Bruce Danziger's Vox Media made its first appearance on the radio landscape in April, when it bought WKXL AM-FM in Concord, New Hampshire, then followed that with the purchase of WSNO-WORK in Barre. This week, Vox agreed to pay $5.5 million for Jeff Shapiro's Dynacom group, which includes:
What changes might be in store? We'd guess not many, based on what Vox has (or rather, hasn't) changed at its first purchases.
The other big sale is in upstate NEW YORK, where Regent Communications is making its debut in the region with the $44 million (plus 100,000 shares of stock) purchase of Forever's clusters in Utica and Watertown. The big prizes here are the market-dominant country stations in each city, "Froggy 97" WFRY (97.5 Watertown) and "Big Frog 104," WFRG (104.3 Utica). In addition, Regent gets Watertown's news-talk WTNY (790), satellite oldies WUZZ (1410), and classic rock WCIZ (93.3), plus Utica's news-talk WIBX (950), oldies WODZ (96.1 Rome), AC WLZW (98.7), and WFRG simulcast WRUN (1150).
In Albany itself, there's a subtle format shift taking place at WRVE (99.5 Schenectady), as "the River" begins working some softer classic rock from the 1970s and 1980s into its playlist. There's also an explanation, at last, of why the Capital District Business Review thinks WMHQ (Channel 45) is changing calls to "WLVI" -- seems the new WB affiliate, which will actually be WEWB, will have its master control at the real WLVI studios in Boston. Albany will get a sales office and a local production crew, but no actual studio to speak of. We'd mutter something about "service to the community" here, but if nobody else cares anymore...
Speaking of "service to the community," a little AM that does understand the meaning of that phrase is being sold. WCSS (1490) in Amsterdam goes from Jeff Weber's Weber Communications to Joseph Isabel's IZ Communications for the sum of $188,000.
Heading west towards Rochester, we note Family Life's WCIY (88.9 Canandaigua) applying for a 91.1 translator in Geneva, with the inevitable petitions to deny from adjacents WSQG Ithaca and WCNY Syracuse sure to follow. And we know now why we never heard the WMAX-FM call letters on 102.3 in Canandaigua. Clear Channel has applied to move those long-suffering calls (previously on 107.3 South Bristol/Honeoye Falls and 106.7 Irondequoit) to the former WZLG in Hogansville, Georgia, with 102.3 returning to WISY. That solves what would have been one confusing diary-attribution problem!
(We had to look it up to be sure, but the new WMAX-FM is on 98.1 and about 60 miles southwest of Atlanta...)
The much bigger news in the Rochester market, though, was the parting of ways Monday between WPXY (97.9) and program director Clarke Ingram, who's been at the helm of 98PXY for five years. The last few have been challenging ones for Rochester's heritage CHR, with a host of staffing and management changes, topped off by the arrival of Clear Channel competitor WKGS and its marketing dollars. Next challenge for Ingram? He's still taking offers...we'll keep you posted. Meantime on the 17th floor, APD/MD Mike Danger takes on interim PD duties, with WRMM PD Dave Symonds taking on Ingram's OM stripes for now. (And to make things worse for CBS, 'PXY is still without a sales manager or promotions director!)
Some good news for Sinclair in Buffalo, as the FCC approves the transfer of noncommercial status from WNEQ (Channel 23) to WNED-TV (Channel 17), thus allowing the Western New York Public Broadcasting Authority to sell WNEQ to Sinclair. WNYPBA successfully argued that the transfer of the noncommercial reservation to channel 17 would allow it to raise the cash it needed from the WNEQ sale to finance WNED's conversion to DTV. (And why was channel 17 commercial in the first place? It was a donation, four decades ago, of failed commercial station WBUF-TV.)
The move of WTIC (1080/96.5) took place this week, amidst much griping from the airstaff, who were the last to leave the 19th floor of the Gold Building in downtown Hartford, with nothing but the four walls left around them. They've now joined the rest of the station's operations at CBS's Farmington office-park facility. As noted earlier this year in NERW, WTIC had operated from downtown Hartford since 1925, in just three different studio locations. (And we're feeling especially sympathetic towards WTIC-FM promo guy Tristano Korlou, who just had to move a few months ago at his old job at WPXY, only to do the box-packing thing again in his new gig!)
More than 60 supporters of "La Nueva Radio Musicale" filled a Hartford federal courtroom to tell a judge why the New Haven pirate should be allowed to stay on the air. A decision in the lawsuit between the government and LNRM owner Hippolito Cuevas is expected in another week or so.
We hear lightning struck the WTXX (Channel 20) tower in Waterbury during a storm late last week, knocking the station off the screens of broadcast viewers for more than a day. Cable viewers in many areas remained able to see "CT20" through a direct feed from LMA partner WTIC-TV.
There's a new PD at Groton's WQGN (105.5). Kevin Palana comes from sister Spring Broadcasting station WFHN (107.1) in the New Bedford market, where he was APD/MD. That role is being assumed by Christine Fox, who comes to Fun 107 from overnights at Boston's Kiss 108 (WXKS-FM Medford). Fox will also co-host the morning show at WFHN. Back at Q105, there's also a new morning team. "Karlsson and Kelly" return to the market from a stint as "Karlsson and Mackenzie" on the now-defunct WEGQ (93.7 Lawrence) in the Boston market, and replace Franco, who's now across town at WKCD (107.7 Pawcatuck).
A few quick corrections: WKCI veteran Pete Salant went on to the original WYNY (97.1 New York), not the subsequent suburban version, and is now consulting from his home base down in Virginia (and we did know better!). And Bridgeport's WEZN (Star 99.9) in fact tied with WICC for the top spot in the Spring book, 12+. Star was also the most listened-to station in the Connecticut suburbs of New York, when the numbers are summed up from all the little markets into which Arbitron splinters them.
A few changes in the Worcester market, starting with the studio location of WORC-FM (98.9 Spencer). The Deer River folks took control of the classic rocker last Saturday, and promptly moved the studios from Webster to the WXLO facility on Commercial Street. We hear new calls of WOXC are in the works, and wouldn't be surprised to see the new owners park the "Bus" nickname for good and change formats soon.
Crosstown classic rock competitor WWFX (100.1 Southbridge) welcomed a new PD this week. Bob Mitchell comes from WMRQ in Hartford, where he was known as "Jake."
Religious WNEB (1230) filed to reorganize its ownership this week under the "Windsor Financial Corporation" name, taking over from one Timothy S. Horton (no relation, we think, to the donut-and-hockey Tim Horton!)
Heading west, the sounds of Spanish will soon emanate from the hilltop outside Ware where WARE (1250) sits, as Mega Broadcasting buys the oldies station from Eastern Media. The retro-oldies format was fun while it lasted; now we wonder whether WARE (whose signal reaches into both Springfield and Worcester) will be run from Mega's groups in Hartford or in Boston?
Norfolk talker WDIS (1170) is fighting to convince the FCC it still exists; meanwhile, someone filed a petition to deny against WDIS' application to have its license cancellation rescinded. We think this was just a paperwork issue, but we can also imagine Radio Disney salivating over a chance to grab those calls...and we're eager to hear from folks in the Norfolk-Franklin-Foxboro area about whether WDIS is in fact on the air.
On the talk front, GOP consultant Jay Severin has parted ways with WRKO (680), where he held down the 11PM-1AM slot from his home outside New York City. Former WRKO "Chick" Leslie Gold is now trying the Web thing at an Internet-only talk station called, so help us, eYada. NERW tuned in for a few minutes and heard, um, one caller. Gotta start somewhere, we suppose. Speaking of "past their glory days," the Boston Celtics will be absent from the broadcast airwaves this fall. Their entire schedule, home and away, will be seen on Fox Sports New England.
We'll note here, also, that Boston is one of the markets that could see TV duopoly under the new rules announced this week by the FCC. In markets with 20 or more separately-owned "media voices" (which can include newspapers, cable, radio, and TV), companies can own two TV stations as well as six radio stations. Markets with 10 to 19 voices can have 4 radio/2 TV combos. If nothing else, this proposal might increase the value of fringe TV operations like WMFP (Channel 62 Lawrence), WWDP (Channel 46 Norwell), and WNDS (Channel 50 Derry NH), as the prospect of duopoly with the big guys becomes reality.
The proposal also gives a five-year window to LMAs like those between WPRI and WLWC in Providence, WTIC-TV and WTXX in Hartford, WTNH and WBNE in New Haven, WPXT and WPME in Portland, WPTZ and WFFF in Plattsburgh/Burlington, and the soon-to-be-consummated WUTV and WNEQ in Buffalo. They'll have to become full-fledged duopolies before the end of that five years, or show the FCC that their duopoly is in the public interest. (Yep, even the folks down at the Portals can remember that phrase from time to time!)
Off the soapbox and across the border...
Also on the 106 MHz part of the spectrum, the CBC has been testing in Toronto on 106.3. M Street reports it's a favor to Industry Canada, to determine whether that frequency might also be suitable for low-power use (in addition to the 93.5 and 740 AM spots for which applications are now being taken). NERW notes that it's a bit close to the 13kW CJBC-5-FM transmitter in Peterborough (and in fact the CBCP Peterborough transmitter, on the same tower as CJBC-5, had to change from 93.5 to 98.7 to accomodate the co-channel in Toronto!) -- but then, it's not like anyone's listening to the French-language CJBC signal in Peterborough, right? (This would be even less of an issue if the CBC itself, as surmised, ends up applying for 106.3 for its planned Radio 3 service.)
Speaking of the CBC, the CRTC has approved its application for 100.9 in Wingham. The new Radio 1 transmitter, likely to be CBLA-FM-3, will operate from the newish CBC-TV tower north of Wingham, filling a gap between the Owen Sound and London transmitters for an area that used to get CBL on 740. We also hear the new Radio 2 transmitter in Paris, CBL-FM-2 (90.7), is now on the air, though we didn't hear it when we passed nearby last month.
Up in Sudbury, religious CJTK (95.5) has applied to boost power from 35 watts to 1400 watts, moving towers from the ski hill where the CBC FMs are located to a site 3.5 kilometers to the northwest, which sounds to us like the CICI/CKNC TV tower west of town. (Hey, last month's trip paid off, didn't it?)
In Hamilton, Don Luzzi leaves 95.3 FM after 23 years as general manager. Luzzi started with the station back in the CKDS days and stayed on as it became CJXY, "Y95," but he departs as the station changes hands from WIC to Shaw.
A few more ratings this time around (again, all numbers are 12+):
Next time out, we'll have numbers from the smaller New York markets, plus Vermont and Maine...stay tuned!
From the shameless plug department: Check out the August 4 issue of Radio World, if you haven't already, for the print version of NERW's trip to hear the end of CBL back in June.
And if you'll be around Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this Thursday or Friday (August 12-13), why, so will we! No formal NERW lunch is planned this time, but we're always happy to hear from readers in the region who'd like to talk radio in person. Next Friday's NERW may be a few hours late, but we'll have all the latest on the many changes in that unusual market...see you then!