After several months of listener protests, Maine Public Radio changed its mind this week about some of the controversial programming changes it made last fall. Of particular concern, at least in outlying regions of the state where the commercial "W-Bach" network doesn't reach, was MPB's decision to discontinue Saturday afternoon Metropolitan Opera broadcasts.
The good news for opera fans in Calais, Houlton and Fort Kent: the Met is back for the rest of the season, along with other opera programming filling non-Met Saturday afternoons and a Monday evening "Opera League of Maine" broadcast.
The bad news, at least for Boston's WBUR, is that the new Maine Public Radio schedule doesn't include the Chris Lydon-less version of "The Connection" still being offered to the public radio system. Instead, Maine listeners will get more music during the day, including a new daily hour of music in the afternoon. (Is the removal of "The Connection" a sign of future defections in the public radio family?)
Also disappearing from the schedule: the weekend repeats of "Fresh Air" and NPR's "Sounds Eclectic" and "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me." Returning: "Pipedreams" and Friday night jazz.
The changes took effect Tuesday (March 20).
FCC agents traced the signal to a house in the woods off Adams Road in Londonderry, and on March 14 paid a visit to the young man reportedly running the station. No equipment was confiscated, we're told, but we hear the agents won't be so friendly if they're called to the area for a repeat visit.
Meanwhile up in Laconia, WLNH (98.3) has been granted a license to cover for its power boost to 15.5 kW, so we suspect that signal's being heard much better these days.
Some big changes at Vox's Concord group will take effect at month's end. Saturday (3/31) will be Dick Osborne's 35th anniversary at WKXL (1450 Concord/107.7 Hillsborough), but it will also be his last day at the stations, as his post of station manager gets eliminated. Also out at WKXL and WOTX (102.3 Concord) is sales manager Hope Lindsay Matthews. Whoever's left at the stations will report to a different boss, since WKXL/WOTX general manager Jim Whedon is being reassigned to Vox's WZSH (101.5 Marlborough) and WWSH (95.3 White River Junction) to be GM there. Britt Johnson, already GM at Vox's WJYY/WNHI in Concord, will add WKXL and WOTX to his duties. Meanwhile, we hear Osborne is looking for new work, and we wish the best of luck to this Granite State radio veteran.
Boch is also making some call and format changes at two of the stations, flipping oldies WYST (93.5 Harwich Port) to alternative as WDVT "The Vault" and classic rock WWKJ (101.1 Mashpee) to hot AC as WTWV "the Wave."
Boch also owns talker WXTK (95.1 West Yarmouth) and AC WCOD (106.1 Hyannis), where no changes are planned.
Before we leave the Cape, we'll note that WPXC (102.9 Hyannis) has applied to boost power from 3.1 to 25 kilowatts, from a new transmitter site near the intersection of routes 28 and 149 in Hyannis. The move will reduce "Pixy"'s height above average terrain, decreasing from 141 meters to 52 meters.
Boston's overnight radio dial is getting a little less interesting. Jay Gordon, who's been pulling the 1 to 5:30 AM shift at WODS (103.3 Boston), is leaving "Oldies 103" for a more sedate dayside existence as a financial planner. For the time being, WODS is going jockless overnight; Gordon is continuing the syndicated "Elvis Only" weekend show that he's been doing for fourteen years now.
Out west, WPVQ (95.3 Greenfield) has been granted its power increase, going from 320 watts to 570 watts from its site high above the Pioneer Valley.
Meanwhile, we can tell you that religious WMNV (104.1 Rupert) has applied for a power increase from 2.9 kW to 4.3 kW from the same transmitter site it's been using.
Hartford's WHCN (105.9) is getting a new program director, and he won't have far to move. Tom Bass comes to WHCN from WRKI (95.1 Brookfield), replacing Peter Delloro in the PD chair.
There's no rivalry like the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, yet New Haven's WCTX (Channel 59) is trying to have it both ways. The UPN affiliate's schedule this summer will include 50 Yankees games and 10 Red Sox games. The Sox will also get 20 games on Hartford CBS affiliate WFSB (Channel 3), replacing last year's Connecticut affilate, WTXX (Channel 20) in Waterbury.
Speaking of WCTX, it and LMA partner WTNH (Channel 8) failed to persuade the FCC that New York's WABC (Channel 7) and WWOR (Channel 9) should be kicked off the New Haven cable system. The Commission said WCTX and WTNH failed to prove that the distant signals, whose ABC and UPN affiliations duplicate WTNH and WCTX, aren't "significantly viewed" in New Haven.
The economic downturn took its toll at the WOR Radio Network this week, as the net parted ways with Rich Wood, its veteran director of syndication (and an alumnus of Boston radio, at the old WJIB among other stops).
Upstate, we hear WZCR is the new callsign on "Wheels 93.5," the former WZZM-FM (93.5 Corinth) in the Glens Falls market. The FCC gave the go-ahead this week to move the 103.5B allocation from Cobleskill to St. Johnsville, though we're still not clear what that will actually mean for WQBJ's opportunity to move its antenna.
Albany Fox viewers have been out of luck if they're not hooked up to cable; we're told heavy ice a week ago took down WXXA (Channel 23)'s antenna in the Helderbergs, and it's been a bit of a wait for a replacement. WXXA is providing a microwave feed to area cable systems in the meantime.
Way up north, St. Lawrence bureau chief Mike Roach tells us WYSI (96.1 Norwood) was just testing when he heard it simulcasting WVLF (96.7 Canton); no permanent format has been announced for the station once it signs on for real.
It's been deleted from the FCC database, but Syracuse Community Radio is trying to keep WXXC (88.7 Truxton) alive; it filed a petition for reconsideration asking the Commission to reinstate the license. You'll recall that WXXC's license was revoked amidst allegations that SCR misled the FCC by filing for a license to cover even though the station remained unbuilt; we'll continue to keep an eye on this one.
We're hearing about some changes pending in Binghamton radio; WINR (680) reportedly dropped its standards format this week to simulcast new owner Clear Channel's country WBBI (107.5 Endwell).
The revolving door of Rochester radio took another spin this week, with Clear Channel's "Mix" WVOR (100.5 Rochester) saying "adios" to Marc Murphee after three years of mornings. Chuck Jones, who used to be with San Diego's KPLN, takes over the wakeup shift there.
Across Chestnut Street, Infinity promotes WPXY (97.9 Rochester) PD Mike Danger and his assistant, "Norm on the Barstool." Both add the same duties down the hall at modern rock WZNE (94.1 Brighton), which they've been overseeing on an acting basis anyway.
Oh, about that "98PXY is Dead" stunt last weekend: Sure enough, Monday morning brought word that "98PXY is Dead...Serious" about the Infinity multi-market million-dollar contest.
Across town at Clear Channel, WWSW (94.5)/WJJJ (104.7) operations manager Chris Ostrander is leaving. Where's he going next? Yep, he's going to Disney World. No, really -- he's taking a promotions job with the Mouse down in Orlando. No replacement has been announced.
On the TV side in Pittsburgh, KDKA-TV (Channel 2) parted ways with news director Joe Coscia after a short run. No replacement has been named at the CBS outlet.
Keymarket's stunting on WOXX (99.3 Franklin) and WXXO (104.5 Cambridge Springs) ended Monday with the start of a new CHR simulcast called "Kiss." (Wonder if Clear Channel knows?) Keymarket's also simulcasting in the area with "Froggy" country on WGYI (98.5 Oil City) and WGYY (100.3 Meadville).
Across the state, WCTO (96.1 Easton) is looking for a new assistant PD, now that Ed Parreira's headed north up the Turnpike Extension to take the PD job at Binghamton's WHWK (98.1).
We hear from Scranton that the translator for WRTY (91.1 Jackson Township, which in turn relays Philly jazz/classical station WRTI 90.1) has moved from 105.9, where it was W290AB, to a better signal on 106.1 as W291AP.
Looking for a new signal on 88.9 are: Craig Music and Entertainment (40 kW, smooth jazz), Newcap (27 kW, dance); "914258 Ontario" (3.2 kW, ethnic); Telemedia (which already owns CIMF Hull) (84 kW, smooth jazz); Fondation Radio Enfant (65 kW, children's); and Astral Radio Group (65 kW, nostalgia, replacing the current CJRC 1150 Gatineau). Radio 1540 Ltd., which owns Toronto's CHIN AM-FM, applied for 800 watts on 97.9 for ethnic programming, while Radio Nord (which owns CHOT-TV and CFGS-TV in Hull) wants 97.9 with 20 kW for classical and Standard Radio wants 35.3 kW on 97.9 for smooth jazz. Also in the mix for 97.9: Montreal's CIRA (91.3), whose application for 800 watts in Ottawa touched off the call for new applicants in the first place.
Douglas Kirk, who owns Hamilton's new CIWV (94.7), wants to bring smooth jazz to Ottawa/Hull with 27.5 kW on 99.7. Gary Farmer, whose Aboriginal Voices Radio holds a permit to build 106.5 in Toronto, wants 8kW on 95.7 for the network in Ottawa, while Yves Belzile wants 2720 watts on the same frequency for a country station in Buckingham, Quebec.
Three more applications will be on the CRTC's plate at its May 22 hearing: Cobourg's CHUC (1450) wants to add an FM outlet on 93.3 with 2100 watts, in an application that conflicts with CKOL (93.5 Campbellford)'s attempt to raise power from 50 to 1038 watts (it will also wreak havoc on a few summer days with WBBF 93.3 across the lake in the Rochester market, especially when WBBF moves from Avon north to Fairport!)
Out in London, the 2001 London Alliance Canada Games wants a temporary license for 780 watts on 107.7, to broadcast games coverage from August 11 to 25.
Meanwhile, the CRTC's been busy approving a few more applications. Bayshore Broadcasting gets the go-ahead to build a third station in Owen Sound, with 31.6 kW on 93.7, playing country to complement CFOS (560) and CIXK (106.5) up there. Religious CHIM way up north in Timmins gets permission to add three 1.3 watt transmitters in other northern communities, at 92.7 in Chapleau, 92.5 in Wawa and 92.5 in Elliot Lake. And Telemedia gets to put a relay for its CIMF (94.9 Hull) on the air an hour east in Hawkesbury, Ontario. The 759 watt relay on 88.9 will keep the CIMF signal coming in once Radio-Canada raises power on first-adjacent CBF-FM (95.1 Montreal).
Think the CRTC still isn't busy enough? It's soliciting applications for a new multi-cultural station in Toronto, with letters of intent due April 23 and the full applications due May 22. We're not sure what frequency is still open for such a service...
Windsor's CKLW (800) ends the six-year run of Mark Elliott's "People Helping People," one of the only radio shows aimed at recovering addicts. The show stays on the air in Toronto.
And in Montreal, it looks as though the Expos are in for another season without English-language radio. The team has been negotiating with Standard's CJAD (800) and with CHUM Group's CKGM (990), but neither station seems inclined to accept terms under which the station pays the full cost of producing the broadcasts but the team gets every penny of revenue, reports the Montreal Gazette.
CKGM, meanwhile, is staying in CHUM Group hands instead of following sister station CHOM (97.7) into the Standard camp. It'll reportedly become part of the new "Team" sports network CHUM is building, starting May 7.
And we'll close it out this week with a few nifty Web links. If you've admired the WLW tower that adorns the fybush.com home page, you'll want to check out Jim Hawkins' newest addition to his radio pages, an entire page devoted to those Blaw-Knox diamond towers. Check it out!