been WSSH (101.5 Marlboro VT), part of a three-station simulcast of soft AC (along with WZSH Bellows Falls and WWSH White River Junction) as "Wish."
The new calls on 101.5 are WRSY (the other two stations continue with Wish), returning the AAA format to an area WRSI used to serve when it was simulcast on still another frequency, the 100.7 in Wilmington, Vermont known as WVAY, then WMTT, and now WVAY again. (That station has been simulcasting Vox classic rocker WEXP Brandon-Rutland for the last few months.)
If Vox's moves aren't enough, here's one more in the Pioneer Valley: Saga, which is buying Greenfield's WHAI/WHAI-FM from the Haigis family, has filed to change the calls of WHAI(AM) (1240) to WHMQ. A few weeks ago, we predicted that the AM station would become a simulcast of Saga's WHMP (1400 Northampton)...looks like we were right. (With the other WHMP simulcast, WHNP 1600 East Longmeadow, the WHMP signal now reaches pretty much the entire Pioneer Valley.)
Bernardine Nash, WILD's former owner (and now station manager since the station's sale to Radio One), tells the Globe that Rose Arruda acted more as an activist than a journalist when she asked Menino about stalled contract talks with city firefighters and other issues.
Menino tells the Globe he asked his press secretary after the interview to make sure there were no repercussions over Arruda's behavior.
(The paper speculates that Nash dismissed Arruda in part to "curry favor for a possible antenna in Boston," confusing WILD, whose tower is in Medford, with its FM sister WBOT Brockton, which can't move north to Boston anyway because of stations in Winchendon and Dover, N.H.)
Easy come, easy go: Boston's newest independent TV station, WHUB-TV (Channel 66 Marlborough), quietly ended its run on Wednesday after less than half a year with the format. The station is back to the Home Shopping Network fare it used to run (as WHSH), while it awaits the sale of parent USA Broadcasting to Univision, expected in the next few months. Looking for WHUB-TV's local sports (like the upcoming Beanpot hockey tournament?) You'll find many of them on AT&T Cable's channel 3.
Radio People On The Move: John "Hutch" Hutchinson is leaving his afternoon slot at Plymouth's WPLM-FM (99.1) to return to Boston -- and to start a new career as an account executive at Greater Media's WROR (105.7 Framingham). Hutch's distinctive accent will still be heard on the weekends on WROR and on his old home, WBOS (92.9 Brookline). Remember Rico Petrocelli and Stu Taylor from their "Home Team" morning show a few years back on WBPS (890 Dedham)? They're back -- on the same towers, even -- doing the "Home Team" on weekends on WBIX (1060 Natick).
Now Mulrooney's facing harassment charges brought by Wolf (whose real name is Robert Wohlfeld), which culminated in Mulrooney's arrest a week ago when he returned to Albany for a visit.
Wolf says Mulrooney threatened him by phone over money Wolf owed from a loan last year, leading him to file the harassment complaint, saying he feared for his family's safety. Police in the Albany suburb of Colonie arrested Mulrooney, 42, at a gun shop.
Mulrooney was released on his own recognizance and was back on the air this week at Cleveland's WMMS, albeit without another former member of the "Wolf and Mulrooney Show." Newscaster Ellen Z. (Thaler) followed Wolf back to Albany to rejoin him at WPYX, along with another of Wolf's former colleagues.
John Tobin, who worked with Wolf at Poughkeepsie's WPDH (101.5) in the mid-nineties, left WPDH last week to join Wolf on the "Wakin' Up with the Wolf" show, in turn leaving the "Tobin and Cooper" morning show on WPDH with just one host.
Gonzalez began the show by reading a statement attacking the Pacifica board of directors for its December dismissals of several WBAI managers, finishing with an announcement that he's joining the listener campaign to oust the board by cutting off donations to Pacifica stations, instead funneling the money to legal campaigns against the board.
The listener Web sites are already speculating that Gonzalez's co-host, Amy Goodman, will be the next to leave the embattled network. We'll keep an eye on the situation, while noting that whatever else might be said about Pacifica, it's actually allowed Gonzalez's statement to be replayed on at least one of its own stations (KPFA Berkeley, on Sunday's "Salon" show) -- and can you imagine any other station owner allowing something like that?
New York listeners might not have Juan Gonzalez anymore, but they're getting a taste of one of Rochester's top-rated morning hosts, thanks to a bit of Infinity corporate synergy. "Brother Wease," whose gravelly voice was waking up WCMF (96.5 Rochester) listeners when Howard Stern was still a nobody in Connecticut, is now being heard on WNEW (102.7 New York) via a Saturday "best-of" show. Will Wease (aka Alan Levin) make sense in the Big Apple, or is he one of those local tastes that just can't be exported (like white hots, for instance)? We suspect the latter...but offer Wease our best wishes anyway.
Heading out to Long Island (which we're doing in a week or so; read on...), Charlie Lombardo moves from music director at WALK-FM (97.5 Patchogue) to PD at WMJC (94.3 Smithtown), heading up the new 80s-based hot AC format there.
Returning upstate, we note that Albany NBC affiliate WNYT (Channel 13) has been granted a change in its DTV dial position. WNYT was originally supposed to go to digital channel 15, using its current transmitter site on Bald Mountain. Instead, it will move to channel 12 -- and move to the other side of Albany, joining the rest of the market's TV stations in the Helderberg Mountain antenna farm (and thus making it possible for Albany DTV viewers, once there are such things, to leave their antennas pointed in one direction instead of having to swing them around to switch to WNYT-DT.)
Albany CHR WFLY (92.3 Troy) is getting a new night jock; J.B. Wild comes up from Long Island and "Party 105" (WXXP 105.3 Calverton-Roanoke) starting Monday.
The FCC has apparently deleted the license and calls of Glens Falls' WNCE-LP (Channel 8); we remember seeing this little LPTV doing a lot of local programming just a few years ago.
The FCC has also made the call change of Auburn's WHCD (106.9) to WPHR official; the former WPHR(FM), a construction permit in the Ashtabula, Ohio market, becomes WCUZ (calls which spent decades in Grand Rapids, Michigan). We heard the WPHR calls in use on "Power 106.9" back in October when we drove through.
Last year's fad format was "Jammin' Oldies." This year it's 80s pop, and it was no great surprise to discover that one of Rochester's most inconsequential stations made a weekend format flip from the one to the other. Clear Channel's WLCL (107.3 South Bristol) dropped its "Cool 107" identity to become "Channel 107.3" -- the second all-80s station in Rochester, following on the heels of last fall's switch at Entercom's 98.9, now WBZA "the Buzz," which has a far superior class B signal and will soon have jocks and a morning show and all the things that used to be considered more than optional for a radio station.
Two questions come to mind: first, will this incarnation of WLCL be any less of an identity-free jukebox than the Jammin' Oldies version (which never did anything substantive by way of local jocks or promotion, and second, will Clear Channel ever build out the CPs that will move 107.3 from its short tower south of town in Bloomfield to the much taller Bristol Mountain, way out of town, while at the same time moving WNVE ("the Nerve") from Bristol to Baker Hill in Perinton. (And is it legal for WLCL to be using South Bristol as its community of license when it barely pumps any signal over the hill into that small town from its current site?)
Oh yeah, a third question comes to mind: does anybody, anywhere, really need to be able to hear A Flock of Seagulls on two stations in one market?
Meanwhile here in Rochester, a longtime morning voice has returned to the market for good -- sort of. A few weeks ago we mentioned having heard Bill Coffey making a guest appearance on his old station, country WBEE-FM (92.5). It turns out WBEE's management was testing listener reaction to the idea of a Coffey comeback, because his return became permanent last week...except for one thing: instead of moving back to Rochester from the Philadelphia suburbs, Coffey will stay there with his family and do the show via ISDN, with co-host Terry Clifford holding down the fort at the WBEE-FM studios.
Congratulations to NERW's friends at noncomm WGMC (90.1 Greece), who won FCC approval this week for a major signal upgrade. Currently running 2050 watts nondirectional, the jazz station now holds a CP to boost power to 15 kilowatts -- albeit with a directional antenna that will throw just 975 watts in the direction of NERW Central in the southeast suburbs of Rochester. The good news is that WGMC will also get to raise its tower at Greece Athena High School, up to 55 meters above average terrain from the current antenna at about a third the height.
Rimshot alert: The 107.7 signal that's licensed to Wethersfield Township, Wyoming County, last promoted itself heavily to Rochester listeners almost 20 years ago, when they were doing freeform rock as WUWU. Five callsigns and six formats later, NERW spotted a 107.7 billboard in Rochester's South Wedge neighborhood this week, promoting the new sports format (as WNSA) -- and particularly afternoon host Mike Schopp, who's from Rochester and was last heard here on WHTK (1280). With WNSA's massive mono signal, it's always attracted at least some Rochester audience, so it's nice to see the station aiming here as well as at Buffalo. (We suppose it also doesn't hurt that WNSA is co-owned with the Empire Sports cable network, which actively courts Rochester advertisers, or that there's no real all-sports competition here, as there is in Buffalo with WGR.)
Meanwhile, the erstwhile third wheel of the WLOB simulcast, WLLB (790 Rumford), is now simulcasting with WTME (1240 Lewiston) and WKTQ (1450 South Paris) under its new Gleason Group ownership.
And way, way, way Down East, our loyal listener Rod O'Connor checks in to report a format change at WQDY (1230/92.7 Calais) and WALZ (95.3 Machias), which replace their mix of AC and country with classic hits as "Classic Hits 92.7, 95.3."
The station is also moving its "Swap Shop" show to Saturday mornings and discontinuing live broadcasts of Concord City Council and school board meetings. Party Line host Bob Lipman will stay with WKXL to host the morning news from 5:30 until 9 on weekdays.
Up the road a bit in Laconia, WLNH (98.3) has been granted a big power increase: the station will go from a class A operation to a C3, cranking up from 3800 watts to 15.5 kW, albeit with a directional antenna to protect co-channel WHAI-FM in Greenfield and first-adjacent WJJR (98.1 Rutland VT).
We now know how much Clear Channel is paying for Conn River's WMXR (93.9 Woodstock) and WCFR-FM (93.5 Springfield): mark down $2 million as the price for the "Bob Country" pair.
As long as we're at it, we'll note that the WKRI calls found a new home this week, too, at the station in Mount Carmel, Illinois that used to be WTRI (which, in turn, was a TV call in Albany years ago, but we digress, don't we?)
One quick RI correction: it's Tom St. John, not "Tina," at Providence's WWBB. Oops!
Much of the Christian contemporary format that's moving to CJYE is coming from sister station CJMR (1320 Mississauga), which now goes all-Chinese. And speaking of foreign-language radio, check out this CRTC report if you don't believe there are some incredible differences in the way Canada and the US regulate radio programming.
More new programming is coming to Toronto soon: we hear tests have begun on CFXJ (93.5), the new urban-formatted "Milestone Radio," which means the market's first station aimed at the black community should be on the air for real within a few weeks.
An interesting regionalism: we're told that another newish Toronto format, the CHR on CIDC (103.5 Orangeville), is calling itself not "Zed" 103.5 but "Zee" 103.5, which doesn't sound very Canadian, does it?
The University of Toronto's CIUT (89.5) won a short-term licence renewal from the CRTC this week. Instead of the usual six-year term, CIUT will be up for renewal in 2003, thanks in part to its failure to keep proper logger tapes when the CRTC came calling for them two years ago.
Across Lake Ontario, the tourist-information station in the pretty little town of Niagara-on-the-Lake is getting a power boost. CHQI (90.7) already gets out surprisingly well with one watt; soon it will be running 51 watts and reaching down as far as the Niagara Falls bridges to lure tourists north for the Shaw Festival and the other attractions there.
On the TV side of things, this is the last week you'll see CHCH (Channel 11) in Hamilton identifying as "OnTV." The station's sale from WIC to CanWestGlobal will bring with it a new identity on February 12, as the station returns to using its call letters (sort of). It will be known as "CH," with the letters appearing above the Global "swoosh" logo. (CHCH is seen on cable across the province, and has relay transmitters in London and Ottawa.)
Three quick notes from Quebec: CKIA (96.1 Quebec City) has been granted its move to 88.3 and its power upgrade from 6.8 watts to 350 watts. The station will also be allowed to increase its weekly airtime (what did we say about the difference in regulation up there?) from 96 hours to 110 hours each week. Over in Riviere-du-Loup, both CJFP (103.7) and CIBM (107.1) have been granted relay transmitters in the town of Sully. CJFP's will be on 93.5 with 18.2 watts, while CIBM's will be on 96.7 with 14.2 watts. And we've been lax in failing to mention that CFLP (1000 Rimouski) left the AM dial for good on New Year's Day, moving to 102.9 FM. Rimouski's other AM, CJBR (900), also had an application in to move to FM -- but we can't recall if it's already moved to 89.1 yet or not. Anyone up that way who can help? (Hey, if NERW can get e-mail from Timmins, Ontario, we can get e-mail from Rimouski, too!)
Speaking of Erie, the FCC has flagged the transfer of WJET (102.3) from NextMedia to Regent, which is a bit ironic considering that NextMedia has to get rid of WJET to stay under the very market-concentration limits that the FCC is flagging for Regent. We're hearing rumors that NextMedia is keeping the WJET calls, and we like the one that suggests that the calls will land on the new 93.9 in Fairview. (No, Clarke, it won't be WFVW-FM...sorry!)
Just across the state line in Warren, Ohio, Salem changes the calls of WRBP (1440) to WHKW, matching its WHK-FM over in Canton and WHK(AM) in Cleveland.
Down in Pittsburgh, Sheridan Broadcasting is paying Mortenson Broadcasting $625,000 for little suburban WPGR (1510 Monroeville). It'll join WAMO, WAMO-FM and WSSZ in the Sheridan/Pittsburgh family.
Up in St. Mary's, Cam Communications is selling WDDH (97.5) to Laurel Media.
In Scranton/Wilkes-Barre -- well, officially in Hazleton -- Fox affiliate WOLF-TV (Channel 56) gets a change in its DTV dial position. When WOLF-DT launches, it'll be on channel 45 instead of on channel 9, thereby sparing LPTV W09BL from having to move.
We're hitting the road next week for some business in Philadelphia and then some heavy-duty tower-hunting on the Jersey Shore, Long Island, southern Connecticut and the Hudson Valley. If you're in those areas and you'd like to meet up with us, drop us a line. If you're not, keep an eye on Tower Site of the Week in a few weeks to see what we find out there. And in the meantime, note that NERW's February 12 issue will hit the Web sometime Friday night (Feb. 9), while the February 19 issue won't appear until sometime that Monday afternoon. We'll see you in just a few days!
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