Next to go was WPTR-FM (96.3 Voorheesville), which pulled the plug on its low-rated hot country format to become "Jams 96-3," bringing Albany its first commercial outlet for hip-hop and urban contemporary music. WPTR had been fighting a losing battle against country giant WGNA (107.7/1460); will its relatively weak signal be less of a drawback when it's the only station in its format?
New to the Empire State airwaves this week was WXXE (90.5 Fenner), the first outlet of Syracuse Community Radio, which signed on for the first time at 3:07 PM on Monday (Dec. 21). While the station is being heard in most of Madison County, it's not much of a contender in Syracuse and Onondaga County just yet, thanks to co-channel stations in Baldwinsville (high-school outlet WBXL) and Rochester (WBER). WXXE put out e-mail this week advising potential listeners of specific street corners in and around Syracuse where the station is audible. You can read more about SCR -- including their proposed translators co-channel with nearby WRVO (89.9 Oswego) -- at their Web site.
Speaking of translators, Syracuse religious station WMHR (102.9) has applied for one at 90.7 in Riverhead, way out at the East End of Long Island. And Bridgeport CT community broadcaster WPKN (89.5) had its petition for reconsideration against translator W209BB (89.7 Port Chester) denied this week by the FCC. (Let's make sure we're straight on this -- a translator rebroadcasting a religious station from, lessee here, Abilene, Texas, takes priority over one of the few stations in the region that actually exists solely to provide a public service to its listening audience. More on this coming up in our Year-End Editorial Rant next issue...)
Speaking of things we can (and probably will) rant about, WQEW (1560 New York) is clearly in the death throes of its American Popular Standards format. No more jocks -- just taped liners -- and almost every spot break includes plugs for other area stations hoping for a piece of the audience. Among them: standards WLUX (540 Islip), WHLI (1100 Hempstead), WLIM (1580 Patchogue), WMTR (1250 Morristown NJ), and WVNJ (1160 Oakland NJ), plus public radio WNYC AM-FM (820/93.9), WFUV (90.7), and even the business-news machine that is WBBR (1130), occupying the dial position once held by the lamented WNEW (1130), the granddaddy of the standards format. The end of the format comes at midnight Sunday night, and of course we'll have tape rolling (and tears in our eyes).
Just over the state line from Rockland County, the FCC has again extended the construction permit for WKNJ (550 Lakeside NJ). The 270 watt daytimer has faced a slew of problems stemming from toxic waste near its proposed transmitter site, as well as neighborhood opposition. If it doesn't finish building this time out, it may not get another extension, since the FCC reminded the station that it's cracking down on CPs that remain unbuilt.
And on the DTV front, New York's WNBC-TV (Channel 4) had its application granted for WNBC-DT on Channel 28.
A correction from last week: We mixed our "Wills" up and put WXPS (96.7)'s new tower site and city of license in the wrong location. It's Willsboro, New York, not Williston. And while we're at it, we'll note that WXNT (92.1 Port Henry NY) is not exactly a simulcast with WSYB in Rutland, although they do share some programming.
Remember WRUT, the 107.5 in West Rutland that Brian Dodge put on the air without proper FCC approval a few years back? It appeared in the FCC's public notices again this week, as the Commission returned a 1993 application to modify its facilities for being "untimely."
A tower grows in Newton Upper Falls: American Tower Systems is planning to put up a new, taller tower next to the "FM128" stick on Chestnut Street next spring. The new stick will be topped with a candelabra and will carry antennas for several FM stations (including the recently-moved WCRB) and DTV.
"Joe Boxer Radio" on 1580? That's what you'll hear in the vicinity of Boston's Kenmore Square, according to a billboard recently put up by the underwear company. A Part 15 transmitter serves up ads for boxer shorts and other goodies to anyone in a radius of several blocks...
And a correction: Bev Tilden is Chancellor's vice president for marketing.
The Pomfret School in Pomfret has had its application for 91.1 MHz returned.
And while the WDRC/WWCO/WSNG/WMMW "quadcast" has been running nothing but Christmas tunes since Monday, it's not a sign of impending format change; we're told the usual adult standards will return to the airwaves on Monday next.
On to the Year in Review.