After more than a decade as a Fox affiliate, WPXT (Channel 51) in Portland will drop that affiliation in favor of the smaller WB Network, seen until now on LMA partner WPME (Channel 35) in Lewiston as a secondary affiliation.
The move appears to be a Pegasus corporate decision, with fellow Fox affiliate WDBD (Channel 40) down in Jackson, Mississippi making the same switch on the same day. Why? NERW suspects an attempt to reap more affiliate compensation from Fox, which will now be left with no broadcast outlet anywhere in the Pine Tree State.
To fill the gap, Time Warner has already announced that it will pick up the national FoxNet feed, which will appear on cable channel 14 for customers in Portland and vicinity. Elsewhere in the state, Fox will now have to negotiate with smaller local cable companies for carriage (most had been picking up WPXT via microwave relay for years). And for viewers without cable, it looks as though they'll have to get used to life without Homer, Scully, Ally and half the Sunday NFL schedule (unless, of course, other Maine network affiliates strike deals with Fox to pick up some of the network's sports).
Of course, some things remain sacred: the Red Sox games from Boston's WFXT will continue to be seen on WPME, which keeps its UPN affiliation.
On the radio dial, Rick Jordan arrives September 24 as the new program director on Portland country station WPOR (101.9). Jordan comes to the Saga outlet from Clear Channel's WBBS (104.7 Fulton) in Syracuse, where his last day is this Friday (9/14).
Way up north, we hear WREM (710 Monticello) is ditching its rock format to go back to a simulcast with talker WEGP (1390 Presque Isle), and this time the audio will arrive over an Internet feed, instead of via a car radio parked in the transmitter shack and tuned to 1390!
We have a sale price to report for Ron Frizzell's purchase of WMWV/WBNC in Conway: $850,000, per Radio & Records this week.
But the big news in the Granite State over Labor Day came courtesy of a Massachusetts broadcaster: Ted O'Brien, the veteran news voice of WNAC-TV, WRKO, WABU and now WBUR-FM (90.9 Boston), who went hiking in the White Mountains on Sunday (Sept. 2) and didn't come back right away.
A search that lasted through two nights ended Tuesday morning when O'Brien was found, tired but safe and apologetic about his unintentional adventure, which began when he wandered off the trail over Attitash Mountain. O'Brien admitted he wasn't properly prepared for the hike and had failed to anticipate how long it would take.
And radio people being radio people, we hear his return to WBUR later in the week found a mock press release attached to his computer, announcing O'Brien's appointment as head of the Boston University branch of the Appalachian Mountain Club!
All kidding aside, we're as relieved as anyone else to be able to report a happy ending to this story, which sparked a brief holiday-weekend media circus in Boston.
Near the edges of the Albany market, WEQX (102.7 Manchester) brings Josh Klemme on board as assistant PD; he's been music director of WBRU (95.5 Providence) and filled in at WBCN in Boston, too.
Heading downstate, Clear Channel is turning its LMA of WDLC (1490) and WTSX (96.7) in Port Jervis into an outright purchase from Port Jervis Broadcasting. No price has been announced.
The big Labor Day story in the Big Apple was, of course, the end of WEVD (1050)'s talk format, which came by way of a special hour of Alan Colmes' talk show (yes, the same Alan Colmes who presided over the last moments of WNBC and of WMCA's secular days!) that ended at midnight, August 31. A loop of ESPN promos lasted through Labor Day, ending on Tuesday morning with the debut of "ESPN Radio 1050." The new WEVD has already grabbed New York Islanders hockey from Sporting News Radio flagship WSNR (620 Newark NJ) for this season.
On the FM side of the dial, WTJM (105.1) lost morning man Jay Thomas last week, but a replacement didn't take long to find: Jeff Fox crosses the street from afternoons at urban WBLS (107.5) to take the wakeup shift at the former "Jammin' Oldies" outlet, now a straightforward urban AC.
Wednesday (Sept. 12) will be an historic day in radio: it's the day XM is scheduled to launch America's first satellite radio broadcast service, with listeners in San Diego and Houston first in line to experience the new 100-channel universe. But it turns out that among those channels will be at least four Clear Channel terrestrial outlets' signals. In addition to CHR KIIS-FM (102.7 Los Angeles), country WSIX-FM (97.9 Nashville) and hot AC KHMX (96.5 Houston), AC WLTW (106.7 New York) will be one of the "superstations" on the bird. We've got our money and our dashboard all ready for the rollout up here...
On the noncommercial side of the dial, Fordham University's WFUV (90.7 New York) has asked the FCC to review its decision denying the Bronx-based station an on-channel booster in Manhattan.
And a few notes from up Rochester way: WLCL (107.3 South Bristol) ended the all-Abba stunt Tuesday night (Sept. 4), returning to the "Jammin' Oldies" it had been programming until going all-80s last year. Yes, you read that right - a new Jammin' Oldies outlet. No, we can't quite explain it..but it is looking more like a permanent move than a stunt. Go figure...
WLCL's Clear Channel sister station, WNVE (95.1 Honeoye Falls) was granted a license to cover for its new Baker Hill transmitter site, which means translator W238AB (95.5 Rochester) will have to disappear very soon, followed by a move of the WLCL transmitter from Bloomfield to WNVE's old Bristol Mountain site to legitimize its city-of-license swap with 95.1. We'll let you know as it all takes place.
The Allentown market lost an oldies station over Labor Day weekend, when Nassau flipped WODE (99.9 Easton) to classic rock. But it seems Nassau didn't have the rights to call the station "The River," so after a few days with that moniker WODE retreated to "The Valley's New 99.9." Never one to miss an opportunity, Clear Channel promptly flipped the satellite receiver at WKAP (1470 Allentown) from adult standards over to oldies before the weekend was out.
Down in Philadelphia, Mega Broadcasting moved the "Mega" Spanish hits format and WEMG(AM) calls from 900 Philadelphia to 1310 Camden NJ (ex-WSSJ), returning 900 to its old WURD calls and kicking off a week of stunting. Over on the FM side, Neal Mirsky departed his position as PD of WYSP (94.1), heading west for the same job at KQRC (98.9 Leavenworth KS) in Kansas City, and we hear the seat won't be filled.
A few station sales: in DuBois, WCED (1420) and WMOU-FM (102.1) change hands from Vox to First Media for $4.2 million, while down in the State College market, Albert Dame adds WBUS (93.7 Boalsburg) to his four-station cluster (WBLF-WRSC/WQWK/WNCL), with no purchase price announced. The seller is Rob Schmidt's Boalsburg Broadcasting.
Down near the Maryland border, WSRT (92.1 Mercersburg) stunted for a few days with all-Beatles before relaunching "Star 92.1" with hot AC as "Radio's Rockin' Hits."
In the Altoona market, WBXQ in Cresson and WBRX in Patton have swapped frequencies, with Cresson moving to 94.7 and Patton to 94.3. The move should improve the coverage of the "Q94" simulcast, we're told.
One TV note: WHTM (Channel 27) in Harrisburg wants to change its DTV allocation, replacing channel 57 with channel 10.
Also withdrawn from that CRTC hearing was the plan to swap dial positions between full-service CJRN (710 Niagara Falls) and tourist information CFLZ (105.1 Niagara Falls); no word on when its application might be heard.
Out in Brantford, Anthony Schleifer wants to put a new Christian station on the air with 50 watts at 99.5, while up in Sudbury, David Jackson wants to build the city's second religious outlet, another 50-watter at 101.1.
In London, Rick Moss has been dismissed as GM of Corus' four-station cluster. No replacement has yet been named at talker CFPL (The New 980), rock CFPL-FM (95.9 "FM96"), classic rock CKDK ("Hawk" 103.9) and dance-CHR CFHK ("Energy Radio" 103.1).
Finally, one note from Montreal: Global has taken control of multilingual TV outlet CJNT (Channel 62), rebranding it with a similar identity to newly-acquired CHCH in Hamilton. "CH Horizon" was running a promotional loop last week touting its new lineup of US reruns, multi-ethnic programming and about 20 hours a week in French, with the official launch taking place Saturday (Sept. 8). (Thanks to DXer Rick Lucas for grabbing this one down here in Rochester!)
That's it for another week...see you next Monday!