So here's how the Great Radio Trip of '98 wound down...
Saturday morning began with a distinctly non-radio event, as your editor indulged another hobby interest with a tour of the Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa.
Returning to form, we walked over to the York Street studios of CHEZ (106.1) for a guided tour from production guru Craig Jackman. CHEZ just recently moved into its new digs in a converted grocery warehouse, and it's a really nice place, largely arranged in an open plan (no walls around the newsroom or engineering areas, for instance). A stop at a used bookstore around the corner also turned up some Canadian gems for the NERW bookshelf, including books by CBC stars Barbara Frum and Knowlton Nash.
After lunch, it was back on the road, stopping at studio locations on the Quebec side in Hull (CIMF and CHOT/CFGS in the same industrial park) and Gatineau (CKTF, which now shares space with CJRC in a building adjacent to the big shopping mall there).
Recrossing the river, we passed several more studios, including the CBC's TV operations in a residential neighborhood on Lanark Avenue and the CJOH/CKQB complex on Merivale Road, before turning south at day's end.
Time allowed us only a handful of additional stops: a failed attempt to get close to the CJRC (1150) transmitter, a stop at the CFRA (580) array on Highway 16 south of the city, and then the long drive down the 401, over the Thousand Islands Bridge, and into Watertown, where we made the last stop at public TV WNPE (Channel 16) on Arsenal Street.
And from there it was dinner and another hour or so south to Syracuse, where our long journey came to a close some three thousand miles from its start.
Coming soon: A market-by-market summary of what we saw, heard, loved, hated, and wondered about during the trip...stay tuned.
And now on to the week's other news:
'BZ honcho Ed Goldman tells the newspapers that he was just picking Cheatwood's brain while Cheatwood was in town taking his son to an orthodontist's appointment...but nobody's failed to notice that Cheatwood is currently an NBC consultant, while WBZ is a CBS O&O. Could Cheatwood be returning to Boston to try to boost 'BZ's plummeting ratings? We'll see...
In other MASSACHUSETTS news, George Flinn's "Broadcasting for the Challenged" is trying to become the next multi-market noncomm operator. BFC has been filing dozens of applications around the country in recent weeks, and the most recent are for 88.1 in New Bedford (NERW's comment: Haven't we seen that before?) and 89.5 in Nantucket. NERW's still trying to figure out just what BFC does, but we suspect religion's involved somehow.
We mourn the passing of John Burgomaster, better known as John Masters, the voice of WRKO news for 28 years until his retirement in 1994. Masters' booming voice defined RKO's "20/20 News" during its top-40 years, and he remained with the station for most of its years in the talk format as well. Burgomaster succumbed to cancer last week.
Congratulations to Lisa Garvey, who's leaving Manchester rocker WGIR-FM (101.1) for a big move up in market size -- all the way to number one, with a night shift at WNEW-FM (102.7) in New York. NERW hears longtime 'GIR personality Fil Robert Kaye has left the airwaves as well, to become a salesman for the Capstar station.
WERI-FM (99.3) has applied to move its transmitter and change power and height -- but the application hasn't shown up yet in the FCC database, so we're not yet sure what it's for.
And the owner of leased-time WALE (990 Providence) has bought another station. North American Broadcasting is paying a reported $5.5 million for KCCF (1100) Cave Creek, Arizona. KCCF is an adult-standards station that blankets Phoenix by day with 50 kilowatts; NERW wonders whether it will change to a "dollar-a-holler" format like its Ocean State cousin once the sale closes.
Another PBS station is going commercial. Schenectady's WMHQ (Channel 45) is being sold to Sinclair Broadcasting, which will turn it into either a UPN or WB affiliate. WMHQ was the second service for public TV WMHT (Channel 17), which says it needs the money for digital TV development. Albany-area viewers with long memories will recall that channel 45 began as a commercial independent, WUSV-TV, before being bought by WMHT and operated first as WMHX-TV and then as WMHQ. Meantime, Buffalo's WNED is awaiting word on whether the FCC will let it sell noncomm-licensed WNEQ (Channel 23), or whether it will end up keeping WNEQ and selling what's now its primary outlet, commercial-licensed WNED-TV (Channel 17). WNED says it has "at least six" interested buyers for whichever station is put up for sale.
The latest rimshot into the Syracuse market will be 100.3 in Sylvan Beach, and the FCC's been asked to approve a settlement among the competing applicants for the channel. Kevin O'Kane ends up with the license. Also in the Syracuse area, Syracuse Community Radio has applied for an 89.9 translator in Fenner to relay its new "flagship" station, WXXC (88.7 Truxton). Yes, you read that right, 89.9. NERW suspects the folks at WRVO, 89.9 in Oswego, will file an objection to that one real soon now.
In the Buffalo area, the powerful tourist information station in Niagara Falls, Ontario is relocating. CFLZ had been on 91.9 but will be displaced by the new 92.1 allocation in Amherst and by the pending move of CHOW Welland from 1470 to 91.7. Its new home? 105.1 MHz.
The FCC filings brought new tides of "displacement applications" from area low-power TV stations, including Rochester religious outlet W59BV filing to move to channel 42.
In the North Country, we're told WYUL (94.7 Chateaugay) has been off the air with transmitter trouble for a few weeks, which explains why we weren't hearing them in Montreal.
And St. Lawrence University's WSLJ (91.7 Watertown) has applied for a translator at 88.1 in Lowville.
In the Finger Lakes, M Street reports Ithaca's WTKO (1470) has dropped sports talk for satellite oldies as "WTKOldies." Bath's WCIK (103.1) has been noncommercial in practice for years; now it's applying to change its license status to noncomm as well.
One bit of Canadian news from the fringes of our region: CKDK (103.9) in Woodstock, Ontario has flipped formats to dance-CHR, as a partial simulcast of "Energy 108," CING (107.9) Burlington.
And that's it for this NERW; coming Thursday, some stray bits of news and our thoughts on The Big Trip. See you then!