But wait...there's more! Cumulus says it plans to sell WHQO (107.9 Skowhegan), which simulcasts the sports format of WSKW (1160 Skowhegan), by year's end. The "Score" may not vanish from FM, though; market manager Tim Gatz says Cumulus has another FM in the works to carry the format. NERW suspects WIGY (97.5 Madison) is the likely candidate.
Moving towards Portland, we hear WCLZ-FM (98.9 Brunswick) is mainstreaming its format as Fuller-Jeffrey moves it into new Portland studios, taking on more of a modern AC sound -- and maybe "modern" is the wrong word, since we hear 'CLZ listeners now get Eagles tunes, among others, on what used to be a AAA outlet. The most recent playlist on the WCLZ Web site doesn't look to have been updated since December.
Call changes without explanation (yet): In the last few days, Saga has applied to change WPOR (1490 Portland) to WBAE, and Capstar to change WXHT (95.3 York Center) to WUBB. More on these next week as we hear from our Portland and Seacoast readers...
Out in Worcester, Heirwaves is selling WNEB (1230) to Great Commission Broadcasting, the company that leases time on WJLT (1060 Natick) from Alex Langer for its Christian contemporary "J-Light" format. Heirwaves bought WNEB from Bob Bittner in late 1997 and has been running its own CC format as "Solid Rock 1230" since then. NERW will be unsurprised to see J-Light move completely to 1230 from 1060 before long, based on what we've been hearing about things in Langer's studios.
For starters, we hear that FCC agents visited the Mt. Wayte Ave. site in Framingham Tuesday morning, and WSRO (1470 Marlborough) was off the air for several hours afterward. Now that WSRO is being run as a simulcast of Langer's WRPT (650 Ashland) from Mt. Wayte, was there no way to control the WSRO transmitter?
But that's just the beginning. The word from inside Langer-land is that the remaining employees at WRPT, WSRO, and WJLT have been cut back to 20-hour workweeks and part-time status as Langer tries to solve his financial problems. The plan, apparently, was to take that 1060 signal, build the CP for increased day power at the Mt. Wayte site (since the site Langer had hoped to use in Sudbury proved unavailable), and create a local talker for greater Boston with talents like Upton Bell (already at WSRO/WRPT) and Jerry Williams and the legendary WMEX call letters (available since Dennis Jackson dropped them last month at what's now WCLX Westport NY). So far, so good...but we also hear that the new owners at WKOX (1200 Framingham) no longer plan to move the 1200 signal from the Mt. Wayte site when that station increases power...and a diplex with high-powered signals on both 1060 and 1200 would be prohibitively expensive. And since WKOX owns the Mt. Wayte site and towers, while WJLT/WSRO merely leases them, guess who gets priority?
NERW editorializes here: The state of suburban radio west of Boston is pretty sorry these days, and certainly a far cry from the days when WKOX, WSRO, and 1060 (as WGTR and WTTP) all offered lots of local news and other content to serve this affluent area. John Garabedian, where have you gone? (And could this be Keating Willcox' big chance to close his suburban circle around Boston?) This story has grabbed the attention of the local daily (now the only daily source of local news in the area!), and it's one we'll continue to follow closely in the months to come.
(And no, we don't put all the blame on the station owners -- if the nice folks in Wayland and Sudbury and Framingham and Hudson are wondering why they can no longer hear any coverage of their local selectmens' meetings on the radio, they might ask themselves why they've repeatedly made it impossible to build any new towers in their communities...)
A few other Bay State tidbits: 100.1 in Southbridge has officially changed calls from WQVR to WWFX, swapping calls with the CP on 99.5 in La Crosse, Florida (and we note in checking FCC records that the database still lists WWFX as the calls on 104.7 in Belfast ME, even though they changed years ago to WEBR and then WBFB!). The new WWFX is also being transferred from Jeff Shapiro to Jeffrey Wilks' "WBA" company. Wilks' father was one half of the old Wilks-Schwartz Communications of WSNE and WHYN fame...
And congratulations to WBMX (98.5 Boston) PD (and Infinity programming VP) Greg Strassell, who's getting married to Meredith McEwen next week.
Up north at Capstar's Burlington group, three staffers said goodbye this week. Operations manager Ken MacKenzie leaves WEZF, WCPV, and WXPS/WEAV to become a consultant, WEZF morning man Jon Brooks goes across town to Hall's oldies WKOL (105.1 Plattsburgh-Burlington), and station manager Ken Barlow is heading down I-89 to Barre, to become GM at WSNO (1450) and WORK (107.1).
While we're in Bridgeport, WICC (600) and WEBE (107.9 Westport) are still for sale, despite a report that ML Media Partners had sold the FM for $60 million. And congratulations to the folks at WEZN (99.9), WTIC (1080 Hartford), and WBBF (98.9) in Rochester NY; they're all among the 40 finalists for the NAB's Crystal Radio Award.
New calls for 105.1 in New York; this year's model is WTJM (for "Jammin' Oldies"), replacing the WBIX that went with the "Big 105.1" format. It'll always be WRFM in our hearts, anyway...
There's a new PD at WTSX (96.7 Port Jervis); Angela Mason moves up from middays and APD at "The Fox" to replace Scott Edwards, who's going to sister station WNJO (94.5 Trenton NJ).
Up in Kingston, WGHQ (920) and WBPM (94.3) go to "WGHQ/WBPM, LLC" from Historic Hudson Valley Radio.
In Albany, the folks at WAJZ (96.3 Voorheesville) are crying foul over Siena College's decision to drop modern rock and take WVCR (88.3 Loudonville) to 24-hour urban contemporary. They point out that WVCR's faculty advisor, Buzz Brindle, is also the PD at WXLE (104.5 Mechanicville), the "Jammin' Oldies" outlet that, like WAJZ, has been fighting for the Albany urban audience since December. Brindle's telling local newspapers that the format change was proposed to Siena way back in 1997, and what's more, WVCR was until recently the only Albany station offering any urban programming at all.
Up north, Tim Martz is adding a seventh station to his group, with the acquisition of WMSA (1340 Massena) from Community Broadcasting. Coincidentally, news director Paul Haggett leaves the station to join the Massena Chamber of Commerce. Martz is also reported to be interested in the unbuilt 96.1 CP in Massena, currently held by Syracuse engineer Sinan Mimaroglu.
In the Utica market, "WOW-FM" (WOWB 105.5 Little Falls/WOWZ 97.9 Whitesboro) is looking for a new PD. J.P. Marks has resigned to look for work outside the business. His last day at the rhythmic CHR is March 19.
The Department of Justice wants to review the Syracuse market in light of Cox's plans to sell its cluster (WSYR, WHEN, WYYY, WBBS, WWHT) to Clear Channel. The group now bills about 42% of market revenue, which, when added to Pilot's 28%, makes for more concentration than Justice would like to see in a single market.
Speaking of Syracuse, WRDS (102.1 Phoenix) has reportedly changed positioners from "Cool 102" to "Power 102," but the urban format stays, still mostly satellite. And Syracuse Community Radio is applying for 90.3 in Skaneateles, promising yet another round of conflict with WRVO in Oswego, which holds the CP for WRVD Syracuse on 90.3 (and whose 50kw primary is on 89.9, the same frequency SCR has obtained for two translators in Madison and Cortland counties).
Western New York? WCJW (1140 Warsaw) holds a CP to go to 5000 watts day, 2300 watts critical hours from its current 1000 watts daytime, but now Lloyd Lane has also applied for a CP for 2500 watts day. All three CPs are from the current WCJW two-tower site on the hill east of town.
In the Southern Tier, we're told Elmira listeners can once again hear religion on 96.9 from Ridgebury PA. The old WMKB is now WREQ and is on the air with Christian contemporary music as "Q-96.9."
And in Canada this week, there are now commercials and live jocks on Toronto's CISS (92.5 "Kiss"). We also hear Welland's CHOW (1470) will make the move to 91.7 this summer, which may explain why we've been hearing tourist-info CFLZ on its new 105.1 and not on its old 91.9, at least when tuning in from Batavia. An Ottawa reader confirms CFGO as the new old calls on 1200 up there.
Last but not least, there are even more labor (er, labour) problems ahead for the CBC. The CEP (the union that represents engineers) has been on strike for more than two weeks. Today, more than 81% of the CMG (the union that represents on-air talent) also voted to endorse a strike. If negotiations fail, a talent strike could be called within a week or two, which would likely mean that even the meager diet of new shows currently appearing on CBC radio and TV would be replaced by reruns. Many of the CBC's hosts have been openly supporting the CEP on-air; we heard two of them this week talking about "CBC Radio One: Glitches and More" (a parody of One's "News. And More." slogan) and "CBC Radio Unplugged".
If we can dig out from all the additional snow that's expected this weekend, we'll see you next Friday with more NERW...