It's largely a Clear Channel thing (and no wonder; it's easier to make a flip like this when you own eight stations in the market!), with that group's flips including WRNQ (92.1 Poughkeepsie), WALK (1370 Patchogue; the FM side stays AC), WTRY-FM (98.3 Troy), WMXW (103.3 Vestal), WYYY (94.5 Syracuse), WISY (102.3 Canandaigua) and WJJJ (104.7 Pittsburgh).
But other groups are also getting into the holiday spirit: Barnstable, with WLVG (96.1 Center Moriches) on Long Island's East End; Vox, with the satellite standards on WENU in Glens Falls going all-Christmas; Citadel, with WLEV (100.7 Allentown); and independents WHLM (930 Bloomsburg PA, using the Christmas music as a stunt to launch regular programming early in 2002) and WLSH (1410 Lansford PA, which has done this every year since it signed on!)
Still no all-Christmas outlets in New England, oddly enough; perhaps we'll have some to report next week...
While those of us south of the border were gorging on turkey and stuffing, Corus was busy getting rid of Howard Stern's last Canadian outpost. As of this morning (Nov. 26), Stern will be off Toronto's Q107 (CILQ 107.1), which was the first station in Canada to pick him up back in September 1997.
Why drop Stern now? Q107 managers tell the Toronto Star ratings weren't a consideration, that it was simply time to refocus the station on the Toronto market. To that end, Q107 and its sister station "Mojo 640" (CFYI) will move this week from their studios on Yonge Street in North York downtown to the Hard Rock Cafe at Yonge and Dundas. (If that happens to help Corus' cost-cutting efforts, too, we wouldn't be surprised...)
Replacing Stern in mornings will be current Q107 afternoon jock (and former FAN 590 morning guy) John Derringer. As for Stern-heads in Toronto, they'll have to point their antennas south to Buffalo's WBUF (92.9), which continues to carry Howard.
In Newmarket, the CRTC tells CKDX (88.5) that it can't get relief from the requirement that 50.1% of the music played on its "Dancing Oldies" format be "non-hits." CKDX asked for the waiver a few months ago, arguing that a format based on disco hits of the seventies requires the station to play - get this - disco hits of the seventies.
But the CRTC says CKDX is still free to play any music at all released after 1980 (the "hit" rules don't apply there), and that 49.9% "hits" is sufficient.
The CRTC did approve the Emard family's application to transfer their Tri-Co Broadcasting stations in Cornwall (CJUL 1220, CJSS 101.9 and CFLG 104.5) to Corus.
And CTV/Bell Globemedia withdrew its application for channel 52 in Toronto and relay stations in Hamilton and Kitchener. A hearing on the remaining applications begins next week in Hamilton.
Down in New York City, WNET (Channel 13) became the latest addition to the Empire State Building mast on Thanskgiving Day, restoring over-the-air service to millions of homes that had trouble receiving its temporary signal from the Alpine, N.J., Armstrong tower since mid-September.
The long-term status of New York's TV dial remains a pressing question, with the New York Times reporting this week that several sites, including the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, have been ruled out as potential sites for a new master TV tower.
More management shuffling at Clear Channel's Big Apple cluster: Tom Poleman adds oversight of programming for the entire group to his duties as senior VP of programming and PD of WHTZ; meantime, WHTZ/WKTU chief engineer Josh Hadden becomes director of engineering for the cluster.
Out on Long Island, John Olsen arrives at WBAB (102.3 Babylon) as the new PD; he had been at WRLR in Birmingham, Alabama.
And while we're not going to be able to be there, we hope many of you will make it to the Turning Stone Casino in Verona on Wednesday (Nov. 28) for the Society of Broadcast Engineers Chapter 22 convention on its rescheduled date. You can visit them at www.sbe22.org to learn more about this information-packed day of events.
Over in Boston, the off-air employees (producers, writers and the like) at WBZ (1030) voted 31-3 last week to be represented by AFTRA. NERW knows all too well (since your editor was a writer there from 1992-97) that the off-air employees on the radio side were among the few non-union workers in the building, since on-air radio talent and the entire TV news staff were union positions.
Smerconish, a lawyer who writes a column for the Philadelphia Daily News, says he had philosophical differences with WPHT management that simply weren't going to be resolved. He's rumored to be talking with Greater Media's WPEN (950) about doing a morning talk show there; no word, meanwhile, on a permanent replacement for Smerconish in WPHT's 5-7 PM slot.
And that's it for this short holiday week! We'll be back next Monday with much more news; in the meantime, we're taking the Tower Site 2002 Calendar to the printers and hope to have it in the mail within the next two weeks to all of you who've ordered one.