North East RadioWatch: October 9, 1998

Clear Channel Gets Jacor

by Scott Fybush

Finally this week, a quick review of the NERW New England excursion this past weekend...

We started in the Johnstown/Gloversville market, where the clear winner, at least on the NERW Quirky Radio Index, was WENT (1340). This little thousand-watt AM still does local news seven days a week, and even won a Murrow award a few years back. We had a nice chat with the owner and spent several hours listening to the 70s AC they program. WSRD (104.9 Johnstown) hasn't moved yet...but it's all-satellite, all the time, except for relays of the news from Albany's WTEN (Channel 10). WIZR (930) is satellite, too, except for morning drive. And down in Cobleskill, Bob Heckler (late of KABC/KMPC in Los Angeles) is doing local talk mornings and afternoons on his WXBH (1190), which he's claiming gets into Albany.

Home base for the rest of the weekend was Pittsfield, where WBEC-FM (105.5, with a new Great Barrington translator on 94.1) was about the only local choice most of the time. WBEC (1420) was a technical nightmare, with nary a legal ID heard Saturday and Sunday, and much of the time filled with "we are experiencing satellite problems, please stand by" messages. WUHN (1110) was mostly satellite as well, and sign-ons and sign-offs consisted of turning the satellite feed on and off without benefit of announcement. WBRK (1340) had local standards Friday afternoon; WBRK-FM (101.7) and WUPE (95.9) spent the weekend attached to the bird. WSBS (860 Great Barrington) was local and fun to listen to while within range, and WTBR (89.7 Pittsfield) was on with a polka show Friday night (!)

Heading into Connecticut for the NERW lunch on Saturday, we had a nice stop at the railroad-station studios of WQQQ (103.3 Lakeville), where we met station manager/morning guy Marshall Miles and had a nice chat (we also saw the transmitter across the state line in Millerston, NY).

The NERW lunch in Torrington drew an even dozen of us, from as far afield as Boston, Marlborough, and Albany, and a great time (including a stop at WSNG) was had by all. We're now thinking about a NERW convention next summer...

Sunday found us headed into Vermont, with a drive through Rutland allowing us a few minutes to listen to Radio Free Vermont on 96.5, which actually sounded pretty darned good for the short time its signal was strong (mostly heading east towards the town line on US 4). FMedia! reports RFV had a visit from the FCC a few weeks ago, which ended with the FCC's Victor Taliaferro being asked to leave the property (hmmm...didn't Monty tell us that if the FCC came to call, he'd invite them in for coffee?) We also enjoyed the CHR from WZRT (97.1), and spent a lot of time listening to our usual favorite, Killington's WEBK (105.3), which was heard calling itself "the closest you can get to pirate radio without all those pesky FCC violations!" We also drove up to Montpelier and saw the cute WSKI tower at US 2 and 302, and the "Point" (WNCS/WRJT/WSHX) studios on River Street.

The road home took us through Saratoga Springs to hear the end of the Jockey on 101.3...and wonder where WKAJ (900) is burying its legal...

That's it for this week; see you next Friday!

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