While we wait for the inevitable Clear Channel/AMFM spinoffs, it's been a quiet week in the world of radio (especially at the FCC, which can't seem to be bothered to update its Web site with application and action information lately -- they're blaming a database switchover and promising more information next week.)
Meanwhile, what of the "J-Light" Christian contemporary format and WJLT calls? We hear those will be migrating down the dial to Ashland's AM 650, now WRPT and also owned by Alex Langer (who leases 1060 to "J-Light" programmer Great Commission Broadcasting). This station also holds an unbuilt CP, which would boost power from 250 watts to 2000, transmitting from the WBPS (890) sticks in Ashland.
One more Langer note: His WSRO (1470 Marlborough), which has been running on low power from a temporary site since losing its three-tower area to a city land-taking, has modified its application for a new directional array. The new application calls for four towers, three by day with a 7kW signal aimed mostly northwest and three (two shared with the day array) at night, with a 5kW signal aimed east/southeast over Marlborough, Framingham, and Natick.
NERW's take on this: We'd love to see the WMEX calls return to the Boston area, where they were last heard on August 20, 1996 at the tail end of the 1150 AM version of WMEX (which was itself an attempt to reincarnate the legendary WMEX 1510). Can Alex Langer, who's seemed to be perpetually strapped for money since entering the market, pull it off? We shall see...
"And the dead air goes on!": That might as well be the slogan at Brockton's WCAV (97.7), now in its second week with a stereo pilot but no programming. Radio One's new urban format is still expected...any...day...now.
WBZ (1030) isn't getting out quite as well as it usually does during the day -- but there's a reason. Having cancelled plans to replace its two-tower array in Hull, the station is now busy repainting, repairing, and re-guying the existing sticks (vintage 1940) to last a few more decades. While the work continues (through December), WBZ is broadcasting from 8 AM until 4 PM daily from its 10kW non-directional backup site at the studio in Allston. Nights are still 50kw from Hull (but we wouldn't know, since we've had our dials glued to 1080 to listen to the Sox play-by-play with the properly-biased hometown broadcast team via WTIC!)
An update on Paul Tuthill: The longtime WTAG (Worcester) news director isn't leaving the business; in fact, he's just signed on with Rod Fritz' new WRKO (680) news team in Boston. Congratulations!
Pirate? Legal low-power? We don't know...but we can tell you a signal's been heard coming from the Landmark School in Beverly. "WLMK" is operating on 89.3, and being heard about a mile away.
Hyperbole? Not the way MPBC sees it. The broadcaster says without the state money, it will be unable to build out its DTV signals, and will have to shut down its analog transmitters in 2006 (which, by NERW's reckoning, makes MPBC the only group in America to sincerely believe the FCC will enforce that schedule for the analog shutdown!)
NERW can't help but be a bit cynical here, as we wonder whether MPBC should have been spending all this money on new FM stations in places like Camden if it's really so strapped for TV funding...
Another Nutmeg State note: We hear the LIN Television stations owned by Hicks, Muse will in fact count against the ownership limits of the new Clear Channel Communications, which means WTNH (Channel 8) in New Haven will be counted along with Chancellor's 5 FMs and 3 AMs in Connecticut. It'll be a squeaker, but we think they'll all stay, thanks to the limited overlap between the Hartford (WPOP) and New Haven (WELI, WAVZ) AM signals in the group.
Down the road in Watertown, UPN is changing channels, as WBQZ-LP (Channel 34) goes dark for a bit. The new UPN affiliate is W66CH (Channel 66), which calls itself "PS66" for its Public Square studio location.
Syracuse's WCNY-FM (91.3) and its relays, WUNY (89.5 Utica) and WJNY (90.9 Watertown), have returned to 24-hour operation. A budget cut in 1991 took the stations off the air overnight, but a new underwriter has stepped in to restore classical music to Central New York's late nights.
Rochester's WPXY-FM (97.9) has named a new program director. Mike Danger succeeds (we won't say "fills the shoes of;" they're too big!) Clarke Ingram, who's now jammin' the oldies at Pittsburgh's WJJJ (104.7). We've heard 'PXY using the "PX-Y2K" nickname a few times lately...
The NERW-mobile drove down to Binghamton last weekend, which gave us a chance to make a few observations in Elmira on the way. We can now tell you that 1490 in Watkins Glen has indeed dropped the WGMF heritage call to become WBZD, with a country simulcast of WPGI (100.9 Horseheads). Up the dial, we heard no signal at all from WEHH (1590 Elmira Heights-Horseheads), even as we rounded the bend on Route 17 and came into full view of the tower. Oh yeah...we also heard a live jock on WCDW (100.5 Conklin), which had been running jockless ever since the format change from country to modern AC last year. (By the way, we stand by our reading of WCDW's application to change city of license. No matter what other trades might be reporting, we believe WCDW will become licensed to Susquehanna PA on 100.5, while WKGB on 92.5 will change city of license from Susquehanna to Conklin.)
Where's Keeseville? That's what we wondered when we saw that an application had been filed to allocate 97.9A there. Turns out it's about 10 miles south of Plattsburgh along Lake Champlain -- meaning the station John Bulmer wants to put there would be another Burlington-market drop-in. (It would also be rather short-spaced to CHOM 97.7 in Montreal, for whatever that's worth).
Chatham's commercial broadcaster has been busy as a beaver -- pardon, a Bea-Ver. Bea-Ver Communications put CKUE (94.3) on the air last week, just days after the CRTC granted its construction permit. "The Rock @ 94-3" is already being heard as far east as London; we'll be there next week to check it out. Bea-Ver has also won CRTC approval to boost night power on CFCO (630) to 6kW from 1kW.
Radio-Canada has been busy, too: it's applying for relays of CBFX Montreal (100.7, the chaine culturelle, or second network, station) in Amos QC (88.3 with 32.4 kW) and Campbellton NB (88.9 with 10kW). NERW wonders why Campbellton wouldn't relay la chaine culturelle from Moncton's CBAL (98.3) instead?
Finally, this word from Montreal: Next year's Expos games will reportedly stay on CIQC in English as it moves from 600 to 940. What's more, we hear the French-language coverage may migrate from CKAC (730) to CIQC's sister station CKVL in its new 690 spot.
That's it for this week...see you next Friday!