North East RadioWatch: January 22, 1999
Still Snowbound...and the First Fall Books
We begin this week with some big news from outside the region...but
with the potential for a big impact on Northeast listeners:
- The Debts Come Due: We've been warning for a while (as have other
industry doomsayers) that the mega-groups will eventually stumble
under all that debt service -- and now look: Chancellor announced this
week that it's engaged the services of BT Alex, Brown to explore the
possible sale of all or part of its broadcast operations. Seems
Chancellor stock isn't trading at the incredible 30-40 times earnings
that other broadcast stocks have been, and absent those sky-high
stock prices, the numbers just don't work. And it's not just
Chancellor, either; other huge groups have also been talking about
selling pieces to help pay the debt. We've got to wonder -- could
(gasp) local owners once again have a chance to buy some of the
big-cluster stations someday soon?
- >Microbroadcasters' Big Moment: The FCC has micro-radio on its agenda
for the January 28 meeting. Much more next Friday on the outcome of
what should be an interesting morning at the Portals.
- Au Revoir, CBF: Radio-Canada pulled the plug on Montreal's 50kw
French outlet Thursday night (1/21). 690 is now running a repeating
loop in French urging listeners to move to the new FM frequency, 95.1,
which signed on last year. CBM on 940 will go silent in March,
according to the Montreal Gazette. If you can read French, you'll find
more on CBF at <www.radio-canada.ca>.
- Where's WLAC? Nashville's 50kw 1510 outlet is operating on reduced
power for the moment, while it upgrades its phasor and antenna
system. WLAC is currently using just 12.5 kw -- but non-directional,
which means listeners on the backside of WNRB Boston may actually have
a better chance of hearing it.
On with the state-by-state news...
- NERW was in Buffalo on Wednesday for President Clinton's visit to
upstate NEW YORK, and we really enjoyed hearing the local news and
talk on co-owned, but competing, WGR (550) and WBEN (930). Our joy
was tempered slightly when we picked up the Buffalo News to read that
WBEN/WMJQ staffers have decertified their union, which apparently
clears the way for more WGR/WBEN shared programming. On a cheerier
note, congratulations to WBEN's Tim Wenger and Susan Rose, proud
parents of a baby girl born just hours before the presidential visit.
Downstate, the big news is an unusual FM-to-AM move in the Big Apple,
as Rocky Allen's "Showgram" switches from afternoons at WPLJ (95.5) to
the morning slot at WABC (770). The mouse hopes Allen's show will
bring some permanence to the morning slot at WABC, which has been one
of the least stable spots in New York radio lately.
Another Rochester station is now broadcasting on-line. WDKX (103.9)
is now available in RealAudio at <http://www.wdkx.com>. It's the
first commercial station in town to take the plunge. Noncomm WBER
(90.5) has been doing it for years, and even garnered a mention in the
Washington Post this week. Listen to them at
<http://wber.monroe.edu>, then ask them why they don't think they're
legally required to do a proper top-hour ID!
- It's musical program directors in CONNECTICUT this week. Ed Sabatino
moves from WKCI (101.3 Hamden) to the PD chair at WEFX (95.9 Norwalk),
while Dave Hill moves up from APD/MD to PD at WMRQ (104.1 Waterbury),
replacing Jay Beau Jones, who's now in Chicago at WUBT (103.5).
Congratulations to Alexandra Steele, who moves from WTNH to become
weekend meteorologist at WJLA (Channel 7) in Washington.
An update from last week: We dropped a few words and meant to say
that WKSS had borrowed the top spot in the Waterbury ratings...and
we've heard a bit more from WLAD in Danbury, which checked in to
report that while its 12+ overall did drop a bit, the addition of Rush
Limbaugh is helping considerably with the 25-54 and 35-64 numbers.
Where did the older listeners go? WOR, apparently, which was up
considerably 55+ in the market!
- In MASSACHUSETTS, we have an explanation for the report of "J-Light"
on 1200 last week -- WJLT is indeed leasing the overnight hours on
WKOX (1200 Framingham) for its religious programming. We can also
offer the Herald's Dean Johnson another explanation for WRKO's ratings
drop, which he discussed at length this week. Why did Howie Carr, for
instance, drop from first to ninth 25-54? NERW thinks it might have
*something* to do with those new areas added to the Boston market --
Worcester doesn't get WRKO very well, if at all, after dark, and this
time of year, Howie's doing most of his show in the dark...
John Garabedian is going on line: His Superadio has signed a deal
with Portland, Maine-based BroadcastMusic.com to put "Open House
Party" and other programming on the Web beginning in March.
How DOES he afford those power bills?: WFNX owner Steve Mindich has
won permission from the FCC to boost the power on Boston translator
W267AI (101.3) again, this time from a whopping 6 to a blistering 7
- A RHODE ISLAND unlicensed broadcaster is off the air. The Providence
Journal-Bulleting reports "WICE" (89.3 Johnston) was visited, and
silenced by, the FCC this week. Operator Steven Conti also works as
the "Traffic Troll" at WHJY (94.1 Providence), but ran 89.3 for fun on
Friday and Saturday nights. The FCC's Victor Tagliaferro tells the
paper he became aware of the station through "information on the
Internet." NERW wouldn't know anything about THAT...
- Steve Silberberg buys again, this time WVFM in Campton, NEW
HAMPSHIRE. The 105.7 outlet atop Waterville Valley Ski Area has been
simulcasting the oldies from WLKZ (104.9 Wolfeboro). Silberberg
reportedly paid Daphne Corcoran's White Mountain Radio $325,000 for
- And there will soon be three full TV newsrooms serving Burlington,
VERMONT. Long the third-rated player in the market, WVNY (Channel 22)
is now advertising in the trades for newspeople. The ABC affiliate's
news offerings are currently limited to 5-minute updates at 6 and 11,
but it's now promising full-length, 7-day newscasts later this year.
- On with the ratings, as we offer another installment of the Fall '98
- NEW YORK: Buffalo country giant WYRK continued to dominate, followed
by a tightly-packed group that included a resurgent WBEN, urban WBLK,
rock WGRF, AC WJYE, and CHR WKSE. No sign at all of would-be
rimshotter WXOX (101.7 Attica) this book.
- MASSACHUSETTS: Springfield's WMAS-FM stayed solidly on top, followed
by rising numbers for rocker WAQY and country WPKX. WHYN-FM and
WHYN(AM) followed, both down a bit. On Cape Cod, it was WQRC in the
top spot again, WOCN in second again, good books for WFCC and WCOD,
and a not-so-good one for talker WXTK, which landed in fifth.
- CONNECTICUT: New Haven's WPLR took over the top spot from CHR WKCI,
which slipped into third behind urban WYBC. WWYZ, WKSS, New York's
WFAN, Bridgeport's WEZN all followed, with local news-talker WELI in
eighth. Up the coast in New London, it was a phenomenal book for CHR
WQGN, with country WCTY a strong second. WNLC's standards took third,
followed by WWRX from Rhode Island, WBMW, WTYD, WICH, and WVVE.
- NEW HAMPSHIRE: Manchester's WZID couldn't pull off a 20+ performance
this book, but it still had more than twice as many listeners as
second-place WGIR-FM. Making a surprising jump to third was Boston's
WJMN, followed by a strong book for WGIR(AM) and a fifth-place showing
More next week -- Ithaca, Albany, Rochester, and Syracuse!
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