The new Clear Channel Syracuse group includes news-talk WSYR (570), sports WHEN (620), AC WYYY (94.5), top-rated country WBBS (104.7 Fulton), and CHR WWHT (107.9). It also gives the combined Clear Channel-Jacor group strong positions in every market along I-90 from Syracuse through Utica and Albany to Springfield, Mass (assuming Clear Channel consummates its pending purchase of Dame Media, that is).
Elsewhere in the state, there are some changes brewing around 98 MHz. We'll start in Salamanca, where WQRT (98.3) has been granted a doubling of its power, from 1600 to 3200 watts. Up Route 17 in Bath, WVIN, also on 98.3, gets to raise its power from 2750 to 4500 watts. And WNYR (98.5 Waterloo) now holds a CP to go from 1450 to 3200 watts.
The FCC has reinstated several CPs that were accidentally cancelled last week, including that of WWRL (1600 New York) to go to 25 kilowatts by day, as well as WCIY (88.9 Canandaigua)'s to increase power from 70 to 500 watts. At the same time, the Commission cancelled the never-built CP that would have given WEHH (1590 Elmira Heights-Horseheads) a directional array and night power.
The morning team of Kevin Baker and Geri Richards is out at Albany classic rocker WXCR (102.3 Ballston Spa); no word on who's next in this high-turnover spot.
Up north, the students at SUNY Plattsburgh will officially inaugurate their second radio service this Saturday. Closed-circuit "WARP Radio" will join licensed WQKE (93.9) as a student voice on campus; they're hoping WARP can get a broadcast license someday as well.
A few new radio spots on the Web: Ogdensburg's WPAC and WB cable affiliate "WBWT" in Watertown are both new to the Net. And much to NERW's delight, very cool AAA station WDST (100.1 Woodstock) now has a Webcast; guess what we've been listening to here at NERW Central?
A correction: Buzz Brindle is the PD of several Albany stations...but not WPYX (106.5). John Cooper still holds that job.
And we remember Dick Tobias, the curmudgeonly newsman and commentator who spent four decades in Rochester TV and radio, most notably at WBBF, WHAM, WVOR, and WHEC. Tobias died Thursday (2/11) of a heart attack. He was 71. Funeral plans had not been finalized at press time.
The FCC is giving Edmund Dinis six more months to build WLAW (1270 North Dartmouth), much to the dismay of a competing Portuguese broadcaster in the area. Dinis owns WJFD (97.3 New Bedford), the dominant Portuguese-language station in the Southeastern Massachusetts market, and for years, he's been fighting James and Robert Karam, who own a Portuguese newspaper and two radio stations (English-language WSAR 1480 and Portuguese-language WHTB 1400) in Fall River. This week, the FCC dismissed the Karams' last-ditch attempt to stop Dinis from building four towers on Copicut Hill for WLAW. James Karam tells the Providence Journal-Bulletin that WLAW will "disrupt the patterns that are already here" by signing on (which is what NERW thought competition was supposed to do), while Dinis tells the paper that moving WJFD's programming from his class B FM to the new AM will somehow increase its audience from 200,000 to 3 million. Dinis also confirmed for the Journal-Bulletin the long-held speculation that WJFD will become an English-language soft rock station aimed at Providence once the AM signs on. For its part, NERW thinks Providence itself ought to have a Portuguese station again, something that's been missing since WRCP (1290) became public-radio WRNI last year. In the meantime, we'll sit back with a plate of linguica and enjoy the fight...
Any Bay State stations ignoring the EAS requirements, watch out! We hear the FCC has been conducting surprise inspections at several Eastern Massachusetts stations to make sure the EAS equipment is hooked up and working. Maybe while they're at it, they'll hear the Spanish-language pirate we're told is now operating on 94.3 in Springfield.
Supporters of legal LPFM will gather next weekend in Allston, as LPFM advocate Steven Provizer holds what he's calling a "town meeting" for LPFM proponents to work out a game plan to push their cause through the upcoming FCC deliberations (and past strong GOP opposition in the senate) and into reality. For what it's worth, the FCC's own studies say the Boston area could be home to anywhere from 0 to 4 LPFMs, depending on whether second- and third-adjacent channels are protected. Also unclear is whether class D stations on commercial frequencies, like Northeastern's WRBB (104.9 Boston) and Brandeis' WBRS (100.1 Waltham) would have protection from the LPFMs that would likely try to apply for those channels if allowed.
What ever happened to...?: We hear former WHDH-TV (Channel 7) husband-and-wife anchor team John Marler and Cathy Marshall have landed in Portland, Oregon, where they anchor the 11 PM news at ABC affiliate KATU (Channel 2).
A small correction: We really should have known better when we sniped at Boston Magazine last time out. Westinghouse bought CBS first, in the fall of 1995, and then swallowed up Infinity. And while we should have known better, since we worked there at the time, it still doesn't change our point that a reshuffling of owners in Pittsburgh and New York had no effect on local ownership in Boston.
It was a somber week at Greater Media stations in Boston and other markets, as staffers mourned executive VP Tom Milewski, who died Tuesday of lung cancer at age 49. Greater Media/Boston GM Peter Smyth takes over the reins as executive VP for the entire group as well.
We hear WHDQ (106.1 Claremont) is leaning heavily towards classic rock and away from the newer stuff these days.
And we note the passing of Chris Connors, formerly with the Alan Baxter morning show on WGIR-FM (101.1 Manchester). Connors reportedly took his own life on February 1. He was 34.
There's a new program director at WKSS (95.7 Hartford), but she should have no trouble remembering the station's nickname. Tracy Austin comes to Hartford's Kiss from KIIS in Los Angeles (102.7), where she served as assistant PD and music director.
While we're at it, we note that the FCC is also, according to the fine folks at M Street Journal, proposing to add:
NERW's thinking of buying stock in satellite-programming services, which seem to be the only entities that profit from allocations like these.
A hearty congratulations to George Hale, who came to WABI (910) in Bangor in February of 1959 to be the station's morning man. Forty years later, he's still doing mornings at WABI, and the station celebrated this month. Hale also does sports commentary for former sister station WABI-TV (Channel 5), which held a celebration of its own.
The diaries in the ELMIRA book moved back towards Chemung County this time out -- at least, that's the only explanation we can find for Bath's WCKR (a station that cannot be heard in most of the Elmira market) slipping from a 10.7 to a 1.7 in six months. Also dropping in a big way was WVIN Bath, another station that's out in that part of Steuben County that really should be a different market entirely. Leading the book this time was CHR WLVY, which rose to a tie for first place with CHR WNKI, the undisputed leader last Spring. Climbing in the ratings were a few stations whose signals don't go much beyond Elmira (and Corning on a good day): AC WENY-FM in third, country WOKN in fourth, country WPGI in fifth, and oldies WGMM in sixth.
UTICA liked its country music, with simulcast WFRG/WRUN staying a solid first place, followed by AC WLZW, rocker WOUR, and news-talk WIBX.
Up in Maine, the top station in AUGUSTA this time out was oldies WABK/WIGY, which knocked country WEBB/WTVL out of the top spot despite a good book for "B-98.5." The "Moose" combo of WMME/WEZW landed in third, followed by country WKCG (and its new simulcast on WCME Boothbay Harbor), Portland's WBLM, and Skowhegan's WTOS.
And that's it for this week; we'll take another run down the I-90 corridor from Rochester to western Massachusetts early next week, and we'll tell you what we hear (including the answer we've all been waiting for about the new format on 1450 Rome!) next Friday...