It's not often that we say "good riddance" to a broadcast owner, but we'll step on the editorial soapbox and note that we're probably not the only ones glad to see the last of Francis Battaglia's North American Broadcasting in New England.
For years now, we've been seeing fraudulent coverage maps that claim the 50,000 watt daytime signal reaches Boston and Worcester, when in fact it shoots just a narrow beam over Providence and out to the ocean - and we've been hearing stories from non-radio folks who have been offered a chance to "host" their own radio shows on WALE. More often than not, those shows turn out to be leased-time broadcasts fed in on bad phone lines to no listeners - and do you think those folks will ever consider radio as a serious advertising medium after being burned that way?
In any event, that sort of radio will soon be history in Providence (though North American continues to do its thing at KFNX 1100 Cave Creek AZ, in the Phoenix market) - and we expect much better things from 990 under its new owner, Jerry Evans' Moon Song Communications.
If that name sounds familiar, it should: Evans put WVOM (103.9 Howland) on the air as a quality local talker for the Bangor, Maine market, adding WBYA (101.7 Searsport) before selling the stations to Communications Capital Managers (which eventually sold them to Clear Channel) in early 2000.
Free advice from NERW: ditch those WALE call letters, which are poison now in the Providence market, and bring back the WLKW calls that graced 990 for decades! More on the sale next week...
The station in question is WKXL (1450) in Concord, the capital city's first radio station, which has been in Vox hands for the last few years as part of a cluster that now includes most of the market's FM signals as well.
Soon, though, WKXL will change hands to a new company called "Embro," headed by Warren Bailey, the longtime morning host who left WLNH-FM (98.3) in Laconia a couple of years ago after a quarter-century there. Bailey's partners in Embro include fellow jock Dave Stevens and Lakes Region VW/Audi owners Peter Herz and Paula Heiser. Their plans for the little AM station include a morning show with Stevens, Bailey and his former WLNH partner, Beth Osgood, as well as business news during the day and the Don and Mike show in afternoons.
What happens to the WKXL-FM simulcast on 107.7 (licensed to Hillsborough)? We don't know yet; we expect some sort of new format from the Vox folks, who also hang on to WNHI (93.3 Belmont), WOTX (102.3 Concord, the original WKXL-FM) and WJYY (105.5 Concord) in the market.
Speaking of WJYY, the station added a new morning co-host this week. Vanesah Fields comes to New Hampshire from overnights at WFBC-FM (93.7) down in Greenville, S.C.
There's a new program director down in Nashua at WHOB (106.3), where Tele-Media has landed J Davis after a long run at the late WCPT (100.9 Albany), which the company sold last year. Davis' arrival at WHOB (which can't even be HEARD in most of Concord, no matter how a certain trade Web site keeps describing the station) displaces Dirk Nadon, who heads up to Tele-Media's WNNH (99.1 Henniker) for PD duties.
After some bouts with dead air over the weekend, CNet Radio is back on the airwaves of WBPS (890 Dedham), but not for very long. The leased-time programming disappears at month's end, and we hear Mega will begin leasing 890 to an outfit called "Air Time Media," which will program a talk lineup that includes a localized version of the syndicated Doug Stephan wakeup show as well as Neil Boortz, Rusty Humphries and Michael Savage. (NERW says: Is there any niche at all for syndicated talk - syndicated right-wing talk, at that - in a market that's never warmed up to most national talkers?)
Speaking of local talkers, WBZ (1030) will indeed replay two hours of Larry Glick's appearance on the Steve LeVeille show. Tune in early on the morning of July 4 as the show repeats from midnight to 2 AM. (And yes, that was the mostly-retired Jerry Williams making a guest appearance on BZ's Jordan Rich show last weekend...)
MIT's WMBR (88.1 Cambridge) is keeping its "WMBR Nightly News" block in place. After floating plans to cancel the show, which includes local news and the "Free Speech Radio News," WMBR management was persuaded to keep the show on the air.
Nantucket's WRZE (96.3) is moving towers; the CHR station is being thrown off the FAA tower it's been using for years near Nantucket Airport, so it's turning to its nearby auxiliary site, which will become the new primary site for "The Rose" (with 32 kW instead of the old 50 kW signal).
In Springfield, the Clear Channel cluster that includes WHYN (560), WHYN-FM (93.1), WNNZ (640 Westfield) and WPKX (97.9 Enfield CT) has a new leader. Debra Wagner arrives from the Clear Channel group in Tucson to be the new VP/market manager for the Springfield cluster.
On a much smaller scale, Phillip Drumheller's "P&M, LLC" pays Ed Skutnik $150,000 for eclectic oldies outlet WGAM (1520 Greenfield).
We hear WLKC owner Steven Silberberg is consolidating WLKC's operations from Essex Junction to his WXAL (93.7 Addison) facility in Middlebury, leading to the exit of WLKC GM Brian Crogan and several other staffers. WLKC is now being run by WXAL GM Bob Rowe.
(And speaking of Silberberg, we hear his "Point" WNCS 104.7 celebrated its 25th anniversary in style a couple of weeks ago, with a whole night of on-air memories - we'd love to hear some tape if anyone has any!)
Meanwhile, the New York Mets sign a long-term deal to keep their games on WFAN (660) for the foreseeable future, so no need to readjust your dials if you're a Mets fan in New York.
(We had the chance to experience our first-ever game at Shea over the weekend while visiting New York; our thanks to the nice folks in Corona for not stealing the NERW-mobile from their streets...)
We also headed over to the Bronx to see what all the fuss is about the WFUV (90.7 New York) tower; the long-unfinished stick didn't look all that offensive to us, but then we've been accused of being biased.
In any case, two public hearings this Thursday will give the tower-haters and the WFUV-lovers a chance to express themselves - and then perhaps Fordham University and the New York Botanical Garden across the street can finally resolve this issue and we can stop writing about it...
Heading upstate, All Access reports Rick Zolzer is out at the local sports show on WEOK (1390 Poughkeepsie) and WALL (1340 Middletown), with Hudson Valley Renegades broadcaster Rick Schultz replacing him.
A big promotion in Binghamton: longtime Northeasterner Al Brock is headed out of Clear Channel's cluster there to become PD of co-owned oldies station KLOU (103.3) in St. Louis. Replacing Brock is WKGB (92.5 Conklin) PD Jim Free, who's now in search of a new PD/afternoon host for WMXW (103.3 Vestal) to replace Brock. (WMXW also re-adds the Delilah show at night.)
Syracuse's new TV tower is going vertical. The new stick on Sentinel Heights will replace the old WSTM (Channel 3) tower - and when it's all done, it will carry DTV signals for WSTM, WCNY (PBS), WNYS (WB) and WSYT (Fox) as well as analog signals for WSTM and WCNY. At over 800 feet, it promises to be quite an addition to the skyline south of the Salt City.
Here in Rochester, LPTV religious outlet W59BV moved to channel 42 after several weeks of unwatchably overmodulated video on channel 59. (Fearless NERW prediction: the indifferent-to-broadcasting local paper will keep showing the TCT station on channel 59 for at least the next month, if not longer...)
Spending the Fourth of July in Atlantic City? Be sure to roll some tape on WOND (1400), which will revisit its top-40 history in a three-hour special that day. (We'd love to hear it ourselves...)
Over in Allentown, WLEV (100.7) relaunched as "My 100.7", playing what the station describes as "Contemporary Soft Rock" and running mostly jockless for the moment, except for Delilah at night.
Sorry to report the passing of veteran Philadelphia newsman William Bransome, who was an anchor at all-news KYW (1060) from the start of the format in 1965 until his retirement in 1989. Bransome died June 14; he was 89.
Out in Pittsburgh, WZUM (1590 Carnegie) is spending some time off the air over the next few weeks. When it returns after some tower work, expect a more polished urban oldies format on the little suburban station, we hear.
And up in Erie, CBS affiliate WSEE (Channel 35) changes hands, passing to a company called "Initial Broadcasting of Pennsylvania". Who's really paying $10 million for the station? Kevin Lilly, who also owns WENY-TV (Channel 36) over in Elmira and WMGM-TV (Channel 40) down the Jersey Shore...
CHUM dropped the axe last week, dismissing Team VP/GM Paul Williams, PD Gerald McGroarty, programming VP Ross Davies, sales VP Tim Steele, production director Doug Thompson and promotions director Joe Thistel. The plan now is to eliminate much of the national Team programming in favor of local sports talk at each individual Team sports outlet.
(NERW's take: down the road, we wouldn't be surprised to see the format disappear completely in smaller markets like Kingston, Peterborough and Kitchener-Waterloo...)
Up in Kitchener-Waterloo, CHYM (96.7) is going voice-tracked on middays, wiping out the job held by Rebecca Black, who's out on maternity leave.
St. Catharines' CHSC (1220) is being sold; Coultis Broadcasting, now in bankruptcy, will transfer the station to Pellpropco, owned by Fabrizio Pellegrino and Terrance Gertner, for C$725,000.
And how about some new call letters? Bruce Elving's FMedia! reports CBAX-FM as the new calls for 91.5 in Halifax, along with CBAX-FM-1 (88.9 Charlottetown PEI) and CBAX-FM-2 (101.9 St. John's NF). CBAL-FM (98.3 Moncton) adds CBAL-FM-4 (88.1 Fredericton-Saint John) and CBAL-FM-5 (94.3 Edmundston); CBVX-FM (100.9 Quebec City) adds CBVX-FM-2 (91.5 La Malbaie); CBJX-FM (100.9 Chicoutimi) adds CBJX-FM-1 (90.9 Dolbeau) and CBM-FM (93.5 Montreal) adds CBM-FM-2 (96.1 Quebec City).
All are outlets of Radio-Canada's "chaîne culturelle" except CBM-FM-2, which brings CBC Radio 2 to the Quebec provincial capital with 310 watts from 478 meters above average terrain.
And that's it for another week; we'll be back to regular Monday publication next week. See you then!