This time it's 50 miles down the Thruway in Utica, and this time it's Clear Channel doing the "Quick" thing, while it waits to announce a new format for WSKS (102.5 Rome). The station's old "Kiss" CHR format migrated down (and up) the dial to the former "Wow FM," WOWZ (97.9 Whitesboro) and WOWB (105.5 Little Falls) last week, and the leading rumor now suggests the permanent format on 102.5 will be country, challenging Forever's market-leading WFRG-FM (104.3 Utica).
The only big question left is: when will the flip finally happen? As of press time late Monday evening, WSKS is still "Quick"...
[Late update: WSKS switched to "K-Garth," a stunt format of all Garth Brooks music, Tuesday night.]
FLN also received a license to cover for its new Cortland transmitter. W222AH (92.3) rebroadcasts WCII (88.5 Spencer).
One more Rochester note, before we move along: it took nearly two years, but former WPXY-FM (97.9) program director Clarke Ingram says 98PXY has finally removed his photo and bio from their Web site. Better late than never, we suppose...
Syracuse's WNSS (1260) is about to change formats again. The erstwhile home of the now-defunct Comedy World network has been simulcasting Citadel sister WLTI (105.9) for the last few months; within the next 90 days, we're told, it will relaunch as "ESPN Radio 1260," with Syracuse University football and basketball as well as Buffalo Bills football in the fall, challenging Clear Channel's WHEN (620) for the sports radio audience in the Salt City.
Up in the North Country, correspondent Mike Roach has been diligently keeping tabs on a frequency swap up there, and he reports that it all became official early Friday morning: Mark down "WYSI" as the new calls on 96.7 Canton, now part of the "Yes FM" chain that also includes WYUL (94.7 Chateaugay) and WYSX (98.7 Ogdensburg), while the new 96.1 Norwood signal takes the old WVLF calls from Canton, becoming "The Valley 96.1." Despite a signal advertised as 25 kW, Mike reports he's having trouble hearing the 96.1 signal at home in Ogdensburg.
One we inadvertently left out last week: a visit to the Southern Tier turned up a delayed format change in Elmira. Months after announcing the planned switch, WENY (1230) is at last relaying the talk programming of new sister station WCLI (1450 Corning). WENY had continued with its satellite oldies format even after its sister FM, WENY-FM (92.7), picked up a simulcast of WCLI sister WCBA-FM (98.7) last winter. "Two-Way Radio" is the slogan now being used by both WENY and WCLI, and for those who keep track of such things, we suspect WENY now gets its mail at the Davis Road, Corning address of WCLI.
Downstate, Long Island's WLIM (1580 Patchogue) returned to the air late last week under its new Polnet ownership. We're hearing reports of a weaker-than-normal signal and of intermittent audio problems. We're also hearing that Polnet is up to the same tricks it used when it bought WRKL (910 New City) a few years ago. Back then, it claimed WRKL was a "New York City" signal, a stretch at the very least. Now we hear Polnet is claiming WLIM reaches the Polish community in Riverhead, which must come as a surprise to WFTU (1570), the Riverhead station on the next channel over.
Pirate radio operator Ibar Mohammed had a visit from U.S. marshals last week, arresting him for operating sans license on 89.3 MHz in Queens and Brooklyn. Mohammed apparently failed to respond to warning letters from the FCC, prompting the law-enforcement visit.
The new assistant music director at WFUV (90.7 New York) has a familiar name. Steve Fornatale is the son of legendary jock Pete Fornatale, who happens to be doing Saturday afternoons on 'FUV of late. The younger Fornatale replaces Rich McLaughlin in the AMD chair at the Fordham University station.
Congratulations to Rich Wood; the former WOR Radio Network head has landed a new post as general manager of Doug Stephan productions, putting his syndication skills to work for Stephan's "Good Day USA" morning show.
And our condolences to friends and family of Donna Speziale Richards; the former WHEN (620 Syracuse) news director died last week while on vacation in Florida, suffering an aneurysm at age 43. In addition to her stint at WHEN, she also worked as a reporter at WFBL and WHEN-TV in the Salt City.
Ernie Anastos, who's built his own suburban radio ring around Albany in the last few years (WQAR Stillwater, WUAM Saratoga Springs, WVKZ Schenectady and WMVI Mechanicville), is the buyer, and we've yet to hear a purchase price. The Big Apple TV news anchor and his partners at Anastos Broadcast Group end up with WPEP (1570 Taunton), WMSX (1410 Brockton), WGAW (1340 Gardner), WMVU (900 Nashua NH) and WNRI (1380 Woonsocket RI), leaving Willcox back at square one with his very first property, WNSH (1570 Beverly).
The Willow Farm stations have been running a mostly-satellite talk format, with a little local content at each. Will Anastos plug in the standards "Moon" or classic country "Sun" formats he's using in Albany? We'll keep you posted...
We won't indulge WFNX (101.7 Lynn) afternoon jock Birdsey, who's looking for publicity for his feud with WBCN (104.1 Boston)'s Nik Carter. The latest round included a fake obituary in a Worcester newspaper, and worse; we're thinking that if we were in Carter's shoes, we just might be flattered to have the competition expending so much energy against us.
Speaking of Harrisburg, there's word that Clear Channel will soon try again to replace the oldies on WWKL-FM (99.3) with its CHR "Kiss" format. The last attempt, last summer, was quashed by Citadel, which sued to enforce a non-compete that accompanied its purchase of established CHR WNNK (104.1). That agreement is apparently near expiration, so we're expecting to hear "Kool" on 99.3 for the last time when we drive through next weekend.
We're also told that WITF (89.5) and WITF-TV (Channel 33) are operating at lower-than-usual power during a tower-replacement project at their site in the hills on the west side of the Susquehanna.
Out in State College, "Froggy" WFGI (94.5) wants to double its power, jumping (pardon the pun) from 940 watts to 1900 watts and raising its antenna by a couple of meters.
Across the state line just a bit in Ohio, Stop 26 Riverbend applied this week to buy WASN (1330 Campbell) from Daniel Ott, and we hear the plan is to move the religious format of Stop 26's WGFT (1500 Youngstown) down the dial to the dual-site 1330 operation (the old WHOT from days gone by).
Up the road a bit in Cleveland, here's the latest on the big format swap due to take place in a month or so: the standards format disappearing from WRMR (850) will be picked up by AM 1420, one of the new properties belonging to the WCLV classical radio folks when they give up their big 95.5 FM signal. With Salem poised to move its WKNR sports format from 1220 down to 850, WCLV moving its calls and classical format from 95.5 to the west suburban 104.9 Lorain signal, Clear Channel apparently planning to move its "Kiss" WAKS from 104.9 to WKDD Akron's 96.5 spot and WKDD to the 98.1 Canton that's now Salem's religious WHK-FM, that just leaves a few more swaps to be worked out: will the WHK(AM) calls stay on Salem's Parma-licensed 1000 signal (formerly WCCD), or will they move to 1220 with the religion that's now on WHKK 1420 (the longtime WHK)? And will Salem, as expected, install its Christian contemporary "Fish" format on 95.5? We should know July 1...scorecards are for sale in the lobby on your way out!
(And in the meantime, Infinity ditched jammin' oldies from WZJM 92.3 Cleveland Heights this week, replacing the ailing format with an active rock playlist.)
We'll have a chance to hear all the fun "before" and "after," as it were: Cleveland is one of the many cities we'll be passing through as part of our busy travel schedule over the next few weeks. As a result, expect some changes in our NERW publication schedule during June and July:
We'll publish on Tuesday, June 12, instead of Monday, June 11, as we return from our excursion to Washington D.C. and points en route.
We'll publish a regular NERW on Monday, June 18, followed by a special issue that will appear Friday, June 22, dated June 25-July 2. There will be no regular NERW July 2, since we'll be on the road exploring the midwest, but watch fybush.com for regular updates from the road, if all goes well, followed by a regular NERW issue on July 9.
Want a closer look at the schedule? Visit <http://www.fybush.com/travel.html> to see if we'll be near you this summer! We love to meet our readers, especially where there's a studio or transmitter tour involved.