The official kickoff of Kidstar in Boston will take place at 11:50 am on Thursday, with a celebration at Boston's Computer Museum downtown. The on-air promos on 1150 are urging kids to attend, which seems odd, given that Thursday is a school day.
Picking up the leased-time ethnic slack is Douglas Broadcasting's WBPS (890 Dedham-Boston), which has lost most of the sports shows that were leasing the daytime hours, and which is now running Spanish-language programming from 9 am until 3 pm, and a variety of other languages in the evening.
By the way, the rumor around town has 1150 looking for the WKDS calls that are currently held by 89.9 FM in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
The radio dial in the Upper Valley (White River Junction VT-Hanover- Lebanon NH) area keeps getting more crowded. The latest station on the air up there is WRJT 103.1 Royalton VT, which rebroadcasts rocker WNCS 104.7 Montpelier with a very good signal over the region. Also noted with pleasure was Rob and Shirley Wolf's WMXR (93.9 Woodstock VT). "Magic 94" is also heard via a translator on 94.3 in White River Junction, and in addition to oldies with a live DJ, NERW heard and enjoyed radio drama on Sunday night. Rutland's WJJR (98.1, heard in the Upper Valley on a 103.9 translator) is now using the "Mix 98" non-ID, but mentioning the calls frequently as well. Claremont's WHDQ, classic rock "Q106," is heard very well in the area, both on the primary 106.1 frequency and on a strong 106.7 translator.
WHDQ is also heard further down the Connecticut River, via a 106.5 translator in Keene NH. NERW heard some, uh, interesting radio in the Keene-Brattleboro area, including the new "Wish FM" combo (WSSH 101.5 Marlboro VT/WZSH 107.1 Bellows Falls VT), which buried its legal ID about 12 minutes before the hour, and a remote broadcast on WKVT-FM (92.7 Brattleboro) that was having some trouble with the audio from the remote site back to the studio. Most of the time, the jock on the remote was so lost in static he could barely be heard -- and a few times, the remote audio just cut out entirely! NERW stopped by the studio/transmitter of Springfield VT's WCFR (1480 AM/93.5 FM), and found nobody home...apparently they were all out at the high-school football game that WCFR-FM was broadcasting!
Up in the Burlington area, NERW enjoyed the modern-rock format, live jocks and all, on newcomer WXPS ("96.7 The Pulse") Vergennes-Burlington, but was decidedly underwhelmed by competing modern-rocker WBTZ ("99-9 the Buzz") Plattsburgh NY-Burlington. The WBTZ audio was muddy, the signal was even worse than it was back when it was satellite AC WGFB, and it was completely automated on Saturday night. WGFB's erstwhile sister AM, WEAV 960 Plattsburgh, was silent. NERW remembers a pleasant visit to WGFB/WEAV a year ago, in which station owner George F. Bissell (hence the FM calls) expressed concern about having to take the AM silent because of the high costs of operating a directional AM in an economically-depressed area.
A pleasant surprise was WFAD (1490) in Middlebury, which was running a locally-programmed standards format on Saturday afternoon. WFAD is co-owned with classic rocker WGTK (100.9 Middlebury) and oldies WMNM (92.1 Port Henry NY). WMNM was live and taking requests late into the night Saturday and again early Sunday morning; the local newscast Sunday morning even began with the good old Drake-format news sounder! NERW thinks it's a shame that WMNM is badly outclassed, signal-wise, by Hall Communications' WKOL (105.1 Plattsburgh NY-Burlington), which was nothing but satellite the whole time we were up there. Or maybe NERW is just still mourning the previous occupant of 105.1, the remarkable AAA outlet WEXP, which went under about a year and a half ago.
All the big Burlington stations are still doing pretty much what they were doing on NERW's last visit up there two years ago -- WEZF (92.9) with a nice AC blend, WXXX (95.5 South Burlington) holding on as the CHR station in town, WOKO (98.9) as the dominant country station - albeit one whose small-town roots showed in a live, local "Swap Shop" program that seemed to be running all Sunday morning. On the noncomm side, WRUV (90.1) at the University of Vermont was cranking out some loud techno music, and WWPV (88.7 Colchester) at St. Michael's College was off the air. WCMK (91.7 Bolton) was on with religion, now simulcast on WCMD (89.9 Barre). Family Radio's KEAR San Francisco is now heard in Burlington on a 90.9 translator, which sounds like it's located on the WOKO/WJOY (1230) stick in South Burlington. On the AM dial, there wasn't much local to hear on Saturday night and Sunday morning, though I'm told talker WKDR (1390) has local talk on Saturday mornings and middays. WVMT (620) had a mix of satellite talk and satellite oldies, and WJOY was the usual satellite standards.
A quick drive up into Quebec and back brought in the usual suspects from Montreal, as well as a chance to listen to the stations from St. Albans VT, north of Burlington. WWSR (1420) was standards, and WLFE (102.3) continues its long tradition of country programming, touting its "largest country-music library in Vermont," and promoting that its playlist includes all the older country music that WOKO isn't playing.
The drive back late Sunday night was full of interesting technical mishaps across the dial. WJYY (105.5) in Concord NH was off the air, albeit with a dead carrier marking its place; NERW thought this was a 24-hour station. WKXL (102.3/1450) in Concord had signed off, but someone left the AM transmitter on all night. And once we were within range of Boston, a check of 105.7 found WROR-FM Framingham- Boston suffering from some sort of stereo generator problems -- they were in mono, with muddy-sounding audio.