We're back from the road (again!), with another two weeks' worth of news to ponder, not to mention plenty of pictures and tape from southern California and Mexico to keep us busy in the weeks and months to come. Before we dig into the KNX, though, let's see what we missed back east:
ESPN programming will begin full-time on 1050 September 1, under an LMA that gives Disney the option to begin negotiations for a $78 million purchase of the 50,000 watt station any time in the next two years.
Forward officials say their goal is to return to a focus on their print offerings (the weekly Forward), using the money from WEVD to support the struggling newspaper. The Forward Association reportedly wants to become a non-profit, according to the "Save WEVD" folks who have been fighting for months to keep the present quirky talk lineup in place on 1050. (You can read more about their efforts at www.savewevd.com; they'll be holding another informational picket outside the Forward offices on Thursday.)
So what about those call letters? It's a safe bet that labor leader Eugene Victor Debs wasn't an Islanders fan, so we'd expect a possible change (though Disney never did flip its Radio Disney outlet on 1560 from the old "WQEW"). M Street beat us to the punch in noting that the logical "WSPN" is in use on FM up in Saratoga Springs, at Skidmore College's 91.1.
On the TV side, the board of directors at WLIW (Channel 21) on Long Island voted last week to approve a merger with Newark, N.J.-licensed WNET (Channel 13). By joining forces with the bigger WNET operation, WLIW officials say, they can avoid the massive financial burden of the upcoming DTV conversion. Long Island viewers say they're worried about losing the distinctive programming (in particular, British comedies) that WLIW has long offered. WLIW board member Anne Ellis resigned before the vote on the merger, and lawmakers are being asked to examine the deal.
On the radio side, program producers and listeners of WNYE (91.5 New York) are launching their own last-ditch effort to keep the city's Board of Education from handing operations over to the WNYC public radio folks. We've seen the e-mail petition they're circulating, and while we know the "Save WNYE" crew means well, a word of advice: your letters to the school chancellor would be better received if you call him "Harold" Levy and not "Howard"...
A few more bits of news from the city: John Fullam has resigned as general manager of Clear Channel's WHTZ (100.3 Newark) and senior VP for regional operations for Clear Channel. No replacement has been named. Fordham University's WFUV has been denied, again, in its attempts to put an on-channel booster for its 90.7 signal in Manhattan. And on the TV side, there's finally more DTV action: WPIX-DT 33 had its license to cover granted this week, while WNET-DT 61 is right behind.
One Long Island note: AAA's new 92.9 Southampton construction permit now has call letters; mark down "WCSO" for this new signal, and give yourself an extra point if you remember that those calls were briefly destined for 104.7 Montauk.
Moving upstate: Pamal sold one of its outlying assets this week. WIZR (930 Johnstown) came along for the ride when Pamal picked up its then-sister FM, WSRD (104.9 Johnstown) a few years back. 104.9 was soon moved to Altamont, as Albany-market WZMR, leaving the little AM by itself 40 miles away. For $550,000, WIZR ended up in the hands of Joseph Isabel's IZ Communications, pairing it with Isabel's nearby WCSS (1490 Amsterdam). No word on whether any changes to WIZR's standards format are planned...
Speaking of Pamal, John Kelly retired this week as general manager of the company's Albany Broadcasting group. He'll remain as Pamal's president until the end of the year. Al Vicente, Pamal's senior VP, assumes the Albany GM chair.
Before we leave the Capital District, we note that religious WNGN-LP (Channel 26) in Troy has been granted a move to channel 51.
Up north, Gavin Burt checked in from his travels to tell us that WYZY (106.3 Saranac Lake) has flipped from Westwood One's Hot Country service to its Bright AC format, while sister WNBZ (1240 Saranac Lake) is running standards these days, and WRGR (102.3 Tupper Lake) appeared to be back to a simulcast of WLPW (105.5 Lake Placid).
Here in Rochester, a few Clear Channel programming changes greeted us when we came back: WHAM (1180) has axed an hour of Laura Schlessinger, giving midday talk host Bob Lonsberry the 11-noon hour instead. His show now wraps around the noon news to continue in its old 12:30-2 spot. Later in the evening, Michael Savage has replaced Bruce Williams in the 8-10 PM position.
Still waiting for 70's pop at WWKB (1520 Buffalo)? Hope you're patient; our colleague Carl Gorney reports Entercom is sticking with the Business Talk Radio format for the duration...
The "Big Jab," meanwhile, grabs the Portland Pirates AHL rights for the fall from WZAN. The stations have now joined WRED (95.9 Saco) at the WLOB facility on Warren Avenue, leaving the old WJAE/WJBQ quarters a few blocks away on Warren vacant.
In Central Maine, we hear WCME (96.7 Boothbay Harbor) is actually running separately from WHQO (107.9 Skowhegan), with programming that includes Fox Sports, Laura Schlessinger and Rush Limbaugh.
Bangor's WWBX (97.1) officially entered the Clear Channel family this week, moving over from Gopher Hill Broadcasting on the same day Clear Channel sold WGUY (102.1 Dexter) to Mark Jorgenson's Concord group. (No coincidence there; Clear Channel had to spin something before it could acquire WWBX). The station is now running CHR as "All New, All Hit B 97.1"; wonder when it will grab the "Kiss" moniker from sister WKSQ (94.5 Ellsworth)?
And Maine Public Broadcasting asked the FCC this week to change the DTV allocation for WMED (Channel 13) down in Calais. WMED-DT is planned to be on channel 15, but MPB says moving it to channel 10 would save $25,000 a year in power bills and $325,000 when it comes time to turn off DTV (since MPB would have kept the VHF channel for permanent DTV use and handed the UHF facility back to the FCC).
Radio (and TV) People on the Move: Chris Herrmann is the new PD at Greater Media's WBOS (92.9 Brookline), arriving from an APD gig at WCSX (94.7 Birmingham MI) in Detroit. Herrmann is a native of Worcester, a graduate of Phillips Academy and Dartmouth, and spent five years in Providence at WHJY. Sean McDonough has signed with Sporting News Radio's WWZN (1510 Boston) to do the 3-7 PM shift locally beginning October 1; his dad, Will, is doing national work for SNR. Christopher Lydon returns to the Boston airwaves August 20 for two weeks of fill-in at WTKK (96.9), taking Jay Severin's 3-7 PM shift through the end of the month. WFNX (101.7 Lynn) and morning host Paul Jaxon have parted ways; no word on what'll become of the "Jaxon and the Pharmacist" morning show. On the TV side, Caterina Bandini is the new star anchor at WHDH (Channel 7), getting Kim Carrigan's old 5 and 6 PM anchor chair. Carrigan will do the 7 PM news on WSBK (Channel 38) when WBZ-TV begins producing that broadcast in September; she'll also anchor WBZ's own 5 PM show with Jack Williams. Some cutbacks at WCVB: Dixie Whatley is out after years of entertainment coverage, and that beat won't be filled. Channel 5 also cancelled its Sunday "Five on 5" public-affairs chatfest. One more WBZ note: Mish Michaels will return to the local Boston airwaves to do some weather work for channel 4, as well as creating the "WBZ Weather Almanac." She'll continue her other career on-air with the Weather Channel down in Atlanta as well.
A schedule change in Lowell: WCAP (980) dumps the Barry Farber show and reshuffles its afternoon schedule, leaving Chuck Harder on from 2-4 PM and picking up Tom Martino's "Troubleshooter" show from 4-7.
THIS JUST IN: Brockton's WBOT (97.7) is in some hot water with the FCC. As we go to press, the FCC is issuing a $21,500 notice of apparent liability against WBOT owner Radio One based on an inspection of the station in March 2000, two months after the station (formerly WCAV) signed back on. It seems Radio One forgot a few details: no operational EAS equipment, no local phone number in Brockton to reach the new Boston studio, no way to monitor the station's power, no operating log, and, oh yeah - no public file! More on this in the weeks to come...
LPFM Follies: informal objections have been filed to three of the critters, namely 94.9 Amesbury, 104.9 Wyben, and just over the Connecticut line, 98.7 Windsor Locks. Expect more such objections as the FCC works its way through the stack of apps...
On the TV dial, Wendy Cicchetti is the new anchor at 6 and 11 at ABC affiliate WLNE (Channel 6). She arrives from Cincinnati's WLWT (Channel 5), and before that from WTNH in New Haven.
Across town, WVIT (Channel 30) is getting a new leader. NBC is moving Mark Hoffman from a vice-presidency at CNBC to the VP/GM chair in New Britain.
On the college radio scene, Connecticut College's WCNI (91.1 New London) again applies to move to 90.9 and boost power.
Not too far away, silent WCNR (930 Bloomsburg) files to change calls to WHLM, last seen on the now-silent 550 there, as well as on 106.5 FM, now WFYY. Expect this one back on very soon.
Over in the Harrisburg market, WNCE (92.1 Palmyra) ends its simulcast with rocker WTPA (93.5 Mechanicsburg) and goes silent, while also filing to change calls to WWKL, last seen on 99.3 Harrisburg (now CHR WHKF). Could another oldies station be on the way here? WSOX (96.1 Red Lion) was already doing oldies, WHBO (92.7 Starview) grabbed the format when WWKL flipped, and WHYL (960 Carlisle) is doing oldies as well now.
WEEO (103.7 McConnellsburg) adds syndicated Bob and Tom to its modern-rock format, as does simulcast AM partner WVFC (1530).
Wondering where Sykesville is? We were too. It turns out the little community is up near Du Bois, and if "Sykesville Broadcasting" has its way, it will eventually have 95.9A allocated there. This is a piece of the big move a few years ago that shuffled several allocations in this corner of northwestern Pennsylvania, including turning the 95.9A that used to be in Brookville into 105.5A (now WMKX).
LPFM Follies, Part the Third: Edgardo Colon is hit with a "Petition for Immediate Dismissal with Prejudice" for his inexplicable application for 88.5 in Philadelphia. If the petition didn't come from WXPN, which happens to be on 88.5 in Philadelphia, well, it should have...
Finally, we note (sadly) that Wendy's has indeed purchased that property in Wilkinsburg where Frank Conrad built his 8XK, the ancestor of today's KDKA. The Conrad garage was dismantled in the spring (we were there), and now it seems the house will be torn down soon, alas. We'll be by there again over Labor Day weekend when we visit for the National Radio Club convention, and we'll let you know what's left (between bites of our Monterey Chicken sandwich...)
A few new stations to report: We're told CKYC (93.7 Owen Sound) and CKGB-FM (99.3 Timmins) are both testing. In London, CFCG is the call for the temporary Canada Games station on 107.7. The owners of CHUC (1450 Cobourg) have been granted a new FM outlet on 93.3 with 2100 watts. The AC station will not replace the AM, which will stay on the air.
Two final tidbits: CJFP-FM (103.7 Rivière-du-Loup, Qc.) has changed calls to CIEL, the former call on 98.5 Longueuil, now CKOO. And be glad you're not Jan Pachul: he's been called to a CRTC hearing in Hull next month to answer charges that he was operating a broadcast station in Toronto without a license. (We think this was the neighborhood TV station on channel 15 in the Toronto Beaches neighborhood...)
That's it for this big issue. Sorry we were a bit late getting it out; it, along with this week's Site of the Week, were delayed by some problems with our increasingly antiquated computer (anyone have a fast Pentium they'd like to donate to the cause?) We'll be back on track next Monday; see you then!