WNHQ has been owned since early last year by RadioWorks of Concord, which paid just over $500,000 for the privilege of turning the station into a simulcast of WJYY (105.5 Concord). Once the deal closes (expected to be sometime in November or December), it too will simulcast WFNX's modern rock.
Could WNHQ and WPHX agree to accept some interference to each other in order to improve their respective signals? It's certainly possible...we'll keep you posted.
Elsewhere in the Granite State, our best wishes go out to Jared Tuccolo of WNDS (Channel 50), who's suffering a relapse of brain cancer after fighting off the disease as a teenager. Co-workers at WNDS and at WXRV down in Haverhill, where Tuccolo used to work, have started a fund to help Tuccolo pay for a bone marrow transplant as he awaits his November wedding to WNDS' Maureen Higgins. You can find more information at WXRV's Web site .
Up in Lebanon, news director Grant Bosse is leaving WTSL (1400) to become a legislative assistant to the New Hampshire Republican Party...and just in time for the primaries, too. No word yet on a replacement.
Just down the valley, Claremont's WNHQ (106.1) has been granted a construction permit to move its tower across the Connecticut River to Vermont's Mount Ascutney. Q106's power will drop from 9500 watts to 1650, but the new antenna will be at 673 meters above average terrain, almost twice the height of the current stick.
So what will the new WEXP program? The calls came from the former 105.1 Plattsburgh NY, which served Burlington with nifty local AAA until Hall bought it and turned it into oldies WKOL a few years ago. Will they remain? Somehow, we see another "Wish FM" repeater on the horizon instead.
One more question about the new station: The FCC's records show WEXP at 101.5 MHz, which also makes the WSSH deal make sense. The Herald article, though, shows WEXP at 101.9 MHz. For the moment, we vote for 101.5 -- but we'd appreciate hearing from Rutland-area readers who are actually picking up the station's tests, just to be sure.
While we're in Vermont, we note that WEZF (92.9 Burlington) is now ID'ing as "Star 92.9."
Religious LPTV W32CA Portland has been granted a displacement move to channel 18.
The station's other star talker will be former Boston Globe scribe Mike Barnicle, with others sure to be announced as new PD Paula O'Connor (best remembered among her many gigs in Boston as Jerry Williams' WRKO producer) settles in. Smooth jazz PD Shirley Maldonado exits WSJZ in the meantime.
NERW's take: This is where the rumors hit the road. We've been hearing about the possibility of an FM talker in the market for the better part of the decade. It's a pretty safe bet that if WSJZ (or whatever the new calls turn out to be) flops in the attempt, nobody else will try. Does a city that already has 24-hour talk on WRKO, sports talk on WEEI, nighttime talk on WBZ, and satellite talk on countless suburban outlets NEED another talker? This ought to be the test...and we can't wait for that Fall book. And by the way, while some may not think of Greater Media as a force in the talk radio field, keep in mind that Greater was the company that turned KLSX in Los Angeles into the first successful major-market FM talker before trading the station away to CBS...
Down at WDIS (1170 Norfolk), it's "business as usual," says GM Bill Walker. He tells NERW that the station was silenced for all of six days by June's lightning strike, but has been back on the air ever since. And while the FCC is still sorting out the apparently accidental deletion of the station's license, we're pleased to note that the Commission has reinstated the licenses of three 91.5s: WNMH Northfield, WMHC South Hadley, and WMFO Medford. It seems the three were cancelled while trying to apply for replacement antennas. Oops!
New calls arrived at Pax TV's area outlets last Saturday (August 7), with WBPX replacing WABU at Channel 68 in Boston, WDPX replacing WZBU at Channel 58 Vineyard Haven, and WPXG replacing WNBU at Channel 21 in Concord, NH -- just in time for Lowell Paxson's announcement that he's taking bids on the entire network, which seems perfect fodder for someone's TV duopoly plans.
On the pirate front, we hear the long-running Spanish-language outlet at 99.9 in Lawrence has left the air. Bruce Elving's "FMedia!" brings word of another pirate, though, a 98.7 on Martha's Vineyard calling itself "Free Radio Martha's Vineyard." The station is reportedly running 40 watts from a house on an island hilltop. Hmm...wonder if we can find an excuse to go down for a listen? (Research, you know...)
Another correction from last issue: The former WRKO talker who's joined the Webcaster "eYada.com" is Lori Kramer, not her ex-partner Leslie Gold (which makes sense, really -- shouldn't a "station" named after a Seinfeld episode have a host named "Kramer"?). Gold, meanwhile, is headed down to New York as well, to join the staff of Infinity's WNEW (102.7). Her producer at the talker-to-be will be Paul Bryan, better known as "Butchie" of WRKO, who's leaving the Entercom station just after it resolved the AFTRA dispute that kept him and other producers from appearing on the air.
We hear Danbury's WDAQ (98.3) is looking for PM and evening talent; PD Bill Trotta is the guy to talk to about those.
Hartford's WFSB-TV (Channel 3) has been granted a CP for WFSB-DT on channel 33 -- and station management is hinting that the move to DTV could also involve a move out of the current Constitution Plaza studios, and perhaps following former sister station WTIC out of Hartford city limits entirely.
Heading south for a moment, WDST (100.1 Woodstock) APD/MD Dave Doud is leaving the broadcast side of the house at 118 Tinker Street to become PD of the radiowoodstock.com Webcaster the station operates. Again, no word on a replacement.
Syracuse's WMHR (102.9) has been granted a translator in Riverhead, on the east end of Long Island. The 90.7 transmitter will use the W214BF calls. It's the Mars Hill Network's first venture outside Central New York.
Speaking of Syracuse, Clear Channel is buying again in the Salt City. Fresh from its recent trade with Cox that netted it WSYR (570), WHEN (620), WYYY (94.5), WBBS (104.7 Fulton), and WWHT (107.9), Lowry Mays' company will pay a reported $3 million for Butch Charles' smooth jazz WHCD (106.9 Auburn). Earlier in the year, Charles' Salt City Communications agreed to sell the station to Mag Mile Media, which is selling its rights to WHCD to Clear Channel for $500,000 (NERW's wondering how it can get in on a deal like that!).
WHCD is a rimshotter if ever there was one, with a tower some 25 miles outside Syracuse city limits (and a hard-to-hear translator in Syracuse, along with another one in Ithaca). But it is a killer signal in most of the Finger Lakes region, and there's the potential for a move-in to bring it closer to the city. Format changes? Probably...and the smart money on any Clear Channel buy these days goes to either "Mix" or Jammin' Oldies, both of which are already in use at the Clear Channel cluster in nearby Rochester.
Across town at the Radio Corporation, WKRL (100.9 North Syracuse) has applied to build a new tower a few feet from its current perch on one of the three towers of co-owned WTLA (1200), boosting its antenna from 50 meters to 75 while staying at 6000 watts.
One more Syracuse note: WITC (88.9 Cazenovia) at Cazenovia College has applied to the FCC to reinstate its license, which was listed as cancelled a few weeks back. In fairness, we've never heard this station on the air in our many years of driving through the region. Another station we've never heard -- but by virtue of its being way in the middle of nowhere -- is WPSA in Paul Smiths. The 10-watter at Paul Smiths College on 98.3 also had its license cancelled, but has yet to reapply. Also up north: WUZZ (1410 Watertown) has dropped its ABC oldies satellite service for the network's "Solid Gold Soul" urban oldies format. WRCD (101.5 Canton) has been granted permission to move to the tower of co-owned WNCQ (102.9 Morristown). And over in Champlain, some bad news for religious WCHP (760): Its application to crank the power up from 25 to 35 kilowatts was dismissed by the FCC this week.
And in Buffalo, Justin Case leaves his PD gig at WYRK (106.5) to go for the big time and the PD gig at WUSN (99.5 Chicago). Good luck!
We also note the passing of UPI Radio News. The troubled wire service sold its radio division to AP in an attempt to refocus itself as a (here's a shocker) Web-oriented news service. UPI was never one of the great names in radio news, but its passing is another sign of the gradual demise of all but the biggest radio news services (of which we count four at the moment: ABC, AP, CBS/Westwood One, and Metro Networks). UPI service is expected to end Thursday, with clients receiving AP radio service thereafter.
A final look at the Spring 12+ Arbitrons:
So why is NERW coming out on Sunday this week? We were out of state on Friday, checking out the radio scene in Williamsport and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania...and it goes like this:
The three-hour drive south to Williamsport goes through Dansville, Bath, and Corning, markets in which nothing much ever seems to change. South of the state line, we found ourselves riding up and down the hills into Mansfield, where the new 92.3 is finally on the air. It's called WNBQ, and is allegedly a simulcast of hot AC WNBT-FM ("the Buzz") in nearby Wellsboro. In fact, it's all but a dead carrier, with just the tiniest hint of modulation when the radio was cranked all the way up. One-day problem? Ongoing issue? We'll know next time we drive through, perhaps on the way down to the upcoming National Radio Club convention.
A few dozen hills later, after miles of gazing at the future US 15 expressway being built alongside the old road south of Blossburg, we pulled into Williamsport just in time to catch some top-hour IDs. WLYC (1050) is back on the air from its single stick north of town -- but there was no legal, just a top-hour ID from the patriot-talk network it's hooked up with. News-talk WRAK, on the other hand, ID'ed both itself (coming from a stick right next to the home of the Little League World Series, with 1kw on 1400) and simulcast WRKK (1200 Hughesville). And that's it for AM...WWPA (1340) was silent (though its stick still stands next to another Little League field in South Williamsport), while WFXX on 1450 is deleted in every sense.
On the FM side, the noncomms at the local colleges were both off for the summer, so the dial started with WSNU (92.1) over in Lock Haven, now doing modern rock as "the Mountain." WHTO (93.3 Muncy) does CHR as "Hot", WMYL (95.5 Salladasburg) is satellite standards (and the city of license is pronounced "Salla-DAYS-burg," which we didn't expect), and from nearby Jersey Shore, WJSA simulcasts religion on 96.3 and 1600, while WVRT does hot AC as "Variety 97-7." Also nearby is Avis, home of the country "Bear" on 99.9, WQBR (not that we heard a legal from it or WVRT!). Back in Williamsport itself, the top two stations in the market (both with 20+ shares) are hot AC WKSB (Kiss 102.7) and country WILQ ("Q105" at 105.1). And rounding things out is soft AC WSFT, "Sunny" 107.9 in Bald Eagle. The towers for WHTO, WQBR, WKSB, WILQ, and WSFT are all on the ridge that overlooks South Williamsport, along a pothole-filled road that offers some amazing views of the Susquehanna Valley far below.
Heading out of town, we heard the always-reliable college rock of WQSU Selinsgrove (88.9 from Susquehanna University), the hot AC of WQKX (94.1 Sunbury), the country multi-cast that includes WYGL (1240 Selinsgrove) and WLGL (92.3 Riverside) to name a few, and the classical music of WPGM (1570/96.7 Danville, with an unusual ID that started with "Du--bul--yoo" and took forever to get to "Emmmmmmmm", before passing through the hills to find the satellite hard rock of WRPA (103.9) up in Laporte.
Emerging from the mountains in Clarks Summit, the NERW-mobile radio was tuned to WVIA (89.9 Scranton) and its "Mixed Bag" AAA-ish nightly show. What else did we find of note in Scranton? Not much...the country combo of WCTD/WCTP (93.7/94.3) teaming up with sister country stations in Easton (WCTO), Hershey (WRKZ), and Carlisle (WHYL-FM) for an overnight simulcast...a very unusual late-night show on the University of Scranton's WUSR (99.5), with a host who also sells insurance launching into an on-air lecture on torts before signing off at 12:23 AM....the 5-tower array of WARM (590) way the heck out of town near the hamlet of Falls, PA....but the big news was on TV. See if you can follow this: The Fox affiliate in Scranton used to be WOLF-TV (Channel 38), with satellites in Hazleton (WWLF 56) and Williamsport (WILF 53). A few months ago, we noted a call change in which WWLF became WOLF-TV while the former WOLF-TV became WSWB. Now we know what actually happened: Channel 38, now WSWB, became the WB affiliate for Scranton. Channel 56 made its own bid for cable carriage across the region and became the Fox affiliate, now operating Channel 38 under an LMA. And somewhere along the line, someone forgot the legal ID rules, as the Hazleton-licensed 56 signs on as "WOLF-TV SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE/HAZLETON" and frequently IDs without even the "HAZLETON". Williamsport's WILF now simulcasts only 56. And the 10PM news produced by ABC affiliate WNEP (Channel 16) also migrated to channel 56. NERW wonders how this LMA will survive the five-year sunset period implemented last week, since the 7-station market is supposedly too small to allow a TV duopoly without a waiver.
One more new station in the market: WQPX (Channel 64), which is Pax, at least for now. Need we say more?
Thought not...so we'll end it for this week, and we'll meet again in our usual spot Friday night. See you then!