Listeners in New England should have no trouble hearing the end of CBL, thanks to the generosity of Bob Bittner, the owner of WJIB (740) in Cambridge. He won't run his usual 5 watts Friday night, instead signing off at sunset and returning the next morning and allowing Boston listeners one last shot at hearing Toronto. Tune in around 8:11 to hear Bob's eulogy to CBL, followed by the sign-off.
What next for 740? The CRTC has yet to ask for applications for reuse of the frequency (unlike in Montreal, where applications were being taken long before 690 and 940 went dark). It's likely to be a while before 740 is reactivated; the CRTC has yet to choose winning applicants for the Montreal channels (despite an erroneous mention in one hobby publication that seemed to fall prey to the FCC database listing that claims CKVL will get the nod for 940).
But we'll take a pause from mourning the loss (for listeners on this side of the lake) of Andy and Anubha, Michael and Avril, Dave Stephens, Bill Richardson, Joan Melanson, As It Happens, all those fine weekend shows (what will we listen to on Saturdays without DNTO?), and the simple pleasure of hearing how badly the 401 is jammed whilst crusing through the Can of Worms...and get on, sadly, with the rest of the week's news:
WABU is still carrying much of its previous syndicated programming while contracts run out, joining the Pax TV network only in middays and prime time for the moment. WBPX remains a Pax outlet for now as well, but up in New Hampshire, WPXB (Channel 60) in Merrimack has dropped Pax for infomercials now that WNBU (Channel 21) in Concord is the Pax station in the Granite State.
NERW expects the WBPX calls to move to channel 68 eventually, as well as an eventual sale of the 1660 Soldiers Field Road studios.
Yet another institution in New England is taking the summer off. Natalie Jacobson, half of WCVB (Channel 5)'s husband-and-wife star anchor team, will be on leave until late September so she can spend the summer with her teenage daughter (who's about to leave for college) and elderly father. Jacobson has been doing nights at WCVB for 17 years, her daughter's entire life. Heather Kahn is filling most of Jacobson's shifts until she returns.
Over at Boston's Entercom stations, there's a new interim general manager. Tom Baker comes back to Boston from Entercom's Portland, Oregon cluster to run WRKO (680) and WEEI (850) following the departure, after 4 years, of GM Brad Murray. Baker will have a lot to contend with, including a shaky WRKO schedule, a union dispute that's apparently forced WRKO's Howie Carr show sidekick "Virgin Boy" off the microphone and back to his behind-the-scenes producer role, and sagging WEEI sportsradio ratings.
Entercom also wants to move the transmitter of its WAAF (107.3 Worcester). WAAF filed an application last week to leave Mount Asnebumskit in Paxton and move to a new tower on Stiles Hill in Boylston. The new stick would be just north and west of the existing WUNI (Channel 27) tower, and in fact, we note that WUNI and WUNI-DT have also applied to move to the new location. The new WAAF facility would run 9600 watts at 335 meters AAT with a directional antenna, which should put a somewhat better signal over Boston than the current 20 kilowatts at 239 meters from the more distant Paxton site.
Our best wishes go out to a tower worker injured this week while working on the Waltham tower of WRCA (1330). One of the station's two towers was being jacked up for repairs to its grounding system when the jacking system failed and the tower fell -- reportedly right on the worker's hand. We understand the worker was hospitalized and may lose several fingers.
Congratulations to Boston's WBZ (1030), which was nominated for the "Legendary Station of the Year" Marconi Award it's long coveted, as well as winning a Murrow award for best writing. 'BZ is also settling in with its new nighttime talk lineup -- in addition to Steve LeVeille's new overnight gig (which has been sounding great every night we've listened), frequent fill-in and weekender Paul Sullivan has been tapped to do the 10-midnight slot being vacated by David Brudnoy. NERW suspects nobody within 'BZ listening range will have any doubt they're tuned to a NEW ENGLAND station when Sully's on!
We heard the new signal of WCAV (97.7 Brockton), which moved to its new tower site on the Abington-Brockton line on May 30, and it is quite an improvement. WCAV is now solid through most of Boston and listenable out west in Waltham where it used to get lost in intermod hash. The station is still running a mostly-satellite country format while new owners Radio One prepare to flip it to something urban.
Also noted with its new signal was WWFX (100.1 Southbridge), which is now the dominant station on the frequency as far east as Natick, where we used to hear Brandeis University's class D WBRS in Waltham. We even heard WWFX poking through the WBRS signal in Boston proper, although that might have been more an effect of trop (area listeners were hearing FM north to New Brunswick and south well into Connecticut) than anything else.
Heading west, we now know the details of Alex Langer's applications for WSRO (1470 Marlborough) and WRPT (650 Ashland), and they look like this:
WRPT wants to diplex off the WBPS (890 Dedham) towers on Sewell Ave. in Ashland, running 2000 watts by day off all five sticks with a directional pattern straight east into the Boston suburbs. That's the easy one.
WSRO, recently displaced from its old three-tower site in Marlborough, wants to build three towers at the interim site it's using just south of Route 62 on the west side of Hudson. The 7 kilowatt day signal from the 97-foot towers would head mostly northwest towards Fitchburg and Leominster, with just a minor lobe over the city of license and almost nothing towards Framingham and Natick, the major communities of "Metrowest." The 5 kilowatt night signal throws a lot of power towards Framingham, a lot more towards Leominster, and has a deep null towards co-channel WZOU in Maine. What it's missing is any protection to first-adjacent WBET in Brockton, co-channel WMMW in Connecticut, or co-channel WTKO in New York. Very strange, and something we doubt we'll see built as designed.
Up in Gardner, "Friends of Radio Maria" are applying for a new station on 91.1 -- guess they're no friends of WBUR, whose 90.9 signal is (or at least was) heard adequately in the area. Speaking of translators and such, there's one Best Media application we left out -- a 91.7 Marshfield that would wipe out the UMass/Boston 91.9 network in the space between WUMB Boston and WFPB-FM Falmouth. (Did we mention we're working on our comments to the FCC regarding LPFM, including a proposal to freeze all translator applications pending the outcome of the LPFM ruling? Look for the full text on the Archives site once it's on its way to the Portals next month...)
In the Springfield market, Pat McKay's been promoted at Clear Channel's WHYN AM-FM/WNNZ. He moves up from program director to operations manager of all three stations.
On the radio side, we hear Saturday will mark the end of WCDQ (92.1) and the start of WPHX, the Sanford simulcast of WFNX Lynn. Anyone able to tape the end of Mount Rialto Radio (and, for that matter, of WSME 1220), is encouraged to contact us here at NERW.
Up in New London, Bob Vinikoor's WNTK-FM (99.7) has been granted a power increase from 620 watts to 760 watts, as well as a slight height decrease, to 206 meters from 217.
Most college radio was off the air for the summer, or at least the weekend, including usual powerhouse WRIU (90.3) in Kingston. Also gone, apparently for good now, was WKFD (1370) in Wickford. NERW wonders why this one hasn't been caught yet by the FCC's "silent for a year" deletion policy.
WBPT (Channel 43) in Bridgeport has officially changed calls to WSAH, for new owner "Shop at Home."
We heard from WTNH (Channel 8)'s Diane Smith, who wanted to correct a report in the June 4 NERW that claimed she had been "demoted" from 5:30 anchor to reporter. Smith was still anchoring WTNH's noon show, portions of the new 90-minute early-evening show, and hosting the long-running "Positively Connecticut" feature (and book!). NERW regrets the misstatement -- and, considering your editor's day job, should never have spoken of being "demoted" to reporter in the first place!
WVNY (Channel 22) in Burlington has set August 9 as the date for launching a full-fledged news operation. New owner "Straightline Communications" will expand the ABC affiliate's news product from 10 minutes daily to full-fledged newscasts at 6 and 11. We can't wait to see tape!
And the long-running dispute over the WIZN (106.7 Vergennes) broadcast tower in Charlotte seems to be over. A Vermont land-use panel has given the station permission to keep operating from Pease Mountain, a year after ruling that WIZN would have to shut down the tower. Neighbors have been complaining about interference from the tower for years, as well as raising concerns about health effects of electromagnetic radiation. WIZN's Jay Williams tells the Burlington Free Press "fear and rumors (were) more easily believed than hard scientific data" among neighbors.
NERW's view: Of all the (thousands) of sites we've visited, the WIZN site was one of the least intrusive -- in fact, we had trouble finding a spot anywhere on a public road where we could even *see* the thing well enough to take a picture for the scrapbook. And we still have no idea what the heck WIZN means when it tells neighbors it's "sharply reduced electromagnetic radiation levels." Power decrease? We think not.
New to the air sometime Thursday (6/17) is Pax TV's latest outlet, WPXJ (Channel 51) in Batavia. It's putting a watchable, but far from city-grade, signal into Rochester; we're guessing Buffalo's getting a lot less. Both cities are mentioned in WPXJ's hourly ID.
Congratulations to Tristano Korlou, who moves from promotion director for WPXY in Rochester to take on the same task for CBS sister stations WTIC AM-FM, WRCH, and WZMX in Hartford. We'll miss you...send bumper stickers!
WCID (89.1 Friendship) has been granted an Olean translator at 90.5. The new Family Life station will have the W213BC calls and may fill some of the territory Family Life used to reach via WJSL (90.3 Houghton), which has become a relay of WXXI-FM Rochester's classical format.
WRDS (102.1 Phoenix) has built its new tower next to the old one; we saw it as we cruised past the I-690 interchange on the Thruway heading home. The signal doesn't seem to have changed much, not that we expected it to, but we were thrown by a segue from very hardcore hip-hop to 70's R&B oldies.
Up north, the WRCD calls are now official on the 101.5 in Canton that was WXQZ. Nearby in Morristown, St. Lawrence University's application for a new 91.1 has been returned.
LPTV operator Sonny Persad has been granted the calls W15BS and a move to channel 15 for his channel 69 station in Union Springs, Cayuga County.
Binghamton is one of several markets where Citadel has overcome antitrust concerns to win approval for its purchase of the Wicks Broadcast Group. That includes WNBF, WKOP, WHWK, WAAL, and WYOS in the Tri-Cities area. No major changes are expected at the cluster.
Also in Binghamton, we note the passing of Ray DiOrio, whose career included stops at several area stations, including ten years at Syracuse's WHEN (620) in the '70s and '80s. DiOrio died of a heart attack Wednesday (6/16) as he left the hospital where his first wife had just given birth to a new baby; he was 47.
Just across the state line down that way, DeWit Broadcasting is building a cluster in the Honesdale area. It already owns WWCC (1590) and WDNH (95.3) in Honesdale, and now it's bought the only other station in Wayne County, WYCY (105.3 Hawley), from Banner Broadcasting.
While we're out of state, we'll also note the passing of Harold Gade, who founded WHTG and WHTG-FM with his wife Theo back in the late 1950s. The Eatontown, New Jersey stations are now owned by Gade's daughter. Harold Gade suffered a fall from a window earlier this month.
Back in New York, there's a new station on the air in the Catskills. William H. Walker's WWHW (wonder where *those* calls came from?) is running National Weather Service audio for now. It's on 102.1 in Jeffersonville.
Speaking of Walker, his New Paltz Broadcasting is selling WKAJ (900) in Saratoga Springs to the Anastos Broadcast Group. The $100,000 sale will link the adult standards AM to Anastos' soft AC WQAR (101.3 Stillwater), with both stations likely to end up operating from the "Star 101" studios in Malta.
WRVE (99.5 Schenectady) has a new midday host. Wendy Gatlin comes from WGLX in scenic Wisconsin Falls, Wisconsin.
WCTW (98.5 Catskill) spent some time in mono early this week after a lightning strike at the transmitter site.
And while WNEW (102.7 New York) has yet to make the much-rumored all-out switch to talk, it's edging ever closer. "Loveline," from sister station KROQ in Pasadena, is now being heard twice-nightly on WNEW -- on tape from the night before, at 11 PM, followed by the live show from 1-3 AM.
One more New York note -- the fine folks at the Society of Broadcast Engineers, Region 22, are holding their annual conference Friday, September 24, at a new location. This year's get-together will take place at the Turning Stone Conference Center in Oneida County. Find more information and free registration at their Web site -- and stay tuned to NERW for a possible announcement of a NERW get-together at the SBE gathering!
And that's it for two weeks worth of NERW. We'll be back to our usual late-Friday schedule on June 25 with an update on what we saw and heard at the end of CBL, and much more. And if you're on our mailing list (find out more about THAT at www.bostonradio.org), you'll also soon be receiving our look back at the NERW Canadian Maritimes/Maine/Quebec/Ottawa trip that began exactly one year ago.