We're back, after two whirlwind weeks of travel around the Midwest and down south, and look at everything that happened while we were away...
While the auction will bring in some needed revenue for Pax (which owns many of the stations above channel 51 that will be displaced), it had the potential to leave the fledgling network without an outlet in Boston.
Enter WBPX's digital allotment on channel 32. While Pax has yet to build WBPX-DT, it's asking the FCC to allow an unusual substitution: the move of WBPX's analog facilities from channel 68 to 32, to be replaced by a digital signal sometime after 2007.
The plan would involve a move from WBPX's current transmitter site at the Prudential Tower in Boston's Back Bay to the "FM-128" tower on Chestnut Street in Newton Upper Falls, thus restoring TV service to that stick for the first time since WHDH-TV (Channel 5) signed off there, thirty years ago next week.
There are some hurdles Pax will have to clear before WBPX can make its move, though: the channel 32 analog signal would fall afoul of a rule restricting TV signals that are seven channels apart from locating nearby. WBPX is offering a study to the FCC that suggests its new analog facility would not cause interference to Fox's WFXT on channel 25, just a mile away in Needham. Current FCC rules would force a channel 32 facility to be at least 95 km away from WFXT, putting it outside the Boston market.
If it's granted, WBPX would put a 700 kW directional signal, aimed east-southeast, atop the FM-128 tower at 292 meters above average terrain. We'll keep you posted as this unorthodox application makes its way through the Commission...
Meanwhile, another Boston-market station wants to make a move: after more than four decades as a Worcester-licensed facility, WAAF (107.3) wants to change its city of license to Westborough, 15 miles or so closer in to Boston. The change wouldn't affect WAAF's construction permit, already granted, to move from Asnebumskit Hill in Paxton to the WUNI-TV (Channel 27) tower in Boylston.
Another move: WUNR (1600 Brookline) has applied for a new configuration at its Oak Hill, Newton transmitter site. We'd expected an application of this sort for a while now, to accomodate WRCA (1330) and WKOX (1200)'s planned moves to the site. WUNR would use 20 kW day and night from five 200-foot towers, three shared with WKOX and two others replacing WUNR's existing 350-footers. The reconstruction of the site still requires approval from Newton; that may be a long and difficult process.
Eddie Andelman's new WWZN (1510) talk show started last Monday (March 4); the longtime voice of WEEI is heard from noon to 3 PM on the station, which is owned by Sporting News Radio (not, as a certain Boston daily had it, the now-defunct "One-on-One Sports.")
Where are they now? Paul Jaxon, erstwhile half of the "Jaxon and the Pharmacist" morning team on WFNX, is out west now, doing afternoons at KURR in Salt Lake City. (He'd been heard most recently at the New Hampshire Seacoast's "Shark" combo of WSHK/WSAK.)
We're sorry to report the death of one of Boston's longest-running jazz radio voices. Mai Cramer, who hosted "Blues After Hours" on WGBH-FM (89.7) for more than two decades, died Feb. 25 after a battle with breast cancer. Cramer was just 54 years old.
A schedule change at WTIC (1080 Hartford) pulled Laura Schlessinger off the air there. Her two hours, from 10 AM until noon, are now being filled by "WTIC's Connecticut Today," hosted by Bruce Stevens, who continues to share afternoons with Colin McEnroe as well. Down the road in New Haven, Steven Kalb has parted ways with WELI (960), where he had been doing afternoon talk. Morning co-host Paul Pacelli moves to the afternoon slot, with Wendy Corey joining Jerry Kristafer in mornings.
And WNTY (990 Southington) has picked up the Connecticut-based Jason Jarvis show, giving him his first hometown affiliate since being dropped by WTIC a year ago after his co-host, his mother Judy Jarvis, died.
Over on Mount Mansfield, Vermont Public Radio's WVPS (107.9 Burlington) formalized the move it made last fall, when it boosted power from 36 kW to 49 kW. The move raised WVPS to the maximum power for its class - and that required no big application, just notification to the FCC after the boost was made last November 3.
Way up north in Presque Isle, we hear WBPW (96.9 Presque Isle) dropped its old tower south of town on US 1 about a week ago. The 408-foot tower, complete with a ten-bay FM antenna, needed to be removed for a replacement to be erected; that work is now underway, we're told.
And way down south in Sanford, the Phoenix Media folks flipped the format on WPHX (1220), albeit without telling the whole truth. Their press release claims the station is switching to ESPN sports from a simulcast of WPHX-FM (92.1 Sanford); our monitoring of WPHX just a couple of weeks ago showed the AM side doing low-budget talk with nary a legal ID to be heard, just as it was back in the WSME days. (The FM, of course, is a simulcast of WFNX 101.7 down in Lynn, Mass.)
At the helm of "Wild" as it begins its assault on Star 105.7 is the PD formerly known as "Norm on the Barstool." Fresh from his stint at Rochester's WPXY (97.9), the now-renamed "K.J. Bryant" is doing afternoons on WYOS as he seeks a new morning show. Christine Fox of WFHN (107.1 Fairhaven MA) is doing middays by voicetrack, while Jerry Kidd, formerly of WMRV, is handling nights.
We hear WWYL will be the new call on 104.1 when the FCC gets around to it, while the venerable WKOP calls may disappear from 1360 again (anyone here remember WBNK or WRSG?) in favor of WYOS.
Meanwhile out in Vestal, Clear Channel declined to renew the contracts of WBBI (107.5 Endwell)'s "Breakfast Flakes," Jerry James and Dave Freeman. A year after luring the pair over from Citadel's top-rated WHWK (98.1), the company appears to be moving in a different direction with "B107.5" - we've heard rumors of a new oldies format here to pick up some of the listeners who used to tune to WYOS. Will Jerry and Dave return to the Hawk? Again...stay tuned!
Plenty of news from New York City, too, and we'll start at talker WOR (710), where PD David Bernstein was shown the door last week after nearly a decade at the station. WOR officials say they want to take the station in a different direction; no word yet on where Bernstein (one of your editor's former bosses at Boston's WBZ) will land next.
New York's public radio station announced its post-9/11 plans to resume separate programming on its AM and FM facilities, and classical-music fans are already up in arms. WNYC has been simulcasting on 820 AM and 93.9 FM since its old FM transmitter site at the World Trade Center was destroyed; the plan now calls for and end to the simulcast on April 8. The FM side, which had been mostly classical before the attack, will now carry NPR news and talk during the 9 AM to 4 PM block, returning to music at 7 PM after "All Things Considered." WNYC says it still hopes to add a second FM service to pick up the classical slack; expect plenty of protests from the music crowd before this is all over.
Out on Long Island, Clear Channel parted ways with WALK-FM (97.5 Patchogue) station manager Mark Clark; no replacement has been named out there, either.
The programming on two of New York's leased-time outlets flipped last week, moving Korean-language broadcasts from WZRC (1480 New York) to WNSW (1430 Newark NJ), with the Chinese broadcasts that had been on 1430 heading up to 1480. Both stations are owned by Arthur Liu's Multicultural Broadcasting; the Korean programming is now also heard out on Long Island at WGSM (740 Huntington).
While we're on that end of the New York AM dial, Spanish religious WWRV (1330 New York) was granted a license to cover for its power increase. WWRV moves up to 10 kW daytime from its New Jersey transmitter site, remaining at 5 kW after dark.
From the nitpick department: WRKS-FM (98.7 New York) became WRKS(FM) this week. We're sure at least a few readers will actually find this information useful...
And we're thrilled to report that the one and only Kemosabe, Dan Ingram, was back in the saddle last weekend on WCBS-FM (101.1) after a successful recovery from back surgery.
Moving upstate again, WRNN (Channel 62) in Kingston wants a better facility for its Nyack-licensed LPTV signal. WRNN-LP wants to move from channel 35 to channel 20, increasing power from 800 watts to 2500 watts.
In Albany, Lisa Biello moves from music director to PD at WHRL (103.1), replacing Susan Groves at the Clear Channel modern AC outlet. On the AM side of the hallway, WGY (810 Schenectady) dropped Laura Schlessinger from its schedule last week. Glenn Beck replaces her in mid-mornings, while Tom Leykis disappears from the evening schedule, replaced by Phil Hendrie at 7 PM, followed by Art Bell at 10.
Across town, Radio Disney finally replaced the WGNA-FM (107.7) simulcast on WGNA (1460 Albany) on February 28. No new calls are in place on the now-Disney-owned AM yet.
Here in Rochester, Clear Channel made a late-night shift on its two AMs, as Bell replaces the Truckin' Bozo on WHAM (1180). In addition to several dozen skywave signals, Bell had been heard in the market on WHAM sister station WHTK (1280), which is now running Fox Sports overnight.
In Syracuse, Radio Disney outlet WBGJ (100.3 Sylvan Beach) gets its transfer from original owner Kevin O'Kane to Craig Fox's Wolf Radio approved. We hear there may be a format change there soon. A bit to the north in Pulaski, WSCP-FM (101.7) amends its application for a power boost. Instead of asking for 3700 watts at 128 meters from a new tower next to its existing stick, WSCP now wants to go to 5200 watts at 100 meters.
Over in Buffalo, sports WNSA (107.7 Wethersfield) is losing a downtown translator. W284AB (104.7 Buffalo) is being sold by former 107.7 owner John Casciani; the translator atop a downtown hospital will be the latest outlet for Bath-based religious network Family Life Ministries, relaying WCOU (88.3 Warsaw). WNSA will still be heard in Buffalo on its main signal and on the 107.3 translator licensed to Williamsville.
Down in Jamestown, WKZA (106.9 Lakewood) applies for a power boost to 5100 watts at 225 meters.
On the LPFM front, there was plenty to report in the Empire State this week. The FCC dismissed the 93.3 application in Shirley (on Long Island) from Radio Nuevo Amanecer. It also dismissed a pile of applications from New York State, including: 93.9 Monticello, 94.7 Manorville, 95.7 Tunnel, 98.7 Grafton, 98.9 Hartfield, 100.7 Blodgett Mills, 103.9 Kingston, 105.9 New Hartford, 105.9 Little Valley and 107.9 Ellenville.
The FCC granted an even bigger pile of state applications (to be used for TIS-style traveler information on state highways and the New York Thruway): 92.7 Hartford, 92.9 Walton, 93.3 Coopers Plains, 94.1 Watertown, 94.3 Godeffroy, 94.9 Owego, 95.1 Witherbee, 96.1 Waterloo, 96.9 Austerlitz, 97.1 Porters Corners, 97.5 Warrensburg, 97.9 Belmont, 98.3 Mexico, 99.5 Blue Mountain Lake, 100.1 Albion, 100.5 Sloansville, 101.1 Hornell, 102.5 Dickinson Center, 102.7 Stamford, 103.7 West Beekmanstown, 104.1 Hunter, 104.5 Geneseo, 105.5 Martinsburg, 106.1 Oneonta, 106.5 Boswell Corners and 107.3 Russell.
One obituary this week: North Country bureau chief Mike Roach reports the death on February 27 of Robert Hartshorn. The former owner of WIGS (1230) and WGIX (95.3) in Gouverneur, as well as WTPL (now WRGR 102.3) in Tupper Lake, had been suffering from cancer. Since selling the stations in the mid-eighties, Hartshorn had been working as an employment counselor for the St. Lawrence County Office of Economic Development before retiring a few years back.
Joe ("Bobby Hatfield") Reilly checked in from WHLM (930 Bloomsburg) to report that he's broken ground for the new two-tower directional array that will return the station to full power after several years of darkness and interim facilities.
Up the road in Williamsport, WCRG (90.7 Williamsport) filed for a license to cover; this one is a religious outlet, simulcasting WGRC (91.3) down US 15 in Lewisburg.
And in Philadelphia, WYSP (94.1) added Washington-based Don and Mike to its lineup last week, beginning after Howard Stern and running until Opie and Anthony's show starts at 3. While 'YSP still bills itself as "The Rock Station," we're listing them as primarily talk now...
Over in London, CHRW at the University of Western Ontario wants to change its tower site and frequency. The station, now at 94.7, would move to 94.9 from a new tower at One London Place, about two miles from its current tower. Power would increase from 3000 to 3500 watts.
Gary Hooper wants to put 18 LPFM stations on the air in Toronto for World Youth Day July 22-28. He's applied for 10-watt facilities on (deep breath now!) 89.9, 90.7, 91.9, 94.5, 95.5, 96.9, 97.7, 98.7, 99.5, 100.3, 101.1, 101.7, 102.7, 103.9, 104.9, 105.9, 106.7 and 107.5 to broadcast in several languages to Youth Day attendees.
Meanwhile, the CRTC granted CISS (Kiss 92.5 Toronto) a power boost from 4700 to 9870 watts, to help overcome interference east of town from Rochester's WBEE co-channel.
In Cobourg, CHUC (1450) has filed an application (as first tipped here in NERW) to move to 1580 with 10 kW day and night; this would begin to fill a channel left largely vacant by the departure of Chicoutimi's CBJ last year. Nearby in Belleville, CJOJ (95.5) wants to drop power from 50 kW to 42.1 kW, moving its antenna 25 km to the west, near Oak Lake, Ontario.
Brockville's CFJR (830) has applied to move to 104.9 FM with 5600 watts.
Up in Ottawa, CHRO-TV-43 wants to split from the simulcast with CHRO (Channel 5) in Pembroke to run separate advertising feeds.
Over in Aylmer, Ontario, the Aylmer and Area Inter-Mennonite Council is applying for a 50-watt FM on 107.7, to broadcast four hours a day to the local Mennonite community.
The word from Roberval, Quebec is that CHRL (910) is running a loop advising that it's moved to 99.5 FM with 16.6 kW. Log this one while you can!
Another one that's soon to be exiled to the history books is CKBW (1000) in Bridgewater, N.S. We hear the new FM facility at 98.1 began testing last week, which means the clock is now ticking on the AM signal, a familiar one to DXers around the Northeast.
We'll finish up with some TV news from around the region: dozens of stations have told the FCC they won't meet this spring's deadline to put digital signals on the air, and have asked for extensions of time. Here's the list by market; asterisks indicate waiver requests that have already been granted:
We don't expect that this list is complete; there are certainly plenty of stations not listed here that are unlikely to meet the deadlines, and we suspect there are more applications working their way through the Commission. We'll update it as needed in the weeks to come.
And that's it for this double issue, as we return to our usual schedule here at NERW. We'll be back on track with Tower Site of the Week this Wednesday as well, as we visit Los Angeles - and we'll see you back here next week!