The deal would bring channel 30 back into the NBC family after nearly four decades. NBC bought what was then WKNB-TV (along with WKNB 1410 AM) back in 1956, as part of a project to develop UHF owned-and-operated stations by the major networks (NBC also owned a station in Buffalo, while CBS owned UHFs in Hartford and Milwaukee). The TV calls were changed to WNBC-TV, and then to WHNB-TV in 1959 when NBC sold the station to Transcontinental Properties. In 1978, WHNB-TV was sold to Viacom (now Paramount), becoming WVIT.
NBC and Paramount would both need waivers to make this swap work, since WVIT's signal overlaps with NBC O&Os WNBC-TV (Channel 4) in New York and WJAR (Channel 10) Providence, while the WLWC signal overlaps with Paramount's WSBK (Channel 38).
If the deal is consummated, WLWC and WWHO would switch affiliations from The WB to UPN.
No word on what would become of WVIT's LMA with WTXX (Channel 20) Waterbury, the UPN affiliate that's currently running a WVIT-produced newscast at 10pm nightly.
Meantime down in New Haven, WBNE (Channel 59) has picked up broadcast rights to "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and the original Trek for fall. WBNE will also run a Friday night sports show produced by LMA partner WTNH (Channel 8). The show will start at 11:30, and its first five minutes will be simulcast on WTNH.
Gowdy bought WCCM and then-WGHJ (93.7) back in 1963. The FM was later WCCM-FM and WCGY; Gowdy sold it to American Radio Systems several years ago. Long retired and living in Wyoming, Gowdy still owns several stations in the Laramie area.
American Radio Systems is getting ready to make some changes to one of its recent Boston-area acquisitions. ARS has filed to change the power, height, and transmitter location of its WAAF (107.3) Worcester-Boston. Also in the FCC pipeline this week is an application from WFHN (107.1) Fairhaven-New Bedford to change its tower location, height, power, and directional pattern. And we'll be surprised if those aren't followed by an application to alter the facilities of ARS' WERZ (107.1) Exeter NH. We haven't seen all the technical details yet (the FCC's not very fast about making them available on-line these days), but we'd expect WAAF to move closer to Boston (perhaps to the WUNI-TV site on Stiles Hill in Boylston or the WHSH-TV site in Hudson), while WERZ and WFHN are moved further out from the Hub. NERW research director Garrett Wollman has been poring over the maps, and says that if WAAF moves to Hudson, WERZ could move to the WSRI (96.7) site in Rochester NH and maintain the same spacing to WAAF it enjoys today.
In other Bay State broadcasting news, Salem has filed to sell WPZE (1260) Boston to Hibernia Broadcasting, the operating name for Mike Craven and Jim Thompson's new partnership. Craven and Thompson were the heads of Liberty Broadcasting, which sold its entire group of stations (in markets that included Hartford and Albany) to SFX Broadcasting not too long ago. Still no word on programming plans for 1260. Natick's WJLT (1060) has hired Philip Austin from WEZE (590); he'll be doing afternoon drive on "J-Light." (WJLT also says it's planning to have its 40-kW construction permit on the air later this year.)
More radio people on the move: Longtime "David Brudnoy Show" producer Kevin Myron is leaving WBZ (1030) at the end of next week. Myron will join the PR department at Northeastern University; no replacement has been named yet.
The Lowell Folk Festival drew the usual radio crowds last weekend, with one big change. For the first time, Lowell talker WCAP (980) was broadcasting live from the festival all weekend, a distinct improvement from past Festival weekends when the satellite talk owned the 980 airwaves. WLLH (1400) did live Festival coverage only on Saturday this year, cutting back from its past full-weekend coverage (no simulcast on WADN Concord this year, either). UMass Lowell's WJUL (91.5) carried much of the Festival live, as it always does. And WGBH (89.7) was live Saturday afternoon for Dick Pleasants' folk show.
Boston Magazine deigned to notice radio in this year's "Best of Boston" issue, naming WBZ's Carl Stevens the best radio reporter in town, and "Car Talk" the best radio talk show in town (even if it is a national show these days).
Ratings news: Worcester's Spring book found WSRS (96.1) still on top of the 12+ crowd, trailed by WAAF (107.3) and WXLO (104.5). WAAF owned the teen audience, dominating the 12-24 and 18-34 audiences, while WXLO was a strong #1 with the all-important 25-54 demo. News-talk WTAG led the AMs, trailed distantly by Boston's WBZ, Southbridge's WESO, Worcester's WORC, WWTM, and WNEB.
Fox's Boston TV station is following the lead of its sister station in Philadelphia and dropping on-air mentions of its channel number. WTXF (Channel 29) in Philly has been calling itself "Fox Philadelphia" for several years, and now WFXT (Channel 25) has switched from "Fox 25" to "Fox Boston," reflecting the myriad of different cable channels on which it's found, as well as the upcoming digital TV era when channel numbers will become a thing of the past.
And our condolences to the family and colleagues of Kirby Perkins, the veteran WCVB (Channel 5) political reporter who passed away last Thursday night after suffering a massive heart attack earlier in the week. Perkins was one of the best reporters on Boston TV, and his presence will be sorely missed.
Newspeople needed: It seems the talent vacuum is hitting Northern New England newsrooms hard this summer; we've heard that WTSL in Lebanon NH and WDEV in Waterbury VT are also looking for newspeople and not having much luck.
Burlington's new WFFF-TV (Channel 44) is due to debut tomorrow; NERW remains interested in hearing from anyone who's able to tape the start-up for us.
And in Rupert, WMNV (104.1) is off the air for now, but will return shortly as the newest relay of WHAZ (1330) Troy NY. WMNV had rebroadcast the religious programming of WGLY (103.3) Waterbury.
Bruce Elving's "FMedia!" reports the new WYAR (88.3) Yarmouth will program big-band music; it's apparently a Bob Bittner-style one-person operation.
Up in Bangor, we'll know in a few weeks whether WWMJ (95.7 Ellsworth) will get to dress the city's famous Paul Bunyan statue in a "Welcome to Bangor, Mr. Imus!" T-shirt. The station hoped to dress up the statue to promote Imus' October visit to Bangor; instead, it's provoked noisy controversy and a bit of national publicity -- which may be exactly the point. (By the way, Syracuse NY's WHEN is not the only upstate station carrying the I-man; he's heard on WENE (1430 Endicott) in the Binghamton market as well).
Owego's WENE (1330) and WGRG (101.7) are being sold. Michael McKilligan is selling the stations to Ron Kyle. The two stations simulcast an adult-contemporary format.
Upstate radio listeners will soon lose their most powerful Canadian radio signal. The CRTC yesterday granted the CBC permission to move Toronto's CBL from 740 to 99.1 FM, a move the CBC has been wanting to make for years. The CBC claimed it needed to make the move to eliminate interference problems in downtown Toronto and to reach listeners who have abandoned the AM band. Two CRTC commissioners dissented from the decision, favoring others among the many applicants for the last open FM channel in Toronto.
When the CBC leaves the 740 spot, it will get several other transmitters to cover southern Ontario, including an 89.1 signal in Paris/Kitchener, a higher-power transmitter for CBCO (105.9) Orillia, and a Niagara Peninsula transmitter at Crystal Beach (although not on the 100.3 frequency the CBC requested, to avoid interference with CKRZ Ohsweken on the same channel). And for those of us who enjoy the CBC's signal stateside, we'll be without a clear signal at all...anyone up for a petition drive?
There's no word yet on what will happen with the 740 clear channel when CBL vacates it. It's a pretty safe bet that Canada won't allow it to sit vacant forever, though; no 50 kilowatt WJIB seems to be in the future. Also unmentioned in the CRTC's release is the future of the CBC's French-language AM outlet in Toronto, 50 kW CJBC (860). It had been rumored to merge with the French stereo service on CJBC-FM (90.3) and vanish from AM as well.
One more Canadian note: CHCD (106.7) is now on the air in Simcoe, replacing CHNR (1600). Look for the 1600 signal to disappear within a few months.
And so we close out another week of NERW...see you next Thursday!