We're back from four days, four nights, and 1100-plus miles of radio fun in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New York's Southern Tier...and what do we find when we return but a whole bunch of radio miscellany from across the region? Let's dig in...
There's another shakeup taking place on the TV side at WBZ: anchor Jack Williams is being pulled off the 11pm newscast and relegated solely to 5 and 6pm duty. Sean Mooney gets to add the 11 to his current duties as 5:30 anchor. 11pm co-anchor Liz Walker stays where she is for now, but expect more changes if BZ's sagging ratings don't pick up.
Get out those scorecards, folks...Greater Media's beginning to file call-letter changes for its 96.9 and 99.5 stations. The 96.9 Boston outlet that _was_ legally WKLB-FM will now be WSJZ. Still to come is the other half of the call swap, wherein the current WOAZ at 99.5 will legally become WKLB-FM Lowell.
Sports radio WEEI (850) has some programming changes in the works. The Fabulous Sports Babe is reportedly on her way out of the 10pm-noon slot, with Mike Adams (formerly of New England Cable News) on the way to replace her.
Out west, Winchendon's WINQ (97.7) has dropped its "97-7 Q FM" moniker to become "All Hit 97.7." No big changes in the station's format, which was already more or less CHR.
In radio-land, WGMT in Lyndon remains on 98.3 for now, but we're told they'll make the move to their new 97.7 channel later this months -- and that even station staffers are upset that the new WGMT signal will block out Montreal's CHOM on the same frequency (especially now that CHOM is carrying Howard Stern, who - predictably enough - has already said enough nasty things about Francophone Quebec to keep the blood boiling up there for months). And there's yet another new morning host at WKVT-FM (92.7) in Brattleboro; Rick West is the latest to fill the chair.
Up the Hudson in Newburgh, Auricle Communications is fighting the attempts by translator W213AM (which relays Family Radio) to move from 90.5 to 90.3. Why? Well, at 90.3, the station would block out the signal of Auricle's WXHD (90.1) Mount Hope, which in turn relays WFMU (91.1 East Orange NJ). Also in Newburgh, there's word that WGNY has retreated to its old 1220 frequency now that its CP for 1200 was cancelled.
On to Albany, where Tom Kief comes from WIIL (95.1 Kenosha WI) to take over mornings at WRVE (99.5 Schenectady). His sidekick, Lisa Reichwein, is well known to Boston listeners from her days as a traffic reporter at Metro. Up the dial at 104.5, WXLE Mechanicville has dropped its "XL 104.5" identity to become "the Zone," but without any change to its modern AC format.
In Syracuse, WRVD (90.3) may finally see the light of day. After the proposed relay for Oswego's WRVO (89.9) was tossed off the WAQX (95.7 Manlius) tower where it had hoped to place its transmitter, the WRVD construction permit was close to expiring. Now WRVD has applied to go on with 280 watts from 43 feet up at the SUNY Health Science Center in downtown Syracuse. WRVD doesn't need much power; it's mostly there to get a WRVO signal into the area near Syracuse University where intermod from co-located WAER (88.3) and WJPZ (89.1) makes WRVO unlistenable. Syracuse Community Radio, meantime, is amending its application for a new station in Cleveland NY to use 90.1 instead of 90.3. NERW thinks WRVO still won't like that. And the "Westvale NY" translator on 96.5, W243AB, wants to move its transmitter. No great surprise there; the station relays WVOA 105.1 DeRuyter-Syracuse...which is owned by Craig Fox...who also bought WZOS 96.7 Oswego...which would have a shot at reaching Syracuse if...yep, if the 96.5 were to move. Funny how these things work out, isn't it?
Up north, the 103.1 translator in Lake Placid (W276AU) is off the air, but that's OK. W276AU's primary, WRGR (102.3 Tupper Lake), is simulcasting WLPW (105.5) Lake Placid these days, anyway, so the translator would have been redundant.
"The Border" is playing it on both sides in the Watertown area. The new CHR outlet started out this summer on 102.7 Cape Vincent (ex-WKGG, now WBDR). Now it's added WWLF (106.7 Copenhagen) to the simulcast, but with a twist. Ads on 102.7 are targeted to the Canadian audience in Kingston, Ontario, while the spots on 106.7 are aimed at the US side of "The Border."
Here in Rochester, WZNE (94.1 Brighton) has been granted its construction permit to increase power from its Pinnacle Hill transmitter site, albeit not by enough to overcome the interference problems from Toronto's CBL-FM on 94.1 in the northern and western parts of the county.
Which brings us to that big Labor Day trip. We won't bore you with all the details of every market we passed through (Binghamton, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Allentown, Philadelphia, Wilmington, southern Delaware, Reading, Harrisburg/Lancaster/York, Williamsport, and home), but here are a few of the highlights and lowlights:
And from there it was a long dark drive back home. Quite a weekend, especially because it gave NERW a chance to renew many old radio acquaintances (and would we be bragging to say we won the DX Quiz?), not to mention a ton of airchecking. Now if we could just find the time to listen to all that tape...
Sal used to run WCNJ (89.3) in Hazlet NJ. Then he got a license for his own station, WRLJ (89.9) in Freehold. To you or me, a licensed station of any sort would probably be enough...but apparently not to Sal. You see, Sal reportedly took the WRLJ transmitter and moved it south down the Jersey Shore to the town of Howell...where he built a studio, put the transmitter on the local fire company's tower, and went on the air as "Oldies 104.7, WZVU" (the calls were borrowed from the former oldies outlet on 107.1 in Long Branch). The "license" he reportedly showed to the firefighters to get space on their towers? Another station's license, with the calls whited out.
And so it went for a few months, as Sal hired an airstaff, sold spots, and ran an honest-to-Hundt commercial class A pirate. There was just one problem: That 104.7 frequency was just down the dial from WRDR (104.9) in Egg Harbor, which is equipped with a license. And it's just up the dial from 104.5, WYXR in Philadelphia.
In came the U.S. Marshals, who raided "WZVU" Thursday morning, arresting Sal and confiscating his equipment in one of the better-publicized pirate busts of recent years.
NERW's editorial comment: We've become far more sympathetic to the cause of the unlicensed broadcasters in the last year or so...but 1300 watts??!?!?!?
We'll be back next Thursday with much more on radio and television across the Great Northeast. See you then!