Under the ownership of Ed Bold, WSNJ today sounds pretty much the same way it did a couple of decades ago - everything from lost-dog announcements to school menus, with a few songs here and there, a top-hour ID that still proudly proclaims that the FM signal is "in stereo," and a midnight signoff.
But at the age of 82, Bold has decided to retire, and that means WSNJ has been sold. The Bridgeton News reported Thursday that Bold will receive $20 million for the station, including its real estate and prominent self-supporting tower, from an unidentified buyer "from South Carolina." That, in turn, immediatedly prompted speculation involving the Beasley family, which owns a Philadelphia cluster that includes WXTU (92.5) and WPTP (96.5) - though we'd be quick to note that Beasley Broadcasting is currently headquartered in south Florida.
We'll be following this one closely in the weeks to come.
Another shakeup in the Garden State came at Greater Media's flagship stations in New Brunswick, where VP/GM Andy Santoro was shown the door after nine years at the helm of WCTC (1450) and WMGQ (98.3). Santoro is being replaced by Dan Finn, who adds WCTC/WMGQ to his GM responsibilities at new Greater Media acquisitions WMTR/WDHA/WRAT in North Jersey.
Across the state line, but with signals audible in some parts of the Keystone State, we've been remiss in failing to note two big swaps: Baltimore's oldies station, WQSR, has moved from the Catonsville-licensed 105.7 stick to the stronger Baltimore-licensed 102.7, sending WXYV to 105.7 as an urban-formatted outlet called "The X." To the west, the powerful 97.5 signal from Martinsburg, West Virginia that was a rocker as WKMZ is now an AC outlet as WLTF, with WKMZ moving to the weaker Hagerstown-market 95.9 signal, licensed to Williamsport MD, that was WLTF. (WKMZ adds the Greaseman show, too.)
Back in Pennsylvania, things have been busy up at Clear Channel's Pittsburgh cluster, as afternoon driver Bumper Morgan and assistant PD/MD Kenny Woods are out at oldies WWSW (94.5). Mike Fraser, who did afternoons at 3WS for a decade, returns there after just over a year down the hall doing mornings on "Jammin'" WJJJ (104.7). Woods had been voice-tracking nights on 3WS, and it's not clear what becomes of that timeslot. At WJJJ, meanwhile, Chris Reynolds will now handle the morning show solo as well as voice-tracking nights, while Rose Ryan-Douglas will now be heard with morning news on WJJJ as well as on 3WS. And their boss will be busier, too: John Rohm adds Clear Channel's Johnstown and Wheeling clusters to his duties as market executive VP for Pittsburgh.
One more from the Steel City: WOGI (98.3 Charleroi) has been granted its city-of-license change to Duquesne. Watch for some signal improvements on this one soon...
Across town, we hear WEDG (103.3 Buffalo) and PD Rich Wall have parted ways; no word yet on a replacement.
In the Rochester market, WMJQ (105.5 Brockport) has been granted its application to move from its current spot on a tower of sister station WASB (1590 Brockport) to a full 6 kW from 100 meters above average terrain, from a new tower on Brick Schoolhouse Road way out in Hamlin. We're guessing the distance will still make this a tough catch in most of the Rochester area.
Always on the alert, Mrs. NERW caught something surprising on WBBF-FM (93.3 Avon) Friday afternoon around 3:30 - no signal at all! The oldies station was back on an hour or so later, but a drive out to the tower of sister station WBEE-FM (92.5 Rochester) Sunday afternoon wiped out our first guess about the cause of the dead air: there's still no sign of new antenna bays for WBBF-FM on the WBEE stick, and the 93.3 signal out at that site in Penfield is as weak as you'd expect it to be from the old site 20 miles south in Livingston County. Still, we hear from those inside WBBF that the tower move (accompanied by a city of license change to Fairport) could happen within a few weeks, so we'll keep listening.
Our drive Sunday took us to Syracuse as well, in search of the final issue of the Herald-Journal, which ceased publication Saturday (leaving New York City itself as the last two-paper town in the state), but while we were there we noticed another dark signal: there was no sign of WXBB (105.1 DeRuyter), and we're not sure why. We did check out the night site of WSIV (1540 East Syracuse), which turns out to be a fiberglass pole atop a former bank building that's now a church, on the southeast corner of South Avenue and Colden Street in a neighborhood that's seen better days. Our radio stopped on 1260 long enough to hear that the legal ID for the sports outlet is still "WNSS," too.
On the personnel side of things, Rich Lauber adds one more duty to his list as operations manager of Clear Channel's Syracuse cluster: he's now serving as PD of WYYY (94.5) along with WBBS/WXBB.
Up in Watertown, WNER (1410) has filed for a license to cover, which we think moves it from its old two-tower facilities southeast of town to the WTNY (790) array alongside I-81 south of town; we'll try to get up there before winter sets in to see what's left of the old site on route 12. Also up north, we're hearing reports that WLPW (105.5 Lake Placid) has moved from AAA to classic rock; we'll have to check that one out on the Webcast this week.
Moving towards Albany, WQBJ (103.5 Cobleskill) has been granted a change of city of license to St. Johnsville; for now, the transmitter stays right where it is, two miles or so northeast of Canajoharie.
In Albany itself, WRGB (Channel 6) says goodbye to anchor Brad Holbrook; after several years of commuting up during the week from his family's home near New York City, he's decided to stay closer to his wife and children, which we hear means an anchor job at Time Warner's New York 1. WRGB launches its new "Our World" newscast on October 8 at 4:30 PM, delayed from an originally planned launch September 24.
On the radio side, we hear "Uncle Vito" is leaving the night shift at WPYX (106.5) after a 17 year run; best of luck!
Around the state, there have been petitions to deny filed against just about every LPFM application from the New York Department of Transportation; they're all labelled "informal," which means the FCC probably won't give them much attention as it digests the slew of LPFM apps from the Empire State.
And downstate, the recovery continues from the loss of the World Trade Center. We hear higher-power transmitters are on the way to Alpine, N.J. to help WNBC, WABC and WPIX improve their interim signals; we're also hearing from viewers in Connecticut, Westchester and even Brooklyn who can't see the signals from Alpine or Empire. The broadcasters have banded together to figure out what they're going to do for the long haul, but it sounds like it could be as long as three years before those signals are close to being restored (and even then, they're not likely to be as strong as they were from 1 WTC). Pax's WPXN, by the way, has settled in near First Mountain in East Orange, N.J., and is expecting a high-powered transmitter to be installed there in the next few weeks, making for a third interim site in addition to Alpine and the Empire State.
WGCH's latest plan for a new site, in the face of what its owner calls the "severe, almost draconian zoning regulations" in Greenwich, involve the parking lot of the Cos Cob Marina on River Road, about two miles from the present site. WGCH has asked the FCC to move quickly on approving the use of a very short Valcom fiberglass whip antenna, a type only approved until now for daytimers (the first one being WSHP 1480 in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania). We'll keep you posted on WGCH's status as the eviction notice works its way through the system; we believe the station remains on the air for now.
Over in New Haven, Clear Channel's post-attack programming changes returned a familiar voice to the air: Glenn Beck, whose talk show based at Clear Channel's WFLA (970 Tampa) is being fed to other Clear Channel stations, is again being heard on WELI (960), where he used to work before leaving for Florida. WELI, like so many stations, has bumped Laura Schlessinger from the schedule for the duration.
Up in Burlington, Arbitron is paying more attention to what's being listened to: the market has added Clinton and Essex counties in New York and Addison and Franklin counties in Vermont to the existing Chittenden and Grand Isle, and is now getting two surveys a year as the "Burlington-Plattsburgh VT-NY" market.
Over in Montpelier, Jody Peterson is the new PD at WNCS (104.7) and its "Point" sisters.
The most detailed programming proposal of the bunch comes from CFMT, which would turn its existing channel 47 signal into a "Euro-Latino-Caribbean" multicultural signal and move the current Pan Asian and African programming to a new "CFMT Too." Craig, which runs the "A Channel" independent stations in western Canada, would do English-language multicultural programming, while Global says it would offer 15 hours a week of local programming in each city along with 48 hours a week of programming from the new digital satellite and cable services in Canada.
We heard a surprise this weekend on St. Catharines' 105.7 (CHRE): instead of the longtime "Light 105.7" moniker, it's now using the "EZ Rock" nickname of its Telemedia sister stations around the province, including CJEZ (97.3) just across the lake in Toronto.
Up in Cornwall, Corus has applied to buy CJUL (1220), CJSS (101.9) and CFLG (104.5) from longtime owner Tri-Co; reported purchase price for the three is C$4,041,000.
Way up in Rimouski, Quebec, the CBC wants to boost the power on CJBR-FM (89.1) from 5500 watts to 19,400 watts. (Does anyone know for certain whether the AM signal on 900 is still on the air? We thought it was to have gone silent by now, but we're still seeing it reported in DX newsletters...)
Finally, we're saddened to report the passing of Ottawa radio news veteran Hal Anthony, who succumbed to a heart attack Thursday (9/27) at his home in Kemptville, Ontario. Anthony, born Harold Bitz in Saskatchewan, came to Ottawa's CKOY (now CIWW) in 1958. In 1974, he became director of the CHUM Group's national news operations, as well as anchor of the CHUM National News. After a brief sojourn at the CBC in 1979-80, Anthony returned to CHUM and CFRA (580 Ottawa) for another decade, and continued to appear occasionally after retiring in 1990. Anthony was 68; a memorial service will take place Tuesday (Oct. 2) at 11 AM at the Hulse Playfair and McGarry Funeral Home at 315 McLeod St., Ottawa.
That's it for another week! Now that we have our ISP issues temporarily resolved (with a permanent solution on the way in a couple of weeks), we're back with Site of the Week on Wednesday - don't miss Part VI of this summer's Big Trip, as we visit beautiful South Dakota!