It's been one of the busiest weeks in recent memory in Northeast broadcasting; on with all the format changes, station sales, and much more...
WTOS has long been a dominant station in much of central Maine, with a potent signal from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain (hence the "TOS" calls and the "Mountain of Rock" nickname) that reaches Augusta, Bangor, and south almost to Portland. WQCB, better known as "Q106", is the market-leading country station in Bangor, while WBZN ("Z107.3") is an up-and-coming CHR outlet.
Don Imus made the rounds of his Maine affilaiates this week, stirring the controversy over his Bangor affiliate's aborted plan to decorate a local landmark in his honor. WWMJ (95.7 Ellsworth) was denied permission to put a "Welcome to Bangor, Mr. Imus!" T-shirt on the giant statue of Paul Bunyan downtown. To prevent future disputes, Bangor city leaders have now banned all clothing on city-owned statues in the future...and Imus devoted a chunk of Tuesday's show in Bangor to ribbing the mayor and other officials about the decision. Imus also visited Portland affiliate WZAN (970), broadcasting from there on Wednesday.
WZAN's sister station, WGAN (560), is looking for a new news director. Dennis Spellman has left the station to become a reporter at WMTW-TV (Channel 8) Poland Spring-Portland, where he's been a freelancer for several months. No replacement has been named yet.
This will be RadioWorks' second Granite State simulcast; classic rockers WNHI (93.3 Belmont) and WRCI (107.7 Hillsborough) have been simulcasting as the "I-stations" for several years.
WNHQ's signal from Pack Monadnock (between Peterborough and Milford) will give RadioWorks new coverage across much of southern New Hampshire and into northern Massachusetts.
Longtime WSMN (1590 Nashua) general manager Maury Parent has been dismissed by the station's board of directors, after allegedly throwing a mouse pad at a WSMN employee, who then filed assault charges against Parent.
And in Manchester, WKBR (1250) continues to simulcast sister AAA outlet WXRV (92.5 Haverhill, Mass.), several weeks after a format change to sports was to have taken place.
Rutland's WSYB (1380) is now reaching a much larger audience, with a new simulcast on WMNM (92.1 Port Henry NY). WMNM had been a live, local oldies station serving the Middlebury and Burlington areas; before that, it was Peter Hunn's one-man WHRC in the 1980s. WSYB programs talk, much of it from the Talk America network.
Brockton's WBET (1460) and WCAV (97.7) could have new owners soon. WBET, LLC, the reorganized version of the Enterprise Publishing Company that's owned the stations for years, has filed to sell WBET and WCAV to KJI Broadcasting.
On the TV front, SportsChannel New England is getting a new name. When the Celtics season begins October 31, the regional network will be known as "Fox Sports New England" to reflect its new ownership.
Disney's radio format for kids is finally about to hit the Boston airwaves. We're told WPZE (1260) will flip from religion to Radio Disney on November 1 (and an aside to Boston's biggest daily paper -- no matter what you print in your Sunday radio logs, the 1260 frequency was never home to the old WBNW...that was 590!)
Broadcast people on the move: Cynthia Scullin has resigned as president of Charles River Broadcasting to run a marketing business with her husband. Replacing her is Christopher Jones, son of CRB founder Ted Jones. Bill Campbell will fill Scullin's shoes as general manager of WCRB (102.5) Waltham. Tribune's WLVI (Channel 56) Cambridge-Boston is getting a new general manager. Leslie Glenn comes to the post from WWOR (Channel 9) Secaucus, N.J., where she was director of programming. Tom Couch is joining CBS' classic rocker WZLX (100.7) as production director. He comes from CBS' WSCR (1160) and WXRT (93.1) in Chicago, where he was director of creative services. Over at Greater Media's Boston stations, there's a new guest host on WBOS (92.9 Brookline-Boston). Boston listeners may remember Robin Young from her days on local TV in the 1980s; she'll be filling in for recently-fired morning jock Ken Shelton for the next three weeks. Dan Justin of sister station WROR (105.7 Framingham-Boston) was filling the slot for the last few mornings. And overnight listeners to talker WRKO (680) are now hearing "Coast to Coast with Art Bell." The Nevada-based talk host replaces reruns of WRKO's daytime programming from 1-5 AM.
Having trouble hearing the 50,000 crankin' clear-channel watts of WBZ? The station has been getting complaints from listeners who are hearing WBGS (1030) from Point Pleasant, West Virginia long after that station's supposed sunset signoff time. WBZ's engineers want to hear from people suffering interference from WBGS...
Further south, NERW hears Wickford's WKFD (1370) is scouting new transmitter locations, after the collapse of last year's attempt to return it to the air under the "WEGM" moniker.
The 95.1B allocation that now belongs in "South Bristol Township" (actually, the peak of Bristol Mountain, some 40 miles southeast of Rochester) would move to Honeoye Falls, a village some 15 miles south of downtown Rochester. The 107.3A allocation now in Honeoye Falls would move to South Bristol.
So what does this mean to Jacor? On the 107.3 side, smooth jazz WRCD would move its transmitter from a low tower in Bloomfield, some 20 miles south of downtown, up to Bristol -- but "CD 107.3" would be aided by new translator W300AM, on 107.9 from the Pinnacle Hill site used by several of Rochester's big FMs. More to the point, Jacor would be able to move modern rocker WNVE "The Nerve" from Bristol Mountain to Baker Hill in Victor, some 15 miles southeast of the city -- and already home to Jacor's AC WVOR (100.5 Rochester) and two other FMs. WNVE's 95.1 signal is plagued by intermod interference in many parts of Rochester; that wouldn't be the case with the transmitter in Victor. No word on what would happen to W238AB, WNVE's powerful translator on 95.5 from Pinnacle Hill.
The summer Arbitrons are in for Rochester and Albany. In the Flower City, news-talk WHAM edged into first place 12+, helped along by a big drop at country WBEE. CHR WPXY-FM jumped a point into third, followed by AC WRMM-FM, rocker WCMF-FM, urban WDKX, WNVE, WVOR, and modern AC WZNE (94.1), which continues to soar from its spring sign-on. The Capital District's top spot continues to belong to country WGNA AM-FM, followed by CHR WFLY, which dropped slightly in the ratings but ended up in second place anyway, helped along by a ratings drop that nudged news-talk WGY down to third. AC WYJB was fourth, followed by modern rock WQBJ/WQBK, which is claiming the highest ratings of any modern rocker in the country.
Speaking of Albany, the WNGN (97.5 Hoosick Falls) translator that's being built in Scotia wants to change frequency. Northeast Gospel Broadcasting has applied to move the translator from 105.5 to 93.7.
Up in Plattsburgh, Barry Lunderville is selling WZBZ (1070) to Family Broadcasting, Inc., presumably so he can focus on building his new WNHT (102.3) in Lancaster, N.H. Family owns two religious stations across the lake in Vermont -- WGLY (103.3) Waterbury and WGLV (104.3) Hartford.
Broadcast people on the move: Loyd Ford is the new program director at Rochester country station WBEE-FM (92.5). He comes to the station from Charlotte's WTDR (now WKKT, 96.9 Statesville). In Syracuse, Lou Freifeld has been named to replace Linda Gray as general manager at Fox affiliate WSYT (Channel 68) and UPN affiliate WNYS (Channel 43). Freifeld comes from WESH-TV (Channel 2) in Daytona Beach-Orlando.
PT24 says its viewers wanted a station that would carry the full CBS lineup in pattern (WRAL frequently preempted CBS shows for sports), and one that featured small-town local news instead of big-city crime, and WSEE fit the bill perfectly. In an Associated Press article about the switch, WSEE officials say they're thrilled about the national exposure and they're using station breaks to promote Erie to viewers nationwide.
That's it for this week in Northeast broadcasting...we'll see you again next Thursday!