As we told you last week, Bob Vinikoor's WNTK-FM (99.7 New London) lost the Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Dean Edell shows, both syndicated by Clear Channel's Premiere, to Clear Channel-owned WTSL (1400 Lebanon), with the programs moving to their new homes on Thursday (July 19).
But Vinikoor didn't take the move lightly; he tells NERW he spent the last few months trying to persuade Premiere it was making a mistake by moving from WNTK, whose FM signal covers much of western New Hampshire, to the little 1000-watt WTSL, which is strong in Lebanon and nearby Hanover but decidedly a distant signal in New London and Newport, more than 30 miles away. Vinikoor's efforts included a videotape showing the scenery in his coverage area -- and the weak WTSL signal on his van's radio. The tape was returned, unwatched, by Premiere executives, leading Vinikoor to try to get it to Limbaugh himself.
And when it became clear that the battle was lost, Vinikoor switched to a new plan: hiring former gubernatorial candidate Deborah "Arnie" Arneson to fill Limbaugh's old shift on WNTK. Arneson's show debuted Thursday on the station, bringing Vinikoor media attention that included Manchester's WMUR-TV and several area newspapers.
Meanwhile on the AM side, we're told the Americana format is back on WNTK (1020 Newport) after a brief simulcast with the talk FM; a staffing change caused the temporary hiatus in the music.
Vinikoor also updated us on the status of his construction permit for WQSO (720 Hanover). The 50 kilowatt daytimer will require a few more court battles before construction can start, thanks to a judge who declined to hear an appeal of the Hanover regulation limiting towers to 47 feet in height. An AM directional array on 720 will obviously require towers more than five times as high, and Vinikoor says his next step will be either New Hampshire's highest court or the federal court system.
Out west, we're told WCAT (700 Orange) is indeed silent, with the clock ticking at the FCC towards license cancellation in November. NERW suspects Citadel will sell or donate the license before that happens; we're sure there are religious or educational operators who could put the little daytime signal to some use.
St. Pierre will get his sidekick by long-distance: Liz Bonis, health reporter here in Rochester at WOKR (Channel 13), will do the WPRO show from the Flower City. Kass will join Bonis and St. Pierre at 8, then take over solo from 8:30 until 11:35 AM.
The FCC sorted out its confusion a bit further up the Hudson Valley this week, issuing a revised ruling on the many proposals for adding new channels to the FM dial on both sides of the New York-Connecticut border. The original ruling, quickly withdrawn, moved WQQQ (103.3 Sharon CT) to 102.5 - and allocated a new 102.5A in Rhinebeck NY, just a dozen miles away!
The new ruling leaves WQQQ at 103.3, keeps 102.5A in Rhinebeck as a new noncommercial allocation (look for SUNY New Paltz' WFNP 88.7 Rosendale to apply for this channel to end its share-time with WMHT relay WRHV 88.7 Poughkeepsie), and changes the open 102.5A Rosendale commercial allocation to 98.9A (which will eventually be opened for auction).
The loser here seems to be Sacred Heart University in Connecticut; it had hoped for a new Connecticut 103.3 noncommercial allocation had WQQQ been able to move, but that won't be happening.
Moving up the Hudson to Albany, the glory days of WPTR (1540) are now being remembered with a new tribute site; check out www.fifteenforty.com for historic sounds, charts and pictures from one of the classic top-40 stations of the sixties and seventies!
Some good news for the Entercom cluster here in Rochester: the FCC this week approved the allocation shift that will transform 93.3A Avon, 20 miles south of Rochester, into 93.3A Fairport, just a few miles east of Rochester. In practical terms, it means a real city signal for WBBF-FM, once the paperwork is filed that will move its antenna from a rimshot tower down in Livingston County to the WBEE-FM (92.5 Rochester) stick on Five Mile Line Road in Penfield. (On a historical note, that tower was the original "WBBF-FM," since that was the first call on what's now WBEE-FM back in 1961 - and on 101.3 MHz back then, to boot!)
Opie and Anthony are coming to Rochester - but not live. Infinity's WCMF (96.5) will begin running their show July 30, delaying it from its afternoon drive slot elsewhere to an 8-midnight schedule. Look for promos touting Gregg "Opie" Hughes' brief stint as an intern for WCMF's Brother Wease back in the late 80s...
On the TV front, our condolences to WROC-TV (Channel 8) lead anchor Linda Allen on the death of her father last week. Allen had cited his failing health as one reason for her upcoming departure from the CBS affiliate, but we hear his passing won't change her decision to leave. No replacement has been announced yet.
The FCC's been getting flooded with applications from the region's low-power TV stations to upgrade to "Class A" status, which would give them some protection from being forced off the air by future DTV channel shifts. Among the applicants, though, are the several LPTVs (including WBXO-LP Rochester and WOBX-LP Syracuse) that used to run "The Box" and had more recently been "MTV2" affiliates. That struck us as odd, since Class A status requires three hours a week of local programming, and we've never seen a thing on WBXO-LP, at least, that didn't originate from out of town. The question just might be moot, though: WBXO-LP has been off the air all week. Hmmm....
And one "Radio People on the Move" entry for the Empire State this week: "Holly C." of WLNG down on the East End of Long Island becomes "Cricket" of WFRY (97.5 Watertown) as she departs Broadcast House after a decade or so. Under her new name, she's part of the new morning show at market-leading "Froggy" up there in the North Country...congratulations!
While we're up that way, we hear that WEYZ (1530) over in North East has ditched its satellite country format to simulcast the full-service sounds of sister WWCB (1370 Corry); we'll have to check that out the next time we're passing through.
And across the state line in OHIO, the call changes from the big format/facility swap in Cleveland are beginning to take shape. We've heard Cleveland's 1220, ex-WKNR, using the "WHKC" ID as it waits to take its new "WHK" identity (those calls having been parked at the former WCCD 1000 Parma), and we know Clear Channel temporarily moved the "Kiss" WAKS calls from 104.9 Lorain to 98.1 Canton (ex-WHK-FM) in preparation for swapping them with the WKDD calls still on 96.5 Akron (which is hiding its calls with a "WKDD Akron has moved to 98.1" announcement once an hour!). We know WCLV-FM's calls moved with the classical format from 95.5 Cleveland to 104.9 Lorain - and now we know that the WFHM calls that replaced it on 95.5 are also showing up down in the Youngstown market, where Salem took the dark 1440 facility that had been WHKW and changed the calls to WFHM(AM). Whew...