Welcome to the first edition of "NorthEast Radio Watcher." If this looks and sounds familiar to you, it should. NorthEast Radio Watcher (aka NERW) is the successor to "New England Radio Watcher" (coincidentally enough, also aka NERW), which for the last few years has attempted to chronicle the ups and downs of broadcasting in the six New England states and vicinity. The new NERW will maintain that mission -- but in keeping with our relocation to a new home base in Rochester NY, we'll also be including news and notes from across upstate New York. No need to panic; with any luck, the only thing you'll notice will be somewhat infrequent posts for the next six weeks or so as we relocate.
You'll still find NERW in all the usual places -- posted on the Boston Radio Archives web site, on AIRWAVES Journal, and in the rec.radio.broadcasting newsgroup, as well as on the Boston Radio Interest and NERW mailing lists (see the web site for info), and on the wall at fine radio stations like WJYY, Concord NH :-)
Our thanks, by the way, to the many folks in and out of New England who have sent us kind words over the last week or so. NERW is produced entirely as a labor of love, and your compliments mean a lot.
And with that, on with the all-new, completely-changed, same- as-it-ever-was NERW:
WCEG started out in the early 90s as a nifty little local music station, but with a tiny signal in a sparsely- populated area, it failed to catch on. Brockton's WMSX (1410) bought the station a few years back, simulcasting it with WMSX for a time, and running Portuguese-language programming for a while as well. WCEG had been dark for several years, and was in danger of losing its license when Steve Callahan took it over with the radio-reading format, which NERW thinks is a clever way to provide a public service while simultaneously keeping WCEG alive.
WCEG's return leaves just a handful of dark stations facing extinction next month. Here's the roll call: WTOX (1450) and WHMX (105.7) way up in Lincoln ME are being purchased by Bangor Baptist Church -- except that the application to transfer WTOX has somehow been dismissed. NERW speculates that WHMX may return simulcasting the church's WHCF (88.5 Bangor). WRPT (1050) Peterborough NH has an application pending to change frequency and city of license, becoming 650 kHz in Ashland MA. The same owner has been granted permission to return dark WBIV (1060) Natick MA to the air as a daytimer from the WKOX site in Framingham MA, but with two weeks to go, there's still no sign of WBIV. WHWB (970) Rutland VT has been dark for years and shows no sign of returning. WQQW (1590) Waterbury CT will expire quietly, allowing its new owners to expand the pattern and power of their WWRL (1600) in New York City. And amazingly enough, NERW knows of not a single licensed station in upstate New York that is presently dark! We'll update the list again as February 9 approaches.
The Kimel Broadcasting Group is selling its Vermont stations. WLFE (102.3) and WWSR (1420) in St. Albans go to New England Radio, while WSNO (1450) and WORK (107.1) in Barre go to Bull Moose Broadcasting. Downstate in Rutland, WJJR (98.1) is being sold by Jewel Broadcasting. Peak Communications is the new owner of 'JJR and its 103.9 translator in the Upper Valley. And over in Rupert VT, WMNV (104.1) is being sold by Family Broadcasting Inc. to Capital Media, which owns religious broadcasters WHAZ (1330) Troy, WBAR (94.7) Lake Luzerne, and WMYY (97.3) Schoharie in the Albany NY area. NERW wonders if this has something to do with the WHAZ stations suddenly appearing on the network of translators in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts that had interlocking ownership with WMNV.
After nearly 30 years of getting up at 4:30 AM to begin his newscasts at WTSA AM&FM, Larry "Scoop" Smith, veteran newscaster and operations director will be calling it quits January 31. Smith, 46, began working for WTSA while still a student at Keene High School. He left for a time to obtain a degree in broadcast management and engineering at the Elkins Institute, then returned to WTSA full-time to become operations director, then general manager of WTSA, and the "Smith" half of the "Smith and Clarke" program in the morning, with president and owner of WTSA John Clarke, which may well be the longest running partnership at any radio station in Vermont. Smith leaves the radio world for a new career as corporate and community relations representative for Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corp. in Vernon. His final newscast will be at 5:00 PM, Friday, January 31, with an open house reception following at the Brattleboro Inn and Conference Center, at which, according to Smith this morning, there will NOT be any bean dip served. "My new employers will be there," he said. "I want to make a good impression." We'll miss you, Scoop.
No word yet as to who will be doing newscasts at WTSA come February.