In F-J's Portland home base, Citadel gets classic rock giant WBLM (102.9), modern rock simulcast WCYY (94.3 Biddeford)/WCYI (93.9 Lewiston), CHR WJBQ (97.9), AC WHOM (94.9 Mount Washington NH), and AAA-AC WCLZ (98.9 Brunswick). On the New Hampshire seacoast, Citadel gets country monster WOKQ (97.5 Dover)-WPKQ (103.7 Berlin) and classic rock simulcast WXBB (105.3 Kittery ME)-WXBP (102.1 Hampton).
The companies' statement makes no mention of F-J's Portland AMs, WJAE (1440 Westbrook) and WJJB (900 Brunswick), which don't appear to be included in this deal.
"We are truly passing heritage radio stations to a heritage company," says F-J founder Bob Fuller, who calls Citadel "a company well known for its commitment to community service."
Citadel's only Northeast presence until now was in Providence, where the company bought Tele-Media's WPRO AM-FM/WWLI/WSKO a few years back (and later added WXEX/WHKK to the group).
NERW's editorial comment: Bob Fuller and J.J. Jeffrey are among the finest broadcasters in New England. We were heartened a few years ago by their decision to sell their stations outside the region and focus their energies on the Portland and Seacoast markets. Their presence has helped the Portland market, in particular, sound like something much bigger than market 162.
Can the market be served as well by a company from Nevada, whose owners know nothing about WBLM's beginnings in the little transmitter shack in Litchfield, or about the mighty reach of WHOM's mountaintop transmitter, or about the historical reasons for returning the WJBQ calls to 97.9? We're inclined to doubt it, and we hope Fuller and Jeffrey continue to keep a hand in the region's broadcasting scene. It would be a shame, indeed, if Portland and Portsmouth become nothing more than branch offices for companies based in Nevada, Michigan, and Texas.
So who's Aurora? The principals in the new group are Frank Osborn, the former NBC executive who later ran the Osborn Communications station group before selling it to Pilot a few years back, and Frank Washington, the former FCC Mass Media Bureau deputy chief who runs former Capstar station WFAS AM-FM over in White Plains NY. (Washington was to have taken over more former Capstar properties -- WINE/WRKI Brookfield, WPUT Brewster/WAXB Patterson NY, and WZZN Mount Kisco NY -- but those purchases have been on hold and may now become Aurora acquisitions instead.)
Aurora says it will try to grow as a small and medium-market operator, taking advantage of markets where groups are forced to spin off stations as a result of hitting ownership limits.
Meanwhile, it's a nice cash-out for ML, which paid $12 million for WEBE and $6 million for WICC in the 80s.
In other Nutmeg State news, WNTY (990 Southington) is again running ethinc programming on weekends, when it stays on the air until 9 PM. Weekdays, it's still a 5 PM sign-off for the station.
What's WKCD worth? We hear Back Bay Broadcasting paid $2.02 million for the Pawcatuck station.
More Winter Arbs this week, and we'll start with the Hartford numbers, where WRCH solidified its first-place status. Also up this book were second-place WTIC(AM), WKSS in third, WTIC-FM in fourth, WWYZ, and WDRC-FM. Dropping this book were WDRC(AM), with a substantial fall-off from last Fall's book, WCCC, and WZMX.
WBCN will remain the flagship station for the Patriots, with the team's Friday-afternoon announcement that it's not moving to Hartford after all.
Some personnel changes on the way in Boston: Frank Kelly moves from sales manager up to VP/GM at Greater Media's Boston group (WBOS, WSJZ, WKLB-FM, WMJX, WROR), allowing Peter Smyth to work full-time as Greater Media's group president. Don Kelley is named VP/Programming for the stations.
Over at Chancellor, WJMN (94.5) PD "Cadillac" Jack McCartney will take on group-wide duties for the company, which is launching a new "Office of Product and Strategy" to coordinate programming at the hundreds of stations it owns. McCartney will oversee CHR formats for the group. Meantime, Tom Poleman of WHTZ (100.3 Newark-New York) adds responsibilities for overseeing programming in several Chancellor markets, including Boston.
If anyone cares, the WEGQ-to-WQSX call change at Lawrence's 93.7 is official. (And we suspect the only people who DO care are the ones reading NERW!) Expect some airstaff announcemets from "Star" in time for next week's NERW...
From the unlicensed front: Citizens Media Coalition will be running a part-15 transmitter on 1640 kHz at the "Wake up the Earth Festival" Saturday in Jamaica Plain. Out in Wellesley, the FCC stopped by Babson College to shut down the college's station on 89.3. Seems it was running far above the power allowed for unlicensed campus FM. "Babson College Radio" is supposed to still be available on-line, but its feed was unavailable when we checked (and then crashed our RealAudio player, to boot!)
TV news: WHDH-TV (Channel 7) and WHDH-DT (Channel 42) debuted their new two-story "newsplex" this week -- yet another borrowing from parent station WSVN in Miami, which has had a similarly gimmicky studio for several years. WHDH is boasting that it's an "all-digital" newsroom, which we'll believe when we see the news produced in full 1080i and not a second sooner.
Out west, WEIB (106.3 Northampton) continues testing.
Way up north, WAGM-TV (Channel 8) in Presque Isle has been granted a transmitter move to the top of Mars Hill, a few hundred feet higher than its present tower behind the studio off Route 1 north of town. The new channel 8 site will use 100 kw visual ERP and should put a decent signal as far out as Fredericton NB and south almost to Bangor, based on the way the Mars Hill FMs get out.
We hear $1.02 million was Steve Mindich's purchase price for WCDQ/WSME in Sanford; no word on when the FM will begin simulcasting WFNX yet.
Bob and Shirley Wolf have been granted a signal change at WCFR-FM (93.5 Springfield). The station will move from 3kW at 79 meters on the WNBX (1480) stick to 1.45kW at 144 meters, from a tower site up off Highland Road northeast of town.
A bunch of call changes to report this week: WYKR (1100 Wells River) changes to WTWN (for the "Twin States," no doubt). Is a format change from the country simulcast with WYKR-FM on the way? Vermont Public Radio's St. Johnsbury CP changes from WBJU to WVPA on 88.5, and John Bulmer's Addison CP on 93.7 changes from WWFY to WRRO. (He's not going to call the station "The Arrow," is he?)
Vermont Public TV is applying for its first digital CP. WVTA-DT 24 will join WVTA-TV 41 atop Mount Ascutney near Windsor.
WKOL (105.1 Plattsburgh NY) is adding satellite programming overnight. ABC's Pure Gold will replace local automation on Burlington's oldies station from 6PM until 5:30 AM daily.
Congratulations to Middlebury College's WRMC (91.1), which celebrates its fiftieth anniversary on Saturday.
Also in Albany, WNGN (91.9 Argyle) has had its application for an 89.9 translator dismissed.
In the Binghamton market, WCDW (100.5 Conklin) has applied for a Binghamton on-channel booster, perhaps to replace the 100.9 translator the station used to have. Just outside the market, Oneonta's WZOZ (103.1) is reportedly now running an all-70s format.
There's a new station on the air in the Southern Tier. WZKZ (101.9 Alfred) is being heard well north into Wyoming County, with satellite country as "KZ102." The calls are still remembered in the area from their days on "KZ106" in Corning, now WNKI "Wink 106." We heard it last weekend while checking out the half-finished tower for Pax TV's new WPXJ (Channel 51) Batavia, on Route 19 near LeRoy.
Congratulations to Mike Danger, who moves up from music director to add APD duties at Rochester's WPXY (97.9). Danger also moves airshifts, taking over 1-3 PM and yielding his 7-11 PM slot to Norm on the Barstool, who in turn gives up his late-night slot to Jeff Walker.
Some ratings news from BUFFALO: WJYE takes over the top spot in the Winter book, as country WYRK tumbles a bit into second, followed by WGRF, WBEN, WBLK, and WKSE. Another sign of the unheralded strength of older demos: The 12+ ratings of little 1 kW standards station WECK actually topped those of big FMs WMJQ, WEDG, and WLCE. The ad rates, needless to say, do not. And the once-mighty WWKB can't even break a 1 share...
The CRTC is considering four applications for 102.3 in the London, Ontario area. In addition to the previously-announced proposal to move CKSL from 1410 to FM, CHUM Ltd. and Rogers are applying for new London stations, and CKOT (1510 Tillsonburg), the last remaining Canadian daytimer, also wants to move to that FM channel.
The CRTC is also considering applications for LPFM in Oshawa (88.3) and Nepean (97.1).
In Quebec, the CRTC has given CHYZ in Ste.-Foy approval to boost power, while denying an application from another community station, CKIA, to move from 96.1 to CHYZ's 94.3 channel.
And up in Rimouski, Radio-Canada wants to move CJBR from 900 to 89.1 with 5500 watts.
That'll do it for this week. We're still missing a whole week of FCC actions to report on; we hope to have them in time for next Friday's issue. See you then!